Eric Navarro of Task & Purpose posed the question Could One Year Of Mandatory National Service Change This Country? To which I will respond below in more depth, but to sum up my answer: Hell No. The mandatory service argument is theoretical non-sense which I will put to rest.
The Military Aspect
Those who served have no doubt come into contact with guys or galls who really should not have enlisted. They may have joined with honest intentions, but soon realized it’s not for them. Our Drill Instructors use to call these recruits who finished basic training, but were the bottom of the barrel performs “the ones who slipped through the cracks”. Making service mandatory would increase the number of those not cut out for military life and would have a terrible impact combat effectiveness.
The US is in the midst of military budget cuts so wherein the hell are we going to get the funds to pay for training, housing and equipment for the surplus troops? We would be looking at a massive tax increase/or borrowing, and a creation of another giant bureaucratic system. This runs contrary to conservative values of small government and staying out of peoples lives; not taxing and drafting them.
“Citizenship no longer demands a common experience — and so we no longer believe in a common future.” -Gen. Stanley McChrystal
No doubt you’ve heard cries that we need to “take our country back” or “start over”, but taking back the country, and not believing Americans see a common future is an exaggerated generalization of American social/economic problems. These phrases present a damning picture of America in which Navarro’s article can only be fixed by the military. His article panders to the myth that we need the military to restore tradition, order, and a common future for the United States to survive; or else we are going to continue walking the plank of American decline. The constant nagging of negativity from political leadership, entertainers in the news, and every day Americans represents not a solution based mindset, but a “woe is me” complex which will never solve anything.
9/11, the Iraq war, and the recession have acted as a heart attack to the American system.Trying to get our organs healthy while maintaining an external presence has been difficult, especially because our society is steeped in instant results.
We’ve begun to look pessimistically into the mirror and wonder what is our identity, and our role in the world. But the solution is never as simple as: use the military, and we certainty wont maintain a coherent future with leadership in Washington telling everyone “we need to this country back”.
The future of the United States depends on it’s leadership’s ability to adapt to the rise of ISIS, a competitive China, and Russian advances into Europe. As citizens we need to understand that despite different political parties, faith, income, race, education, or sexuality we are still American, and love so many of the tangible and intangible characteristics of our nation. Every day citizens still desire civil liberties, education for their children, security in their city, and employment; we may have different perspectives on how to get there, but don’t resent our future because others have a different path to a similar solution. I believe in America exceptionalism in the 21st century will not be based on use of force, but the ability to adapt to an ever changing internal and external landscape.