Friday, February 27, 2015

Conscription in Lithuania

On January 13th, 1991, not all long after the long-suffering citizens of the Baltic Republics joined hands in the Balijos kelias, thirteen people were slain at the Vilnius TV tower by the last remnants of the collapsing Soviet putsch.

Tyranny never sleeps, people. Sure, you can burn it all to the ground. You can plow it under and salt the earth, but this wickedest of all weeds has roots too deep to destroy. Twenty five years haven't passed and the lessons learned in throwing off the yoke of state-sponsored oppression are forgotten.

On the bright side, it hasn't been easier for peaceful East Europeans to flee the grasp of an ambitious sovereign in recent memory. I'd imagine that the EU has some sort of repatriation for conscription, but Checkpoint Charlie is gone for good.

I harbor no ill will towards courageous Lithuanians who seek to defend the homeland against foreign aggression. I have a dog in that fight, but it's on a long leash. I do harbor ill will towards craven politicians who have so little faith in the courage of their people that they feel that compelled service is the only way they can rouse the martial spirit of the trys milijonai.

As an aside, my own experience serving in the American armed forces informs me that while conscripts can be as courageous and competent as a force of all volunteers, it is much more challenging to maintain the same commitment to the mission with a bayonet at your back. Unit effectiveness is enhanced by shared vision.

Military service may not always be euvoluntary, but for the sake of the integrity of the nation, it should at least be voluntary. What do the people gain if they should save their sovereignty at the cost of their very souls?

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?