Conscription and Democracy: The Draft in France, Great Britain, and the United States

TitleConscription and Democracy: The Draft in France, Great Britain, and the United States
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2002
AuthorsFlynn, George Q.
Number of Pages303
PublisherGreenwood Press
CityWestport, CT

When the nature of warfare made an all-volunteer army inadequate, the major Western democracies confronted the dilemma of involuntary military service in a free society. The core of this manuscript concerns methods by which France, Great Britain, and the United States solved this problem and why some solutions were more lasting and effective than others. Flynn challenges conventional wisdom that suggests that conscription was inefficient and that it promoted inequality of sacrifice. Sharing similar but not identical diplomatic outlooks, the three countries discussed here also confronted the problem of using conscripts to defend colonial interests in an age of decolonization. These societies rest upon democratic principles, and operating a draft in a democracy raises several unique problems. Despite the protest and inconsistencies, Flynn reveals that conscription served the three Western democracies well in an historical context, proving effective in gathering fighting men and allowing a flexibility to cope and change as problems arose.

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