For years, nations around the world have chosen to turn to drafting citizens for the military against their will in order to have an adequate number of soldiers for wars occurring at the time. We must question, “Is this ethical?” In this paper I will examine various sources and ethical theories from throughout history to decide whether or not the drafting of citizens to join the military is in fact ethical. I believe that, while exploring these sources, we will find that, from an ethical standpoint, military drafting is not a morally correct option.
Examining the ethical standpoint of military drafting is quite important to our nation because, at the moment, there is debate going on about whether or not women should be drafted as well as men. This brings up an entirely new option to drafting. Throughout history, it has been the men who have gone off to fight while the women have stayed home to take care of things. Nowadays, women make up a large division of the military, which means that there is a greater number soldiers; thus eliminating much of the need to draft new soldiers. Without such a great need for soldiers, the people of the United States would not be forced to engage in practices or be part of a cause in which they don’t believe. The consideration of the drafting of women has particular importance to me, because, as a woman, even though I love and value my country, I have no desire to join the armed forces. It is against everything for which I stand and in which I believe to kill another human being.
Ethical egoism is the idea that if a person is not always being 100% selfish and looking out for his or her own personal benefit and gains, he or she should be. This idea suggests that we humans should not do anything that doesn’t make us happy, give us pleasure or benefit us in the long run; if each of us is always looking out for our own benefit, then the world will be a better place because everyone will have that driving factor to make their goals happen and thus, everyone will work harder. All we truly have is ourselves, so if we give up what we want or need for the good of another, we are giving up on the one person who matters to us and we are losing ourselves in the process.
The theory of Ethical Egoism would say that, if joining the military is something that will benefit you over the long run and which you genuinely love, then it can be a wise decision. The armed forces generally pay quite well and have good benefits, such as free tuition for school and career placement. These “perks” can be a blessing in many people’s lives, so, if you are one who thinks it would be a good use of your time and energy, then by all means, join the military and serve your country. However, if joining the military is not something that you would love to do, or if it is something which contradicts your moral beliefs, then it would not be a wise decision in the long run and you should not be forced into serving. Many people who have been drafted have suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to the horror which they had to endure and for which they were not mentally or emotionally prepared.
The theory of Utilitarianism states that an action is right or wrong in proportion to its ability to promote or destroy the overall happiness of everyone affected; thus it is morally correct to take action for the greater good, not simply for personal gain or the pleasures of one individual. There is also Non-hedonistic Utilitarianism which defines actions taken to be right or wrong in proportion to the amount of good which they promote in the world. This theory takes happiness and pleasure out of the equation and simply looks at what it will contribute to the world. Both of these theories look at the common interest and decide which actions to take based on the benefit of the body as a whole.
According to Utilitarianistic ideals, if the drafting of civilians for the military will promote the common good, it is the right thing to do. This may mean that in time of war, if there is a need for more soldiers, drafting may be the key to keeping our nation safe from invaders or protecting soldiers in lands we are at odds with, thus being for the common good. However, it may not be for the greater happiness in the equation. Many Americans are at odds with the war which is happening now and would do anything to stop it. Do we include their happiness in the picture? What about the happiness of those whose country we have invaded? It is difficult to know who’s happiness and well-being should be taken into account.
In my opinion, military drafting is morally wrong. No one should be forced to join a service in which they are asked to perform act of violence against others. I know that, with the beliefs I hold about life and violence, if I were drafted, I would kill myself before I could force myself kill another human being. I love and value my country, but whether the person I was asked to kill was good or bad, I would not be able to go through with it. Studies have shown that, in past wars, even those men who were not drafted but had birth dates that made them eligible for the draft had a higher mortality rate than the group with birth dates that exempted them: “Suicide was increased by 13%, death from motor-vehicle accidents by 8%, and total mortality by 4%.” I believe that this clearly proves that those who do not enter the service voluntarily are not mentally or emotionally prepared enough to handle what occurs on the battlefield, therefore, having them there puts them and their comrades at greater risk. Draftees also do not make as much money as enlistees. Though both are putting their life at risk for the same cause, one is scrutinized against while the other is rewarded and praised. This segregation no doubt is demoralizing to the draftees because they feel as if they are under-valued compared to the other soldiers, this creates resentment and misunderstanding in a field where they need to remain united as a body.
I believe that George Washington would disagree with me on this topic. He felt that every man should fight for the freedom of our country and that if they were to enjoy the privileges that others were willing to fight for, they should step up and fight for freedom. He believed in honor and putting the greater good ahead of one’s own comforts. His troops lived in the cold for months with no decent food, clothes, or housing and yet they stuck to the mission until the end no matter the consequences.
In conclusion, I believe that there is great honor in fighting for a common goal and working to protect the safety and happiness of all, but that in order to truly give your best and keep the safety of those around you, you must be committed to what you are doing and have a personal drive. Sense of personal duty is such a big part of what keeps the men and women in our military level-headed, safe, and determined. If one is forced to join, he or she may not have this drive and can endanger those around them, which is why, after careful research and consideration, I feel that having a military draft is morally wrong.