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To Serve Willingly, Or Be Forced to Serve

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Imagine being eighteen and walking across the platform to meet the principal on stage to receive your diploma. The Feelings of joy and hope for the future are normal emotions a person might feel after graduating from high school in the United States. This is not the case for young adults in 68 countries around the world that require military service or conscription after turning eighteen.

It is imperative that the outdated conscription method never used again unless under the most dire of circumstances. This can affect all of today’s youth, and affect future generations if this practice is not stopped. There is a train of thought that think that conscription has a place in today’s society. On the surface this sounds right! For less populace nations such as North Korea, it can be a matter of national security as its population is unable to maintain a service effective volunteer military force without it. Men are required to give ten years of service before being eligible to be released from service. Women are required to submit to service after high school up until their 23rd birthday. Along with national security, national unity is also given as a reason for the use of conscription. With conscription, people of all classes and economic means are taken into the military forces. This has the effect of showing to its populace that no one is above the country and they are all in this together. Lastly a reason given by supporters are that a conscription based army faces less deployments as an example would be that Israeli male Soldiers are only given 3 years of minimum service with few normally having two years of service before being released back into society. Eighty percent of the Israeli population on average will answer the summons to service.

The only people released from forced service are married women with kids and or an adult studying in the religious orthodox of the faith. While these reasons given sound logical to most we are still not answering the question how can we make them serve? How can we expect young adults to go against their belief system and willingly give up their personal freedom which is ingrained in our constitution with the right of freedom of religion and of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? The notion that we will willingly send young adults to war against their will and possibly die is a violation of this. Conscription is masked as a call to service. In simple terms it is a call to forced servitude or forced slavery. Someone can’t simply say “no I will not serve”. Conscription cannot be refused in these countries, as refusal for anything other than religious reasons such as a citizen of Israel can be placed in prison until they agree to complete the service. For those who are able to be exempted from service such as the conscientious objector. These are the people who refuse to be take up arms on moral grounds and religious grounds. The basic belief of the conscientious objector is that he can’t serve and or take up arms in the military due to conscious objection or religious teachings.

One of the more popular objectors was Mohamed Ali. Ali was selected for conscription in 1964 for the Korean War. He stated his objections for service as it goes against the teachings of the Quran as well as his general opposition against American involvement in the war. His quote for refusal was as follows “Man, I ain’t got no quarrel with them Viet Cong. Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights”? His words touched on the ongoing civil rights movement going on at the time as well, but was more centered on that he did not feel compelled to fight the Viet Cong as they had not done anything to him. While most objectors choose not to serve, there are those that do serve, but do it in a different matter. The first American to do this was Desmond Doss during the Second World War.

Desmond refused to carry a weapon or take another person’s life due to his personal beliefs. He was assigned as a combat medic and saved many lives during the battle of Okinawa. He went on to receive the Medal of Honor for his service during this. In the end forced service is an age old process that is outdated and needs to be done away with. Conscription dates back to the Ottoman Empire when the sultan Murad the first would take children ages as young as 8 up to 18 from conquered Christian to train and convert them to over to the Muslim faith as well as to train them into an effective solider to be a loyal to the sultan. This was a system known as Kul. France would later use an evolved system in 1798 with the Jourdan- Delbrel Law. The basics of the law was conscription for all childless males in the ages of 20-25 were liable to serve. The thought process behind this was that every man of France is its defender and will act when called upon. During Modern times even the United States used it, or for a more referenceable term the “Draft”. The use a draft with each male of the draft in the United States got its start back at the American Revolution with each free and able bodied male required to join the militia. The first use of the actual draft happen during the American civil war. Confederate president Jefferson Davis authorized it on April, 16, 1862 requiring all males eighteen to thirty five to serve three years. The American congress authorized the Militia Act that required a draft whenever a state could not meet its volunteer demands. Congress followed this up in eighteen sixty three with the Enrollment act which required drafting males only between the ages of twenty and forty five years of age. The Quotas were assigned by the shortages that volunteers could not meet.

During world war one Woodrow Wilson passed the Selective Service Act of 1917. It for the first time allowed exemptions beyond the physical ones such religious and personal beliefs to affect a person eligibility. Different versions were passed through war time up until the last version was passed with the reserve forces act of nineteen fifty five. This limited all eligible citizens drafted to six years of service active or reserve. The last use of the draft as we know was during the Vietnam War. During that time over two million men were drafted from nineteen sixty four to nineteen seventy two. After nineteen seventy three and on, the draft was not renewed. In nineteen eighty President Jimmy Carter reinstated the requirement that all men over the ages of eighteen register with the selective service system. Since then no other laws with direction towards the draft have been passed. Mandatory service and conscription is an outdated relic of the past and needs stay in the past. In the end after going through the history, the reasons why mandatory service is not needed or right as it imposes servitude upon our citizens. We have also looked at the supporters views. Mandatory service or conscription imposes on free will and in the end can rob many nations of their future if it is not eliminated.

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