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    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Starting in 2009, and initially with trial batches of only 10% of the eligible participants (randomly selected), all persons of age 17 will be taken on a non-optional national service programme in order to promote unity and cohesion within the EU. The participants, termed trainees, will be mixed amongst every EU country and may be stationed anywhere apart from their home EU member country. There will be exceptions only for those who are pregnant or have young babies. The programme will last three months and the costs will be borne by the tax-payer. The programme will combine military-style training with group activities and teambuilding.

    Okay... it's not really happening, I made it up. I'd like to hear the opinions of the forum on this proposal. Such a programme was just being implemented in Malaysia last I was there, in that case for racial cohesion. I will give my opinion after other forum participants have had a chance to give theirs.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    vince,

    I don't like the idea of any of this being compulsary, but I imagine if you asked for 17 year old volunteers who would spend 3 months away from their parents in a foreign country for free you would get plenty to choose from. If the training was more brain than brawn I would be in favour.

    BTW, glad the real vince is back.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Any national service program will have to accommodate areas of Europe that are demilitarised and free of military service. If there is an option to work in peaceable occupations, this requirement can then be met. I'm speaking as a man registered in the Åland Islands, a demilitarised and automomous province of Finland. This status had its roots in the early 19th century, and was confirmed by the League of Nations in 1921.

    Furthermore, as a Quaker and a committed pacifist, I would urge any such option to include projects to work on peace, community building and social justice in any European nation.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    FinninCanada, the proposal is not for service within the amy, but for cohesive training alongside contemporaries from across the EU and within an environment other than their home country.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I agree with Finnin. Instead of military training for 18 year olds in some countries, the EU could, in fact, create a (mandatory) service of one year in which participants will commit themselves to social causes. This is already possible, e.g. in Germany where someone who doesn't want to participate in the military can opt to do social service. I think this would be in line with a "social Europe" and would help people to mature as a person.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I don't think that a forced government expropriation of one year of every 18 year old's life is a good idea. I don't know who on earth would want to support such idea if it's not absolutely necessary for some very important reasons (other than merely that it would "help" people to mature).
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    I agree with oulematu. I basically think national service is a form of slavery, and a brutal one moreover when conscientious objection is not allowed for. We can form other ways of promoting, subsidising exchange programs (making them free, paid etc.) if we want cultural exchange but it is high time we did away with the national service altogether.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Having given some time for other responses, it will probably not surprise you that my view is in line with oulematu and Cihanchat.

    Any such national services is very obviously against the human rights concept of freedom. It is both morally and socially abhorrent and I would take all possible steps to surrender EU citizenships should it be introduced.

    For those who think that national service is a bad idea, it might surprise you that there is no law in the EU to make national service or conscription illegal. Again moving back to the six goals, I would have thought that giving us legal protection against such things would be an important part of the goals of freedom and the law. Could Germany have progressed towards war in the way it had if conscription and national service had been illegal? Would it not prevent many forms of government mobilisation, militarisation and indoctrination?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Why should conscription be illegal?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    vince,

    I share your negative view of conscription and similar practices, but it seems to me that you put a bit too much faith in legislation. I see no point in making conscription illegal. I’d prefer making it unnecessary and/or impossible. It would be unnecessary if governments had other ways, more effective, of rallying popular participation. It would be impossible if citizens refused to accept such practices from their governments. Notice that either option relies on citizens and their response to governmental actions, not on legal impediments to governments, which they would be able to circumvent, if the need arose, on account they have sway over the legislative branch.

    This said, some democratic countries have mandatory military service and not only does this seem not to conflict with their view of democracy, it is actually central in their national vision. I’m thinking particularly of Switzerland, a nation proud of their neutrality and of their combat-readiness in case their neutrality should need defending.

    Ultimately, it’s up to each people to decide what’s best for them in the manner each sees fittest. Democracy cannot be imposed, as that too would be a restriction of freedom. You’d be taking away a community’s freedom to decide how to organize itself.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Seileach, you are right that things being impossible makes them much more difficult to do than making them illegal. However, something being illegal is a big stumbling block upon making something legally required. If all forms of national service / conscription are illegal at a constitutional level then it would provide a good defense against any newly introduced law which seeks to provide for them. It would also provide good grounds for EU-level judicial intervention.

    Gheryando, I'm not sure why you ask why conscription should be illegal. Apart from being clearly in contrast to the EU's goal of freedom and the expression of Freedom as a human right, it seems to me that it goes far beyond the limits of reasonable social contract. What are your views on the topic? Personally I don't think anyone should have their freedom taken away unless they have committed a very serious crime.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    vince,

    Re: conscription and freedom.

    If constription gets you an army, during wartime, that defeats a more oppressive regime then doesn't conscription protect freedom?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Gary,

    The mobilisation of the entire British population, and not just the conscripted soldiers, during the World War II goes a long way to proving that, when the situation is dire, people rise up to the occasion.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Dear Vincex3, this is the fundamental issue in politics: People form families, who form villages who form cities who form provinces who form states who form international organizations. When the integrity of such a collective (state) is threatened from the outside then it is a states logical behaviour to conscript its males in order to fulfill the necessary duties to protect the state. We are in a state nowadays where peace is granted and war is an abstract thing that we can not imagine. I am sure my grandfather and greatgrandfather werent so happy when conscripted for WW2 but they did not have a choice. We have become too comfortable and your statement indicates that you would not consider to defend and perhaps, die for your country, if need be. This is a worrying signal and I believe generally Europeans have become to idealists and preach to others while they themselves would not fight for their countries anymore. I believe conscription is not only a right of the state but a duty of the citizen. Don't ask what the state can do for you, ask what you can do for the state.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Gheryando, you make a good point that states have always relied upon conscription for both defense and attack. On the other hand, we have more modern concepts such as freedom and democracy which must eventually take precedence. If the citizens of a given country don't want to volunteer to fight for the country, surely that is another form of democratic expression and a decision the country should honour, for better or for worse.

    In times past it was common to carry weapons such as swords or knives whilst travelling in order that brigands could be kept at bay. Today, we still have brigands, but we see fit to travel without such weapons. There are always alternatives to violence in defense, such a concept being held to be one of the main purposes of the EU, that of peace through integration and cooperation.

    Personally, I don't believe that avoiding something bad is an excuse to do something bad yourself. It might be a practical solution, but that doesn't make it right. You might call it idealism, but I think we should put faith in the concept that wrongs will be righted eventually, whether in this world or another.
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    vince,

    "faith in the concept that wrongs will be righted eventually, whether in this world or another" so no-one should have fought against the Nazis then?
    • CommentAuthoradmin
    • CommentTimeOct 22nd 2008
     
    Dear Vincex3, I don't believe that conscription is a bad thing. You might extend your left cheek when hit on your right but a state will not act like that. States, by definition, act rationally and will obviously resist any attempts on their territorial integrity by a foreign intruder. Despite all my beliefs in democracy, liberty etc, I believe war is such an extraordinary circumstance in which it should not be allowed whether to fight. In fact, even if you could decide not to fight in case of invasion, you would probably become an outcast, shunned by the other members of society. All your proposals seem fine and I agree with all of them except when war happens. This is, because I believe I am here for society and not society for me.