Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Military Conscription

“Saying that a draft would reduce the cost of the military is like saying that the pyramids were cheap because they were built with slave labor.”  - Milton Friedman

Well here's a sign that the current Ukrainian regime is getting really desperate in their struggle with the separatists…

Military draft in Ukraine signaling agony of Kiev regime - Russian experts (note: heavy pro-Russian slant)

and here:

Ukraine Votes to Call Up More Reservists

"KYIV— Ukraine's parliament approved a presidential decree on Tuesday to call up more military reserves and men under 50 to fight rebels in eastern Ukraine and defend the border against a concentration of troops in Russia.
Separately, the parliament also sought to raise to 60 the maximum age of Ukrainians who may be called up from military reserves in the future from the current ceiling of 50. The change needs to be approved by the president and it was not immediately clear if it would apply to the Tuesday call-up."

Sweet zombie Jesus, they’re calling up men up to age 49 and trying to raise the age limit for calling up reservists to age 60? The latter especially seems to be a move of desperation, reminiscent of the Nazi’s drafting of the 12-year-old members of the Hitler Youth into direct combat in the regime’s final months.

Though if there's any bright side to this, it's that the call-up is not limited to the poorest segments of Ukrainian society...

Bankers Called Up for Ukraine War as Rolls-Royce for Sale

"A knock on the door for Andriy Gerus came on a Monday morning in July.

Fresh from getting his MBA in London, a managing director at Ukrainian investment company Concorde Capital was preparing to go for a stroll with his baby in Holosiyiv, a leafy district of Kiev, when a surprise visitor handed him a military summons.

“I imagined myself with a gun, marching,” Gerus, 32, said at a cafe in central Kiev. “Everyone has two choices: to comply with Ukrainian law, go with your conscience and prepare for mobilization or avoid joining the army by relocating and risk three to five years in prison. I prefer the former.”"

So what would YOU do in his situation? Yes the draft in the US has been over for over four decades, but they still demand that young men sign up for Selective Service just so Uncle Sam has that option available. And in many other countries still have mandatory military service for all young men (and in a few cases women too). To draw an analogy, this Ukrainian situation is like drafting up Americans into military service to invade Texas because the residents of Texas voted overwhelmingly to leave the Union. Is answering the call to arms in this case to take back Texas patriotic or is it participating in oppression? Would you be fighting because it's the right thing to do, or because selfish power-hungry types in the halls of power want to maintain control over the resources and people?  I wonder how that Ukrainian managing director in the above article REALLY felt about being called up.... is he really saying how he feels, or does he actually feel railroaded into fighting a separatist movement instigated at least in part by the current regime's hardline anti-Russian propaganda?

I can't honestly claim to be a conscientious objector, as I think the military serves a necessary purpose and some wars can't be avoided. I've never served in the military myself, though there were a couple times in my life where I was leaning towards doing so. The biggest thing that ultimately held me back from doing so was lack of trust in the people running the political machine, both in knowing which situations merit the use of military force AND choosing the proper ways to implement said force when it is warranted. And sadly, that lack of trust appears to have been justified over the last two decades. So in principle I would be willing to take up arms in defense of the nation. But with the leadership and the corrupt political system as it is, I suspect most US military actions in the near future will be have little to do with defending the nation and everything to do with desire for power and/or wealth. How could one condone that, much less risk one's life for it?

Getting to the practical side of things, however, I suspect there's little chance of a military draft occuring in the US in the near or medium term. Some of my jobs have involved the military as a customer, and they aren't kidding when they say today's military is specialized to the point that the time investment required makes the traditional military draft a net negative. Only if or when the advanced capabilities of the military are degraded or starved of necessary materials will a military draft be likely to occur. But that does not preclude the possibility of other kinds of conscription. The two most likely possibilities in my opinion are a selective or "special skills" draft and a domestic security draft.

Some might already be familiar with the special skills draft when discussion of it hit the news about 10 years back. But for those that aren't, it's meant to fill critical specialties that the military is unable to fill on a volunteer basis. The most likely persons would be those in medical professions, but other proposed professions include those with particular language skills or computer specialists (not a comforting thought for my family, as my wife is a tri-lingual RN who is fluent in Russian). Such a draft would affect a minute percentage of the population, so the political risk would be minimal from the politician's point of view.

A domestic security draft is a scenario I came to on my own, one that might be put in place should the US economy suffer another recession/depression at the same time the US military is overextended in various operations overseas. It would basically involve drafting people to fill the holes left by all the National Guard and Reserve personnel called up to be deployed overseas. It would require less training than conscription into active military positions, and would lessen the potential for political blowback as the draftees would stay in the country and wouldn't be sent into direct combat roles. In the hypothetical recession/depression scenario the nation would be experiencing growing civil unrest, riots, and crime as more people are pushed into poverty, and the domestic security force would not only be there to clamp down on unrest but also decrease the number of unemployed. Now do I condone this? Hell no, especially not with the current corrupt political system we have. What I am doing is simply trying to see where the current trends are leading us. We have the growing militarization of domestic police forces, and the ever-growing Department of Homeland Security which despite it's wasteful spending and gross incompetence continues to be granted more power and responsibility. Yep, that same organization that gave us those obnoxious Eric Cartman tyrants in the TSA is likely to be the same one in charge of training and running any hypothetical future domestic army. If that sounds like a f***ing nightmare to you, I agree.

The point is that if we ever see conscription in the US, it'll likely differ greatly from that of the Vietnam era. And that will probably include the age range too... ages 18-25 might have been the draft age then, but in WW2 men aged from 21 to 45 were drafted initially (later changed to 18-38), and in WW1 at one point they were drafting ages 18 to 45. So that means the men (or women) like myself who're past age 25 but not yet suffering physical decrepitude aren't necessarily in the clear.

Are these outcomes inevitable? Certainly not. This is largely a thought exercise. But at the same time these are where the current trends are leading us, and if we don't want this to be our future we have to wake up and refuse to give our consent to the people in both parties leading us in that direction.

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