Is Conscription Slavery? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Imagine receiving a straight-to-the-point letter in the mail from the U.S. government notifying you that your number has been selected and you must leave your comfortable life to fight in a war. Conscription snatches away citizens’ rights to live however and wherever they please. If the Selective Service were to resurface now, five years into the Iraq War, it would truly affect not only those eligible to be drafted, but also their loved ones. Though it appears that most politicians are against conscription right now, that could easily change between now and the upcoming presidential election. I believe that drafting our citizens into the Iraq War would be immoral since it is involuntary servitude and essentially a form of slavery.

Some who passionately believe in conscription feel that there should be no deferments or excuses. That opinion is based on the belief that it is every American’s patriotic duty to serve his or her country. However, it is certainly not patriotic to be standing at the government’s beck and call in a country that is founded on the idea of individual liberty. As Ronald Reagan powerfully stated in 1979, “Conscription rests on the assumption that your kids belong to the state. If we buy that assumption then it is for the state … to decide who shall have what values and who shall do what work, when, where, and how in our society. That assumption is not a new one. The Nazis thought it was a great idea.”

Some believe there should be a draft to eliminate the current economic disparity in the armed forces. It is true that the Selective Service provides an equal chance of fighting to those who live from paycheck to paycheck as well as those who could retire before their fortieth birthdays, but it also gives everyone an equal chance to end up missing in action, prisoners of war, or killed. Arguments for the draft contend that the voluntary military is too expensive, but a price cannot be placed on the freedom of a human being.
Since the Iraq War began in 2003, there have been 3,915 U.S. military fatalities and 28,822 troops wounded (as of January). Among all the countries involved in the Iraq War there is an average of 2.47 deaths every day (not counting civilian deaths), which amounts to approximately 17 parents, children, cousins, and friends who do not return home every week. Shouldn’t it be a personal decision to fight in a war that leaves so many grieving?
Even after troops return home, they often suffer from symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Veterans experience disturbing nightmares and undesirable emotions such as irritability, anger, and depression that can in turn cause detachment from family and peers. Families lose the husband or wife, mother or father they once knew, gaining someone who is alienated from society, sometimes unpleasant to be around, and lacking their former personality. Not even two years into the Iraq War, 12,500 discharged veterans were being treated for symptoms of PTSD at the U.S. Department of Affairs. It is terrible to think that even after combat ends, thousands relive their experiences.

The draft can be summed up in one word: immoral. Forcing someone to experience combat and its long-term effects is unfair not only to those who fight but to their families and friends. The alternative is the current all-voluntary military.

To eliminate conscription once and for all, incentives should be increased, bonus money offered, recruiters added, and the military advertising budget enlarged. So, when it’s time to vote in this year’s presidential election, vote for a president who will not send you that life-changing letter that forces you to give up your well-being for that of the government. Slavery has long been abolished, and it is imperative that the Selective Service be as well.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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This article has 5 comments. Post your own now!

theboss25 said...
Feb. 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm
I don’t agree with the article. I think that conscription is needed in a country that doesn’t have enough men and women that want to volunteer to join the armed services. Also where would the United States be without the draft would we have had enough manpower to help the Allied Powers win War World Two? Or would we have been no help at all. Think about that for a minute would the Allied Powers have stopped Hitler? Or would there be none to stop Hitler and he would go and take... (more »)
 
ummmidk said...
May 1, 2009 at 9:19 pm
great point faceless but i am still against conscription
 
Harley said...
May 1, 2009 at 5:56 pm
This is amazing! It speaks the truth!
 
faceless said...
Aug. 5, 2008 at 10:10 pm
Some great arguments and stats.
One question: Should we have sacrificed a loss in WWII by banning conscription?
 
BookWorm579 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 29, 2009 at 6:45 pm
I suppose a better question is: WOULD we have sacrificed a victory in World War II by banning conscription? Sure, over a million men were drafted during World War II, but the majority weren’t used until the time leading up to and following D-Day. D-Day was not so much a turning-of-the-tables as it was a tipping point. The Allies still could’ve won the war without conscription; it simply would have taken longer.
 
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