Will the Draft Become the Most Important Issue in 2005?
I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet. I even work for a “non-prophet” organization. Yet I will go out on a limb and make the following prediction: If Bush is reelected and our empire-building continues, and if reenlistment in the armed forces dries up, as seems likely following the fiasco in Iraq, more warm bodies will be needed in a hurry to fight the nation’s wars, and the call from Washington to resume the draft will become deafening.
Our government has already taken the first steps toward a targeted military draft of Americans with special skills in computers and foreign languages. True, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld says he will not ask Congress to authorize a draft, and officials at the Selective Service System (SSS), the federal agency that would organize any conscription, stress that the so-called “special skills draft” is remote. But the agency has begun the process of creating the procedures to conduct a draft in case our military leadership asks Congress to authorize it.
Example 1: House Resolution 3598 was introduced in Congress in December 2001. Called the “Universal Military Training and Service Act of 2001,” it contains the following provisions:
SEC. 3. BASIC MILITARY TRAINING AND EDUCATION.
(a) OBLIGATION FOR YOUNG MEN – It is the obligation of every male citizen of the United States, and every other male person residing in the United States, who is between the ages of 18 and 22 to receive basic military training and education as a member of the armed forces unless the citizen or person is exempted under the provisions of this Act.
(b) ACCEPTANCE OF YOUNG WOMEN VOLUNTEERS – Female citizens of the United States, and other female persons residing in the United States, who are between the ages of 18 and 22 may volunteer for enlistment in the armed forces to receive basic military training and education under this Act. At the discretion of the Secretary concerned, the Secretary concerned may accept such volunteers to receive such training and education.
Example 2: Currently the SSS has a special system to register and draft health care personnel ages 20 to 44 in some 60 specialties if necessary in a crisis.
Example 3: Rep. Charles Rangel (D.-N.Y.) recently introduced legislation that would require “compulsory military or national service for men and women, ages 18 to 26, without exemptions for college or graduate studies,” according to the Washington Times.
Such attitudes are serious symptoms. They indicate a growing disease in our nation that is rapidly becoming an incurable ailment. Anyone who values the U.S. Constitution should find talk of a draft detestable. Free societies do not force people to kill other people or risk being killed by them. They know that citizens will freely volunteer to defend their hearth and home if they believe they are being threatened by an enemy. Former President Ronald Reagan put it this way in a 1979 column on conscription:
[The draft] rests on the assumption that your kids belong to the state. If we buy that assumption then it is for the state—not for parents, the community, the religious institutions or teachers—to decide who shall have what values and who shall do what work, when, where and how in our society. That assumption isn’t a new one. The Nazis thought it was a great idea.
Columnist Doug Bandow agrees: “The highest form of service is rendered by those who serve voluntarily, not those who are forced, under pain of fine or imprisonment, to fill out a Selective Service card. There is no higher calling than voluntarily defending one’s family, neighborhood, and community.”
In my view, any form of compulsory service, be it military or civilian, is despicable. Ironically, it is a mark of our times that the less freedom there is, the more people talk about it. It makes a good theme for politicians in an election year. And today we are willing to have “security” at any price as though it were more important than liberty or honor.
I agree with the Constitution Party: It is time for the nation to return to the republican principles of limited government upon which it was founded. Start with it and the way clears as we go. No man need be ashamed of such a simple political philosophy.
There can be no peace or security until there is righteousness. The broken bone must first be set and then it will heal itself.
April 14, 2004
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com. His latest book, Why I Stopped Listening to Rush: Confessions of a Recovering Neocon, will be released this year.