Daniel Gura ’06 has a not-too-well-written op-ed in the Record arguing that “there is a real need to reinstate the universal national draft.” As much as I like to recommend most everything published in the Record, this piece is just too slipshod to be worth anyone’s time.

Moreover, Gura fails to confront the real logic of his argument. If Williams students like Gura really have “a responsibility to ensure that we uphold the very sacred principles of this great country,” then why doesn’t he enlist? Whether or not he is right about the desirability of a draft is independent of his personal responsibility. Indeed, I find it hard to take serious arguments for a draft made by people who decline the opportunity to volunteer.

Fortunately, Gura has an opportunity to do this in a meaningful way without interupting his Williams career. He can volunteer for Officer Candidate School in the United States Marine Corps. If Gura — or anyone else — were really interested in this, I would be happy to provide more details, but the basic deal is simple enough.

Come down to boot camp for officers in Quantico, Virginia this summer for 10 weeks. We will kick the bullcrap out of you. Think of it as Outward Bound for tough guys. Basic idea is to put you under as much mental and physical pressure as we can without actually shooting at you to see who can handle it. If you can’t take being hungry and tired and yelled at, then you are unlikely to do well in Fallujah.

If you graduate from OCS (attrition is high), then you go back to Williams. Enjoy your time at college. Spend the money you earned this summer — the pay is decent. Think about what you have learned about yourself and the Marine Corps. And then, after you graduate, decide if you want to be an Officer of Marines. You see, there is no obligation. If, after graduation, you don’t want to be a Marine, then the Marines certainly don’t want you.

So, to whatever extent Daniel Gura ’06 thinks that his priviledge generates responsibility, he can act on it. The Marines are just a phone call away.

I suspect, however, that like most folks who seek to make something mandatory for everyone, Gura lacks the fortitude and consistency to first make it mandatory for himself.

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