Monday, November 20, 2006

Slavery Brings Peace?

While the recently departed Milton Friedman had significant shortcomings in his ideas, he was at times one of the more eloquent defenders of freedom. Via Lew Rockwell I found this exchange of words between him and a pro-conscription general:

"Gen. William Westmoreland, testifying before President Nixon's Commission on an All-Volunteer [Military] Force, denounced the idea of phasing out the draft and putting only volunteers in uniform, saying that he did not want to command "an army of mercenaries." Friedman, a member of the 15-person commission, interrupted him. "General," Friedman asked, "would you rather command an army of slaves?" Westmoreland got angry: "I don't like to hear our patriotic draftees referred to as slaves." And Friedman got rolling: "I don't like to hear our patriotic volunteers referred to as mercenaries." And he did not stop: "If they are mercenaries, then I, sir, am a mercenary professor, and you, sir, are a mercenary general. We are served by mercenary physicians, we use a mercenary lawyer, and we get our meat from a mercenary butcher."

But now, just after Friedman died, leading Democrat Charles Rangel, incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, proposes a re-introduction of conscription in America. The main argument that he seems to have for re-introducing it seems to be that he thinks doing so would prevent the politicians from starting wars.

That is a simply amazingly ignorant argument. Historically, conscription have not acted as a deterrent to war, but an enabler of it. A all volunteer army requires a market pay that is usually far higher than the token pay given to sla...uhm I mean drafted soldiers. Thus, conscription makes war far cheaper for the politicians.

Rangel's reasoning seems to be based on the implicit assumptions that the sons of politicians will be drafted. But for someone who have spent most of his adult life in Washington D.C., that is amazingly naive. Any kind of military draft would have loopholes enabling the sons of leading politicians to escape military duty in dangerous combat zones.

The existence of conscription in the 1960s sure didn't prevent the policians from entering the Vietnam war, and people with the right connections, like George W. Bush was able to escape miltary service in Vietnam.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Care to comment on conscription in Sweden? Maybe a comparison with Finland?

4:28 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

The draft will not be instituted. There are too many practical reasons why it wouldn't. But you are not informed as to Rangel's ideas. He doesn't want something like the old, pre-1973 arrangement whereby rich preppy boys (and girls) like the Chickenhawk Vice President could get deferments cause they had other plans. Not a bad idea. Ideas like that can stop wars. Not a bad idea.

7:35 AM  

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