Service does not heighten nationalism
No one in office has yet to suggest the resumption of mandatory military service. Short of a foreign country attacking the United States or its territories, there is no need for reinstating the policy.
The reactivation of national service would have a pool of 38 million men between the ages of 18 and 26 ready to serve. Discontinued after the end of World War I, Congress resurrected mandatory service in 1940 as the war clouds in Asia and Europe looked as though they would envelop the United States.
As the Cold War began, the Selective Service Act established the draft, and quickly became a handy mechanism to justify sending our soldiers to areas of war and turmoil. It was used to induct young males into the undeclared war in Vietnam, which brought millions out into the streets to protest against the draft.
After the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam in 1973, the Selective Service Act was again modified so that males who were at least 18 years of age had to become part of a reserve pool for times of need in future wars.
In the meantime, the United States relies only on a professional army of career offices and non-commissioned officers, bolstered by volunteers. This development stripped the nation of a citizens’ army made up of all backgrounds.
As things stand today, resurrecting national service will not bolster our sense of patriotism. It will not bring jobs back to a lackluster economy and a society of yawning income gaps.
President Donald Trump boasts an intense sense of misguided patriotism and threatens the world with fire and brimstone if it does not respect the United States, its mission or its greatness.
He is stirring hatred of the United States in the Middle East by projecting and enforcing his strong anti-Muslim policies. It also does not help that he wants to abandon post-World War II order by backing out of NATO or multilateral trade. These conditions may foretell the coming of war.
Congress alone may decide the age at which U.S. citizens are eligible for service. Congress, however, does not seem to have the stomach for war. Even at the height of the 2008 global recession, driven by Wall Street, recruitment for the armed forces did not spike. The United States at large seems unwilling to go to war unless it is for a worthwhile cause.
The country is so divided that speaking about patriotism and a common will is very much not speaking to the point. There is no income equality, no common core value and no shared vision that speaks against a draft, let alone anything that speaks about a nation on the road to healing.