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The Worst Case Yet for Conscription

In today’s New York Times, screenwriter William Broyles resurrects Rep. Charles Rangel’s rationale for military conscription. It is this: by forcing the children and grandchildren of the elite into the military and, hence, into harm’s way in war, the elite will press more energetically for an end to hostilities.

Put aside the question of whether or not this ploy would work to reduce the frequency and length of armed conflicts, and notice that a crucial premise of Broyles’s argument is that the war is really unjustified.

If the war is justified, surely no good is served by provoking “the elite” to oppose it. Only if the war is unjustified is such effective opposition to the war by “the elite” worthwhile.

But then isn’t it obscene in the extreme to force young men and women to fight unspeakably dangerous battles in unjustified wars merely to affect public opinion at home?