Professor Julian Zelizer noted that “the quagmire of Vietnam undercut the ability of the United States to mount large-scale ground wars in the future” (feature, April 1) because of the dismantling of the draft.
The unintended consequence has been the ability of this country to wage wars for a very long time, since the vast majority of Americans have no connection to the military, approve of their elected officials pushing the costs down to future generations, and certainly would not join themselves, as Boston University’s Professor Andrew Bacevich *82 and others have shown. The benefit of the draft was that policymakers had to make it clear to the American people that going to war was of direct national interest. For World War II and Korea they did; for Vietnam they didn’t. With the draft, most Americans had “skin in the game.” One hopes that Professor Zelizer points this out to his students, who are unlikely to have any direct contact with those who do the fighting.