Keep the Draft

As one of the last people subject to the draft during the Vietnam War. I am writing to support the continued existence of the Selective Service System in case we need a military draft sometime in the future. I actually volunteered after being classified 1-A and passing the physical, rather than wait a month or two to be drafted.

I am very disappointed that military service has become such a contemptible, dishonorable profession in the United States. I came home from Vietnam to scorn for being a veteran. Today, people praise veterans, but in my opinion, it is usually because the people heaping the praise are not willing to serve themselves. They think, “If I tell this fool what a great job he is doing, then I won’t have to do it.” When it comes to something more expensive than praise, like giving veterans jobs or health benefits, the country is less fulsome.

The military likes having an all-volunteer force, but I think we need people who would not ordinarily serve in the military. We need people from Harvard and Stanford who look at the world differently from the ordinary pool of recruits, who are mostly poor and less well educated. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan hated the military so much when she was dean of the Harvard Law School that she prohibited military recruiting there. The military needs a diversity of personalities, perspectives and talents, just like any other large organization. This lack of intellectual diversity has hampered the military ever since Vietnam, when despite the draft, rich, smart, well-educated people generally did not serve. That may be one reason we lost the wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. We sent our trailer-park trash to fight and we got trashy results.

I realize that the proposal by Congressmen Coffman and Polis to abolish the draft is motivated by the recent call to include women in the draft. I have no objection to including women in the draft, but I do oppose the recent decision to include women in all fighting units of the military, including the Army infantry and the Marines. I think the problems with rape and other sex offenses in our universities illustrate the problems of putting young men and women with raging hormones together in situations where there are frequent romantic temptations. I was in the artillery, where living conditions are better than in the infantry, but everyone slept together in one bunker, used the same latrine, etc. Living conditions are probably manageable in rear echelon environments, where women could certainly serve, but I think forcing men and women to live together in combat situations is just asking for trouble in terms of sexual contact. In any case, there are certainly military jobs for which America could draft women.

I believe that the draft would strengthen the military by bringing in new blood, although the military leadership probably is not enthusiastic about the challenges to it that would emerge from a better quality of recruits.

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