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To the Editor The Wall Street Journal

Charles Moskos frets that owing to a diminished public tolerance for casualties, U.S. leaders "might put casualty avoidance over mission accomplishment," and he avers that only "when the privileged classes perform military service does the country define the cause as worth young people's blood" ("Our Will to Fight Depends on Who Is Willing to Die," March 20). By this curious argument, Moskos once again expresses his yearning for a wide-reaching national conscription of young men for military service.

The social levelers remain, it seems, a bloody-minded lot. They disdain a reasoned judgment of whether we the people – separate and apart from those "national leaders" Moskos seems all too ready to follow – have a genuinely vital interest in going to war. So long as the slaughter drags all classes into its maw, it is in his view ipso facto worthwhile.

Those who find Moskos's argument appealing need to be reminded that the ideal on which this country was founded was not a craving for self-sacrifice to the state, nor a willingness to be conscripted for any and all foreign military adventures, but a desire to enforce everyone's – even young men's – rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Policies that fail to respect that great ideal should be opposed, and conscription stands high among the proposals that cry out for a free people's opposition.

Robert Higgs

Robert Higgs [send him mail] is the editor of The Independent Review.

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