Re: AntiDraft Policy - a failed standard of the Sixties (fwd)
Fri, 9 Aug 1996 13:18:54 -0400

Sender: "m.bibby" <>
Subject: Re: AntiDraft Policy - a failed standard of the Sixties

In response to John's comment on my post:

Perhaps I haven't made myself clear, and I'm sorry if I've misinterpreted
John's argument--but my point wasn't really about the *legitimacy* of
using military force as an arm of the state--as anti-militarist as I am,
I'm also pragmatic enough to recognize this necessity. Actually what I
wanted to raise for consideration--and what the rest of my post asked--was
whether it would be possible to have an all-volunteer military that would
not act as "a mercenary force to be used at the whim of a president"
(John's 8/6 post). This is actually a question of political philosophy, I
suppose, but it reflects on the nature of the previous posts' critique of
the results of Nixon's end to the draft. Wouldn't it be possible to have a
"people's army" that answered directly to citizens without forcing them to
serve in it? I ask this question because I honestly don't know if such a
thing is theoretically or practically possible--but I also feel very
strongly that the draft is wrong. To my way of thinking, draft resistance
was necessary during the 60s--and I'm glad we no longer have a draft. I
very much agree, however, that its outcome, as drieux, John, Ed, and
Dennis have argued, has mostly served the interests of a belligerent
militarist state and that it has led to decreased civilian interest in the
military and foreign affairs. But perhaps if the resistance had led to a
restructuring of the military in such a way as to increase civilian
control without demanding civilian service, this would not be the case.
The problem, then, isn't one of the legitimacy of using military force as
an arm of the state, but rather the possibility of making the state and
military answerable to the citizens. If only a draft can guarantee
containment of the state's use of military force, then what room does that
leave for pacifists, for example, to have a say in that containment?
Enforced military service doesn't seem to me to make the military more
answerable to citizens so much as it makes citizens answerable to the
military--they must *serve* that military in order to have a say in how it
functions. This is why I said that the reasoning presented in previous
posts about the draft/volunteer army seems to presume the legitimacy of
the military--but what I meant here is the military *as it is currently
structured* in US society.

Michael Bibby