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A Voluntary Draft vs. a Mandatory One

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  • Shlomi Fish
    What are your thoughts about making the IDF a voluntary army, and about voluntary draft vs. a mandatory one in general. The recent situation seemed to inspire
    Message 1 of 3 , May 8, 2002
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      What are your thoughts about making the IDF a voluntary army, and about
      voluntary draft vs. a mandatory one in general. The recent situation
      seemed to inspire me a lot in this regard. I recall that Ayn Rand opposed
      a mandatory draft, but I don't know in what book she expressed her
      sentiments against it, nor read this particular text of hers.

      In any case, here are my thought on the issue:

      1. First of all, a military with a mandatory draft has little motivation
      to improve the conditions it offers those who join it, improve the way
      they are treated and they feel about it, etc. It tends to put people in
      arbitrary positions, regardless of their capabilities or desires, and
      other such non-competitive side-effects.

      2. More over, a malicious government can decide to abuse a military so it
      follows its whims, and involve in an activity that its soldiers and/or the
      public in general does not approve of.

      3. The word "must" is a very big de-motivator. We can see it in the
      increasing number of people who choose to get a release from the army in
      a myriad of ways. I got a release too, (albeit I actually wanted to join
      the army in the first place), and since then I heard from many people who
      served their before their academic studies, that I missed very little, and
      that their service was a waste of time. I've encountered a very small
      number of people who claimed they enjoyed their army service.

      4. I'm not sure that a non-mandatory draft necessarily implies less people
      joining. I take the stand that the majority of people out there are
      responsible and would voluntarily join the military if they see it fit.
      Those who do not wish to join only de-motivate the rest and make the lives
      of those who do miserable, anyhow. Would you like to be forced to work in
      your workplace? (If only the Technion understood that and gave me a 4 1/2
      years/115 points degree - ;-)).

      An army can also work for creating a tradition of joining the army,
      voluntarily, willingly and happily a posteriori to making it voluntary.

      5. The army can potentially get more qualified engineers or other
      qualified people of such sort, because some people would decide to join it
      only after they finish their studies.


      Naturally, you can see that I'm almost entirely convinced that a voluntary
      army would be a good thing. What are your thoughts about it?

      Regards,

      Shlomi Fish

      ----------------------------------------------------------------------
      Shlomi Fish shlomif@...
      Home Page: http://t2.technion.ac.il/~shlomif/
      Home E-mail: shlomif@...

      He who re-invents the wheel, understands much better how a wheel works.
    • Chen Shapira
      ... The book you are looking for is Capitalism - the unknown ideal . She has number of Vietnam comments there. If you had written this article few month ago,
      Message 2 of 3 , May 11, 2002
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        > What are your thoughts about making the IDF a voluntary army,
        > and about
        > voluntary draft vs. a mandatory one in general. The recent situation
        > seemed to inspire me a lot in this regard. I recall that Ayn
        > Rand opposed
        > a mandatory draft, but I don't know in what book she expressed her
        > sentiments against it, nor read this particular text of hers.

        The book you are looking for is "Capitalism - the unknown ideal".
        She has number of Vietnam comments there.

        If you had written this article few month ago, I would have agreed with
        every word.
        But today, a month after many of my friends disappeard with Turtle-8, I'm
        not sure any more.

        It seems to me that there's a severe shortage of fighters. So severe that
        soliders who are unqualified for fighting (Tironut 02 + Profil 45) are now
        going a short (2 days) course, and sent to protect settlements. The need to
        quickly recruit Miluim for some operations seems to be another indication
        for this shortage.

        If we had a volunteer army, would we have enough people? Would people stay
        there long enough to justify their training?
        If we paid our solifers fair wages, could we still balance our economy? (And
        a fair wage would need to be quite high for those who sleep in tents and
        risk their lives)

        I hate slave labor, and I think that forcing people to spend 3 productive
        years as slave labor is a moral crime.
        Perhaps a country that requires 3 years of slave labor from every man and
        woman doesn't have the right to exist?

        What if too few people volunteered? Would that mean that only few people
        think that this country worth fighting for? Would it mean that we must pack
        our bags and immigrate?

        I don't dare asking myself that question. Would I volunteer? I'm not sure. I
        can't honestly say to myself that this country is worth my blood.

        > 1. First of all, a military with a mandatory draft has little
        > motivation
        > to improve the conditions it offers those who join it, improve the way
        > they are treated and they feel about it, etc. It tends to put
        > people in
        > arbitrary positions, regardless of their capabilities or desires, and
        > other such non-competitive side-effects.

        Almost true. Some sections make every effort to get the best people. The
        special units, air-force, Navi. Our intelligence units as well.

        > 2. More over, a malicious government can decide to abuse a
        > military so it
        > follows its whims, and involve in an activity that its
        > soldiers and/or the
        > public in general does not approve of.

        I believe that a mandatory army is more difficult to abuse.
        Many people do things they have moral problems with, because they need the
        job.
        In a mandatory army, it may be easier to quite.
        Note how many Miluim people refuse to serve in the occupied territories, as
        opposed to Keva people.
        Miluim people know that at most they'll spend a month in prision. Keva
        soliders may find themselves in the street for life.

        > 3. The word "must" is a very big de-motivator. We can see it in the
        > increasing number of people who choose to get a release from
        > the army in
        > a myriad of ways. I got a release too, (albeit I actually
        > wanted to join
        > the army in the first place), and since then I heard from
        > many people who
        > served their before their academic studies, that I missed
        > very little, and
        > that their service was a waste of time. I've encountered a very small
        > number of people who claimed they enjoyed their army service.

        I agree. Few people have high motivation in the army.

        Personally, I believe that the army service wasn't a complete waste of time
        (And I was a secretary!), but I didn't know it during the service.

        > 4. I'm not sure that a non-mandatory draft necessarily
        > implies less people
        > joining. I take the stand that the majority of people out there are
        > responsible and would voluntarily join the military if they
        > see it fit.
        > Those who do not wish to join only de-motivate the rest and
        > make the lives
        > of those who do miserable, anyhow. Would you like to be
        > forced to work in
        > your workplace? (If only the Technion understood that and
        > gave me a 4 1/2
        > years/115 points degree - ;-)).

        Thats where we differ.
        There's no way to prove it, but I'm not sure that everyone who serves now
        would also serve if he had to volunteer.
        Remember that we are part of a culture that thinks theres nothing worse than
        being a sucker.
        Volunteering won't be such a hit.
        Also, consider that most of those who would join would probably militaristic
        types, perhaps from only one side of the political scale. This can make the
        military a political organ, with political views, as opposed to the mostly
        neutral army we have now.

        > 5. The army can potentially get more qualified engineers or other
        > qualified people of such sort, because some people would
        > decide to join it
        > only after they finish their studies.

        I agree here.

        > Naturally, you can see that I'm almost entirely convinced
        > that a voluntary
        > army would be a good thing. What are your thoughts about it?

        As I said, half a year ago, I would have agreed.
        Now I have second thoughts.
      • Shlomi Fish
        ... Did you read all her books to know she did not mention anything else against it in others? ... That s exactly the reason why I m against it. The government
        Message 3 of 3 , May 11, 2002
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          On Sat, 11 May 2002, Chen Shapira wrote:

          >
          > > What are your thoughts about making the IDF a voluntary army,
          > > and about
          > > voluntary draft vs. a mandatory one in general. The recent situation
          > > seemed to inspire me a lot in this regard. I recall that Ayn
          > > Rand opposed
          > > a mandatory draft, but I don't know in what book she expressed her
          > > sentiments against it, nor read this particular text of hers.
          >
          > The book you are looking for is "Capitalism - the unknown ideal".
          > She has number of Vietnam comments there.
          >

          Did you read all her books to know she did not mention anything else
          against it in others?

          > If you had written this article few month ago, I would have agreed with
          > every word.
          > But today, a month after many of my friends disappeard with Turtle-8, I'm
          > not sure any more.
          >

          That's exactly the reason why I'm against it. The government is clearly
          following a military path, when a change of strategy would have been much
          more beneficial. It thinks that the faulty side are the Palestinians, and
          we are perfectly fine by all means. Nothing can deviate so much from the
          fact.

          I have a document in queue called "An Open Letter to the Prime Minister,
          Ariel Sharon", which I can send on request or put on the web. It dispels
          some of the common thinking among Israelis of "the palestinians are the
          ones responsible for the current situation". (I do not claim the
          Palestinians behave in a moral way, just that Israelis are not very good
          at handling the situation in a rational, well-thought way)


          > It seems to me that there's a severe shortage of fighters.

          There is such because we need most of them to protect settlments of 5-100
          figthers scattered all over the west bank and gaza. Does the U.S. has such
          settlements in Mexico? Don't get me wrong, I think any lawful man has a
          right to live anywhere he pleases. But I don't think Israel at large
          should be _forced_ to comply with the whims of a few irrational settlers,
          just because they hold a lot of political power.

          > So severe that
          > soliders who are unqualified for fighting (Tironut 02 + Profil 45) are now
          > going a short (2 days) course, and sent to protect settlements. The need to
          > quickly recruit Miluim for some operations seems to be another indication
          > for this shortage.
          >
          > If we had a volunteer army, would we have enough people? Would people stay
          > there long enough to justify their training?

          If we had a volunteer army we would have know to make better use of it.

          > If we paid our solifers fair wages, could we still balance our economy? (And
          > a fair wage would need to be quite high for those who sleep in tents and
          > risk their lives)
          >
          > I hate slave labor, and I think that forcing people to spend 3 productive
          > years as slave labor is a moral crime.
          > Perhaps a country that requires 3 years of slave labor from every man and
          > woman doesn't have the right to exist?
          >

          Let's change it than. Better to live one day as a tiger than a 1000 years
          as a sheep. And I think tigers survive much longer than sheep.

          > What if too few people volunteered? Would that mean that only few people
          > think that this country worth fighting for? Would it mean that we must pack
          > our bags and immigrate?
          >

          The fact is that fewer and fewer people volunteer, at least in comparison
          to the general population. And the army does not seem to make those people
          who do volunteer any happier as time goes by. I think it's a risk we have
          to take. It's not about having a large army. It's about having a good one.

          > I don't dare asking myself that question. Would I volunteer? I'm not sure. I
          > can't honestly say to myself that this country is worth my blood.
          >

          I would have, because I know the country is worth me putting effort into
          it. But I would do so, by choice. I don't think I can be a front-line
          soldier, (I was disqualified from service because I used to get into
          depressions), but I can be a good engineer or programmer.

          > > 1. First of all, a military with a mandatory draft has little
          > > motivation
          > > to improve the conditions it offers those who join it, improve the way
          > > they are treated and they feel about it, etc. It tends to put
          > > people in
          > > arbitrary positions, regardless of their capabilities or desires, and
          > > other such non-competitive side-effects.
          >
          > Almost true. Some sections make every effort to get the best people. The
          > special units, air-force, Navi. Our intelligence units as well.
          >

          True, but what about the army at large? The infantry? The Ballistics? The
          Armour? The ones we actually depend on to win a war? They are the ones who
          are suffering from lack of ambition among the soldiers. They are the ones
          who are not improving while they should.

          When I was still before Turtle-3, my friend told me that any soldier he
          asked told him the military was sh*t. Including special units. While army
          service is not supposed to be a place where your superiors treat you
          nicely and politely, I do think they should treat you well, and that one's
          service should be an enlightening experience. That is more and more not
          becoming the case.

          > > 2. More over, a malicious government can decide to abuse a
          > > military so it
          > > follows its whims, and involve in an activity that its
          > > soldiers and/or the
          > > public in general does not approve of.
          >
          > I believe that a mandatory army is more difficult to abuse.
          > Many people do things they have moral problems with, because they need the
          > job.

          A mandatory army is such that does not need to struggle for people to be
          recruited into and stay there. By defintion it is less difficult to abuse.

          Workplaces struggle to get the best engineers. That's because a good
          engineer who is unhappy can quit and eventually find a different job
          pretty easily. (or do you think that there are too many _good_ engineers
          around today?)

          > In a mandatory army, it may be easier to quite.
          > Note how many Miluim people refuse to serve in the occupied territories, as
          > opposed to Keva people.
          > Miluim people know that at most they'll spend a month in prision. Keva
          > soliders may find themselves in the street for life.
          >

          So you think an army is a diversion from real-life? Most people today
          would rather spend some time working, taking a vacation or studying than go to
          the army. And ironically, those are the people that the army needs the
          most because they are the compotent ones. The army constantly abuses such
          people and does not fullfill their expectations. My friend is now a honour
          student studying for EE in the Technion, and in the army he was a
          dish-washer. He stayed there for three years, only to find out that they
          did not need him any longer afterwards.

          So he had a non-fighter profile and failed one of his projects as a
          Technical Atudai. So what? I'm sure the army could have found a better
          thing to do with him than allocate him as a dishwasher. I get similar
          testimonies from many Technion students, and they are all very bright, and
          very intellectual people.

          > > 3. The word "must" is a very big de-motivator. We can see it in the
          > > increasing number of people who choose to get a release from
          > > the army in
          > > a myriad of ways. I got a release too, (albeit I actually
          > > wanted to join
          > > the army in the first place), and since then I heard from
          > > many people who
          > > served their before their academic studies, that I missed
          > > very little, and
          > > that their service was a waste of time. I've encountered a very small
          > > number of people who claimed they enjoyed their army service.
          >
          > I agree. Few people have high motivation in the army.
          >

          And those who do when they enroll, tend to lose it quite quickly.

          > Personally, I believe that the army service wasn't a complete waste of time
          > (And I was a secretary!), but I didn't know it during the service.
          >



          > > 4. I'm not sure that a non-mandatory draft necessarily
          > > implies less people
          > > joining. I take the stand that the majority of people out there are
          > > responsible and would voluntarily join the military if they
          > > see it fit.
          > > Those who do not wish to join only de-motivate the rest and
          > > make the lives
          > > of those who do miserable, anyhow. Would you like to be
          > > forced to work in
          > > your workplace? (If only the Technion understood that and
          > > gave me a 4 1/2
          > > years/115 points degree - ;-)).
          >
          > Thats where we differ.
          > There's no way to prove it, but I'm not sure that everyone who serves now
          > would also serve if he had to volunteer.
          > Remember that we are part of a culture that thinks theres nothing worse than
          > being a sucker.
          > Volunteering won't be such a hit.
          > Also, consider that most of those who would join would probably militaristic
          > types, perhaps from only one side of the political scale. This can make the
          > military a political organ, with political views, as opposed to the mostly
          > neutral army we have now.
          >

          I don't think that will happen. Most people _know_ that we are threatened
          by our neighbouring countries, and that peace gives us little guarantee
          without a military might. The reason we think being a sucker is a
          bad thing, is because the government abuses us in so many ways: Income
          Tax, the Army, lots of red-tape, etc. If a man cannot lead a quiet life,
          how many of them, do you think will dare live an exciting one?

          I don't believe in most sociological crap. All societies are pretty much
          the same. With the same conditions, all societies will thrive or fail
          pretty much equally. Instead of blaming it on the Israeli society, let's
          blame it on what makes it tick.

          > > 5. The army can potentially get more qualified engineers or other
          > > qualified people of such sort, because some people would
          > > decide to join it
          > > only after they finish their studies.
          >
          > I agree here.
          >
          > > Naturally, you can see that I'm almost entirely convinced
          > > that a voluntary
          > > army would be a good thing. What are your thoughts about it?
          >
          > As I said, half a year ago, I would have agreed.
          > Now I have second thoughts.
          >

          Half a year ago, I had second thoughts. Now I don't.

          Regards,

          Shlomi Fish

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          ----------------------------------------------------------------------
          Shlomi Fish shlomif@...
          Home Page: http://t2.technion.ac.il/~shlomif/
          Home E-mail: shlomif@...

          He who re-invents the wheel, understands much better how a wheel works.
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