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The Boston Globe

Opinion

Andrew J. Bacevich

Once a duty, military service recast as a right

What are the duties inherent in citizenship? For Americans, the answer to that question has changed dramatically over time. With regard to military service, the answer prevailing today is this one: No such duty exists. Service in the armed forces, whether pursuant to defending the homeland, advancing the cause of freedom abroad, or expanding the American imperium, has become entirely a matter of individual choice.

In that regard, the recent Pentagon decision to remove restrictions on women serving in combat hardly qualifies as a historic change. Instead, it ratifies a decades-old process that has removed military service from the realm of collective obligation and converted it into an issue of personal preference.

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