Earlier this week, I criticized National Journal's Ron Fournier for expressing the desire to enslave millennials in his war of choice against ISIS. Fournier is not the first aging pundit to tout compulsory national service as some magical panacea for all the world's problems, though he might be the first to suggest that disrupting the lives of enterprising young people and forcing them to waste time in public service would somehow cripple ISIS.
Requiring that people give up their pursuits to humor someone else's vague and outdated notions about the national interest is never a good idea. But it's particularly bad in this case, since most young people don't share Fournier's militarism. According to a new Cato Institute study authored by A. Trevor Thrall and Erik Goepner, millennials are less pessimistic about the state of the world than their elders:
Millennials perceive the world as significantly less threatening than their elders do, and they view foreign policies to deal with potential threats with much less urgency. Second, Millennials are more supportive of international cooperation than prior generations. Millennials, for example, are far more likely to see China as a partner than a rival and to believe that cooperation, rather than confrontation, with China is the appropriate strategy for the United States. Finally, thanks in particular to the impact of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Millennials are also far less supportive of the use of military force and may have internalized a permanent case of"Iraq Aversion."
Millennials prefer commerce, diplomacy, and peaceful coexistence. We (That's right, we. I'm a millennial, too!) also correctly understand that these are uniquely prosperous and peaceful times, despite the dire proclamations of pundits. And we realize that a reckless U.S. foreign policy is partly responsible for the current turmoil in the Middle East, which makes us rightly skeptical about further adventurism. Sounds to me like the future is in good hands. All conscription would do is veer us off that course.