Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Litotes, Feb 1, 2007.
The heart of the site is the forum area, including:
Johann Hari has an interesting perspective on conscription.....
It's a nice argument applied to Iraq, but would the Falklands be the Malvinas now if we'd had a conscript armed forces then? And would we have stuck it out in Northern Ireland?
Besides which, we're all 'economic' conscripts anyway according to the author. Presumably unemployable elsewhere.
It is a good point to make. Would we have stuck it out in Northern Ireland with conscripts? Even if we did not, would the end result be any different than it is today with a highly trained Army who did stick it out? The Terrorist will still would have won in either event. The terrorist now occupies a nice highly paid job and wears a suit just as he would have done had a conscript Army been less effective.
As for the Falkland. Well, even though the Argentinians accepted an armed invitation to leave from our professional and full-time Army, that is not conclusive to the issue of whether they will be extended a guilt-edge invitation to stay by a professional politician in the future regardless of what happened in the past.
Thus, the issue of whether or not military outcomes may be different depending on whether or not the Army is conscripted makes very little difference since the outcome of any real lasting consequence is not military at all - it is political and diplomatic.
Ms Hari does raise an interesting argument though. I think we have to be honest with ourselves here and we have to admit that for the most part, the rank and file of the Army are not recruited from those who have the opportunities to shine elsewhere.
We do recruit large numbers of young men who have few employment and educational prospects which the Army gives them in return for the expectation that we pay the ultimate sacrifice in service when called upon to do so. No, I am not saying we are an Army of 'thickies' I am suggesting that there is some persuasive force in the contention and we should not dismiss it simply because we do not like it.
We do, after all, hear similar statements on a smaller scale such as 'would it be different if it was Blair's son'? It is not really possible to say but I think the possibility that it could be is an interesting question.
I think Ms Hari wrote a good, thought-provoking article.
Regards and best wishes
As usual, a very reasoned critique from Iolis. When I joined my first Army unit about one third were National Service bods and although it became more professional over the years when NS finished it was more 'interesting' in those days because a lot of the lads really were a diverse bunch of characters in every sense of the word. When push came to shove, no one doubted their commitment.
That article was good reading. I myself have always been against conscription, however no matter what creed colour or sexuality you were you would have to go.
Dont you think this would bolster British society. It would help youngsters find respect in their own communities. It would bring communities together. It would help young people from being radicalised like our home grown terrorists.
Another point is how many people from ethnic minorities do you think would dodge the draft for whatever reason. How many scummer white kids would do exactly the same. Where would the human rights act stand on forced employment. I just dont think our government could do it. We dont live in the 50's /70's anymore. Unfortunatly for us we live in the Playstaion Consume Hedonistic generation where no one gives a damm.
Hari is a man, by the way
Iolis.............isn't Johann a boys name? Ms???
sorry didn't see Frenchpersons input
Conscription, a theme that seems to be talked about more frequently in recent times. I personally was, until recently, against any form of conscription, having lived in Germany for a long time now and seeing the standards of the conscripts in the Bundeswehr, I felt it would result in a watering down of standards within the Army. However I am increasingly warming to the idea, the Army in particular and the military in general has become, for the vast majority of the population, something that "someone else" does, we have lost to a large extent our connection to the general population of the UK and to a similar extent their support. Through this separation the general population has a very warped idea of who we are and what we do, relying as they do on the media there are stereotypes galore most of them negative.
IF, and it is a big if, conscription were to return then it must be done intelligently, the time served must be long enough to allow the conscript to contribute positively to the service, ie at the very least 1 years service (not the 8 months that conscripts usually serve here) and must be accompanied by incentives such as training on completion of service that can be taken into civilian life, a form of resettlement training.
I feel that conscription, if implemented correctly could lead to an improvement within the military, to a better understanding and acceptance of the military within the general population and ultimately to an improvement of standards within the UK as a whole. It may also lead to the likes of BLiar thinking before they treat us as their playthings.
I believe that, gradually, the advantages of conscription are beginning to outweigh the disadvantages.
People do but aspirations and opportunities have changed for the better, most would say, from the 50-70s.
I personnally like the German model of enforced community service or armed service. I would give everyone a common outlook for a couple of years.
I agree that HMG won't go down this conscription.
However, with Brown looking at extending compulsary education to the age of 18, who is to say that one option for those that want to opt out of academia will be for them to receive an "education in the community" (read community service) alternative to qualify for their benefit?
Cheap labour for a couple of years, a half way house to the German model and maybe, just maybe, a way of keeping some of the more disruptive away from those that want to learn? Makes sense to me.
I stand corrected over the gender of the author for which I am grateful.
It would be easy to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of conscription but I think the central issue is whether, by virtue of being a class of individual separated from society that the Army might more easilly be regarded as more readilly expendible than it would be if every eligible adult had a stake in serving in it?
Would it then be as carelessly treated and neglected as it is now if every mother's son and daughter were liable to be called upon to serve in it's ranks if the idea of civic duty of service was treated, as a concept as that which jury service is regarded?
Conscription as a concept is gaining momentum in the States because they do not have enough soldiers. The British Army recruits in the Valleys of Wales because there are fewer areas of poverty in the UK nowadays. It is the economy stupid. It is not exactly an easy sell, come join the British Army, eat sand and bleed. The relative prosperity of Britain has made the prospect of dying in an unpopular war even less palatable. Reason number 25 for not invading Iraq.
Whilst we are not experiencing deaths in action on the same scale as America, our losses are significant. There is the allied factor regarding equipment shortages and unsuitability. With a volunteer Army there is the "consulation" of being able to say "He died doing his duty/what he loved best etc." (I don't see this as a consulation but then I have not lost any relative or friend under these circumstances).
With a conscripted force, this comforting cushion is removed. Likely result would be to increase civilian demonstrations, increase dissatisfaction at the Government's failure to properly fit-out, protect and care for injured and troops refusing to serve in operational areas/going awol anyway.
I served in a Army made up of conscripts and volunteers. It worked quite well but that was in a time when personal freedoms were less pronounced and rejection of service from NS was quite low. I would foresee a large rise in the "Hell No I won't Go" sort of action as in US Army and the SE Asia war.
Iolis, I think the central issue of military being seen as a separate entity to the rest of society and therefore being to some degree expendable (how often have I heard the statement "well he/she volunteered for it he/she should have expected it"), has been the key factor in my change of mind regarding conscription. There are of course further benefits as I have indicated above, but the military has to become part of the society we strive to serve otherwise the gulf will just become ever larger.
Easy answer is no, of course not and we know the evidence supports a cases that Forces complaints have increased over the years as ex-soldiers have fallen out of the political system.
However, the likelihood of the Armed forces being increased in size by the numbers we are talking about is nil. Figures are from (from 2001 census) .
This is talking about a possible 16-17yr old population of about 1.3m. So, for sake of argument if we say that means about 600k a year of birth - take out your mongs - and you are left with around 550k of youngsters a year to deal with!
That is an awful lot and would require a huge increase in defence budget. That is why the Germans go for the second option of community service. A cheap labour pool, a society leveler and the community gets something back from the young year on year.
Separate names with a comma.