Tom Ricks, Political Science, and Policy Relevance

I actually should thank Tom Ricks. I’ve wanted to revive this long-dormant blog for some time now, but I’ve been caught up with moving and trying to wrap up a long-term project. Ricks, the former Washington Post military correspondent, inspired me to knock the dust off this site when he made one of the silliest arguments about the policy relevance of political science on record.

In a blog post at Foreign Policy, he mocks the latest issue of the academic journal International Security as boring and irrelevant to the myriad crises the world faces. Ricks complains that with trouble . . .
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An Indecent Proposal: Tom Ricks Calls for the Return of Conscription

Tom Ricks has an op-ed this week in the New York Times proposing that America reinstitute the draft to alleviate its military, economic, and societal ills. And why not? Apparently retired General Stanley McChrystal thinks it’s a good idea. Of course, Ricks’s entire case for returning to the military draft is not built on the former Afghan commander’s opinion, but it doesn’t get much better from there.

The proposal is to conscript both men and women who could choose different lengths of service. Option Ricks specifies is an 18-month stint that would provide “low pay but excellent post-service benefits, . . .
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