Let me respond to Harry Summers' Feb. 29 column, "Long march of conscription."
It comes as no surprise that a system of coercive conscription can rapidly increase the size of the armed forces. World Wars Iand II, the two instances cited by Mr. Summers as being examples of an effective military draft, also saw high levels of volunteers, a fact that contributed to the acceptance of the draft. Harsh legal penalties for draft resisters, which included prison, certainly contributed to the overall appearance of success. Mr. Summers also fails to mention the thousands of conscientious objectors who were imprisoned during those two wars as a result of inadequate legal protections.
We have witnessed other examples of effective military drafts in recent days. In Bosnia, for example, men were frequently rounded up for military service. The Russian Army relies on conscripts for cannon fodder in its brutal no-win war with Chechnya, though with less success. In Liberia, boys as young as 8 were conscripted for that country's civil war. President Juan Carlos Wasmosy of Paraguay was embarrassed recently when, while reviewing his troops, he discovered minors in the ranks. Cuban clings to universal conscription as though its survival depends on it. …