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The Draft And Congressional Games

With the incoming new majority into the halls of the American Congress, talk of reinstating the draft has resurfaced.

Rep. Charles B. Rangel of New York first called for a draft in January 2003, when Democrats were the minority party in both houses of Congress. Now that his party controls Capitol Hill, he was asked yesterday on CBS' "Face the Nation" if he was still serious about the proposal.

"You bet your life. Underscore 'serious,' " he said.

"I don't see how anyone can support the [Iraq] war and not support the draft," said Mr. Rangel, alluding to Mr. McCain's call for increased troop levels in Iraq and to the need to combat threats elsewhere in the world. "If we're going to challenge Iran and challenge North Korea and then, as some people have asked, to send more troops to Iraq, we can't do that without a draft."

If one wants to see the viewpoints of current and former members of America's all-volunteer military forces, the best place to start is by visiting MilBlogs, in particular Greyhawk's brief response, where he says:

Rangel's goal, of course, is to create a military that (he thinks) no one would dare ever use, and he believes he's got a compelling argument: "I don't see how anyone can support the war, and not support the draft."

Be sure to follow Greyhawk's links to previous commentary on the issue of the draft.

I happen to take a somewhat different interpretation from Congressman Rangel's words. Rangel is not trying to 'create a military' of any kind. It's Congressional gamesmanship and nothing more. In no way, shape or form does he support instituting a draft, just as he in no way supports actually taking any steps "to challenge Iran and challenge North Korea and then ... send more troops to Iraq."

What he is doing is proposing legislation he knows will fail in order to bolster the position that the war in Iraq cannot be won and therefore we must withdraw. Just as he said, you must support a draft if you support the war (following his own logic). Rangel does not support the war, therefore it is logical to conclude that he also does not support a draft.

Just as the Republicans forced the opposition to 'put your money where your mouth is' with an immediate vote on immediate withdrawal when many elected leaders began to voice wide support for such a move, Rangel's approach is no different. The weakness is his view that only a draft can provide for taking action against Iran and/or North Korea, a view that is in the minority among those who support unspecified action against the two.

And again, Congressman Rangel does not himself appear to support action, whatever form it may or may not take. He also, therefore, does not sincerely support a draft.

9 Comments

Hate to agree with Charlie Rangel, but let's have a draft

Uncle Jimbo agrees with Rangel, I don't. Forcing people to serve who don't want to volunteer is involuntary servitude, and mass conscript armies are a relic of 3GW Industrial Age warfare between nation-states. Our basic training cadre would go to jail nowadays for the politically incorrect techniques used to motivate people who didn't want to be soldiers 40 years ago.

I burned my draft card in 1978 the day I got my orders.

i think the draft is a good idea because: it would reduce emperor bush's authority to start a war. when congressman's children are drafted you would see somewhat reluctance to begin shooting. i think the president has too much power and hope that future congress will not pass on the authority to the president to start a so-called war. after all congress is the only branch that can declare war. read the constitution.

Re-start the draft? Absolutly. Let all the cowards and chicken hawks take their stand for our country. Canada wont be able to stop the tidal wave of jellyfish headed north. Yes, I served 6 years in fast attack nuc submarines.

Ed,

Perhaps you should read the Joint Resolution to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq (16Oct02).

Mr. Varing,

Regardless of all that which you suggest (which I disagree with), there is no need for a draft at current. You would have a draft for the same ends as Rangel would: Simply to make a point. Wrong reason.

I have a 17 year old son. I can't watch him serve at the whim of a president who lacks the wisdom of a monkey. However. As long as the son's of our Senators and Congressmen join the good fight, well maybe. But of course we know they wont.

Alright. Enough already.

Enough comments shallowly advocating the draft as some sort of mechanism for social justice.

Enough comments taking cheap swipes at the president, senators and/or congressmen (et al).

Give a reasoned opinion for or against if you wish, but any further nonsense will go unpublished.

Nobody under the age of 53 has ever been drafted. Men and women that now have families didn’t serve and they are less likely to encourage their children to serve.

Yes, we need the draft, and we need it now. I was thrilled when the Nixon Administration repealed the draft and proud of a peacetime military that got the job done. Now I see that too few Americans are involved in this war. The consequence is that it will take even longer to fix the problem. Nobody is protesting, because the battle has affected too few Americans. Only those that have lost a loved one have the courage to cause change, the others fear that they may be labeled as against the military.

I was one of the last to be drafted; my two sons are now US Marines. Everyone should give of themselves and their purse for their country, General Washington and I agree.

I'm sorry, but I think this rebuttal of Rangel's proposal for a draft completely misses the issue it is addressing. As Americans who supported the war in Iraq, we have undertaken a moral (read as: Fundamental Right) imperative. The outcome of this war must benefit those we promised to save, and if it does not, then we devalue the lives of those who have died for this war already.

Rangel, it would seem, thinks that although he is against the war, the only way he sees to succeed is through re-instating the draft.

As a secondary supporter for the draft, I think that it does two things: First - it disperses the uniformity factor of the volunteers. They join the military as believers of a greater form of government. We, those who do not join, most likely believe that there is another, greater form. I, for one, believe that we, the people, are the greatest form of government. By including us (cowardly, involuntarily, or whatever)in the war, we would introduce a stronger network of variability. After all, who would argue that two minds are not better than one?
Second - it creates a liability for those corporate, wealthy American's who have stolen the democracy: Those who capitalize on such profit garnering conglomerates as Haliburton, Exon, Marlboro, etc. By injecting their children into the war, perhaps they will be a little more loathe to send MY children to war.

And all for what? A ceaseless disagreement about the semantics of how to kill them without dying ourselves? I, for one, am in the fundamental agreement that the draft would do one very important thing: It would make winning in Iraq easier. If we have more troops, we have more power to stop them. The draft ends when the war is over, and it exposes everyone to the attrocities, and hardships of war, because THAT, Steve, is what we've given to the Iraqi people.

JR:

There is a greater issue at hand. But first...

The first disagreement is in reading the Rangel tea leaves. I disagree that Rangel seeks to win the war, through the draft or otherwise. I believe raising the issue of the draft is a political maneuver and not an arrival at a strategic military initiative.

I also believe that you make the mistake of defining "the war" as Iraq-centric, which it is not. It happens to be a battleground - debatable as it may be - in a much larger war with far more crucial (and very real) consequnces.

So, when will that war be over? Perhaps your Iraq-centric view limits your vision to a couple of years. I would respectfully advise that this is extremely short sighted. There will be more battlegrounds.

Consider for a moment my aggreeance with Ralph Peters, who wrote a column last week addressing the fact that it's not so much how many troops we have on the ground inasmuch as it is what we allow them to do, how we permit them to engage the enemy. We are walking quite softly.

Witness the success still tangible in the clearing of Falujah. Iraqis in Falujah, while perhaps harboring no great love for America or her Marines & soldiers, can once again live life without fear of al-Qaeda torture rooms and murder chambers and goon patrols.

THAT, sir, is what al-Qaeda brought to Falujah and what they seek to bring to the rest of the Sunni Triangle still. Witness Ramadi today.

But of course we could have left Saddam in place and the Sunni triangle would be off the radar screens...as would the Shi'a of the south (who we abandon in 1991) who would be left still to face Saddams henchmen daily and the Kurds of the north who suffered nerve and mustard gas attacks from Hussein on entire villages. Did you speak for them then as you speak now?

I would offer that the oppressed Kurds of the north would beg to differ in your assessment of what America has brought Iraq.

The Iraqi Shi'a and Sunni could have the same, but for outside players of their respective faiths who require chaos for their grand strategies.

al-Qaeda foreign terrorists are ruthlessly storming about Sunni areas, often with Ba'athist insurgents, seeking the chaos necessary from which to create a Wahabi Islamist zone for a regional base of operations.

Iran continues relentless seeding of the Shi'a south with radical revolutionaries, ultimately seeking to replace the moderate Ayatollah Sistani in Najaf with their radical brand of clerics, exporting their revolution thus to Iraq.

But each the Sunnis and the Shi'a have the same opportunity for productive tranquility as the Kurds have siezed upon. Unfortunately for the Iraqis, predominantly outsiders from each sect seek to prevent that from happening for their own designs.

And this goes to illustrate, sir, that the war did not start nor will it end in Iraq. Where are these foreign instigators come from? If Iraq did not exist in its current form, would they all be home baking cookies? Satisfying the Iraq situation requires satisfying a much larger situation, one which we Americans did not create.

Nor did Haliburton, Exxon or Marlboro...or for that matter, Toys-R-Us, Google or Avon, since large corporate entities aparently shoulder considerable blame.

But, for a moment, consider yet another more crucial thought:

You say here that you want to win the war in Iraq. You speak convincingly that we need more service from our nation. You also convey your conviction that more troops would mean sure victory in Iraq.

Regretably, however, you leave the impression that the only thing that would compel you - among others - to serve is a draft. This in itself is sad commentary.

Perhaps because you, in your own words, "believe that there is another, greater form" of government. Not on this earth, sir.

Perhaps you do not really want to win in Iraq as much as you believe you do or, at least, as much as you say so here.

Perhaps you, like many, dream of the ever-ellusive pure collective form of government, such as the common-good ideals espoused by European socialism, eastern communism and various flavors of Marx-based systems or even some other economic model also not based upon incentive-driven excellence.

A truly functional collective is realized when individuals make parallel individual decisions and sacrifices toward the same aim. The purest form of a 'collective' on this earth (which you may find too painfully ironic to fathom) is the United States military services and their all-voluntary nature.

All other less-than-voluntary forms (of military make-up or governmental systems) are not collectives, but simply collections. Herded citizens.

Whatever the case, we all enjoy the liberty to persue our dreams - whatever they may be - due to the fact that good men and women step up to the plate of their own free will because they love something and believe in something greater than themselves - something that is not exclusively American - and share a sense of duty and honor.

And THAT, jr, is what they have brought to Iraq.