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UNIVERSAL MILITARY SERVICE OF IMMENSE BENEFIT TO YOUTH OF AMERICA AND TO NATIONAL INTERESTS

COUNTRY NEED NEVER FEAR TAXATION OR MILITARISM

By Newton D. Baker and Secretary OF War, (Special Article for the Crimson)s

The Constitution of the United States recognizes the need for armies, and authorizes Congress to raise them. The constitutions of practically every State in the Union contain provisions which include all male citizens capable of bearing arms within the militia of the State. George Washington and his associates and successors in the line of American statesmanship have all urged the necessity for such military provision as would enable our institutions to rest secure from aggression. The question of how much military preparation we should have must be considered in connection with the character of modern wars. Increased facility of transportation has shortened the time allowance of a nation under attack. It has also made possible mobilizations upon a gigantic scale; n weapons and new agencies more deadly in their effect and more complicated in their production and use have all to be considered; so that if it be conceded that the United States should have so much military preparation as is necessary to protect it against aggression, then it must be conceded that the preparation must be large enough in extent and thorough enough in character to enable us to hold off an adversary while the full power of the Nation is being mobilized The choice lies between a great standing army and a standing army of moderate size with the youth of the country so far trained as to be able rapidly to acquire, by intensive training, the ability to take their places in the army.

That there are immense benefits to the youth of the country and to the country itself involved in the sort of training proposed, is generally conceded. These benefits are, to the individual, improved health, a larger and more national view of his relations, and wider acquaintance with his country. To the Nation, they are the creation and deepening of the sense of community interest and the breaking down of racial, religious, linguistic, and sectional differences.

Those who entertain any doubt as to the wisdom of general military training, are, first, those who feel that it is an unnecessary expense and, therefore, an undesirable addition to the burden of taxation; and second, those who fear the tendency to militarism. To the first, it can only be said that each must balance the question of cost against his estimate of the possible need. As to the second, it can fairly be said that democracy is no longer an experiment in America; that the successes of a hundred years have established traditions which our daily association perpetuates and our education emphasizes. To believe that this can be obliterated and an aggressive spirit inculcated by three or four months of association in training camps once in a man's life-time unduly discounts the persistence of the democratic impulse and seems, in my judgment, unjustly to recognize a strength of appeal in militarism which is not there. It seems much more likely that men who have had some contact with military methods will be better able to forecast the costliness, wastefulness, and destruction of war and, therefore, more desire to avoid it than will men who have been kept apart from all considerations which would lead them to any knowledge on this subject and who view war merely as an opportunity for glory; but are uninstructed as to its drudgery and its cost.

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