Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Government Dept.




The military draft in the United States has been a controversial public policy in the past. Conscription has been used for six different wars; each draft has differed from the others because of the circumstances of the war for which it was enacted and because of the way in which it was implemented. Today, because of the wars the United States is fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, a new public policy has developed, called stop loss. Stop loss affects only those people who have already served in the military, forcing them to remain in military service after the originally contracted date of their retirement. This paper looks at the draft historically and at the justifications posed for each draft in order to compile a set of criteria to judge when conscription in democracy is ethical. These principles are then applied to the current stop loss policy to determine whether or not it is ethically sound. The conclusion holds that stop loss is not an ethical public policy.


Draft -- United States, United States -- Armed forces -- Recruiting, enlistment, etc, Military service, Voluntary -- United States, Iraq War, 2003-, Afghan War, 2001-