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January 12, 2003

Hell No, We Won't Go! We're Having Kids!

Rangel and others want to reinstate the draft. Do we have enough young people to "man" an imperial army without tapping immigrants? I doubt it, and I doubt that the immigrants we need will have such loyalty to America. This reminds me of the Roman Army filling its ranks with foreigners after the Romans lost their taste for citizen-soldiering.

The author seems to favor drafting single, childless women ages 18-26. I think this would set off a baby boom among women in those age groups, as well as a few marriages of convenience. I'd do one or the other myself, if I couldn't wiggle out of the draft some other way. But at 5'1 I'm not soldiering material, so I'm probably safe. Still, Razib might be called to save a 6 foot St. Pauli Girl look-alike from the dogs of war.

A few points from Razib: The men that manned the legions were all citizens. The men that manned the "auxilliaries" were non-citizens, given citizenship after completion of their service, though some auxilliaries were local levies raised by tributary monarchs and nations (generally about half the army were auxilliaries-the system changed in the 4th century and mobile mounted units came to the fore). The Italian character of the Roman army was negligible by the 3rd century-this was the era of Syrian and Illyrian Emperors who defended the empire with their blood and guts (one was captured and decapitated by the Persians-Valerian, who popularized December 25th as a holiday because of his devotion to Sol Invictus). The real breakdown happened when German foederati were allowed to settle throughout and "defend" the empire (particularly after the defeat of Valens at Adrianople late in the 4th century). They had tribal loyalties and it showed. But remember that the Emperors after Domitian were almost all non-Italian by birth, though not necessarily by extraction [1]. Some like Theodosius II were ineffectual puppets, others like Diocletian saved the empire for another generation.

And yes, I would fight off the dogs of war for some of this:

[1] Trajan (Italian origin family that had settled in southern Spain), Antoninus (similar, but from Narbonensis Gaul-the Provence), Marcus Aurelius (from Trajan's extended family), Septimius Severus (partially Italian origin, partially Punic, from Libya-married to a Syrian woman), Diocletian & Constantine (Illyrian peasant origins), and Theodosius (from Galicia in Spain).

Posted by duende at 05:47 PM