General Stanley McChrystal

Message from sender:

Q:You’ve spent your life in service to your country. Do you think that’s something that all Americans should do?
A:Absolutely. I think that the act of contributing, whether it is mandatory or whether it is voluntary (I think it ought to be mandatory), does something for the individual. When you contribute to something, you put more value on it. If I made you pick up trash on the street out front, you’d be more upset with people who littered, and you would own that street more. I think paying taxes to a nation is not enough. That’s too clinical. Having the opportunity to actually go and do things for the nation that are inconvenient or unpleasant or even unsafe binds you to the larger group more deeply than before.

America suffers right now from the fact that many Americans don’t meet or deal with anybody outside their social or cultural circle. It may be economic, it may be geographic, it may be religion. I think one of the great things about forced national service, like World War II, was that it blended people across the different parts of our country, made us a better melting pot than we would have been otherwise. I think mandatory national service would have a huge effect to help us in that direction.

Q:So was it a mistake to move to a volunteer army?
A:I’m not sure it was a mistake, because the volunteer army I served in was this extraordinary fighting machine. But having said that, I now believe we need a draft. America’s defense should be performed by a representative cross section of the population. With a draftee army, there’d be some new challenges, but I think we could solve that.

Q:What would the consequences be for American foreign and security policy if everybody had skin in the game?
A:Oh, I think it’d be much better, because right now, there’s a sense that if you want to go to war, you just send the military. They’re not us. But if you wanted to go to war and your son or your daughter had a very high chance of going, you’d be more invested. It wouldn’t be just tax money; it would be emotional.


General Stanley McChrystal _ The Past and Future of American War _ Foreign A.pdf