A frustrating war and an endless occupation. The very real prospect of more conflict overseas. A military stretched beyond its breaking point. The stage is set for the resumption of the draft. Now, in an explosive and provocative book, Philip Gold, a former Marine and a disaffected conservative, reveals why selective service should never come to pass–but might.
In The Coming Draft, Gold charts the path that brought us to this treacherous point and posits an “exit strategy” for America to change its course. In candid language and through authoritative research, he uncovers the flaws of forced enlistment from ancient to recent times and suggests serious and more effective methods to protect the homeland.
“Plans/reality mismatch” is how Gold describes the Bush administration’s handling of the Iraq war. This conflict’s deadly, years-long duration–with overtaxed volunteer troops–has led to the Marines missing their monthly recruitment quotas by up to 25 percent, soldiers over sixty being called out of retirement to serve, and in some cases National Guard tours being extended to 2031. Though the House of Representatives made a show of voting against the draft idea in 2004, Gold believes that a collusion of neoconservatives and liberals could eventually cause conscription to be reinstated. The neocon argument for the return of universal conscription rests in the expectation that American military presence will need to increase in order to combat the spreading threat of terrorism, while the left wing hopes that the revival of the draft will expand the scope of the debate about U.S. military policy, thereby making American involvement in wars an issue that potentially touches every household.
Asserting that selective service has been neither effective nor historically validated, The Coming Draft provides evidence that the Founding Fathers’ concept of common defense differed from our own and allowed for “proper refusal” in addition to service. More damning, Gold insists that starting with the Universal Militia Act of 1791, the draft has been rife with demoralizing corruption and bad faith, whether it was exceptions for civilian slave owners in the Civil War or loophole-laden systems from World War I to Vietnam.
Gold’s practical and innovative alternatives include the redefinition of service (to include earthquake and weather-related relief work), and a drastic rethinking of the duties of the National Guard. All this, he believes, must begin with setting limits on any president’s ability to launch an undeclared war.
Written with an acute awareness and fierce intelligence, The Coming Draft is an indispensable work for anyone who is, or who might have to be, a soldier–and any citizen concerned about the future of our country.
From the Hardcover edition.
About Philip Gold
Philip Gold is the author of five books, including Take Back the Right, along with more than eight hundred articles, columns, and reviews. He has served as a Marine officer, covered defense issues for a national news magazine, and was recently a Senior Fellow in National Security Affairs at the prestigious Discovery Institute in Washington, D.C. Gold holds a B.A. in history from Yale University and a Doctorate in history from Georgetown University, where he taught history and defense policy for fourteen years.
Advance praise for The Coming Draft
“The Coming Draft is a passionate and devastating polemic that at once challenges the right’s definition of patriotic service and the left’s near abandonment of the subject. Outspoken and wryly furious, Philip Gold’s book will, with luck, bring reforms as numerous as the hackles it will raise.”
–Caleb Carr, bestselling author and historian
“In a country on the verge of perpetual war, it takes an ex-marine and political scholar to think about the consequences to both the nation and the military . . . setting the table for what is sure to become the great national debate of this and the next decade.”
–Ronald J. Glasser, M.D., author of 365 Days
“The Coming Draft examines two equally crazy ideas: that a democratic state has the right to tear its citizens from their homes and send them to war, and that those citizens have the right to refuse. The relationship between citizenship and service in our country is broken. Philip Gold has written a brilliant account of how this happened, what it means, and how we can fix it. Read this excellent book as a warning–its issues will matter again greatly and maybe sooner than we think.”
–Nathaniel Fick, author of One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer
From the Hardcover edition.