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Argument: Mandating military service drains its many virtues

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Supporting quotations

Supporting quotations

According to a 2006 Time commentary, "many have argued that requiring service drains the gift of its virtue."[1] This is because in order for an act to be patriotic, it has to be voluntary. If it is required, then it is nothing special.


Bruce Chapman. "A bad idea whose time is past: the case against universal service." Brookings Institute. 2002: "Outside of mass mobilization for war—or in the special case of Israel, a small nation effectively on constant alert—the only modern nations that have conscripted labor to meet assorted, centrally decreed social purposes have been totalitarian regimes. In those lands, the object, as much as anything, has been to indoctrinate youth in the morality of the state. Litan may not have such goals in mind, but many universal service advocates want to use conscription to straighten out the next generation—to their approved standards. No doubt many-most?-think they can inculcate a sense of voluntary service through compulsory service.

In reality, however, no previous generation of youth has been so encouraged to volunteer for various approved, state-sponsored social causes. In many high schools in the United States, students cannot get a diploma without performing a certain number of hours of approved "community service." Does a child who must perform service to graduate from high school develop a high sense of what it means to help others? Does a student who learns that almost anything counts toward the service requirement—so long as he doesn't get paid-develop a keen sense of civil calling? Or does he hone his skill at gaming the system? And why, if we have this service requirement in high school—and some colleges-do we need yet another one for the year after high school?"

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