August 01, 2004

The end of the draft 

A few days ago, on the 29th of July, the Italian parliament approved with a huge majority a law terminating conscription, after almost 150 years of mandatory military (and in recent years also civil, for coscientious objectors) service.

I think it is an important step in an old-school liberal sense, in the sense of giving people more freedom of what to do in and of their lives. I think serving the country is a noble deed, but when one is free to choose wether to do it or not.

There are also more technical reasons to terminate the draft. The era of huge national armies fighting against each other is basically over. Modern military operations require a relatively small force, to be projected at long distance. This force will probably spend a briefly time in heavy fighting against a clearly identifiable hostile force, and longer time in stability and counterinsurgency operations, amidst civilians, in an overall tense and difficult situation.
Those are conditions for strongly motivated and weel trained professional soldiers, who are capable of using properly modern equipment, of dealing without cracking with stress and pressure. Not disaffected and poorly trained conscripts.
The draft also exhausted its function of helping in the formation of a common Italian culture, putting together people from different places: we have TV and Internet for it, now.

Donald Sensing, a man with long military experience in the US Marines Corps, thinks that Italy has excellent armed forces - although undersized. Let's keep the excellence at least, shall we?

So, do you think someone can be against a decision so liberal and intelligent such as this?

Of course: the Green Party abstained from the vote, while Rifondazione Comunista (Communist Refundation) voted against. Why? Well, I think the Association of Non-violent (coscientous) Objectors (you can't be a good leftist if you don't give an absolutely preposterous name to your association...) gives a glimpse of the motivations: they say that now soldiers will be only people who cannot find any other job, and rich guys will never go to war.

This is complete nonsense for various reasons: in recent years, almost anyone who wanted to skip the service found a way to become objector; moreover, people did incredible things (bribery and nepotism surely not excluded) to be declared unfit for military service. Of course, rich people were always in a better position to do these things.
Moreover, it has always been possible to volunteer for the military - my father signed for three years of service and become non-commissioned sergeant. The only big difference is that professional soldiers will be paid much more than the starvation wage of draftees (I'll look for more information about this point, though).
Finally, we can see from the example of other countries whith a professional army that not only poor kids join the armed forces.

This is not being pro-choice, the choice of doing what you want and prefer in your life. This is the Left trying to enforce equality, trying to level to the lowest point and make people sharing misery, not happiness.

Update 02/08: Finally I found an article in english about this story. Herald Sun: Italy End Conscription.


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