Does the United States Need Compulsory National Service?

Advocates argue such a system would broaden horizons and help the country.


Does the United States need compulsory national service? Advocates say such a system, which could include both military and civilian service, would broaden horizons and help the country. Critics argue that such plans would only undermine America's natural charitable spirit and make the country more dependent upon the government.
Edited by Robert Schlesinger


William Galston
A former adviser to President Clinton and the Ezra K. Zilkha chair in governance studies at the Brookings Institution

A small percentage of Americans do the fighting for the rest of us, creating a wedge between military professionals and average citizens. Many elected officials lack military experience, and few have children in uniform. For most of us, defending our country is something we watch on television. Little in the lives of young Americans helps them understand...


Matthew Spalding
Director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for American Studies at the Heritage Foundation

Americans have always exhibited a strong sense of compassion toward their neighbors and those less fortunate. Volunteerism, what Alexis de Tocqueville called our "spirit of association," is in the national DNA. Policymakers have long recognized the importance of citizen engagement and philanthropic...


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