The result is that the nation always has a large standing army, and at the same time a still larger army of trained men in reserve, which can be mobilized in case of national danger at twenty-four hours’ notice. In fact such a nation is a nation under arms, for every citizen is a soldier.
Other advantages of this system are the development and improvement of the physique of the men of the nation by regular drill; and their submission for an important period in their lives to strict and wholesome discipline.
It is claimed that many a weakling has been made physically sturdy and robust, and many a wastrel turned into a steady, hardworking citizen, by the physical exercise and stern discipline of military training.
On the other hand, there are serious objections to the system of compulsory military training. For one thing it forms a serious interruption to the technical and professional training of young men; for it generally comes just at the time their schooling is finished, and they should be preparing for their life’s career.
For another, the period spent in the army very often ruins a young man’s moral character by exposing him, when still a lad, to all the temptations of a soldier’s life.
Lastly, far from preserving peace, the huge conscript armies of European nations have tended to bring about wars. The very existence of these trained military nations of Europe was one of the causes of the Great War of 1914-18.