It was John Adams who said that “I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.”
Now, as noted in a previous column I wrote (“Defend your country, not just your thesis;” April 2017), “the average age of a World War II soldier is 26 years old, in Vietnam 22, the first Gulf War 27, in Afghanistan and Iraq, 30.
“By taking account of our demographics, we see that Filipinos from the 20-35 year old group constitute 26 million of our total population (around 25% of the present 105 million). If statistics are to be believed, more than 95% of that demographic is literate.
No distinction is being made here between male and female (roughly a ratio of 1.04 male/female), as academics and intellectuals have been telling us that there is really no difference between the two and that sex is a mere social construct.
“Even if only 10% of that can be transformed into combat efficiency, 2.6 million added to the roughly 100,000 professional soldiers we currently have.”
An additional 2.6 million certainly helps.
Of course, numbers are not everything. Quality and preparedness also matter. Regarding youths, the following facts are important:
“Divorce ‘is catastrophic for children.’ And it ‘is destructive to both boys and girls, but each sex suffers differently. Girls who grow up deprived of their father are more likely to become depressed, more likely to self-harm, and more likely to be promiscuous. But they still have their mothers, with whom they clearly identify. Boys do not have a comparable identification and thus suffer more from father absence. They also tend to act out in a manner that’s harmful to others.” (Suzanne Venker, “Missing fathers and America’s broken boys,” February 2018)
The US today is notorious for school shootings. But what mainstream media (mostly liberal) refuse to report is that most, if not all of the shooters were bereft of fathers, “whether due to divorce, death, or imprisonment” as Susan Goldberg points out (“When Will We Have the Guts to Link Fatherlessness to School Shootings?” February 2018).
Then there’s this: “72% of adolescent murderers grew up without fathers; the same for 60% of all rapists.” The “number of single-parent households is a good predictor of violent crime in a community, while poverty rate is not.” (Terry Brennan, cofounder, Leading Women for Shared Parenting).
The point here is that a secure country ready to defend itself rests substantially on healthy families where the biological father and mother are together to care for the children. A bit ironic but there’s no going around that fact.
The other factor is preparedness for combat itself.
Other countries require military service for their youth: France, Thailand, Sweden, and South Korea. Israel, China, Norway require it for women. The US doesn’t require compulsory military service but all males between 18-25 of age are registered for Selective Service in case a draft is needed.
Military service has certain secondary benefits. It has been found to “reduce criminal activity for youth offenders who enter service at ages 19-22. For this group property crime is reduced for up to five years from the beginning of service.” (“Does Peacetime Military Service Affect Crime?”; Albaek, et al., Institute for the Study of Labor, Discussion Paper No. 7528, July 2013)
Furthermore, military service programs are proven to impart leadership skills, resilience, organization. (“3 Ways Your Team Can Benefit from Military-Style Leadership Training,” Stephen Potter; July 2015).
And, of course, discipline, respect for authority, and patriotism.
There are proposals to provide opt-outs or alternatives to the ROTC. That is flat-out wrong.
The argument proffered is that other civic programs can also inculcate patriotism. But patriotism in relation to military service is a secondary benefit as stated above. Our entire educational system already does that. The real reason, the main vital purpose of compulsory military service, is to ready the youth to defend the country.
If they’re not made to do that or have the choice to opt-out (to do instead what, gardening or dressmaking?), then who else will fight for the country?
It’s compulsory because it’s highly unjust that only some (mostly the poor) will be expected to do their duty and sacrifice while others are entitled not to (e.g., the rich kids).
There’s a reason why Apolinario Mabini (in his “True Decalogue”) encouraged Filipinos to be ready to “combat the common enemy.”
The same reason why all our constitutions, from Malolos to the present, mandated the call for citizens to be ready for military service.
Because, learning their Publius and Plato, our founding fathers were wise enough to know something which today’s intellectuals forget: weakness invites oppression. Thus, “si vis pacem, para bellum.”
“If you want peace, prepare for war.”
Jemy Gatdula is a Senior Fellow of the Philippine Council for Foreign Relations and a Philippine Judicial Academy law lecturer for constitutional philosophy and jurisprudence.