Support wanes for conscript system in Europe … Austrians vote on army conscription this weekend, an issue on which voters in Switzerland might also be polled this year. In the post-Cold War era various European countries have grappled with the topic, each in their own way. Seventeen countries in Europe have abolished or suspended conscription in the 21st century. Only six European Union member states still maintain the principle of mandatory military service and nearly two-thirds of the total 43 states with armed forces have a professional army. Just what has led to the gradual scrapping of conscription over the past two decades and is there a pattern? … In Switzerland a proposal by a pacifist group to end conscription is pending. Parliament began discussions on the Switzerland Without an Army initiative last December, to be continued in the Senate before cabinet sets a date for a nationwide ballot. – SwissInfo
Dominant Social Theme: Let's get rid of conscription. It's slavery.
Free-Market Analysis: Across Europe we learn conscription is a dead letter as 17 European countries have "abolished or suspended" it. Now Switzerland is considering it (once again), too.
The standard libertarian approach to conscription is that it is a kind of state-mandated slavery. But as with many libertarian observations, practice does not always advance the cause of freedom.
Certainly getting rid of conscription is admirable and an advance for civil society. But in its place, the power elite has continually substituted standing (national) armies. Thus, a citizen army is turned into a professional one.
The pan-European army has a name, of course. It is, in part, called "NATO." But how responsive it is to the taxpayers funding it is most questionable. Citizen input into NATO seems minimal and NATO – and the United Nations – rarely justify military actions beyond the most formal of platitudes.
It is certainly feasible to suggest that these "voluntary" standing forces are serving interests other than those of the country they purport to support. A dominant social theme pro-offered by the power elite would be that the all-voluntary army is more efficient and less controversial. A subdominant theme would be that they fulfill a democratic mandate more thoroughly than a conscription army. In truth, they are likely being turned into a global – and globalist – fighting force.
The great Milton Friedman was famous for suggesting libertarian solutions that did not fully advance the causes he wished to promote. He suggested a "steady-state" Federal Reserve, for instance, in lieu of removing it altogether. And Friedman came up with the idea of US "income-tax withholding" in the 1940s.
The problem with getting rid of conscription is that it has done nothing to reduce the availability of state force. With a conscripted army, political and military leaders have to be careful; they are risking the lives of their citizens in taking certain actions. With an all-volunteer army, such care is apparently not nearly so necessary. After all, those in an all-volunteer army understood their lives were to be at risk when they joined.
And now Switzerland may be added to the list of countries that has scrapped mandatory military service. Here's more from the article:
It will be the third time in less than 25 years that [Swiss] anti-conscription initiatives by the group have been put to voters. In 1989 the group won a surprising 35.6 percent in favour of what was a taboo-breaking proposal. Support for a similar plan – the scrapping of the forces and the creation of a voluntary peace corps – dropped to 21.9 per cent in a 2001 vote. Last year the pacifist group, backed by centre-left parties, handed in the necessary signatures for their initiative aimed at scrapping conscription …
Able-bodied male citizens are liable for military service at age 19. Military service for women is voluntary. Men and women are discharged at 30 or when they complete military service. In some cases, different regulations apply for non-commissioned officers (NCOs), senior NCOs and officers. An alternative service in Switzerland was only introduced in 1996 as a result of a constitutional amendment, following years of debate …
We think Swiss conscription has something to recommend it within the given parameters of modern power elite strategies. After all, if the Swiss moved to an all-volunteer army, what's to stop the elites from beginning to influence Swiss military policy?
Switzerland is a small, "independent" republic and while it does not work especially well, it surely works better than "Europe." So this is one time (among others) where practicality trumps theory. Conscription is surely a kind of slavery but having a volunteer army co-opted by a secretive and unresponsive elite is a worse fate to contemplate.
We can certainly see "professionalism" at work as regards the US military – and it is not a pretty sight. It took years for US officials to get out of Vietnam, but not nearly so long as the current round of (mostly) Middle Eastern wars that are still ongoing. The war in Afghanistan has stretched well beyond a decade and the elites running the US via mercantilism have used the all-volunteer army to surreptitiously ignite wars throughout the region in the meantime.
The all "voluntary" army seems to be serving other interests than "US" ones. There has never been an open forum to confront the Pentagon or various US Intel agencies about the so-called "war on terror" and who benefits from it and why it is prosecuted in the first place.
There should be.
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