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Military service: a thing of the past or completely relevant today?

Two years ago, Russian tanks crossed the border into Ukraine. The war seems to be getting closer and closer. Is it time to dust off and reintroduce military service? Our students have their say.

Military service helps citizens quickly master basic Defence-related tasks. Research has also shown that military service has a positive impact on social cohesion, reduces polarisation and encourages young people to develop social skills,’ says Joanne Sloof, student of Staats- en Bestuursrecht (Constitutional and Administrative Law), in daily Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad (FD).

However, Joanne also notes that reintroducing military service would take years of preparation and there are currently too few barracks, instructors and materials available. Joanne says,Meeting NATO’s 2% defence target is the first step.

Leiden Law School student Alexander van Eeden wonders why the Netherlands has chosen to ignore previous warnings for an entire decade. He tells the FD, ‘Politicians and experts are now bringing up the issue of military service as the last resort. The indifference towards security in the Netherlands that has been shown in recent years should not result in a new generation being forced into military service. Instead, the conscription year should be made more appealing so that young people can decide for themselves.’

Thijs Carvalhais van der Bijl studies Civiel  Recht (Civil Law). He says that the death of Alexei Navalny highlights the urgency of enhancing Europe's defence system against Russian aggression. ‘Nevertheless, reintroducing military service does not appear to be the most ethically sound way of dealing with that threat.’

Karel Wijdeveld studies Encyclopedie en Filosofie van het Recht (Jurisprudence). He feels that military service could be a reality check as it would remind people that such freedoms are not simply a ‘right’. We also have a responsibility and a duty to protect those freedoms. He says,We shouldn’t take those freedoms for granted – we need to show courage in order to safeguard them.’

More information

Read the full interview in Het Financieele Dagblad (in Dutch, €).

Photo: Diego González through Unsplash.

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