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Argument: Military service fosters a collective conscience

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Swedish editorialist Kennet Andreasson wrote when Sweden ended its mandatory service in 2010: "There is good reason to fear that with the end of military service yet another level of collective conscience will disappear. [...] The connection between obligations and rights has become less and less clear."[1]

Cody Lyon. "The Uncomfortable Truth of a Mandatory Draft." The Agonist. November 22nd, 2006: "If the draft were still mandatory, in particular, if it were during this war, people with power would probably find ways to avoid going.

But by going to the trouble of avoiding one’s call to duty, a citizen is forced into an examination of conscience, and in America’s current case, a deeper quest to understand the facts behind what your nation is fighting for.

Without a mandatory draft, the United State’s collective conscience can remain somewhat comforted by the knowledge that recruits sign up by choice, and are compensated by money, the promise of a free education or the honor of serving one’s country at will. The lack of the draft provides an almost uncanny convenience to not truly digest the seriousness and potential loss of what war presents on a sincerely personal level.

Currently, the United States, a country of 300 million, has about 2.7 million members in its all-volunteer armed forces. Mandatory military service has become a foreign concept. For most of us, this has led to at least one degree of separation from the frightening reality that military service can lead to. Truth be told, most American civilians are not that worried about getting called up and told they must serve.

In fact, most Americans do not experience the gut wrenching pain and fear associated with a child, spouse or parent that is seeing combat. Nor do a majority of American teenagers live with the fear that they may be shipped off to fight in war. Draft cards stopped arriving in American mailboxes over 30 years ago and Americans no longer see images of them being burned in protest. Instead, we debate the war, and its policy, from a somewhat safe place."

US Rep Charlie Rangel said in 2010: "What troubles me most about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is the total indifference to the suffering and loss of life among our brave young soldiers on the battlefield," Rep. Rangel said. "The reason is that so few families have a stake in the war which is being fought by other people's children."[2]

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