Although inspired by genuine and firmly held beliefs, Professor Mark Lance’s column titled “Spread Cost of War to All of Society” (THE HOYA, Oct. 3, 2008, A3) misrepresents not only the implications of reinstating the draft but also the varied motivations of countless Americans who choose to voluntarily serve in the U.S. military.

I do not seek to contend with Professor Lance’s views regarding American politics, American foreign policy or the legitimacy of the conflicts in which this country is presently engaged. Instead, I aim to refute a number of unsubstantiated assumptions and misappropriated stereotypes put forth by Professor Lance throughout his column.

First, Professor Lance claims that the poor are one of two groups that compose the American military. Without qualifying what constitutes the label “poor,” Professor Lance again supposes that a “substantial portion of enlisted men and women” join the military because it is either “Go Army or Go Live on the Street.” Although this statement appears to be an uninformed generalization given that Professor Lance has not served in the U.S. military, his conclusion is flawed for reasons independent of his lack of a service record.

For one, it is preposterous for any individual to claim to have an understanding of the specific motivations of nearly 1.5 million individual U.S. servicemen and women on active duty. Furthermore, to think that the collective motivations of said volunteers can be neatly codified into such vaguely defined categories is at best presuming the capacity to speak for other persons and at worst grossly distorting the nuance and situational variety surrounding the decisions of countless individuals to join the U.S. military.

The principal problem with Professor Lance’s position regarding the reinstatement of the draft is his failure to elaborate on significant characteristics of said draft, which include, but are not limited to, length of service, conditions for deferment of service and persons eligible for service. The reader is left to assume that the draft of which Professor Lance speaks is to be similar, if not identical, to the Vietnam-era draft model.

Professor Lance’s ideal draft would supply the military with “better-educated, more privileged, drafted soldiers” who are “less vulnerable and hence less obedient soldiers.” Professor Lance derives an inverse correlation between a soldier’s level of education and his corresponding willingness to follow orders, which is the fundamental obligation of a soldier. Furthermore, Professor Lance implicitly concludes that anyone who follows orders must either be uneducated or unprivileged. To suggest that not following orders, when survival often depends on doing just that in combat, is a mark of intellectual superiority is a fine conclusion to make from the cloistered confines of Georgetown University. Conversely, an intelligent soldier would undoubtedly realize that following a lawful directive in combat in order to accomplish the mission at hand is far superior to taking one’s privileged academic pedigree to the grave.

Professor Lance’s arguments regarding the perceived disconnect between the willingness of the wealthy and the poor, which are in themselves vague distinctions, to follow military orders satisfactorily terminates in a conclusion so unscientific that it borders on irresponsible conjecture.

Professor Lance’s unsound reasoning continues in the main body of his piece when he states, “Virtually all of us would fight to defend our homes.” First, Professor Lance insists that Americans ought to defend their homes. Once again, Professor Lance introduces vague terminology, in this case the word “home,” when referring to that place which American are justified in defending. Does home refer to the bedroom, one’s personal house, one’s town, state or nation? The reader is left to formulate his own judgment. In each of the aforementioned definitions of home, it is reasonable to assume that all are worthy of a robust, coordinated defense in the face of a legitimate threat. Professor Lance’s determination that defense of the “home” is indeed justified is an arbitrary distinction that fails to recognize the natural extension of the concept of the home to the borders of the United States of America.

The crux of Professor Lance’s article appears to rest on the conviction that the United States ought to reinstate the draft. Midway through his column he writes, “Our goal should be to make it as hard as possible for anyone to be pushed into fighting for other reasons.” Is it then fair to conclude from Professor Lance’s argument that he supports the imposition of a draft in order to “make it as hard as possible for anyone to be pushed into fighting?” If so, the draft, an institution tasked with literally forcing people into military service, seems to be an inherently contradictory means of achieving the goal of “mak[ing] it as hard as possible for anyone to be pushed into fighting.”

Professor Lance might respond with the claim that there is a difference between military service and fighting. He would undoubtedly hope that a draft would eliminate the desire on the part of the military to fight. Such a hope is overly naïve. The military operates on the premise that, in the face of a legitimate and dangerous threat, a response of force is not only prudent but also obligatory. The mere imposition of the draft would not eliminate legitimate and dangerous threats to this nation. Therefore, fighting will be the primary occupation of this nation’s military irrespective of the means by which it obtains its soldiers.

After reading Professor Lance’s article, the reader is left to choose between two possible conclusions: that Professor Lance wrote an article fraught with logical errors and unsubstantiated claims; and that Professor Lance wholly subscribes to the vague, haphazard and even contradictory conclusions that characterize his piece. While the former may be a product of imminent deadlines and impassioned composition, a circumstance with which all writers are certainly familiar, the latter can be attributed to little more than an utter failure to understand the issues.

George Foulard is a senior in the College

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