The real lessons from World War I
100 years later, we still spend too much time talking about how World War I started. The real lessons are in why it lasted so long.
The case against a mandatory draft
As I have explained elsewhere, I am not opposed to the draft under all conceivable conditions. If, for example, having a draft were the only way to avoid getting conquered by an enemy that would impose a totalitarian state on us, I would support it. The draft is a great evil. Still, there can potentially be situations where it is the only way to stave off an even greater one. But the arguments advanced by Rangel and other modern draft supporters don’t even come close to meeting the burden of proof needed to justify such massive coercion.
An alternative to counterinsurgency
The weakness of counterinsurgency is the assumption that the population would turn against the insurgents for economic incentives or that the counterinsurgents can protect the population from the insurgents. Some values, such as nationalism and religion, are very real among many populations, and the occupying force’s ability to alter these values is dubious, no matter how helpful, sincere and sympathetic the occupying force is. Moreover, protecting the population from insurgents is difficult. In many cases, insurgents are the husbands, brothers and sons of civilians. The population may want the economic benefits offered by the occupying force, but that does not mean citizens will betray or ostracize their friends and relatives. In the end, it is a specious assumption that a mass of foreigners can do more than intimidate a population. The degree to which they can intimidate them is doubtful as well.