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He wants the state to impose National Service but does not trust the state’s own systems to do it

“Teenagers could lose bank accounts and driving licences for snubbing national service, Rishi Sunak says”

Despite everything, I will vote Conservative in this election, because my local MP is Kemi Badenoch, of whom I approve. But what a silly party the Tories have become.

I had my say about their proposal to reinstate conscription a month ago in this post: “A press gang there I chanced to meet”. I am honestly amazed that the proposal is still alive as anything other than a guaranteed laugh line for Radio Four comedians. It seems I was wrong: the prime minister still maintains this is something he will do after his surprise election victory. OK, let’s run with that. If he thinks that it would be a good thing for the state to compel British youth to spend a year in the army or “volunteering” (yes, they really do call it that) in the community, why does he evidently not trust the legal mechanisms of compulsion that the state evolved over centuries to enforce it?

Taking away people’s driving licence is an arbitrary punishment. For one young draft-dodger living in the country it might come as a disaster, for another convicted of the same crime but living in a major city with good public transport, it would be no more than a mild inconvenience. A young person who could not drive in the first place would laugh in the faces of the enforcers. Did we not once have some sort of legal system to iron out inconsistencies like that?

Another thing, I could have sworn we used to have this idea that a driving licence was issued when a person had demonstrated he or she could safely operate a motor vehicle on the public highway, and could be revoked only if that person drove dangerously. If it can be revoked for offences that have nothing to do with driving, trust in the whole system of licensing is damaged.

46 comments to He wants the state to impose National Service but does not trust the state’s own systems to do it

  • Mr Ed

    National Service is being pushed by a man who couldn’t even do a full day’s service at the ceremony for the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

    And you’d be a fool to think this type of sanction isn’t going to be rolled out further, for other ‘indiscretions’.

    To vote for this is beyond my comprehension.

  • Barbarus

    Pretty sure the Tories are not serious about the election; they know they will lose whatever they do. They are probably looking at the next election. They have left the armed forces with a manning problem that the next Government will be unlikely to solve with “more of the same”, so, come the next election, they will be able to say “Look, we had an answer for this back in 2024”.

    Always assuming the country is still here at all, of course; but none of them are bothered by the notion that their policies might cause real problems.

  • Martin

    I’m smiling reading this evening that the Tories are having to devote extra resources to prevent Sunak from losing his seat, despite a 27k majority.

  • Kirk

    At this point, you have to acknowledge that the Conservatives in Britain are neither conservative nor serious about maintaining an existence as a political party.

    What’s the line about always needing to assume that any given organization is being run by a cabal of its worst enemies? Has anyone checked to see if Sunak was hurt by a Tory, at some point in his past? Maybe molested, as a small boy at school?

  • bobby b

    ” . . . a driving licence . . . could be revoked only if that person drove dangerously.”

    Here in Minnesota (US), you can lose your driver’s license if you fail to pay child support, steal gasoline, pay the state with a bad check, PLUS for all of the normal bad-driving reasons. Professional licenses can also be suspended for similar non-work reasons.

    It’s just another layer of coercion, needing no rational relation to “driving” conduct for justification.

  • Simon Jester

    Teenagers could lose bank accounts and driving licences

    And… the focus so far has been on the loss of driving licences?

  • Fred_Z

    “… trust in the whole system of licensing is damaged.”

    That’s the intention, part of the intent to destroy all trust in all institutions.

  • NickM

    So, no bank account or driving license and you’re out in the sticks. What do you do now? County-lines drug running (soon to include tobacco!) cash in hand.

    That was my first thought.

    I have had others (mainly about the Orwellian notion of “mandatory volunteering”) but not the critical point that Natalie made which is the slippery (when wet) slope of being able to lose a driving license for something which has nothing to do with driving. Very astute Natalie. And scary.

    “They have left the armed forces with a manning problem that the next Government will be unlikely to solve with “more of the same”, so, come the next election, they will be able to say “Look, we had an answer for this back in 2024”.” – Barbarus.

    Interesting. Except that assumes much more strategic thinking than the Tory party has displayed for a very long time.

  • James Strong

    You can vote for Kemi Badenoch but unless she is Leader it doesn’t matter how closely her politics align with yours because her actions and votes will align with the Leader’s politics.
    My Conservative candidate was a good MP but he trooped through the voting lobby just as his party leader and whips told him to, with a couple of notable and honourable exceptions.
    The idea that we are choosing an individual to represent the constituency falls under the heading of ‘correct but untrue’.
    We are voting for the leader of a party.
    Notice how often Sunak, Starmer and Farage use the first person singular (I) .
    Seldom do they use ‘We’, seldom ‘the —— party will if we are in government’.

    I will be voting Reform UK, partly because I like Farage. But I don’t live in Clacton.

  • WindyPants

    I admire Mrs Badenoch and, personally, wish her well for the forthcoming election. However, I think it would serve the country better if you sent her a letter advising her to jump ship to Reform. Sunakism has to be crushed (and be seen to be crushed) on the 4th of July.

    My teenage daughter, with tears in her eyes, pleaded with me not to vote Conservative because she didn’t want to be press-ganged into the army. For that alone, Tories delenda est.

  • decnine

    Sunak continues to prove the truth of Nigel’s observation that Sunak doesn’t get Britishness.

  • Martin

    Sunak continues to prove the truth of Nigel’s observation that Sunak doesn’t get Britishness

    Tories make an Indian PM who is married to the heiress of an Indian oligarch (who has business ties to Russia) and spent much of his adult life before becoming an MP in the United States. Then they go around trying to assert people like Farage aren’t ‘British’.

  • Paul Marks

    Conscription is not “volunterring” – the Prime Minister also says that he will not leave the international “human rights” agreements, which means that the courts will throw out his proposal of not allowing driving licenses for people who do not “volunteer”.

    Why are policies announced without the necessary thought?

    One can make an argument for conscription, I do NOT support it – but an argument can be made for it. However, it is not “volunterring” (that is a misuse of language) and if one wants to follow this policy (and many other policies) one must first formally leave the various “human rights” agreements and repeal the statutes that bring them into British law (such as the Human Rights Act) – the Prime Minister should have been told this.

    As for Mr Sunak as a person – he was born and educated in the United Kingdom indeed he was head boy at Winchester.

    I did NOT vote for him to be Leader (the first time round – the second time round we did not get a vote) – but I do not think it is accurate to describe Mr Sunak as “Indian”, in India he would be seen as British.

    Can the Gentleman even speak any Indian language? I suspect he can not.

    “English” is sometimes (sometimes) used to describe an ethnic group, but “British” is not – what “British” means is someone who is born in the United Kingdom (which Mr Sunak was) or has come her and is loyal to the Crown (the United Kingdom is held together by the monarchy – it has no meaning without the monarchy) and I believe Mr Sunak is a monarchist – loyal to the King.

    I repeat – being British is nothing to do with having pale skin, it is about being born in the United Kingdom and/or coming here and being loyal to the Crown.

    Remember Boris Johnson was not born in Britain (he was born in New York) but is British because he is loyal to the Crown.

  • Mr Ed

    I had a theory that Mr Sunak’s ‘Rwanda plan’ for removing asylum-seekers there was dreamt up in a bet between Home Office civil servants to see who could get the most stupid plan taken up by Ministers. With this plan they will probably force unwilling conscripts without driving licences to get a provisional licence and take a test so that they feel the sting of losing it more, and similarly act with bank accounts.

  • Martin

    India he would be seen as British.

    I don’t think this is true – when he became PM a lot of Indians were celebrating. I could be wrong but I doubt there was any similar sentiment in India when any previous British PM got the job. They see Sunak as one of our their own.

  • They see Sunak as one of our their own.

    Given his penchant for granting visas to Indians, I suspect they are correct.

    Vote Reform!

  • Martin

    Given his penchant for granting visas to Indians, I suspect they are correct.

    Yes, Sunak’s premiership has been great for the country. India, that is.

  • Stonyground

    Our local Conservative MP seems like a decent guy but I can’t vote for him as I hate his party with a passion. Our local Conservative council does a decent job too but they don’t get my vote at the local elections as the main party can claim my vote as an endorsement.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Conscription is an abomination.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Johnathan Pearce
    Conscription is an abomination.

    I agree. I wonder if you also agree that conscription in Ukraine is also an abomination?

    But I honestly wonder is Sunak trying to tank the election. Is there significant support for conscription or mandatory volunteering in Britain? Come to that, what does the armed forces think about this? Surely they don’t want their ranks swelled with a bunch of yobbos who are only there because the government forced them? I’m thinking they won’t make great soldiers and will be vastly more trouble than they are worth.

  • Paul Marks

    Martin I doubt that Mr Sunak can even speak any Indian language – I certainly see him as British (although I did not vote for him to be leader – the time we were allowed a vote), but, yes, Indians were pleased someone with his heritage became Prime Minister.

    Mr Ed – why not just prevent the boats landing in Britain, take them back to France? This question I have asked again and again (of various people in Parliament) and never got a sensible reply. And, of course, the vast majority of immigration is legal (not illegal) so why has that not been stopped – Civil Service and independent agency (such as Bank of England) THREATS appears to be the answer, “stop mass immigration and we will issue forecasts saying the British economy will collapse – creating a stock market collapse and a run on the Pound”.

    Stonyground – if your Member of Parliament and your local council are O.K. and yet you still will not vote for them, then there is nothing they can do.

    Presently officials (Civil Servants, “Woke” judges and officials at independent agencies such as the Bank of England) have great power – which they should NOT have, but it will be vastly worse under Labour.

    There have been many articles, for example in the Spectator, showing how Sir Kier Starmer and his colleagues will destroy what is left of liberty and representative government “there is not much left Paul” – perhaps not, but there is some liberty left and it is going to go.

    Labour is not even making a secret of their plans – they are freely available, but people hate the Conservative Party so much that they refuse to see what is going to happen under Labour.

    “It is your own fault – you had years to smash the Civil Service, the Woke judges and the independent agencies – and-you-did-not-so”.

    I wish I could argue with that – but I can not. “Respect for the institutions” is not a virtue, not when the institutions have been corrupted (which they are – and have been for many years), “respect for the institutions” is a vice.

    Why do people think the European Union and all other international bodies are so keen on “respect for the institutions” (the bureaucracy – including the courts), they are fanatical about this – because they know that the institutions have been captured by Collectivists.

  • Jon Mors

    Mrs Badenoch (I always thought she should run a campaign with a photo of herself with ‘Bad enough’ beneath it), has a reputation for being a bit of a lightweight. Suella is much more impressive and Thatcher like.

    I’m voting Reform – the Tories deserve to go to hell. After re-districting my constituency is a Labour leaning marginal (previously solid Labour), so it will hurth them.

    The Tories would have been better of repeating last time’s manifest with a ‘this time, we’ll try even harder’ message – each time they make a policy announcent I am reminded of why they are so useless.

  • jgh

    I didn’t get a driving license until I was 42. He who steals my 18-year-old’s driving license steals trash.

  • Kirk

    Has anyone taken heed of how deliberately the so-called Conservatives sabotaged BREXIT?

    From an outsider perspective, I don’t find the “Conservative Party” at all conservative. They seem to be Labour, but with extra steps and slightly less offensive anti-Semitism.

    At some point, most of Europe is going to need someone like Meili, or the entire subcontinent is going to go under, beneath a swarm of outsider “newcomers”.

    Which, when you think about it, is kinda-sorta historical karmic justice for all the “inequities” of the colonial era, but that line of thought ignores all the very real horrors of life before said colonialism… Anyone up for a bit of the old Aztec sun-worship, or Madagascar-style mass murder? Or, the varied horrors of pre-Raj India?

    I think the whole human race needs to take a breath, get a grip on things, and reflect on the fact that we’re massively lucky to be living in this era of human history, despite the self-created difficulties we’ve made for ourselves.

  • Martin

    each time they make a policy announcent I am reminded of why they are so useless.

    Each time a Tory pol talks during this campaign I’m increasingly full of hatred for them. Initially I just thought Sunak’s early election blunders were just comically dumb/ trying to throw the election but especially since Farage took over Reform the Tories behaviour has been utterly despicable.

    In my adult life (I become 18 in 2003) they’ve always been disappointing and I’ve had to hold my nose to vote for them. By now I could care less if all of the current cabinet lose their seats. The party, once a very fine one, has no future in it’s current guise.

  • Martin

    Has anyone taken heed of how deliberately the so-called Conservatives sabotaged BREXIT

    There always was a section of support for ‘Brexit’ which interpreted ending free immigration from the EU as a way to expand immigration from outside the EU. Numerically, these people were likely tiny. It seems pretty obvious most people who supported leaving the EU wanted much reduced immigration. Unfortunately while these globalist maximalists were not numerous, their kind does seem to have included Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak. Along with deep state connivance, that’s why mass immigration has gone on steroids the past several years, and makes the numbers we had when in the EU look relatively small in comparison. From what I can gather BoJo and Sunak helped sabotage ministers like Patel and Braverman who wanted to get a grip on immigration.

  • jgh

    If we were due karmic justice for colonialism, we’d be being invaded by Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders. How many Brits migrated to India to settle and build a family? To a close approximation, *ZERO*. How many Indians/etc. migrated to the UK to settle and build a family? Millions upon millions upon millions. Getting on for 15% of the population. Did 150 million Brits settle in India?

  • Kirk

    I think you missed the sarcasm, there, JGH.

    I’m completely against all the revisionist BS of the day; history happened, and tough schiesse if you were on the dirty end of the stick for a bit. Most of the colonized “nations” were regions on a map with zero organization (Ireland, I’m looking at you…) and an utter backwardness. That a tiny minority of Europeans could show up, smelling nasty at the end of a months-long sea voyage, and then take over your grabtastic territories? Whose fault was that?

    Similarly, if I could speak to my Scots ancestors, it’d be along the lines of “Get your shit together, you mob of dumbasses… You’re entertaining as hell to read about in the history books, if you enjoy the grand march of human folly, but you’re neighbors are the English, and they’re a bit more on the ball than you are… If you don’t, you’re going to wind up as permanent lackeys to their cause…”

    It is amusing to observe the way that all this is working out; it’s a diametrically opposite to the state of things a few centuries ago; the backwash is doing to Europe what Europe did to others, and we’ll soon see how that plays out. The last set of invading Islamic types had their way for a bit, and then the Reconquista happened… You have to take the long view, in these matters.

  • bobby b

    June 23, 2024 at 10:22 pm

    “If we were due karmic justice for colonialism . . . “

    If you were due karmic justice for colonialism, the USA would need to have a “Thank You Britain” party every year.

  • Alex

    I agree. I wonder if you also agree that conscription in Ukraine is also an abomination?

    I think the only time conscription is justifiable is when the country is under direct invasion. Arguably conscription in Britain for the Second World War was necessary (particularly in hindsight), but conscription for the First World War was wrong. What’s happening in the Ukraine today is a country in conditions of total war. If you think Russia would have stopped at taking parts of the Ukraine, you are mistaken. It is a fight for survival of the country, and given Ukrainian history I don’t blame them for fighting for life and limb.

  • Paul Marks

    Kirk – you assume that the elected politicians control the government, in reality they have some influence but not a vast amount, and you are also generalising about Conservative Members of Parliament and ministers – they vary greatly.

    Alex – World War One was more directly justified than World War Two, as Belgium was right next to this island (no government could have allowed the channel coast of both Belgium and France to come under German control) – whereas Poland is on the other side of Europe – although I agree with declaring war on Germany in 1939 and just wish that action has been taken earlier, for example in 1936 where any show of resistance to the occupation of the Rhineland would have led to the downfall of the Hitler regime, or in 1938 where the German army was not ready for war (they needed the Czech factories) – the defence that Chamberlain “bought time for rearmament” does not work as Germany was rearming faster than Britain was (so the delays helped Hitler).

    As for conscription in the case of Ukraine – no Russian government could have accepted the Crimea being in hostile hands, so from-their-point-of-view (NOT my point of view – their point of view) either there had to be a friendly government in Kiev (which there was till it was removed 2014 – just as the pro Russian government in Armenia was removed in 2018) or (alternatively) the Crimea and other largely Russian areas had to go to Russia – again that is the Russian point of view, not mine.

    The West, at least the United Kingdom and (presently) the United States does not seem to accept that the Crimea and other largely Russian areas should be part of Russia OR (alternatively) that there should be a pro Russian government in Kiev.

    This would seem to make war (perhaps thermonuclear war) inevitable – but, as a loyal British subject, I must follow the decision of the ministers and officials who represent King Charles.

    One problem is that Mr Putin is not a trustworthy person, indeed he is a murderer and a disguised dictator, so many hold it is not possible to make a agreement with him – at least not a agreement he would honour.

  • Paul Marks

    What was wrong with the First World War was not fighting it (which was inevitable after Germany invaded Belgium and rejected all proposals for an international conference – even the German Ambassador admitted that Britain had no choice but to declare war in these circumstances), but rather the way it was fought.

    Both tactically – with such commanders as Haig and Gough being very poor on infantry tactics (and Generals who criticised them too bluntly were side lined or sent home) and strategically – the obsession with one theatre of war – the Western Front. Even such operations as taking Constantinople (thus encircling the Central Powers and linking up with the Russians) were botched – as the writings of Colonel Barker and Brigadier Mallinson explain, painfully explain. Much ink has been split about the “disaster of the Dardanelles campaign” without grasping that, with competent leadership it need not have been a disaster, or grasping just how important taking Constantinople in 1915 would have been – sadly, for example, the historian Andrew Roberts (the latest biographer of Churchill) does not understand either point.

    As for full scale war now – perhaps thermonuclear war.

    Well the decision will be taken by people in London and Washington who have access to information that we do not have access to.

    Without knowing what they know – perhaps we should not “second guess” them.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Alex: “What’s happening in the Ukraine today is a country in conditions of total war. If you think Russia would have stopped at taking parts of the Ukraine, you are mistaken. It is a fight for survival of the country, and given Ukrainian history I don’t blame them for fighting for life and limb.”

    I agree with much of that, and your response mostly says what I would have said in response to Fraser. I still think forcing people to serve is wrong, based, partly on the view that in the event of an existential war, most people capable of fighting for their country’s freedom would actually choose to do so anyway, particularly in a country where a sense of common responsiblity for defence was fostered in a healthy way (also, with large reserve forces). Serving in the forces would not also necessarily mean being in front-line, combat roles, either.

    A far better idea that Sunak should have adopted, in my view – and not just before an election – is expanding and scaling up the reserves. That would mean working with companies, unions and others to figure out how enough people could be released from work to regularly train in the Army, Royal Navy, and the RAF, as well as in roles such as Coast Guard, certain security roles, logistics, etc. We lack a sufficiently large core of adult men (mostly, but also women) who can be called up relatively quickly, or do roles to back up those performed by full-time enlisted people. The US National Guard is a model; also the Swiss military, to some extent.

    Countries such as Israel, Ukraine and for that matter Taiwan face existential threats, all the time, so conscription, while I object on principle, is understandable. I don’t know what the exact polling evidence is but I’d wager that majority opinion in those countries favours involvement by the citizenry in active defence, given the likely alternative horrors in the event of invasion and conquest. And those who refuse to serve in any way, even in non-combat roles, would face the kind of ostracism that is part and parcel of the choices we all face about doing the necessary thing, or not.

    But….I think it is right to say that national service, regardless of threats, is wrong. It is wrong because, as Fraser says, volunteer forces tend to be just better at what they are supposed to do. The voters of the UK do not, I think, want to use the armed forces as a way to deal with problems in society. That’s not what a military is for. Soldiers, pilots or navigating officers on a warship don’t want to deal with problem people.

    And I worry that if it is used in this way, it makes it even more dangerous when the military, as now, gets infected with fashionable political, or “woke”, ideas. (As a side issue – what about women – in Israel, men are typically expected to serve for longer than women. Part of this is not because women are considered less capable, but because they are needed, so I think is the reasoning, to bring up children.)

    There are plenty of ways that libertarians can, for example, think about how to foster more of a sense of voluntarism in dealing with certain issues. After all, many of us favour the right to carry arms. It bothers me that hardly any adults in the UK have the foggiest idea of how to hold, let alone fire, a rifle or handgun.

    Random thought: I wonder if Sunak has read Starship Troopers, by Heinlein, with its plot theme about citizenship being attached to time in the military?

    Linking military service to being able to drive is nuts. It shows how this “conservative” government is, like Labour, coercive in its thinking. It is always looking for compulsion, to nanny and prod and poke the public around, rather than try and foster a soil of civic responsibility by more bottom-up approaches. It is a sign of an establishment that is philosophically barren.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Johnathan Pearce
    I still think forcing people to serve is wrong, based, partly on the view that in the event of an existential war, most people capable of fighting for their country’s freedom would actually choose to do so anyway,

    I think if the case for taking up arms is so overwhelmingly strong (as it undoubtedly is in Ukraine) then why not convince people rather than threaten them? What a terrible thing to be caught between the tyranny of an invading force and the tyranny of your own government. And of course the best defense any country can have is to have a population bristling with privately owned arms. It doesn’t stop tanks and airplanes but it surely does cause huge attrition among the invading forces.

    And what a terrible thing that even if we allow for conscription is such dire circumstances that we stop elections so that the people throwing our sons and daughters into the meat grinder are left with no accountability at all. Or when we ban the press from holding the government accountable so that we can’t even know if they are competent or are using our most precious things — our children — as mere cannon fodder? Or even if they shut down the church that we prefer so that we can’t even pray for them as the face the enemy’s bullets or find pastoral care in our priest when they send our children back to us in body bags.

  • Runcie Balspune

    What do you do now? County-lines drug running (soon to include tobacco!) cash in hand.

    But in that case I’d jump at the chance to learn how to shoot people accurately.

  • bobby b

    Conscription is well suited to defensive situations, not so well to offensive ones.

    A bunch of neighbors watching the evil horde approaching rightfully demands that everyone step up to defend their home. That moral force weakens when the demand is to travel to “away” to bring a fight to others.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    Fraser: I think if the case for taking up arms is so overwhelmingly strong (as it undoubtedly is in Ukraine) then why not convince people rather than threaten them?

    Well quite. I talked in my comment about encouraging a culture of volunteering, of building up reserves. I said that it is understandable that countries under existential threat think about conscription, but said even so this is wrong.

    Please comment about what I actually write. Saves soooo much time.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Johnathan Pearce
    I don’t think i was disagreeing with you, in fact I quoted you as saying largely what you just said. I was more amplifying it. FWIW, I think your approach of building the volunteer reserves is a pretty decent approach.

    @bobby b
    A bunch of neighbors watching the evil horde approaching rightfully demands that everyone step up to defend their home.

    What if I think that my life or the life of my child is more important than my home? If someone points a gun in your face when trying to jack your car, most people would say that the sensible thing to do is give up the car since your life is worth more than a car. Or maybe you are a lot braver than me and think that defending your home, your honor you character is worth hazarding your life, and if so you have my respect. But shouldn’t we all get to make that choice ourselves?

  • bobby b

    “What if I think that my life or the life of my child is more important than my home?”

    I shouldn’t have used “home.” You read that as “the large wood-and-brick building in which I live.”

    I should have used something more akin to “homeland.” What I would call worthy of defense is my family, my friends, my life, my community.

    I would expect – social contract? – that I and the other residents of such a place would band together to stop the ravening horde as it approached. I would expect it so strongly that I would condemn the guy who chickened out and left.

    The people I choose to share my life with would be people who held a similar commitment and loyalty to our community. But such a sentiment really needs to be spelled out in advance. I would not want to announce such an expectation as the horde entered my front yard – it would have been a community-accepted paradigm earlier.

  • Kirk

    One of the things that really aggravates the ever-loving snot out of me, given my career choices, is that whenever I hear people of a non-military bent talking about conscription, they always go yammering on about things like “Oh, I could never ask anyone to die for me…”, and the focus is on the conscript getting killed.

    Lemme tell you what: That’s really the least of the issues inherent to this whole “conscription” thing. You die in combat or even just in support of combat? That’s it: You’re done, expended. It’s over for you. That’s actually the best-case outcome, here: You die, it’s finished. No more suffering, no more pain, and you’re a pretty little flag folded on someone’s keepsake shelf, and maybe some pictures. You’re remembered forever as that clean-limbed hero in the pictures they’ve got.

    The real problem with conscription? You assholes advocating for that are asking other men to go kill for you. You’re too “morally pure”, too good to do it yourself, so just like those women during WWI who were handing out the White Feather, you’ll get your government to put a gun to the head of healthy young men, and send them off to war. To kill for you. Let’s get that bit fucking straight: You’re for conscription? You are demanding that other men go do nasty and horrible things that will scar them for the rest of their lives, on your behalf. Because you’re too much of a piece of shit to go do it yourself.

    This is why I loathe men like Sunak. The sorry POS hasn’t put himself at moral hazard on some isolated checkpoint, stopping traffic, and knowing that if he doesn’t fire up some approaching car that is acting very much like a Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device, he and a bunch of the best friends that he’s ever had may wind up very dead in a very unpleasant way.

    Or, on the other hand, maybe he’s going to have to put a nice long burst from a GPMG into a carload of women and kids, whose only crime was to have gotten into a vehicle driven by a complete idiot.

    The real crime of conscription is not forcing people to die for you; it’s forcing them to go kill for you, and then come home and have to deal with that crap. With the same set of assholes that told the government to line them up and send them to war, now developing late-onset scruples, and deciding that no, they’re not heroes, they’re baby-killing monsters…

    I’m dead set against the idea of conscription not only because I think it’s essentially immoral, but because, frankly… None of you are worth that crap. You’ve proven it time and time again, over the last hundred years. Those sorry bitches handing out the White Feather? Driving good men off to war, where they’d kill and kill again, only to be excoriated as human slime upon their return, when they were maimed mentally and physically? Yeah; you want to go to war? Go… I’ll stand here and watch you do it, and if you’re not willing or able? Shut the fuck up, and don’t even think about demanding someone else go and do your dirty work. If you can’t get enough volunteers to go and do the necessary? Maybe, just maybe, you should not be doing it.

    Dying ain’t the worst thing that can happen to someone in war. Surviving it, and then having to live with it for the rest of your life? Given the support we give, and the preventative measures we take? I don’t think so. I’ve watched too many of my peers and former subordinates wind up self-destructing, and those were men who (supposedly…) knew what they were getting into when they volunteered and went. There is no fucking way I’d ever take conscripts to war, knowing what I know now. And, that’s strictly because I refuse to undertake that particular moral hazard for you fine people. Take your own kids to war, if you’re going to force them to it; I want nothing to do with that monstrosity.

  • Kirk

    Oh, and the profanity was left in the above with deliberate malice aforethought. Conscription deserves to be discussed using profanity, because it is in essence the very definition of something utterly profane.

    As a corollary, here: I would submit to you that anyone who demands that a police officer or other agent of society undertake the moral hazard of taking life on your behalf, and you’re not willing to do it for yourself? You’ve no right whatsoever to ask anyone else to do that for you. You don’t want to kill? Fine; you don’t get to ask someone else to do that for you, which is effectively what people are asking of police officers when they dial Emergency Services. You want someone to come “do the necessary” with that bad, bad man who is assaulting you, yet you’re unwilling to do that for yourself? That, my friend, is a seriously immoral thing. One that you should answer for, either in this life or the next.

    You ain’t willing to do it for yourself, or in defense of others? Then, you should not be asking anyone else to do it for you, period. Same thing when you put down a pet; you’re going to do that, then you better be in the room when it is done, feeling the life drain out of your supposedly beloved companion. If you aren’t? Well, that means you’re a lousy human being.

    The cop thing is all of a piece with conscription. If you’re all for that, having some “low-class” schlub be the guy to go risk his life in defense of your property and your life, yet you’re too refined and sensitive to do it yourself? You shouldn’t be able to dial 911, the way I see it.

    I ask no man to do things for me that I won’t do for myself. Neither should anyone else.

  • Fraser Orr

    @bobby b
    I would expect – social contract? – that I and the other residents of such a place would band together to stop the ravening horde as it approached. I would expect it so strongly that I would condemn the guy who chickened out and left.

    I don’t really like terms like “social contract”. It sort of sounds made up to me. I think that when you live together there are certain shared expectations that are often unwritten. But what I think, as we speed into our “progressive” future, is that the number of “shared” expectations we have is getting smaller and smaller every day.

    As to condemning the guy who chickened out, I think that is perfectly reasonable. I think lots of methods of persuasion are perfectly legitimate, for example, in WWI in Britain conscription didn’t start until the war had been ongoing for two years, and one method of convincing men to volunteer was the white feather which seems a perfectly legitimate approach (though, FWIW, WWI was a war that should never have been fought.) But I suppose it depends on what you mean by “condemn”. Do you mean ostracize and call nasty names, make sure everyone knew what a chicken he was? If so, go for it. If you mean “put in jail” or “put up against the wall and shoot him”, both of which have been common in history, I’d not be in favor. And to be clear I am sure you don’t mean the latter, but you may well mean the former, I’m not sure what “condemn” means in this context.

    You are also right that there are some things worth fighting and dying for, though if you ask me if there are some things worth sending my children to fight and die, the range of things gets dramatically smaller. But you or I don’t get to choose. Our out of control government gets to choose and their choices are almost without exception immoral, self serving and wrong. And anyone who has read any history of war with conscripts know that the government holds your sacrifice very lightly indeed. You are giving your whole self in sacrifice and they can barely get you a pair of gloves or a working toilet, and will be happy to throw you in as cannon fodder if it serves their tactical purpose. Wanna see what the government thinks of our brave heroes? Head on down to the local VA hospital and talk to the heroes who can’t get an appointment.

    I live in America. The chances of the ravening hordes attacking my home are very close to zero (domestic ravening hordes excepted). That is both because of our good geographical fortune and the fact that we spend a lot of money on highly trained volunteers and exceptional equipment to guarantee it.

    Of course the one external realistic existential threat to the American homeland is a long range ballistic missile attack. Which is something we have made almost no provision for, and seem insistent on provoking the people with those ballistic missiles to the point of extremes. It is, for example, an outrage that the Biden administration authorized the use of american weapons to attack targets within Russia.

    I could go on for several more pages, but I won’t.

  • Kirk

    On a practical level, the one thing about conscription you have to bear in mind is that the easy availability of replacement manpower leads to certain… Ah… Profligacy, on the part of the leadership.

    I do not believe in conscription. Period.

    One of the main reasons is that I’ve studied my history, and I have made certain… Mmmm… Inferences, from that history, about the nature of military leadership. You cannot trust these assholes with the lives of your citizens, so long as the leadership consists of a separate caste of “leaders” like in the US and UK’s cases.

    A near-perfect case study may be found in the US Army’s response to certain elements of the Vietnam War, which few really paid attention to at the time. Conscripts, see? No value inside the system, to the lives of said conscripts.

    A mentality that persisted through the post-Vietnam era, into the late 20th Century.

    What I’m speaking of is the Soviet rear-area battle doctrine, which they first implemented against the Nazis in Eastern Europe, refined, taught to all and sundry around the world, and which the US first encountered in Korea. You literally could not move in the rear areas without some form of security; the troops had to conduct rear-area operations as though they were in forward-edge-of-battle areas, with full security and preparation for combat. In Korea, that wasn’t quite as bad as it became in Vietnam, where you had to sweep all the roads before running military convoys down them…

    Where the issue comes in with conscripts is this: At no time during the 1950s or 1960s did the US Army look at the issues of route clearance and say “Yeah, this is getting a lot of guys killed… Maybe we ought to do something?”

    When I enlisted in the Army in the early 1980s, we were still doing vestigial training on route clearance as combat engineers. Said training consisted of filling our trucks with a layer of sandbags, and then walking in front of them carrying mine detectors while looking for mines and IEDs, while the sandbagged trucks backed down the roads behind us to “proof” said roads.

    Most modern army in the world, my ass.

    I did the research during the early 1990s; you do not want to know how many young men we sacrificed in Vietnam doing what their fathers and grandfathers did during WWII. Same techniques; only difference was slightly improved mine detectors.

    Now, what’s maddening here? The “Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected” vehicle systems we finally bought in the early 2000s…? Those were developed and fielded by Rhodesia and South Africa, under sanctions, during the early bush wars of the 1960s. Why’d they do that? Had to, see…? They didn’t have an endless cornucopia of manpower to refill the losses taken by doing it with soldiers wandering down a road with not-so-good mine detectors of the era. So, instead, they developed technology to deal with the issue, and then, far more importantly, fielded it. Something the US Army never did, despite losing huge numbers of conscript soldiers keeping routes open…

    The Army, in its infinite wisdom, did not actually look into MRAP technology or even armoring its rear-area vehicles until the force of events in Iraq forced that on them… Despite having had innumerable after-action reviews from Somalia and other conflicts telling them that this wasn’t a world of linear battlefields any more. The mentality of limitless conscripts to soak up issues that could have been dealt with through technology prevailed, right up until reality slapped them in the face.

    The Rhodesians and South Africans, faced with a very similar Soviet-inspired rear area battle, developed tools to deal with the problem. The US threw bodies at it. From what I understand, the UK made similar choices in Northern Ireland.

    Conscription does not inculcate good habits in military leadership. There are exceptions to the rule, as in Finland, Switzerland, and Israel, but… I’d submit that the small size and egalitarian nature of their military culture militates against the caste-like mentality of the US military. Why the UK behaved that way, I’ve no idea; might have simply been down to a lack of budget.

    Conscription is a bad idea, on so many levels. It’s barely acceptable when you’re using it to manage manpower intakes, and you’re also taking care to safeguard the lives of your conscripts, but the end state for conscription is basically what you’re seeing in the Russian Army today, which is an utter and wanton disregard for the human lives entrusted to the leadership.

    Anyone telling you that “democracies don’t do that” is ignorant of history, and delusional. We do “do that”, and there are copious examples of it from Kitchener on down to Vietnam…

  • bobby b

    “I could go on for several more pages, but I won’t.”

    No need. You’ve laid out why I oppose government-enforced conscription.

    I see a difference between “we’re neighbors, we all need to help each other as the hordes approach”, and “go fight Xi for me in the Phillipines or I’ll imprison you!”

    Conscription would be easier to justify in the first instance. But it would still be wrong. Essentially, Ukraine has a much stronger argument for it than does the U.S.

  • Fraser Orr

    bobby b
    Conscription would be easier to justify in the first instance. But it would still be wrong.

    Oh, apologies if I misunderstood your intent. FFS I even agree almost totally with Kirk on this which means Saturn must have entered the house of Jupiter or something like that.

    Essentially, Ukraine has a much stronger argument for it than does the U.S.

    I think it is hard to know what to think. I also don’t think we are getting much of the truth. I hire a lot of overseas programmers and Ukraine has been an excellent source — Eastern Europeans for whatever reason make excellent programmers. I have been hiring and there are LOTS of Ukrainian programmers looking for work. Most of these guys (and a few gals) are in their twenties and early thirties. So if there is widespread conscription, WTF is going on? I really don’t understand. FWIW some of their stories are tragic, but they all have great Internet connection thanks to Elon Musk, who, as I have said before, is the most important human alive today.

    But on the flip side the government has turned into an absolute tyranny, and has shaken off all forms of accountability. I understand it is total war, but at what point has expediency destroyed so much of what you are fighting for that there is nothing left to fight for.

  • Kirk

    Conscription and martial law are both morally wrong.

    Like most things, though, there are shades of gray. Would Lincoln have won the Civil War for the Union, had he not done what he did?

    Likewise, what about Zelensky? Is the moral calculus here “Do whatever it takes to defeat an even worse enemy, Putin?”

    I’m unsure that I could make those compromises with myself, or live with having made them. Which is why I have never sought any form of higher political office or a commission. It’s very easy to keep track of your moral rectitude when you’re low-level, and the decisions are only going to affect you. You get to “Head of State” level, and it’s a different game. I think that Zelensky is going to have to be judged by history, as was Lincoln. If he steps away from power, or something Lincolnesque happens to him, well… He’ll be judged generously. If he doubles-down and becomes another Putin or Stalin? Not so much.

    I remain opposed to conscription and all the things that have been done in the name of “expediency”, but I do recognize that sometimes you have to eat the cabin boy, in order to survive the sinking… Metaphorically speaking, of course.

    I will, however, repeat and reiterate: Neither the US nor the UK military forces have been good stewards of their nation’s manpower. I would not hand them a blank check, ever again. It’s bad enough knowing all around you were volunteers, but I’m not sure how I’d have dealt with being in a leadership position in a war like Vietnam turned into. I do believe I’d have either wound up dead from something self-induced, or I’d have been sitting on a grassy knoll outside of Congress at some point during the 1970s, waiting for certain parties to walk out the door.

    I think that the worst sort of betrayal is to send men off to kill and die for something you don’t believe in enough to stay the course. Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan… All wars that should have either been fought to the end, or never fought at all.

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