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Ernest Bevin

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So long as I have any power at all I will never be a party to treating the Army in the future as it has been treated in the past. They broke up in peace-time the very foundations of the Army structure, and expected to build it up during war-time with the enemy at the gates.
--
Western Daily Press, 30 March 1942.

 
Ernest Bevin

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The fact of it is that all of us agreed to save 6d. in the Income Tax by breaking up the Army in peace-time and not having it prepared when war broke out...I will never be a party to it again.

 
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In my view, if there's going to be an army, I think it ought to be a citizens' army. Now, here I do agree with some people, the top brass, they don't want a citizens' army. They want a mercenary army, what we call a volunteer army. A mercenary army of the disadvantaged. And in fact, in the Vietnam War, the U.S. military realized, they had made a very bad mistake. I mean, for the first time I think ever in the history of European imperialism, including us, they had used a citizens' army to fight a vicious, brutal, colonial war, and civilians just cannot do that kind of a thing. For that, you need the French Foreign Legion, the Gurkhas or something like that. Every predecessor has used mercenaries, often drawn from the country that they're attacking, like England ran India with Indian mercenaries. You take them from one place and send them to kill people in the other place. That's the standard way to run imperial wars. They're just too brutal and violent and murderous. Civilians are not going to be able to do it for very long. What happened was, the army started falling apart. One of the reasons that the army was withdrawn was because the top military wanted it out of there. They were afraid they were not going to have an army anymore. Soldiers were fragging officers. The whole thing was falling apart. They were on drugs. And that's why I think that they're not going to have a draft. That's why I'm in favor of it. If there's going to be an army that will fight brutal, colonial wars... it ought to be a citizens' army so that the attitudes of the society are reflected in the military.

 
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