The Canadian Imagination

What it means to be Canadian; examining and reworking Canada as a nation.

Monday, February 18, 2008


The new generation of American service dodgers does not strike me with the same sympathy I had for the draft dodgers of the Vietnam era.

Since 1973, joining the United States armed forces has been entirely voluntary. Enlisting is now entirely an act of free will, but the choice to enlist cedes the greater part of that free will to one's commanding officers. This is the nature of a disciplined armed force.

One does not enlist solely into the benefits of peacetime. The nature of an armed force is that its members can be called upon to serve in whatever capacity the nation sees fit, and specifically to wage war on the nation's behalf. In a democratic nation, a soldier has a voice equal to any other person's, but ultimately he must be obedient to the will of the people, as it is expressed through the nation's government. Anything less is a dodging of one's responsibility and a betrayal of one's commitment.

Civilians conscripted to fight in a war in which they don't believe may legitimately have a claim to refugee status. Those who volunteered to serve, but suddenly discover they wish their service to end where the fighting starts, have no such claim.


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