A Student of History

July 31, 2006

Academics vs. military service

Filed under: The Academy — John Maass @ 2:19 pm

In a recent National Review column on-line, John Noonan argues that a military-service gap has not been a part of US military service, but perhaps will be soon.  He refers to the “contention that poor men are forced to fight rich men’s wars.” Noonan denies the claim for past US conflicts: “While a service gap between the rich and the poor may have actually existed during the French Revolution or the final days of the Russian czars, it has never been a prominent feature of American history.” 

However, he thinks that a new trend is emerging on campuses.

As the top tier of American academia grows increasingly hostile toward the military and military service, the service gap may go from fiction to fact. As the antiwar movement has grown, so have so-called “counter-recruitment” campaigns, designed to strip the military of the legal right to recruit on campuses. There is hypocrisy here, as the same activist element that specializes in counter-recruitment also spends a great deal of time bemoaning the supposed service gap. On the one hand, these activists want to blame the wealthy for exploiting the poor to serve as cannon fodder in today’s wars. On the other hand, they seek to ensure that as many affluent young people are kept out of the military as possible.  

For the rest of this column, click here.


  1. My bet is that banning recruiters from college campuses has less to do with decreased numbers than that the deal they get isn’t good enought. Perhaps part of the problem is that there is no draft anymore – well, no military draft (most younger guys these days probably think fantasy sports leagues invented the idea). This seems the most fair way of getting a more representative sampling of the population in the military, especially if “exemptions” were limited. I would love to see a draft come back or have some type of mandatory military service in the USA. a draft is also a great way to grab young people’s attention about conflicts overseas – it sure got their attention in the 60s….

    Comment by John Y — August 1, 2006 @ 2:33 am | Reply

  2. The Universal National Service Act of 2003 HR163 (introduced in House) and S89 (introduced in the Senate) were bills that purported “To provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes.” Yes – the draft.

    HR163 was introduced in the House on January 7, 2003 by Mr. RANGEL, Mr. MCDERMOTT, Mr. CONYERS, Mr. LEWIS of Georgia, Mr. STARK, and Mr. ABERCROMBIE. Mr. Hollings introduced the bill in the Senate. These people, of course, were Democrats. The introduction of these bills by these very left-leaning Democrats was for purely political purposes. They knew full well that these bills would go no where.

    On October 5, 2004 this bill was defeated in the House on a vote of 402 to 2. The bill is quite dead. And guess what. The sponsors of the bill voted NO – against their own bill! The sponsors were simply playing politics and while this was quite obvious, it was also very sad.

    No politician (even these misguided liberals) seriously wants the draft. That’s political suicide. But more importantly, we don’t need it. The men and women of the all-volunteer force have answered the call of this nation and it’s working remarkably well. And if this nation did put out the call for more volunteers, there would be plenty that would answer the call.

    Comment by Murray Winland — August 10, 2006 @ 1:18 am | Reply

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