Thomas Sowell
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There was a time when most members of Congress had served in the military, as had many people in the media. Today that is no longer true -- and it shows in many ways.

Ignorance should at least create caution but it seems to do just the opposite. People with little knowledge about the military, and no personal experience, often have the most sweeping and unrealistic expectations, and even demands, to make on people whose lives are at risk in battle.

The military have been criticized for everything from not protecting an Iraqi museum while being shot at to not being as nice to the terrorists imprisoned in Guantanamo as people in safe and comfortable editorial offices would like.

More dangerously, TV reporters broadcasting from where shells are falling blithely say such things as "the shells are landing about five miles north of here."

Does it ever occur to them that their internationally broadcast comments will reach those who are doing the shelling, who can adjust their range accordingly and then kill more efficiently?

On the home front, life goes on today as if there were no war. Consumer goods are as abundant as ever and no real sacrifices are demanded of the civilian population, who are spectators rather than even tangential participants. None of this is healthy.

Some have suggested a military draft as a way to at least create some sense of realism about war and to share its burdens more widely and equitably.

Those on the left play the class-warfare card and the race card to say that the elites are sending other people's youths into battle while their own offspring are sheltered from sacrifice. But the over-riding question is: What would be the effect of instituting a military draft?

Such questions cannot be answered as if we were talking about drafting abstract people into an abstract army. A military draft today would be very different in its consequences from the military draft in World War II.

Back in the days of World War II, the military were drafting young men who were, by and large, patriotic Americans, people who felt that they had a duty to protect this country from its enemies.

Today, a military draft would bring in large numbers of people who have been systematically "educated" to believe the worst about this country or, at best, to be non-judgmental about the differences between American society and its enemies.

The fact that we could use a larger army of the kinds of people who have already volunteered to put their lives on the line does not mean that we can get it by adding warm bodies fresh from our politically correct schools and colleges, where standards and self-discipline are greatly lacking.

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Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate