An Alternative to Traditional War and Soldiers - Voluntary Military Service and Just War

If a nation believes the wars they fight are just, then that nation should allow its soldiers to decide whether to fight in specific wars.  Voluntary Military Service would allow for individuals to decide whether the war they are fighting in is just or not.

With a truly just cause, the soldiers would be more than willing to volunteer and fight. If the war is not just, then the lack of volunteering soldiers would reveal that the war is not one worth fighting. Voluntary Military Service would be a preventative measure from fighting too many wars while at the same time insuring the effectiveness of the military in fighting the wars it does fight.

From a purely military perspective, morale would be much greater if a soldier could make the conscientious decision that he believes the war he is to risk his life in is worth fighting.

From a social perspective, the citizens of the United States would know for a fact that the soldiers were not giving their lives away for something they did not believe in.

From a political perspective, Voluntary Military Service would have a taming effect on the nation, forcing it to be more particular in where and how often military incursions are undertaken. No longer would leaders be able to send people to war without making a solid and convincing case for that war.  But when the nation would go to war, the politicians would know that the people are behind it.

From a religious perspective, this would allow people to join the military that believe in the "just war" theory. Right now, proponents of "just war" should not in good conscience enlist in the military.  A soldier has to subject their opinion on whether a war is just or not to the heads of the State. When they join the military, in effect, they are making a permanent surrender of their religious conviction to the decision of the leaders of that nation. For an enlisted soldier, it does not matter if a war is just or not; it matters whether they have been given a command or not.  Religious beliefs should not be subjected to the state.

The very idea of "just war" means that in every war there is at least one side that is unjust.  The logical conclusion is that at least one side should have people conscientiously opposed to that war.  It is very convenient, although intellectually dishonest, to say that our side would always be on the just side in a war. 

For Voluntary Military Service to be implemented, transparency of information from the top of the executive branch all the way to the soldiers in the barracks would need to occur.  Information on why a war should be fought could not be withheld if the government needed to convince its citizens that they should enlist and fight in a war.  This would not give the soldier freedom to disobey orders once he has enlisted in a specific war; what it does is allow the soldier the option of deciding whether to participate in a war that they felt is just.

The benefits of allowing soldiers to decide whether to fight in a war outweighs the detriments to such an unorthodox process. Just wars would be decided based upon the conscience of the people rather than the conscience of a select few. The bar for the case for war would be raised. The responsibility for war would be on the shoulders of those actually fighting it. All soldiers would be allowed to participate with a self-perceived clean conscience. There is nothing to fear in allowing soldiers to decide whether they will or will not fight in a war if the war is just.  Unless we fear not fighting in wars all of the time.