Doing research on the current state on conscription in other developed countries for my book. Apparently Norway is one of the few developed countries that still practices conscription, and is also gender-neutral in their conscription. Germany practiced conscription up until 2011, when they phased it (tentatively) out — although there are provisions in the German constitution to reinstate it.
Conscription in Germany was apparently intentionally introduced after WWII as a,
“constitutional means of averting the militarism of the past by creating “citizens in uniform” to bind the armed forces to the rest of society. Everyone had to serve.”
One of the arguments for phasing it out is that having a large conscripted standing force is expensive. One of the counter arguments is that the US and French militaries have both proven that have smaller, more specialized professional volunteer forces is even more expensive, because you have to pay them more. (https://goo.gl/6Uc2Qc)
The German constitution also made specific allowances for conscientious objection and substituting civil service for military service. Apparently one of the biggest problems was what to do with the conscripted (and underpaid) youth, and that they were being exploited by the more affluent private enterprise portions of the country (who were using them for underpaid civil service labor) — from a rough overview, it did not appear to occur to anyone to pay their drafted government employees more. (http://goo.gl/PRZXX3)
Also interesting is that France apparently abolished conscription in the mid/late 90s, but there is an 80% polling approval to bring conscription back. The belief is that re-instituting conscription would bring back a sense of civic duty and connection to the French Republic and the community as a whole. French conscription lasted for 10 months, and would affect youth 18-24 years old. In that age range, there is actually (perhaps surprisingly) a 67% approval rating of the idea. (http://goo.gl/1tiGZk) Somewhat more disturbingly, the incredibly racist neo-Nazi conservative party, the National Front is apparently also a huge proponent of bringing back conscription, which brings to mind to mind another article I recently read.
Apparently the US military has something of a problem with neo-Nazis and hate groups infiltrating the military. This is problematic for obvious reasons, and also hard to address when we operate on a volunteer basis. During times of military action, when the military most needs/ wants bodies, people are less likely to volunteer to sacrifice themselves. During times of peace, when the military doesn’t want to spend the excess funding on training and maintaining the troops, it is natural for military — who is, after all, just an employer — to shed the excess labor force. This is a supply and demand issue, but its also a labor issue that effects human lives and families and paychecks and health insurance. It’s messy and tragic and heartbreaking, and we as a nation are screwing it up.
But back to the neo-Nazis. So. Right now we’re a volunteer military, which means (basically) that beggers can’t be choosers, in terms of the military. That is, when the rich-bitch politicians in congress or their lobbyist puppeteers or whatever decide that its time to go fight over another oil field or whatever, and they send the US military out on another war — sorry, not a war, a “military operation,” or an, “armed conflict.” We don’t go to war anymore. Congress needs to approve a war, so our politicians just use this nice little legalistic wordplay to neatly sidestep the fact that they’re sending US soldiers over to fight and bleed and die in a foreign countries for the interests of the US government. Last I checked, that’s a fucking war.
Anyway. I digress. Again. Sorry. This issue might bother me a little. My point is that when these politicians (who don’t fight, because they are rich little bitches who don’t have to sign up for the Army for a shot at a regular paycheck and a college education and a healthcare plan and 3 square meals a day) decide to send US troops over on a military action, the troops need an injection of, well, troops. Volunteer troops. Hence … recruitment efforts amp up, and this is where beggers can’t be choosers, and the military has been known to turn a blind eye to some … less than stellar candidates. According to reports (http://goo.gl/xAW9nq), (http://goo.gl/PyKonv), (http://goo.gl/Vf8A46), skinheads and neo-Nazis have intentionally been infiltrating the US military in order to gain military training and experience so that, upon leaving the US military, they can have the means to train other skinheads and start a race war.
Now that’s just horrifying. Using the training of the US military to foment terrorist dissent inside the United States of America. Talk about fucked up.
So back to conscription. If we had a conscription service, the military wouldn’t be beggers. They could do something like the Harvard Implicit Bias Test for racism, be like, “Oh, you’re a fucking racist. Nope. Not teaching you about guns and secret ops. Over there, psychopath.”
Btw, I’d just like to take a moment for anyone making any assumptions about what I’m saying when I promote a conscription service for the US military. First, women are currently serving in the US military. I am a feminist. I am assuming a conscription service would include women. This is obvious to me. If it is not obvious to you, that is on you, not me.
Second, I am not suggesting a conscription service for life. I think something that combines the former German and French systems, along with our current volunteer/ reserve system migth be useful. An initial time-limited conscription period followed by volunteer service. The conscription could be opted out of with conscientious objection or substituted with volunteer civil service. Pay should be a living wage, always.
The benefit is, with the population being conscripted for service, they could be assessed for their psychological health and (if they’re racist misogynists psychopathic violent rapey assholes) assigned to areas where they could do least harm. Like, no-one wants to put neo-Nazis in the military, but if they’re willingly signing up already, then hell. Institute a conscription and start profiling them, then just slot them off into a harmless spot where we can keep an eye on the crazies, amirite?