Tony Blankley wants to bring back conscription — he imagines that the U.S. would have suffered virtually no casualties if we had sent 300,000 troops to Iraq. (H/t to Eric Garris.) Blankley may be held up as a conservative spokesman by Fox News, but I’ve lately been looking at back issues of the New Guard, the old publication of Young Americans for Freedom, including the famous May 1967 special issue on the draft in which Barry Goldwater, Russell Kirk, and Milton Friedman all called for its abolition. Here’s what Goldwater had to say about the liberal and conservative views of compulsory military (or civil) service:
There should no longer be any confusion about the liberal, radical and conservative positions on the draft.
Liberals favor it, but either want to make it random in its selection or extend it to social as well as military service.
Radicals want to end it or turn it to social service. They are not against compulsion. They are just against the fact, it seems to me, that the compulsion in this case is being used as part of an effort against their current heroes, the Viet Cong.
Conservatives want to end the draft–period. They do not want to extend it to any other form of service. …
Between the liberal and conservative positions lies the world of difference that marks the two philosophies.
The liberal position is based solidly upon the notion that every form of compulsion and every sacrifice of the individual may be justified in the name of ‘society.’
The conservative position is based solidly upon the notion that man’s most fundamental right and responsibility is to live his own life.
The May ’67 New Guard cites anti-draft opinions from a number of other sources, including Robert A. Taft, who included these remarks in the August 14, 1940 Congressional Record:
It is said that a compulsory draft is a democratic system. I deny that is has anything to do with democracy. It is neither democratic nor undemocratic. It is far more typical of totalitarian of totalitarian nations than of democratic nations. The theory behind it leads directly to totalitarianism. It is absolutely opposed to the principles of individual liberty which have always been considered a part of American democracy. … The principle of a compulsory draft is basically wrong.
Here, by contrast, is Blankley: