New Bill Pending to Draft Males and Females

Miles Seeley writes; Time Magazine says that both Kerry and Bush are opposed to a draft reinstatement. Of course, that may change when one of them gets elected. I would also, like Daryl DeBell, be in favor of a draft if it were truly universal, so that the sons and daughters of the rich and famous and "connected" also got drafted (like the Swiss sytem, and the Israeli). I have serious doubts that such equality will ever happen, however.
We all know that a disproportionate number of enlistees have been from poor families, often young people with little chance of advancement into the middle class. For most of them, over the years, this has been a pretty good deal. It teaches them a skill that often translates into a decent job in civilian life, and it is often attractive for them to make the military a career. A war like Iraq changes things quite a lot. The National Guard and Reserves have been given extended tours far beyond what was originally planned (the "backdoor draft" to make up for personnel shortages the Pentagon and the Administration did not foresee, and their casualty rate has risen ever since Bush declared an end to hostilities. They have a right to be bitter about it.
To me, the only answers are a universal draft or a real effort to beef up enlistment rates using incentives. Kerry is probably right that we need another 70,000 active duty troops at least, and we need to reduce our forces in places like Europe and Korea. The old Colin Powell doctrine- to go in with overwhelming force and to have a clear exit strategy- makes sense.

Regarding the bill in Congress restoring the draft, which so upset Phyllis Gardner, Glenye Cain writes: Here is a statement by Pete Stark (D., Calif.) a supporter of the bill, that pretty well sets out the point of the bill, its origin (in 2003), and what it calls for (national service in a military or civilian capacity for those aged 18-26). This is from January 8, 2003

I am an original cosponsor of the Rangel/Conyers bill, the Universal National Service Act of 2003 (HR 163), which would reinstate a national draft. I would like to explain my support for this legislation. I ardently oppose war with Iraq. The evidence simply does not exist to warrant sending our nations young people to sacrifice their lives in Iraq. I believe America ought to be an advocate for peace, not imperialism.

Yet, war is on the horizon. The President is intent on invading Iraq whatever the cost. Thanks to the President’s brand of hotheaded bully diplomacy, war with North Korea may also be imminent. The only real question that remains is whether or not Americans are ready and willing to bear the cost?

I commend my colleagues Mr. Rangel and Mr. Conyers for their wisdom in authoring this bill. I’m honored to be an original cosponsor.

This bill requires all young Americans – men and women between 18 annd 26 – to perform a two year period of national service in a militarry or civilian capacity as determined by the President. For those who conscientiously object to war, the bill assures that any military service would not include combat. Otherwise, there would be no preferences, no deferments, no chance for the well-off or the well- connected to dodge military service for their country, as did our President.

Reinstituting the draft may seem unnecessary to some. But, it will ensure all Americans share in the cost and sacrifice of war. Without a universal draft, this burden weighs disproportionately on the shoulders of the poor the disadvantaged and minority populations.

It is my understanding that out of the 435 Members of this House and the 100 members of the Senate, only one -- only one -- has a child in active military service. Who are we to know the pain of war when we ourselves will not directly bear the brunt of that action? It won't be us mourning the loss of a child or loved one. Maybe some of you in this Congress would think twice about voting for war in Iraq if you knew your child may be sent to fight in the streets of Baghdad?

If our nation is to go to war, it is only right that all Americans share in the sacrifice of war. It is time we truly comprehended the consequences. I urge my colleagues to support a universal draft which I believe will make votes for war much more real for many of my colleagues.>>

RH: I think Phyllis Gardner may have misinterpreted the intent of the bill, which is sponsored by Democrats opposed to war and Bush. Speaking in Congress,  Representative Charles Rangel told how he was wounded at the Yalu River in Korea, and he opposes war. The aim of the bill is to make war less likely since Congressmen will not vote for it if they realize that their sons cannot escape military service.  Miles Seeley reports that the Pentagon opposes the bill, bot  John Wonder says he supports it.

Daryl DeBell writes: Although I am almost always in sympathy with the views of Phyllis Gardner, I am not so sure about her strenuous objection to universal service. The real objection is to the "spurious war", spurious in the eye of the beholder, and the trick here is to elect congressmen who will not wimp out and shirk their responsibilities and empower a hell-bent president to pursue his own objectives. The objective of having a multi-million number of men and women in the military does seem to me to be an invitation to military adventurism which should be firmly curbed. However, again it should be Congress who does the curbing. Unfortunately I feel I am being a flip-flopper on the issue because I do think that military service should indeed be universal if it is reinstated.
Robert Whealey:writes: Phyllis Gardner is basically right. Congressman Stark makes the statement "War is on the horizon"  That is the kind of inevitable language that Europeans used in 1914 to stumble into World War Stark should be representing ALL of the people of his district not some TV categories of national  called "rich" and "poor"; or "black and white.'- Two thirds of the Congress surrendered to 'inevitability talk" in October 2002 giving Bush the power to make war.  90% of the Congress did the same in August 1964 when that unthinking group passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. The draft does not insure that ALL Americans "share in the cost and sacrifice of war." In a draft army,  old officers sacrifice the lives of the nation's youth. If Stark-Rangel and Conyers were sincere they would resign from Congress and either go to Iraq as a Colonel or join Martin Luther King or Jesse Jackson in organizing non-violent marches on the Pentagon, the Congress and the White House. I do commend Stark for including a CO option.  But if the Middle Eastern wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran are still in progress  in 2008, those CO deferments will no doubt be restricted. The US is heading toward authoritarianism and a police state. The plutocrats, Republican and Democratic Washington elites may even cancel all the elections of 2008. Stark seems to think that Americans are only divided between rich and poor, and that the draft will somehow "get the rich" . In history a universal draft never conscripted the rich and poor alike.  Stalin and Hitler came the closest in getting "ALL"

Stark apparently thinks tactically and with piecemeal categories in mind. He has not asked himself why Bush  II is fighting in the Middle East in the first place.  He has not asked himself how diplomats brought war to an end in 1783, 1814, 1953 or 1991.   He should turn off the TV slogans and read some history.  He might begin with Benjamin Franklin John Q Adams, or General Eisenhower who had some wisdom and who had some idea of how to obtain peace.We need more thought in Congress and less posturing on TV.

RH: I think Robert is unfair to Stark, Rangel and Conyers. I do not see them posturing on TV, but speaking out o conviction.  I can't see what good their resigning from Congress would do. That would simply help President Bush.

Dwight Peterson writes:All this talk about an impending draft of 18-26 year old men and women is silly.  If it did occur, our youth might finally feel a sense of patriotism by joining other young people in contributing to their country by serving in its military.  I had just graduated from Stanford University in 1955 when I began earning $78.00 per month as a draftee private in the United States Army.  Most people in their formative adult years learn valuable lessons of discipline, responsibility and self esteem during their military tenure.  However, I doubt that we shall ever again reinstitute the draft in this country except in the remote instance where we would want to free up every available professional military person for combat by creating a non combatant bureaucracy to man the logistical part of warfare.  Our military today is just too highly motivated and technically skilled to be manned by part time labor.  My guess is that there would be almost no support whatsoever within the military to reinstitute the draft.  To me a draft would siphon needed funds from critical training programs and development of new weapons to feed and house an oncoming,  unwanted group of ne'er do wells.

RH: The Pentagon is churning out propaganda to persuade young men to enlist.  It properly stresses the discipline that the army inculcates in an individual, but it plays down the hell of war.  There is fighting, but the US finally wins the day. The Pentagon prefers volunteers to unwilling draftees. There are plans for war against Iran, but whether they will be carried out remains to be seen.

Your comments are invited. Read te home page of the World Association of International Studies (WAIS) by simply double-clicking on: E-mail to Mail to Ronald Hilton, Hoover Institution, Stanford, CA 94305-6010. Please inform us of any change of e-mail address.

Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: September 28, 2004