Rough Draft


Democrats Charles Rangel and Fritz Hollings are again pushing to bring back the universal draft.

Military experts outside Congress say there is a political advantage to be gained by Democrats who want to make the president squirm at a time a growing frustration among military families and other Americans over the occupation [of Iraq].

But they also say that there are legitimate policy grounds for re-instituting the draft, which was phased out after the Vietnam war.

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  1. Is it just me or is it ironic that Rangel, a black man is championing involuntary servitude to the state?

  2. What has always interested me was Heinlein’s view – no service, no vote. Now, for me, that makes perfect sense. But I’ve yet to find anyone who agrees…

    Of course, I think he was also against conscription.

  3. Well, if you’re speaking of Heinlein’s troopers, I’d be happy to serve to get my vote and run for political office.

    I’d also not mind the elites only idea another poster brought up, sort of like the world of Ender Wiggan.

    Unfortunately we don’t live in a nebula award winning universe.

  4. Is it just me or is it ironic that Rangel, a black man is championing involuntary servitude to the state?

    Not really. With the exception of Lincoln during the Civil War, conscription has always been something that was championed by Democrats. It was Goldwater who campaigned on repealing the draft in 1964 (which was eventually ended by President Nixon) and it was the ?do nothing? Republican Congress who repealed it despite objections from President Truman. Regan while he was president also spoke out against it during the Cold War saying that a uniform worn voluntarily was a symbol of patriotism while forcing someone to wear it was tyranny (paraphrase). Vice President Cheney also was attacked for speaking out against conscription recently when he alleged that the best way to have a well motivated military to fight to win was to have it made up of volunteers.

  5. Didn’t Heinlein say that “any society that has to force people to protect it, doesn’t deserve to exist.”
    I can’t remember from where though.

  6. The Heinlein quote would be from “The Notebooks of Lazarus Long”, found in the novel _Time Enough for Love_. Of course, R.H. may have expressed the sentiment elsewhere as well.

    My recollection is something like “No nation has an inherent right to survive by means of conscript troops, and, in the long run, no nation ever has.”

  7. David, you made me have to go dig it up.

    “No state has the inherent right to survive through conscript troops and in the long run, no state ever has. Roman matrons used to say to their sons: ‘Come back with your shield, or on it.’ Later on, this custom declined. So did Rome.”

    For the rest of the damned fine material (that was often used by us SLMR users for taglines) you can go to

    My personal fav? “All men are created unequal.”

  8. It is clear that Congressman Rangel has proposed bringing back the draft as an attempt to make the war policy of the Bush administration a threat to the sons of the upper middle and upper class Republicans who support war, but don’t volunteer.
    Of course, when we had a draft, the well-off could find ways to avoid service anyway. After all, Bush, Cheney, and others in the administration managed to avoid service in Vietnam, even as they supported the war.
    Less publicity is being given to more genuine proposals by Republican Congressman Nick Smith to bring back conscription.
    For the record, both parties have been divided on the subject. President Carter re-instituted draft registration by executive order, but funding was passed with support of both parties in Congress.
    In the 1990s the majority of Democrats regularly voted to end funding for registration, but it was kept alive with the support of the overwhelming majority of Republicans in Congress.

  9. I think Heinlein confused the Romans with the Spartans. The Romans used smaller shields than Greek hoplites.

  10. It is clear that Congressman Rangel has proposed bringing back the draft as an attempt to make the war policy of the Bush administration a threat to the sons of the upper middle and upper class Republicans who support war, but don’t volunteer.

    That’s a load of horseshit. He wants to bring back the draft as an attempt to threaten the lives of the children of the poor and middle class, not the rich. He knows, as do all intelligent people, that in this country you can’t afford to have the middle class against you. The draft was never a threat to the rich, and it never will be. Rangel’s rich; he’s not about to endorse a policy that threatens HIS loved ones.

    Rangel wants to reintroduce state-sanctioned slavery purely as a means of crippling the United States’ ability to wage war. He’s a worthless excuse for a human being, and the people who voted for him should be ashamed of themselves. We don’t need a draft, and we don’t want one. Our military is immeasurably stronger and fairer for being all-volunteer, and our nation is safer as a result. Selling that out to score political points is odious.

    Some left-wingers just can’t stomach the thought that we’re not the property of the state — that our nation is defended solely by people who chose to defend it, not by people enslaved and forced to fight.

  11. This is not a serious proposal. It has no chance of passing, and Rangel introduced in knowing it has no chance of passing. All of the above speculation about causing the decline of the military, expaning the reach of the state, etc assumes that bringing back the draft is a serious possibility. It is not, and a politician who supported doing so would be unelectable in 90+% of Congressional districts. It is important to keep this fact in mind when considering what Rangel et al are up to.

    Thorley, that’s interesting history. Yet another example of the dramatic difference between the Democratic Party pre-realignment, and afterwards.

  12. I don’t think there is anything ironic about a black supporting slavery. It was black Africans who enslaved their fellows, and sold them to Arabs and Europeans.

    In the U.S., free blacks were often slaveowners.

  13. democrats for slavery! say it isn’t so!

  14. We can’t conquer and occupy even one more “state sponsor of terrorism”, much less four or five, without greatly expanding the military. Meanwhile, Bush is cutting taxes with one hand and being “compassionate” with the other. I don’t see how a draft can be avoided.

    I think the people will accept it. Patriotism requires sacrifice.

  15. Are they going to make it an equal opportunity draft…i.e. women too?

  16. Are they going to make it an equal opportunity draft…i.e. women too?

    Not if Bush, Delay and the other chickenhawks can help it. They’ll keep it just the way it is, for the working class only. They’re traditionalists in that way.

  17. Looks like they want to (clipped from above article):

    The legislation would re-institute a draft to compulsory military or alternative national service for men and *women* between the ages of 18 and 26 who are U.S. citizens or residents.

  18. hey anon and Richard,

    check out the article — it seems to be some sort of quasi redistributive plan. So it’s even worse than what you suggest!!!!

    to quote Rangle:
    “My staff is researching now the number of people killed in action and wounded in action and where did they come from,? said Rangel. ?It?s a profile of who are the National Guard people and what are their backgrounds and how fragile are their economic backgrounds.”

    the article goes on:
    “Rangel said many people had joined the National Guard for economic incentives, or to feel patriotic and march in Memorial Day parades, or to respond to floods or other emergencies but not to spend a year in Iraq.

    “Rangel said he wants to show the public that Americans being killed and wounded in Iraq are not unknown people or solely professional warriors, but ordinary citizens”

    good for you, chuck. and how would a coerced army change the population of the people on the ground from “ordinary citizens” to something else? what, “reluctant ordinary citizens”?

    what unreal bullshit. people joined the army ignorant of the fact that it is the self-defense mechanism of the country and the president can order it/them into battle? i guess those who wanted to go someplace special with russell and john winger are SOL if there’s a war.

    and just think, rangle will get a cabinet post in hillary’s administration. chew on that all you (me included) ashcroft dispisers!


  19. The class issue is interesting. Between student deferments and the National Guard, it was easy for most middle class kids to avoid the draft in the Viet Nam era. I don’t think this was true in earlier wars, probably because the middle class was smaller and less prosperous, hence less powerful.

    Middle class exemption eventually caused working class resentment and middle class guilt, fueling opposition to the war. Will that experience lead to different rules this time, more like those for Korea and the World Wars?

  20. Isn’t Iraq the sort of thing reserves are for anyway? Do they really think it’s a good a idea to have a large standing army sitting around to make conquering other nations easier?

  21. son, there ain’t no draft no more…

  22. Not long after 9-11, I was predicting that the “war on terror” would eventual mean reviving the draft.

    Note the “alternative national service” provision. If the military doesn’t need all the 18-26 year olds of both sexes, some other slave work will be found for them.

    People who joined the reserves to defend the country in an emergency, might well be surprised to find themselves on occupation duty in a country that hasn’t attacked us.

  23. As a former NCO, I remember how difficult it was to maintain any discipline with volunteers (especially without the backing from the chain of command). Good luck to the poor bastards who have to deal with the flat-out unwilling.

    At any rate, when the PC freaks took over, I just left. Its just a “job” to most nowdays.

    A decent site is, for those interested in what is going on.

  24. Since they’re taking my money to fund the military whether I like it or not, I don’t see why it’s such a big leap, in principle, to demand my time and skills and maybe my life. If national defense is such an obvious function of the government, and one of the defining characteristics of government is that it is coercive, a draft seems only sensible.

    Well, at least that’s what an anarchist might say.

  25. Yeah, right.

    I remember the “universal” Vietnam draft. I managed to “dodge” it because by the time my report-for-physical letter caught up to me I was an infantry lieutenant with eight months in country. My local board sort of lost interest in me after I sent them my unit’s address.

    But there were many potential defenders of freedom that used a wide range of other methods, and avoided taking that trip.

    The measure of universal draft isn’t including women. It’s including the children and grandchildren of members of Congress.

  26. Pushing conscription is consistent with the voting records of Charles Rangel and Fritz Hollings…little regard for free-enterprise and individual rights. Now, advocating slavery; shame on both of them!

  27. Let me get this straight:

    1)The public is willing to fight terrorism throughout the middle east using a volunteer army.

    2)The democrats don’t want to fight terrorism.

    3)The democrats don’t like the armed services except as a jobs program for the stupid or lazy.

    4)The democrats want to reinstitute the draft because that might make the public unwilling to fight terrorism.

    5)The democrats want the public to vote for their presidential candidate.

    6)The public will never vote for a candidate who wants to bring back the draft.

    Nope, I don’t get it. Can someone please explain this to me using finger puppets or something? I must be missing something.

  28. Justin, maybe it makes more sense as a scare tactic and not a serious position. Democrats say that the expanding war on terrorism necessitates a draft. If people believe this, they will oppose the escalation of war. Kind of like small-government folks saying that if we spend more money on government social programs, they’ll have to raise taxes. They really don’t want to raise taxes, they just want to discourage the spending.

  29. >> They really don’t want to raise taxes, they just want to discourage the spending.

    and this has worked so well! look how this has discouraged spending, no doubt a draft will reduce militarism (ha ha).

    USS Clueless has a insight on why they are probably for this — it will “Vietnamize” the war, which is the goal of the Left, who miss their “glory days”. Luckily most people don’t want a vietnam. See

  30. What a horribly written article:


    Such information could serve as a pillar for future Democratic attacks on the administration?s handling of reconstruction efforts, which have become more frequent and intense since Congress authorized the use of force last fall.


    Err, the Democrats were attacking the reconstruction efforts months before the war began? On the other hand, given how completely unhingled from reality they’ve become of late, maybe it shouldn’t surprise me.

  31. Rangel at least and probably Hollings are only raising the draft idea as a debating point against the Bush administration. It’s not a serious proposal.

    Serious thought is being given elsewhere to restoring some kind of conscription, and the idea is likely to spread the longer extensive operations around the world continue. Frankly, the idea of an earlier poster that it ought to be applied to the children of members of Congress (and perhaps those eligible for the top universities) is closer to being a valid policy option than he knows — we don’t need all the people who would be supplied by mass conscription of the general population, but rather people who could man something close to an elite service. This means people with higher than average intelligence and education, probably higher than average family incomes. It also means mostly men.

  32. The people who don’t want the draft reinstated is the military. This country’s armed forces no longer needs the cannon fodder that is drummed up with a draft, but dedicated professionals that are likely to stay in for 20 years or so. In general, it takes a high school diploma and a clean record to enlist. So if the draft is re-instated, are we going to see high school seniors dropping out and commiting petty crimes to be able to keep from be coerced into the military?

    One of the reasons that so many of Guard and Reserve units are being called up is that the drawdown that was started in the Clinton administration is still going on unabated. We are trying to come up with a “Peace Dividend” despite Haiti, Bosnia, Kosivo, Afganistan, Iraq (did I miss any?) Air Mobility Command, which flys for any sort of operation, peacekeeping or shooting, has had a high operations tempo for years. The war on terrorism would have been a great reason to stop the drawdown dead in its tracks, but they didn’t. I think that it’s interesting that Bush, who is famous for being a member of the “Not Goings” is the one who is putting the Guard and Reserves through such punishing duty.

  33. This is amusing. Rangel is proposing bringing back the draft as a method of restraining the government from military adventures by universalizing military service. However, back during the bad old days of Vietnam, wasn’t one of the Left’s arguments against the draft that having a ready supply of conscripted cannon fodder available encouraged military adventures?

    I agree this is not a serious proposal, but what an amazing bit of political demagoguery! If the draft proposal is not implemented, the Dems can criticize Bush for not using any means necessary to relieve an overextended military. If, on the off chance, this new draft is implemented, the Dems can force millions of young adults to work, largely for free on their pet social programs. Keep in mind, the military will be unable to use the overhwelming majority of each age cohort eligible for service. It is no lose.

  34. Uhm, apparently I’m missing something here, but wouldn’t it be very easy to increase the number of military volunteers by increasing the $$ incentive? No need for a draft — just make the salary and benefits extremely lucrative. Target “intelligent” and “opportunity” aspects. (I believe the armed services already does that in their PR — btw, why don’t I see recruiting advertising on my t.v. anymore? You know the ones: “we do more by 9 am than most people do in a day.”)

    Deficit spending doesn’t seem to be an issue, defense budget increases obviously aren’t an issue, and a weak economy would only add to the appeal of a military enlistment.

    Of course, the failure of the educational system means that the military would have to do *a lot* of remedial training (but hell, they may be more efficient than our current educational system in that respect).

  35. How about a draft for annoying old politicians?

  36. This is superb! I’m writing a novel and I need to arrange a situation where the entire public are criminals for some reason and can’t vote. Only the politicians can. I know how to do it now, start an unjust war the population abhors and where people die regularly then introduce the draft. Anyone who goes will get shot and anyone who doesn’t is a criminal. Great!

  37. Why not pay enough to get an exanded all-volunteer military? I can’t say I know, but historically Americans have made the opposite choice in wartime.

  38. I recall that some military types scorn volunteer forces as “mercenaries”. They think a draft makes the military more representative of the people.

  39. Andy,

    And once they have the power to conscript people into the military and put their very safety and lives at the disposal of the State, it’s not much more of a step to conscript the civilian labor force and shoot the industrial serfs for desertion from their jobs. The country came within a hair of doing just that under FDR. Is anyone surprised?

    Once you accept the principle that human beings are a means, and the State can decide the end, where is the stopping point?

  40. The best soldier is one who realizes that those who benefit from a given society have a responsibility to protect and perpetuate that society. Heinlein’s idea in Starship Trooper was spot on. Serving at the sharpest end of the lance makes you appreciate what you are fighting for. Only upon discharge could they exercise their franchise, preventing any conflict of interest. And the candidates were all veterans who had shared the same experiences, and had the same desire to see that society preserved.

  41. What’s with the starship troopers talk? The Nerd Alert is ringing crazily.

    Whoever said the military doesn’t want a universal draft is right. We have a professional military and they only want people motivated to do their job, not conscriptees.

    But aside from that, I think a universal draft could be a very good thing. It would mix up the races and the classes in a way that does not happen in society at large. To pre empt those who will respond that we are a diverse melting pot anyway, I say we are not a diverse melting pot. We organize our lives to be around people who are just like us. There was a really good article in Sept. 03’s Atlantic Monthly called “People Like Us” that you should check out. It exposes how very little true diversity there is in America. Taken as a whole, yes we are a diverse nation. But taken individually, we all choose to live near people like us, go to school with people like us, choose a job with people like us, etc.

    I would whine like crazy if I was 18 and forced to join the army, but I’d be better off for it, I think. I wouldn’t be so damn lazy, for starters.

    Something to think about.

  42. nm156 – The only difficulty with the Starship Troopers approach is that the whole of society will have been ‘brainwashed’ by the same group of officers who, based on the film (which was most amusing), can use brutal force to make you see their point of view. A society like that would have little variety and would no doubt be full of traumatised individuals. It might be superb militarily but it’s not my idea of civilisation.

    Another more palatable idea than conscription would be the Spartan approach where they left their children exposed on a hill top after they were born. That would weed out the weak…

  43. It’s absurd to judge any book by a film based on it. In the case of SST, the film wasn’t so much “based on” the book, as a parody of it.

  44. It doesn’t matter what the military wants. It will be the politicians who make the decision.

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