We live in interesting times. Sadly. Many of the titles at this year’s Cannes Film Festival seemed understandably preoccupied with the role of the artist in a changing world — be it through stories of writers and filmmakers wrestling with the political …
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It’s been a long time since a common rite of passage among our nation’s men was to put on a uniform and defend your nation, community, and family. Yet at a time of increasing hyperpolarization in our country, as well as the deteriorating state of our nation’s youth in mind, body, and soul, national military service may be an idea worth considering once again.
National service has been ever-present in our country’s history. From militias in the Revolutionary War era to the wartime drafts in the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, to peacetime drafts through various parts of our nation’s past.
The legacy from those eras of conscription still remain in the form of the Selective Service system, which many of us remember being notified that we needed to register for upon reaching age 18.
The Selective Service system also has been the subject of debate in recent years, as many persons have considered whether women should register for it as well – such as during the 2016 Presidential election when Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton called for such.
Among other republics and democracies in the world national service is relatively common, from the nations of Europe to Africa, from the Middle East to Asia to South America. Conscription began falling out of favor since the end of the Cold War, as the general state of worry over military conflict faded.
Yet in recent years conscription has made a comeback. French President Macron has been trying to reintroduce military conscription in order to “foster patriotism and heal social divisions.” Norway recently expanded its military conscription in 2016 to include women, as Sweden has now re-introduced conscription as well.
Perhaps the most noted military conscription program is that of Israel, which requires all men and women to serve about two years in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), with few exceptions. While brought about by military necessity, it has also cultivated an Israeli citizenry that has the character, grit, and sense of duty to keep their nation thriving.
It used to be that way in America, as serving in the military was a relatively common experience. In 1980, veterans totaled 18% of adults in the United States. In contrast, by 2016 that number had fallen to 7%.
At a time when our nation is reeling from divisions along seemingly every line possible, it is worth considering a common and shared experience as national service to reconnect our country together. The benefits are very clear in other nations, as despite often no overt military conflict conscription still provides a variety of security and social benefits to the country.
Undoubtedly the implementation of a conscription program, not seen in our nation for almost half a century, would be difficult initially. Not only have the times and culture changed, but so has the very nature of our armed forces.
Our military nowadays is an extremely high-tech organization and finding how to best utilize the massive manpower from our almost 330 million person nation would require careful delineation.
Furthermore, many of our nation’s youth, estimated currently at 71% of those between the ages of 17 and 24, are grossly unfit for military service. Creating a new conscript category and integrating them usefully into the nation’s military would be challenging, but given how seemingly every other nation is able to do it effectively we undoubtedly can find a way to as well.
The idea of national service would undoubtedly require a significant period of pilot programs and testing. The idea has been proposed frequently in the national discourse throughout the years and particularly during the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. It is a big, nation-changing policy that certainly, if it gets further traction and consideration, would be a serious national debate.
National service is a very realistic program that could do a lot in solving many of our nation’s otherwise seemingly unsolvable problems, as well as reigniting reflection on the meaning of citizenry in a republic.
I think it is worth considering at our present time, as, although it seems a big change, nonetheless could revive our American spirit and heal our nation in an extraordinary way.
The post Reigniting The Meaning Of Citizenship Through National Service appeared first on The American Spectator.
It’s almost like a clock that you wind up for a year or two and wait for the alarm to go off. In December 2008, Israel launched Operation Cast Lead, the first large-scale anti-Hamas campaign after its unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005.
Change is happening in employment in all sorts of ways and much more change is on the way. Both employees and employers need to anticipate some of this change. (It will be impossible to anticipate it all, and it is in these unforeseen changes that opportunities for workers and employers will largely arise. Think social media.)
An employment crisis is brewing. Recent research on the impact of artificial intelligence and automation estimates that there will be 38 million jobs lost in the U.S. by the year 2030. Without significant interventions, this could translate into a 23.5% unemployment rate—equivalent to the peak unemployment rate during the Depression in 1933. Those hit hardest will be the 87 million people in frontline and early career jobs. The consequences are potentially devastating for our economy and for millions of individuals and families.
The most immediate and powerful solution lies with companies. Employers can begin to compete with the changing nature of work and automation by upskilling existing talent and providing creative pathways for advancement. This investment pays for itself; companies that have restructured their hiring, management, and training of entry-level workers have seen dramatic reductions in turnover and increases in productivity.
Axon Enterprise, Inc. AAXN was a big mover last session, as the company saw its shares rise more than 5% on the day. The move came on solid volume too with far more shares changing hands than in a normal session. This continues the recent uptrend for the …
Thucydides tells us that war changes the meaning of words. Social media demonstrated this maxim several years ago when “mil-splaining” military-related holidays was all the rage. From memes outlining the differences between Veterans, Armed Forces, and Memorial Day, to Fourth of July “safe space” declarations seemingly applied to all vets, the trend was everywhere. Thankfully, it seems now to have passed.
Memorial Day is, of course, for remembering the fallen, those who died in service to the nation. Veterans and their families remember their loved ones in ways they deem appropriate, and the state remembers, too, in a somber, serious manner.
This remembrance should in no way preclude the typical family barbecue and other customs associated with the traditional beginning of summer. National holidays are for remembering and celebrating, not guilt. Shaming those who fail to celebrate a holiday according to one’s expectations is a bit like non-Christians feeling shame for skipping church: it shouldn’t matter because the day means different things to different people. Having a day on the calendar demonstrates the national consensus about honoring sacrifice; anything more than that is a slow walk towards superficiality. President Bush stopped golfing during the Iraq war, but it didn’t stop him from continuing it.
Instead, Memorial Day should engender conversation about our military and the gulf between those who serve and those who don’t. The conversation shouldn’t just be the military talking at civilians; it must be reciprocal. Increasingly civilians see “soldiers as symbols that allow them to feel good about themselves, and the country”—but many also see OxyContin that way. This situation is lamentable because the aforementioned “mil-splaining” could only occur in a country so profoundly divided from its military as to misunderstand basic concepts such as the purpose of holidays. It’s also striking how the most outspoken so-called “patriots” often have little connection to that which they so outlandishly support. Our “thank you for your service” culture is anathema to well-functioning civil-military relations.
The public owes its military more consideration, particularly in how the armed forces are deployed across the globe. Part of this is empathy: stop treating military members as an abstraction, as something that exists only to serve a national or increasingly political purpose. Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines are deserving of praise and support—especially considering the burden they’ve carried—but what they need more is an engaged public, one that’s even willing to scrutinize the military. Because scrutiny necessitates engagement and hopefully understanding and reform.
But the civil-military divide goes both ways. Military members and veterans owe the public a better relationship as well. This Memorial Day, don’t cringe when someone says “Thank you for your service” and proceed to correct them. Open a dialogue: you might build a real connection. Better yet, volunteer to speak at a school or church: partly to explain your service, sure, but more so to show that military personnel are people, too, not just distant abstractions. Veterans are spread across the county and better able to interact with civilians than our largely cloistered active duty force. They shouldn’t go to schools, churches, and civic organizations for the inevitable praise. They should go to educate, nurture relationships, and chip away at the civil-military divide.
Perhaps by questioning the fundamentals—the “why” instead of the so often discussed “what” in military operations—the public would be in a better position to demand action from a Congress that, heretofore, has largely abdicated serious oversight of foreign policy. Perhaps the public, instead of asking “what” we need to break the stalemate in Afghanistan, could ask “why” there is a stalemate at all—and whether American forces can truly ameliorate the structural, cultural, and historical obstacles to achieving desired ends there.
A strategy is needed that’s rooted in serious analysis of American interests and strengths and a realistic assessment of the world. For nearly a generation, we have failed to align ends, ways, and means. Like “The Weary Titan,” America finds itself unable (or unwilling) to adapt to a changing world. Consumed by domestic strife and the emergence of nationalism, American foreign policy has wandered fecklessly since the end of the Cold War. While we can strike anywhere, this capability is wasted in search of a lasting peace.
What do we have to show for our expenditures? A divided country, financially exhausted while waging war across the globe against an elusive enemy—who is, frankly, not a threat remotely approaching the resources we have aligned against him. Beyond the material costs, there’s the social. Our military has become a syncretic religion, enjoying the support but not due consideration of the nation. This situation is genuinely tragic.
For America to dig its way out of its domestic and foreign troubles it must start with sobering analysis. For the civil-military dialogue, Memorial Day is as good a place to begin as any day. So this weekend, civilians should move beyond “Thank you for your service” and ask a vet about his or her service and lost comrades. Veterans, don’t expect praise and don’t lecture; speak with honesty and empathy, talk about what you’ve done and the conditions you’ve seen. You might be surprised what we can learn from each other.
John Q. Bolton is an Army officer who recently returned from Afghanistan. An Army aviator (AH-64D/E), he is a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan. He is a 2005 graduate of West Point. The views presented here are his alone and not representative of the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. government.
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