Since the ratification of the US Constitution, the Federal Government has had the power to "provide for the common defense." This has been clearly stated in the preamble of the US Constitution. Over the years, the government has proven to have the power to draft in order to keep the military a force to be reckoned with. What is interesting, however, is that the government has only used this power to draft in times of emergency, such as war. Why do they only use the draft during times of war? One policy the government should enact is peacetime conscription. This is when every male citizen would have to serve two years in the US military, regardless if there is a war or not. Peacetime conscription should be considered because the military is weakening, it is historically beneficial, and it would provide jobs and an increase in patriotism. Though this policy may seem irrational on the surface, in reality, it would be very beneficial to national security and the country as a whole.
First of all, historically, peacetime conscription has been used before. In France, Emperor Napoleon I instituted the policy during his reign in the early 1800s. Also, Switzerland has used the policy of peacetime conscription for many years. To this day, when a Swiss male turns twenty, he must go into fifteen weeks of basic training. The peacetime draft has worked before, so it wouldn't be a bad idea to implement in the US.
The draft would also give the armed forces extra support, support that is badly needed by the US military. Since the USSR's collapse in 1991, America has been the world's only true superpower. Unfortunately, that is changing rather quickly. Currently, China has the world's largest military, with 2.84 million military personnel. Other potential enemies of the United States have been increasing their military power. One would think that with so many countries increasing the size of their militaries, the US would also increase their armed forces' size. In reality, if anything, America's military has been weakening. For example, according to defense journalist Mark Pizzo, "The Navy was 6,892 people short, the Army was 2,300 short of its 1999 recruiting goal, and the Air Force and Marines have had to give raises and lower standards to keep enough personnel." Since then, the US military has downsized even more. The peacetime draft would take some of the stress of recruiting off the backs of the different military branches, and provide them with the numbers needed to execute the tasks needed to maintain world stability.
Peacetime conscription would not just aid the military, but our nation could reap social benefits with this policy also. This would help provide jobs, because everyone eligible would have a guaranteed job for the two years they serve in the military. If they enjoyed it, they could make the military a career. Especially in a time of high unemployment, this option of serving in the military would be beneficial to the US economy. Also, after World War II, most of the draftees used the GI bill to go back to school and pursue a higher education. The current GI bill is almost as accessible as the WWII GI bill. This would mean that draftees leaving the military could use those benefits to go to college and pursue a better education.
I realize that many think the policy of peacetime conscription is unorthodox and unnecessary. I realize that there is a very good chance that this blog post will get bombarded with negative comments about this idea, and that's okay. I'm not even completely convinced that this is a great idea. What I'm trying to do is put some light on an idea that most Americans aren't aware of. Regardless of what one thinks about this policy, one thing's for sure, it would be very interesting to see how this policy would affect the American culture.