EYE 2 EYE: Should the US enforce Selective Services?


Leia Blackford/Talon

-Would increase the size of our military greatly -We must do something to end wars sooner -Citizens would be unwilling to participate in the draft

Pro: You’ve been picked for the draft

Aidan Scott

2020 started off with our country’s targeted killing of Qasem Soleimani, an Iranian Major general, setting off high tensions between the U.S. and Iran. This event raises the question: If World War Three were to start, would the US reinstate the draft?

The draft, formally known as the Selective Services, has always been in our country’s foundation. It states in the Constitution that “The Congress shall have power to … raise and support armies.” Now, although that does not clearly state the paths that Congress should take to raise said army, it is implied that the people of America can be conscripted to form the military. Implied powers have been proven to be a part of our Constitution ever since the Supreme Court ruling of McCulloch v. Maryland in 1819.

The United States’ total military personnel is less than one percent of the population, while Russia by contrast, which has a population of about half our own, and somehow, has a larger military by over a million. If we were ever to enter a war with Russia, we would want a military that could match or even outnumber the enemy in question.

Israel is a great example of how mandatory service makes their military stronger. They have compulsory service for both men and women when they turn 18 — men three years and women two years. This means that their military is made up of over seven percent of their total population. If we were to draft just half a percent of our population, our military would increase by almost two million.

The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly known as the GI Bill, adds more utility to the military draft. This provides benefits in the form of payments for college education, housing or other necessities. The draft would increase the number of people eligible to receive these benefits, and it benefits the entire country, not just the individuals. When the draft first went into effect after WWII, economic growth followed due to a great increase in educated professionals and veterans who went into vocational training and entered the workforce.

Believe me, I can’t say that I’d be especially excited to be drafted into the military, but it would create a stronger sense of community and patriotism among citizens and soldiers. Right now there is a divide between soldiers and citizens, meaning the average American citizen is disconnected from any of the sacrifices that the military makes. Having military personnel drafted from all walks of life would strengthen the connection between the people on the homefront and on the front lines.

It’s easy to not think about the armed forces or the war we may someday fight when you have no personal relation to it. People, knowing that their friends or family were drafted, could persuade them to join the army and serve their country out of their own volition. Or even better, this could lead to greater support of ending wars sooner. We are currently in a military conflict in Afghanistan, that I think could have ended long ago if more people had a reason to pay attention, like having a child be drafted. This strengthens our patriotism and builds a national sense of community that could lessen the polarized society that we live in now.

Con: Enforcing the draft in America is unconstitutional and a violation of our basic freedoms

Loren Yona

The fundamental identity that America advertises to the world is one of a democratic ideal upheld by the promise of equal liberties and rights for all. Enforcing a mandatory draft would circumvent these basic rights and give the impression that even America adheres to a totalitarian rule — on occasion. 

Not only would our citizens’ lives be at risk, but the very identity of our American principles, which have inspired democracies around the globe, would be in question. 

There is no constitutional background for the mandatory draft and it is actually a violation of the 13th amendment as it states that “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude” shall exist in the United States. Even under Congress’s power to raise and support armies, there is no constitutional basis for a compulsory draft thus making it unconstitutional. 

Additionally, forcing unwilling citizens to enlist in the army and fight for a war they themselves might not believe in would diminish the overall purpose, thus compromising the quality of the US military. Having millions more in the military would serve no purpose unless those people are dedicated to their mission and motivated to fight. Young adults who would otherwise be in school are not going to be motivated to fight a war for a government that ignored their dissent and sentenced them to possibly die on foreign soil. 

There has not been a war fought on American soil since World War II when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, and even then that was not a ground battle. The compulsory draft would take 17 million eligible young men away from their families, homes and education, and put them into a battleground on foreign soil to fight for something they may or may not agree with. 

The quality of our military would not be the only thing compromised but the quality of our society, as well. We would be sending kids who just graduated from high school to war instead of completing their education in college and becoming educated citizens able to contribute their many years in school back into our society. We would have a complete loss in human capital which could harm our technological improvements and advancements to society.

The opposition may say that the benefits and necessity of the draft outweighs the detriments. However, today more and more wars are being fought with drones and other unmanned craft. Technology is fighting wars today and that will only expand, also expanding the need for engineers which will arise from schooling — not serving in conflicts overseas.

Therefore, the action of enforcing a mandatory draft would, in fact, be a greater harm to our collective society rather than a benefit. There is no need for an additional 17 million troops to our  1.4 million people active in the armed forces. It would be a waste of people’s time and perhaps life, and is not necessary for ensuring national security.