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Old November 14th, 2012, 04:42 AM   #71
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WWII showed the entire world what an army of conscripts can do. America's great wars have always been fought by nonprofessional armies of citizen-soldiers. The Civil War (although most of these were volunteers), WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam. In WWII, we really kicked butt, in two theaters of war at once, against two determined and well-organized enemies.

The opinion that equates conscription to slavery seems to lose sight of some of these examples, particularly WWII. The behavior of our troops in this epic struggle is not what we would expect from slaves. Slaves are lazy and can be expected to do the bare minimum - the GI's of WWII put forward a maximum effort, and yet most of them had been drafted. If they are slaves, why don't they act more like slaves?

What I find disgraceful is when we disparage the honorable service of our brave soldiers, just because they submitted to conscription. Why spit on their efforts and sacrifices by calling them slaves? They could have pretended to be homosexual or crazy, they could have faked an illness or injury; there are always many ways to get out of combat. Even if forced into combat, no one can keep you from cowering in your hole when the fighting starts - Why stick your head out to fire a shot? Why leave your hole to pull your wounded comrade to safety? In order to win a war, you need soldiers who are willing rush toward the sound of gunfire, not run away. Slaves will always run away. American conscripts do not.
The claim conscription is morally wrong and equivalent to slavery, perhaps more accurately to say tantamount to slavery, isn't refuted by historical examples of where it was successful in war. The issue isn't whether conscription can produce desirable results in combat.
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Old November 14th, 2012, 05:21 AM   #72

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If a man isn't willing to defend his country when his country needs him, then why should his country defend him when he needs his country?
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Old November 14th, 2012, 06:50 AM   #73
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If a man isn't willing to defend his country when his country needs him, then why should his country defend him when he needs his country?
When would anyone need the capitalist state if it hadn't made the problems? What are you defending, from what? East Anglia against flooding, perhaps? Best start listening to the climatologists! This is the usual boss-class blah: we will look after one another - let them go fly a kite.
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Old November 14th, 2012, 10:50 PM   #74
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The argument might be true, if Russia was at war alone with Finland. However the most probable option is that Russians can only concentrate a part of their army against us.

Even if Russia fights Finland alone, we would be able to inflict huge casualties, lengthen the war and, and if losing, we can continue the war as a guerrilla war. The price will be too high.

Because 70% of the men have military training the guerrilla war would be hard, long and bloody.
Russia could just launch missiles and destroy infrastructure without a single casualty from their side. Unless too much vodka is involved. Finlands only chance is the guerilla war if they wish to occupy the land.
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Old November 17th, 2012, 04:45 AM   #75

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Yup. The way of the phantom is most of the time the only option for a small kingdom against a much stronger conqueror. History is replete with it.
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Old November 17th, 2012, 08:48 PM   #76
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I agree with the OP that conscription is wrong. If the people will not volunteer to save their country from threat, then they have willingly welcomed defeat, and if that is their choice, so be it. Unless the society itself is saturated with cowards, there is a systemic problem if the people will not volunteer to fight in war if the threat is imminent and dangerous enough to jeopardize the existence of the country itself. If people feel disenfranchised by their government, or feel that the war they are being conscripted into is unjust, then I certainly can see why they would not want to fight.
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Old November 21st, 2012, 07:47 AM   #77
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hi all, I'm new to this forum but I would like to add my two pence.

I was a conscript in the military of a particular country and still am (in reservist duty). My country enforces conscription for all males and we have to serve for several years in the military at the age of 18. After that, we have to go back to the army every year for a few weeks for reservist duty.

This is my thoughts as someone who is conscripted and hated every moment of it.

1) Your personal freedoms are taken away from you when you enter the military. You can be jailed for many different offences that seem trivial or ridiculous in civilian life. e.g. insubordination, absenteeism, malingering, etc. Once had a friend jailed for arriving late.

2) You are trained to kill and might be forced kill against your will. Penalty is court martial and a very long term military jail sentence. Conscripts who are unwilling to serve for various purposes such as religious or moral reasons are all jailed. There is no other way to enforce proper conscription apart from heavy penalties. Most people don't want to die or kill.

3) You transform into a lesser human being the moment you are conscripted. People don't care if soldiers die even if they are forced against their will. It is always 'it is their duty' or 'we had it coming'. When civilians are killed in war, all moral outrage ensues. But what about a conscript who doesn't want to be there? Why is it okay to kill me? Does a bomb hurt me less than it hurts a civilian? Why is it less immoral to kill a person who is forced into servitude? In wartime, I don't want to kill the enemy. All I want to do is stay alive. I feel my life is worth much less as a soldier.

4) High risk of injury and death. The military is a high-risk job even during peacetime. People die for so many reasons that the rate of death would seem alarming if compared to civilian occupations. We all hear about occupation hazards of jobs such as miners, but what about the military? Well here it goes. These are some of the incidents I have heard of. (i) Lightning strikes signaller during bad weather when outfield (ii) Tank flips over in uneven terrain crushing tank commander (iii) Collapse in jungle due to heat exhaustion (iv) Face chopped off by helicopter blade when the blade goes too low (v) Various vehicular accidents such as tanks crushing soldiers (vi) Firearm malfunction, blowing up soldier's face (vii) etc.

5) No recourse to proper justice. Due to military secrecy, you are tried by military court which isn't impartial the least bit. What does a group of military men know about law and justice?

6) Gender inequality. Only males are conscripted. Discriminates both women and men.

It might seem like I'm whingeing but I do think I have the right to do so since I did not and will never sign up for becoming a soldier. If I volunteered, then so be it, it's my choice. But I didn't and I think that makes a whole world of a difference.
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Old November 21st, 2012, 10:54 AM   #78

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Yes there would, Britain for instance recruited an army of millions in WWI with nothing but volunteers.
I remember seeing a propaganda poster for WW1 which shows a little girl asking her daddy what he did during the war........ that seemed like a kind of social conscription (ie generating shame and guilt). Society does reject those who refuse to fight (wrongly IMHO).
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Old November 21st, 2012, 12:21 PM   #79
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The claim conscription is morally wrong and equivalent to slavery, perhaps more accurately to say tantamount to slavery, isn't refuted by historical examples of where it was successful in war. The issue isn't whether conscription can produce desirable results in combat.
I think that the performance of conscript soldiers is evidence that there is something more going on than outright slavery. If they do not fight like slaves, why call them slaves? Also, it seems somewhat disrespectful to call them slaves.

That aside, you are correct: The fact that conscription can be useful in war is not an argument for its ethical legitimacy. Another poster pointed out that the Wehrmacht was a conscript army, and they also performed quite unlike slaves. The answer to the question of the legitimacy of conscription is quite simple: all we must do is evaluate the legitimacy of the overall conflict in which the conscripts are engaged.

Conscription is just another weapon, like a rifle. A rifle in itself is morally neutral: you can use it to attack your neighbor, or you can use it defend yourself. If the war is just, then your use of conscription is just. As a matter of fact, an argument can be made that if the war is just, it would actually be unjust to not use conscription - if you are fighting for a worthy cause, then you must deploy all weapons, in order to win in the most rapid possible manner. To delay the triumph of a worthy cause is itself unjust.

I would hope that you can agree that the use of conscription by the North Vietnamese in their efforts against the Americans was justified. However, because America's goals were unjust, our use of conscription cannot be justified. We shouldn't have been there in the first place, whether we were fighting with conscripts or not. Using a volunteer army would not have made the war more just. The Vietnamese, on the other hand, had every right to use conscription to expel the foreign invaders.
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Old November 21st, 2012, 01:30 PM   #80
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I think that the performance of conscript soldiers is evidence that there is something more going on than outright slavery. If they do not fight like slaves, why call them slaves? Also, it seems somewhat disrespectful to call them slaves.

That aside, you are correct: The fact that conscription can be useful in war is not an argument for its ethical legitimacy. Another poster pointed out that the Wehrmacht was a conscript army, and they also performed quite unlike slaves. The answer to the question of the legitimacy of conscription is quite simple: all we must do is evaluate the legitimacy of the overall conflict in which the conscripts are engaged.

Conscription is just another weapon, like a rifle. A rifle in itself is morally neutral: you can use it to attack your neighbor, or you can use it defend yourself. If the war is just, then your use of conscription is just. As a matter of fact, an argument can be made that if the war is just, it would actually be unjust to not use conscription - if you are fighting for a worthy cause, then you must deploy all weapons, in order to win in the most rapid possible manner. To delay the triumph of a worthy cause is itself unjust.

I would hope that you can agree that the use of conscription by the North Vietnamese in their efforts against the Americans was justified. However, because America's goals were unjust, our use of conscription cannot be justified. We shouldn't have been there in the first place, whether we were fighting with conscripts or not. Using a volunteer army would not have made the war more just. The Vietnamese, on the other hand, had every right to use conscription to expel the foreign invaders.
A country that cannot defend itself by the voluntary service of her citizens does not deserve to exist. They have shown moral weakness and cowardice and are likely more fit to be ruled by the invader. If you have resorted to coercing people to fight for you against their will, you have long since abandoned any notion of justice or morality in your cause.

Of course, war is never about justice and morality and always about personal interest. Not that this means we should not go to war, you can't just let people walk all over you, but we shouldn't have any fantasies about moral crusades either.
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