My respect for Chomsky has now slipped even further
Conscription is essentially a euphemism for coerced exploitation or, in other words, slavery. Why the hell is Chomsky, a man who claims to be a promoter of peace who is firmly opposed to exploitation, willing to advocate increased exploitation of a coercive nature to achieve some desired result? Not only does this seem to resemble what BK Marcus refers to as the samsara fallacy, but it is flat out objectionable simply on the grounds of actually being ok with the idea of people being forced against their will to engage in atrocious behavior, an idea atrocious in and of itself.
Spieser does a pretty good job of tearing Chomsky to shreds here, at least from a somewhat libertarian perspective. Additional criticism can be found in Jacob Levich's article "Chomsky and Conscription" (via Counterpunch). Levich picks up the slack when it comes to Chomsky's assertion that what he calls "citizens armies" (a term I abhor) would be against the best interests of the top command. An example of Levich's response:
What's significant here is that fascist Italy introduced universal conscription precisely for the purpose of facilitating colonial expansion. So did imperial Japan. And once you let Asia into the equation, Chomsky's argument truly collapses. The 1930s and 1940s saw several of the most brutal colonial wars in history, including the Rape of Nanking and comparably horrific episodes during Japanese invasions of Southeast Asia and Korea. Throughout WWII numerous sideshow conflicts were conducted across the globe as the big powers vied to pick off colonial assets. All this was accomplished with draft armies.
Typically during the modern era, the draft has not hindered but aided imperialist designs. Universal conscription originated in Europe with the French Revolution, but it was Napoleon who first saw how a "citizen's army" could be exploited as an overwhelming military asset -- one which he put to use in conquering most of the European continent. His colonial war in Spain -- the original guerilla war -- was fought, with relentless brutality, by conscripted troops.
And like I mentioned earlier, I abhor Chomsky reference to conscripted armies as being "citizens armies". Levich may not have wanted to dwell on such a euphemism, but I will for a moment. I certainly like to think of myself as being "for the people" and being in favor of "putting people before profits", which is why I have a problem with Chomsky's use of "citizens armies". Since when does a state institution represent the people, especially one rooted in slavery? (no euphemisms from me) The Chinese government still refers to itself as the "Peoples' Republic of China", but I'm willing to bet that the people aren't in charge, nor do they admire those who are in charge. The government ain't the people, dammit!