1 Julabar

Military Service Should Be Voluntary Essay Examples

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Debate: Mandatory military service

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Is compulsory national service a good idea?

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Background and context

Many countries in the world have compulsory service. Such democratic countries as Austria, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Israel, Mexico, Norway, Russia, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey are among them. Compulsory military service is normally for 18-year-olds, and lasts between 1 and 3 years.
And there are usually many types of service that can be performed, ranging from combat roles to intelligence and logistic work. Different genders are frequently given different responsibilities. In Israel, for example, males usually perform 3 years of combat/security service, while females perform two years of non-combat service. Many nations grapple with the question of mandatory military service, including the United States. Proponents believe it increases the strength of the military, strengthens the character of youth, and increases the collective conscience of a nation and the restraint of leaders when considering military action. Opponents consider it an affront to individual liberties, a risk in breeding militarism and the dominance of the state, and simply unnecessary when voluntary armies can be sufficient. These and other pros and cons and quotations are documented below.

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Character: Does national service help build individual character?

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Yes

  • Military service offers invaluable experiences It is a significant change from past experiences for young individuals; a shift in perspective that can help them see life differently, inspire them to work harder in the future, and foster a greater sense of purpose and responsibility to one's nation.
  • National service produces valuable character traits: Young people are taught respect for authority, self-discipline, teamwork and leadership skills.[1]
  • National service teaches skills valuable in marketplace. People could train as engineers, IT specialists, drivers, chefs etc. In the long-run this will reduce unemployment, lower the crime rate and help the economy.[2]
  • Compulsory service engenders appreciation for freedoms"Mandatory Military service and the effects it would have on society." Nolan Chart. December 15th, 2008: "Upon leaving high school men and women are required, by law, to join the military for at least two years. There is no choice in the matter; if they don't go they get the same rights as a felon. Yes, when a person goes into the military they lose certain rights for a little while, but is that necessarily bad? No. If they have never had their basic rights taken from them they will never place as high a value on those rights, or on the sacrifice their ancestors made to give them those rights. It is a growing problem in America for people to take their rights for granted. Take peoples rights away temporarily and people start to value what they have more; and they start to value their country more. Patriotism will be on the rise."
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No

  • Mandating military service drains its many virtues According to a 2006 Time commentary, "many have argued that requiring service drains the gift of its virtue."[3] 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.
  • Impossible to mandate morality of stateBruce 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."
  • Government better off running training schemes. This would also teach skills but would save all the money that would go into the bureaucracy of running national service.[4]
  • Military service diverts young from university/career. Time spent doing military service is time taken away from the transition between high school and university education.

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Security: Is national conscription important to national security?

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Yes

  • Compulsory military service is very cost-effective. "Mandatory service is a very cost-efficient defence solution. Many European countries who have abandoned military service have had lost of problems recruiting,” Gustav Hägglund, former head of Finland’s armed forces said in 2009.[5]
  • Conscription sometimes necessary to be ready for war. Conscription during peacetime would mean that the country was prepared for emergencies when they happened, rather than having to prepare after the fact.[6]
  • Mandatory service often needed to have adequate forces Swedish brigadier general Bengt Axelsson responded to the phasing out of Sweden's military in 2009: "I want to raise a warning finger. It’s not going to be possible to achieve the volume of soldiers people are now counting on having by relying on volunteers."[7]
  • Service necessary for some geographically threatened states. Henrik Trasberg, a 20-year-old law student who is at the moment serving in the 4th Single Infantry Battalion in Johvi as a driver, thinks that mandatory military service is necessary: "Our geographic location and historical backround forces Estonia to have a good defense capacity. Further."[8]
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No

  • Conscripts never as good as professional soldiers Conscripts will not last as long nor be as combat reliable in the battlefield as compared to a real soldier who is trained to do both. These 'conscripts' (candidates) are only given the basic training of how to wield a gun and aim, but that short-lived training will never prepare them to readily pull the trigger to end someone's life, therefore lowering their combat-efficiency because of the uncertainties they pose as soldiers. Furthermore, soldiers undergo years of vigorous physical exercise to constantly improve their physical shape for the merciless battlefield. The candidates however only have but a few months of such training at a lower magnitude, and this cannot be sufficient in preparing them for battle.
  • Compulsory service brings in unqualified and unfit. Kaarel Siim, a team doctor in the Estonian Kuperjanov Infantry Battalion, said in March of 2011: "there are too many unqualified people and, in addition, quite a lot of them suffer from psychological problems.”[9]
  • Compulsory service inefficiently uses training resources Extensively training individuals that will subsequently only spend a couple of years in their respective roles is simply inefficient. It usually takes many years to secure a good return on investment from such training expenditures. Short-term compulsory service is, therefore, an inefficient use of resources.
  • No justification for mandatory service where no threat exists. Britain, for example, is not under any threat and there is no evidence that it will be in the near future. The army is capable of carrying out its role and the training of conscripts would only divert its time from more important matters.[10]
  • Unnecessary to train whole nation to prepare for threats. Suhail Al-Enizi, aged 28, argued in 2010 that military service in Kuwait should not be mandatory: "I am certain that we have enough soldiers in the army. We don't need to train the entire nation in order to be ready for threats; we are not in a police state. This is a democracy."[11]

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Society: Does mandatory service help solve social ills?

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Pro

  • Military service fosters a collective conscience 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."[12]
  • Mandatory military service will cure many of society's illsArmstrong Williams. "Mandatory Military Service Would Benefit the U.S." News Max. June 19th, 2006: "Would you like to see your son, daughter, niece, nephew or teenage neighbor become hard-working, respectful, disciplined, honorable and prepared for life? Would you like to see crime, teenage pregnancy and substance abuse rates decline? No, this is not an advertisement for a magic pill; this is an argument for mandatory military service."
  • Mandatory service creates diverse, unified melting potAri Bussel. "Mandatory military service works in Israel." News Blaze. November 26, 2009: "The IDF is a melting pot it is an army of all the people, those from rich and poor homes, religious and secular backgrounds, different shades of skin color, smart and slow, disabled and healthy, courageous and hesitant. Service pushes all through a mixer, treating them equally, placing the same demands and entrusting the same great responsibilities regardless of creed, ethnicity, or other labels or affiliations."
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Con

  • Mandatory service fosters militarismOral Calislar. "Mandatory military service essence of militarism." Daily News. September 1, 2010: "'Mandatory military service' is one of the best methods of forcing militarism on society. The heart of the message sent to the entire society and all men are this: 'No matter how educated you are, or what status you have in society, the military is above you; even the lowest military rank is your superior.' Since the aim is to make people believe in how untouchable the military is, mandatory military service is a privilege that militarism will not let go easily. This is the reason behind reactions against military service by payment. [...] 'If you a lawyer or an engineer or an architect, an artist or academics; if you speak five different languages, the lowest ranking military official is still your superior.'"
  • Mandatory service unjustified to increase political engagement.Ilya Somin. "Why Mandatory 'National Service' Proposals Target the Young." Volokh Conspiracy. September 24th, 2007: "At this point, I know some moralists will claim that the young "deserve" any political setbacks they suffer because they don't participate in politics enough. Such arguments overlook the obvious fact that many of the political disadvantages of the poor (e.g. - lack of money, lack of access to political office, lack of experience) are ones that they can't easily offset. And whatever the validity of the general view that the young should spend more time on political activity, I hope we can agree that forced labor is not a proper punishment for spending too little time on politics."

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Fairness: Is mandatory service more fair overall?

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Pro

  • Military service secures all rights and privileges.Ari Bussel. "Mandatory military service works in Israel." News Blaze. November 26, 2009: "f) The IDF is Israel's future, for it enables Israel to focus on innovation and creativity, to flourish and thrive, to grow and succeed in the harshest of environments (climate, lack of resources, human enemies, etc.). By providing the deterrence and safety net, the IDF allows citizens not in active service to live their daily lives in the most unlikely and currently unfriendly of places their eternal homeland. The IDF is the cement, the building blocks, the embodiment of past, present and future of Israel."
  • National service can involve non-combat roles."The Case for a National Service Draft." Right Democrat. November 25th, 2010: "The civilian service option.Don't want to go military? Not a problem. We have lots of other jobs at hand. You do two years of them -- be a teacher's aide at a troubled inner-city school, clean up the cities, bring meals to elderly shut-ins. We might even think about how this force could help rebuild the American infrastructure, crumbling after 30 years of neglect. These national service people would receive post-service benefits essentially similar to what military types get now, with tuition aid."
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Con

  • Youth always find way to avoid mandatory service.Bruce Chapman. "A bad idea whose time is past: the case against universal service." Brookings Institute. 2002: "Youth, ever ingenious, found ways to get deferments, decamp to Canada, make themselves a nuisance to everyone in authority-and make those who did serve feel like chumps. Many of the young people who objected to military service availed themselves of alternative service, but no one seriously believed that most "conscientious objectors" were "shouldering the burden of war" in a way comparable to those fighting in the field."
  • Mandating service inconsistent with liberal rightsBruce Chapman. "A bad idea whose time is past: the case against universal service." Brookings Institute. 2002: "Universal service advocates such as Litan are on especially shaky ground when charging that citizens should be 'required to give something to their country in exchange for the full range of rights to which citizenship entitles them.' This cuts against the grain of U.S. history and traditions. Citizens here are expected to be law-abiding, and they are called to jury duty—and to the military if absolutely necessary. They are encouraged (not forced) to vote and to render voluntary service—which Americans famously do. But to require such service before the rights of citizenship are extended is simply contrary to the purposes for which the country was founded and has endured."

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Patriotism: Does national service help build patriotism?

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Yes

  • National service promotes patriotism. National pride is at an all-time low in New Zealand at the moment, for example, and national service might give them a chance to rally around a shared cause, no matter what race culture or religion you come from. Nationhood develops respect for people belongings and property.[13]
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No

  • Patriotism should not be based on military service. This can produce extreme nationalism and xenophobia which we do not want to encourage. National Pride should be engendered in other ways.
  • Mandatory military service will not increase patriotism. Suhail Al-Enizi, aged 28, responded in 2010 to idea of implementing mandatory military service in Kuwait: "People's sense of patriotism, their attachment to this country, is not something that can be increased by putting them into military programs."[14]

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Duty? Does a citizen have a duty to serve their country?

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Yes

  • Individual has duty to give back to society through service. Whether it be through protecting the country or helping with social or environmental projects, this encourages the idea of working as a community instead of merely for selfish ends.[16]

Mandatory military service or military conscription is a strategy used by countries to build a large and powerful military ready to be deployed in times of war or when the need to protect the sovereignty of the state arises.

Many governments in history had used it, including the Qin Empire of China in 221 BC and France during the French Revolution in 1790s. Some countries impose mandatory military service even today. Among which are North Korea, which extends its 10-year military conscription last 2014; Myanmar, which requires the drafting of men and women into its armed forces; and South Korea, which imposes compulsory national service for all its citizens.

Mandatory military service is a controversial topic, and many objections have been raised against it on both religious and political grounds. This leads us to the question: Is compulsory conscription a good thing or a bad thing? Let us take a look at its pros and cons, and you be the judge.

List of Pros of Mandatory Military Service

1. Promotes National Unity
Mandatory military service can promote national unity in many ways. First, it allows citizens to learn and train together, creating that shared experience of having served in the military. Then there is also that general understanding of what life in the army is like, what is required of the job, and what has to be done in order to protect the country. Citizens are able to understand and develop appreciation for the sacrifices that people in the military made for their country. And all of these can bring people together, especially when dealing with a cultural or political threat from other nations.

2. Maintain Active Military Force
Having compulsory conscription to the military means having an active reserve of large body of armies that is ready to respond quickly and effectively to any threats to national security.

3. Ensures High Levels of Governmental Participation
With every citizen required to joined in the armed forces when the need arise, the public will be more aware and watchful of the government’s decision, especially in terms of national security and the like. With their lives at risk or at sacrifice, people will seek to understand more about the threats that face their country and will seek a greater voice on how their government approaches problems.

4. Can Provide Useful Skills
Life in the military can teach individuals more than how to throw a salute or shoot straight. The trainings they provide goes far beyond the technical skills needed to get the job done. Many military volunteers who have pursued a career in the civilian workplace mentioned several other skills and work-related attitudes that help them well in their job. These include teamwork, responsibility, initiative, stress management, diversity, and global awareness. Others learn the habits of healthy living and discipline as well as the skills in self-defense.

5. Promote Equality Among Citizens
Mandatory enlistment means that “no one” will be exempted from facing wars. All citizens, be they celebrities, rich businessmen or ordinary people, will be required to serve when the nation is facing war or in need of extra soldiers.

List of Cons of Mandatory Military Service

1. Violates Free Will
One of the arguments raised against mandatory military service is that it violates people’s rights to exercise free will. No one has the final say whether they should participate or not in the military training and enter the army since it is a compulsory mandate implemented throughout the country.

2. Interferes with Other Forms of Education
Mandatory military service typically drafts young men (and women) when they are at the peak of their learning ability (18 years old). This delays individuals’ pursuit for higher education as well as their entry into the into the civilian labor market, reducing returns to human-capital investments as a result.

3. Put Young People’s Lives at Risk
Though you might not like to think about it, part of the process is risking young people lives at risk. Casualties don’t just happen in actual combat or in the battle field but also during training and the like. Mandatory military service, which normally enlists able-bodied young people, put the next generation to serious harm and, at worst, death.

4. Compromises the Quality of Military Service
Unlike voluntary soldiers who are willing to undergo rigorous training and serve the country for a long time in the military, draft soldiers often lacks the necessary experience and preparedness, providing low combat skill quality when the time comes they are sent to war. This could lead to high casualty rate among soldiers drafted under compulsory military service.

5. Not Everyone Is Fit for It
Mandatory military service requires every citizen to join and serve in the armed forces, but not everyone is cut out for it. Whether it is mental issue, physical issue, or psychologically issue, not everyone is fit to meet the physical, mental and emotions demands of the job. Factors like anxiety, depression and the like should be carefully considered. Potentially killing someone is something that every person who was drafted in the military struggles with in their own way. A study conducted by the Anxiety and Depression Association of America showed that approximately 40,000 military members who returned from war in Iraq and Afghanistan suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). And that rate is three times higher among those who were deployed in combat than those who were non-deployed.

Conclusion

Mandatory military service has its advantages and has proven itself valuable in protecting the sovereignty of the state as well as in expanding its territories – take for example the Qin Empire that conquered a large area of what is now China, as well as the case of France during the French Revolution that was able to defend itself from the attacks of European monarchies in the late 16th century. However, its ramifications on the young people enlisted, the quality of military service, the labor market, the future generations and the like should be carefully considered.

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