2011-12-02 / Editorial/Opinion

Is It Time To Rethink The Draft?

A recent survey has found that “[America] has an armed services that is at war and a public that’s not very engaged, a time when the public has been paying less and less attention even though the wars have been going on for ten years.” A smaller share of Americans currently serve in the armed forces than at any other time since the era between World War I and World War II, a new low that has led to a growing gap between people in uniform and the civilian population, says a recent Pew Research Center study. During World War II, nine percent of the population served in the military. Now, it is less than one percent. As a result, younger people are far less likely to have a relative who served in the armed forces. Three-quarters of those Americans over the age of 50 reported that they have a relative who served. Among those age 18 to 29, that number drops to about 30 percent. The pollsters believe that gap may be a problem for America. “Typically, when our nation is at war, it’s a front-burner issue,” says Paul Taylor, the executive vice president for Pew. “But with these post 9-11 wars, the public doesn’t seem to be paying much attention.” Before the draft ended in 1973, every male who turned 18 had to register for the draft. That created a built-in interest for most American families, not only the men who faced the draft. Since that time, however, with an all-volunteer military, most families do not have to face the issue and therefore have less interest in the armed forces and the war those forces are fighting. That does not bode well for the country, when a few fight its wars and the rest do not care. Perhaps it’s time to take a look at renewing the draft, not only for men, but for women as well. Or, as an alternative, we might look at two years of national service inside the nation itself. Everybody has a responsibility to serve the nation and it is time for that nation to look at ways that its young men and women can serve.

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