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By George Q. Flynn

Finding the manpower to shield democracy has been a routine challenge. Russell Weigley writes: The historical preoccupation of the Army's inspiration in peacetime has been the manpower query: how, in an unmilitary country, to muster enough numbers of able squaddies speedy may still battle take place. while the character of contemporary battle made an all-volunteer military insufficient, the main Western democracies faced the problem of involuntary army provider in a unfastened society. The center of this manuscript issues tools during which France, nice Britain, and the U.S. solved the matter and why a few options have been extra lasting and potent than others. Flynn demanding situations traditional knowledge that means that conscription used to be inefficient and that it promoted inequality of sacrifice.

Sharing comparable yet now not exact diplomatic outlooks, the 3 international locations mentioned right here have been allies in international wars and within the chilly struggle, and so they faced the matter of utilizing conscripts to guard colonial pursuits in an age of decolonization. those societies relaxation upon democratic ideas, and working a draft in a democracy increases numerous precise difficulties. a specific rigidity develops because of adopting pressured army provider in a polity in line with recommendations of person rights and freedoms. regardless of the protest and inconsistencies, the feedback and waste, Flynn unearths that conscription served the 3 Western democracies good in an historic context, proving potent in collecting scuffling with males and permitting a flexibility to manage and alter as difficulties arose.

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Extra info for Conscription and Democracy: The Draft in France, Great Britain, and the United States (Contributions in Military Studies)

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The National Service League failed miserably to recruit members from the lower or laboring classes. Hardly any annual union conference met without a resolution denouncing conscription. 33 Asquith waited 18 months after the war began before offering such a bill. By this time many vital workers had already died at the front. 34 There were several good arguments for delaying conscription until the last minute. For one, the delay allowed the military to reap a harvest of highly qualified and motivated volunteers with minimum administrative change.

Institut des Hautes E´tudes de De´fense Nationale (IHEDN), 121st reg. , Nantes, 23 January–23 March 1995 Study Commission on Future of Conscription (hereafter cited as IHEDN, Nantes), p. 2; Christophe Prochasson, “Les Grands dates de l’histoire de la conscription: De la milice au service national,” Revue histoire des arme´es 2 (1982): 67. 22. : Greenwood Press, 1993), pp. 155–157, 164; quote in Feldman, “An Illusion of Power,” II: 35; Georges Marey, “Le Service national et le code du service national—II,” Revue militaire generale 28 (1972): 39.

This struggle was rooted in the tensions in French society inherited from the Revolution. 40 The repeated need to rewrite the basic law of the land and the rapid turnover of governments (42 between the world wars) suggest that the French lacked a basic consensus on how to govern themselves. The problem of consensus emerged in the debate over reform of the conscription system in the years preceding World War I. What was the role of the army? Such a fundamental question had, of course, been covered in the constitution and focused on the basic idea of defense of the country.

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