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The Incidence of War,
This review is from: The Costs of War: America's Pyrrhic Victories (Paperback)
Although soundly invested in the critiques provided in each of the contributions to "The Costs of War: America's Phyrric Victories," I find the refusal by Mises intellectuals to entertain extending the franchise of soldiering to the ruling classes (and even, now, to the comfortable middle classes) by way of compulsory service a hollow defense.
Mr. Stromberg (whose analysis here, as in his articles dating back many years, speaks truth to power most lucidly) himself has been heard dismissing the James Fallows assertion. To paraphrase: that until the mothers of soldiers in comfortable white suburban towns are ringing the phones off-the-hook screaming at their Congressmen "YOU KILLED MY BOY!" the lives of Fallows' working-class "Chelsea boys" will continue to be defiled in the name of state sponsored phyrric misadventures as they are marched off to slaughter.
What other than placing the incidence (costs) of warfare squarely in the laps of the decisionmaking class will stall the state-led rush to war? Surely not the scorn of intellectuals. Surely not the "mature restraint" shored up by our shuddering constitutional system, increasingly torn to shreds by means of "unitary executive" assertion. Alas, surely not the thoroughly "professionalized" "all-volunteer" armed forces, marshalled by increasingly unaccountable yes-man officers, themselves at the beck and call of revolving-door insider-intellectuals, presidents, congressmen, and captains of industry as they engage in the lapping up of the "political means to wealth"--the overwhelming majority "exempted" from their service on the battlefield.
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Initial post: Feb 2, 2010 7:37:56 AM PST
The picture you paint in the last paragraph from "Alas, surely not the..." is terrifying. And yes, everyone should be called to serve, if service is required. Why not? We all "benefit". Why should the young be the only sacrifices?
Posted on Jul 27, 2011 4:01:36 PM PDT
I think that's wishful thinking on your part. I know a couple of women in "comfortable white suburban towns" whose sons died in the military who will never complain to their Congressman, because they buy into all the pro-military arguments. Consider the many cultures in history where the leaders happily sent their sons into war; if the military mindset was part of the culture, then that risk didn't slow them any. War becomes an opportunity for glory rather than for service, and you can gain political power rapidly by being a good warrior, but there's still war.
And in the US, there will always be some kind of an exemption in the foreseeable future because of groups like the Amish and Mennonites, who are generally willing to work for the government in time of war but will absolutely refuse to fight. In WW II, conscientious objectors had to work for the CPS, which meant they earned less pay, needed outside support from church or family, and had to work longer than draftees, but you didn't have to be Amish or Mennonite to get into it.
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