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US Military

08/02/07 | by [mail] | Categories: culture/news

Nobody asked me, but . . .

Our military is both too large and too small. Our military is too big during peacetime and the money we use to have a large standing army, bases around the world and nuclear weapons (which would be immoral to ever use) is enormous. That money could be better spent elsewhere. Yet, when we do get into a war, as we have in Iraq, our military is too small. We're asking people in the military to do multiple 15-month tours in Iraq, and we're still not securing that country.

In the future, I think we should have a much smaller military during peacetime. Enough force to defend our own country from credible threats should be sufficient. I imagine that most of the host countries would be happy to see us close our bases. (Would you want China or Germany to have an army base next door to you.) If some unfriendly country starts to get close to our strength, we can always increase the size of our military. At the moment, no one is the world is even close to use, and the highest spenders behind us are friendly toward us.

What happens when we have to fight a war? We do what we've done almost every large-scale war in our history: draft an army. As unpopular as conscription is, it has a lot of advantages. The nation at large has to be behind a war effort for a draft to work. If a war isn't worth asking Americans to sacrifice, then we shouldn't enter it. If the American people are not convinced that a war justifies a draft, then the case for war is too weak. If a war has to be started more quickly than we can raise an army through a draft, then it's too hasty.

We need to get over the idea that we can fight a cheap, fast or easy war. If our commander in chief had to resort to conscription to start a war, there would be fewer wars.


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