Is That a Draft I Feel Coming On?

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Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), a decorated Korean war vet, Hugo Chavez hater, and incoming chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, is pushing a military draft as a way of preventing overseas adventurism. Talking on Face the Nation, the whiskey-voiced congressman rasped:

"There's no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm's way," Rangel said….

Rangel said he worries the military is being strained by its overseas commitments. "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," he said.

Rangel said having a draft would not necessarily mean everyone called to duty would have to serve. Instead, "young people [would] commit themselves to a couple of years in service to this great republic, whether it's our seaports, our airports, in schools, in hospitals," with a promise of educational benefits at the end of service.

More here.

Some immediate thoughts: The only thing more nauseating than a Cold War-style military draft is one based on "national service" that is inevitably defined as some sort of public-sector job.

And while Rangel's notion that a draft in which all served–even the "fortunate sons" of U.S. senators, to allude to Creedence Clearwater Revival's great antiwar anthem–would temper the U.S.'s willingness to get into wars, especially big conflicts, makes a certain amount of intuitive sense, I'm not convinced that's actually the case. After all, we entered both Korea and Vietnam with a draft in place (and the immediate pretext for widening the war in Vietnam, the Gulf of Tonkin incident, was every bit as shaky as the WMD stuff in Iraq).

It's also not immediately clear that, pace Rangel (and John Kerry is a pre-election comment about staying in school to avoid being sent to Iraq), the poor serve more in Iraq than the middle class or well-off. The Heritage Foundation claims that "the household income of recruits generally matches the income distribution of the American population" while other sources say the military draws more recruits from families with sub-median incomes.

Bonus: In his great 1995 interview with Reason, Milton Friedman, who served on a Nixon commission charged with evaluating the military draft and a volunteer force, was asked what he thought his greatest accomplishment was. His answer: "In the realm of policy, I regard eliminating the draft as my most important accomplishment."

NEXT: Apparently, "Heartland with John Kasich" Wasn't Supposed To Be Satire

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  1. No – all of those young men in uniform would be too tempting for our leaders NOT to (mis)use overseas. It would be like a kid with hundreds of brand-new little plastic soldiers on Christmas morning: he couldn’t wait to open up the package and get those men into battle.

    Also, given the costs of training & equipping a modern U.S. soldier, the gov’t would come up with some excuse along the lines of ‘Well, we’re paying so much for them, we ought to get something out of our investment…’

    (Apologies for half-formed, pre-coffee arguments.)

  2. The whole B.S. scheme just shows how tortured Rangel’s logic is. If Bush rushed headlong into Iraq with an all-volunteer military, just how much MORE of a mess would a government that has an endless stream of young bodies (through the coercive police power of the state) have on its hands in the Middle East?

    And yes, I agree, that the Dems probably feel it’s their time to introduce more braindead CETA-like proposals for unemployed youth (is it REALLY THAT hard to get an UNSKILLED job in America?).

    The Dems can’t have it both ways. You can’t scream about how schools are “failing” youth and not preparing them for a 21st global, international, high-tech economy, and then turn around and try to shove these same youth into government-enforced dead jobs picking up trash or feeding soup to the homeless at a government-mandated wage rate.

    As an OIF Vet myself, I can tell you the LAST thing the military needs is more single-digit IQ dullards (that were too lazy to go to college in a country that still offers government-mandated interest rate student loans) that DON’T want to be in uniform in the first place!

  3. These days, many draftees would be ineligible for overseas service because they are carrying too much debt.

    There are already a bunch of soldiers who can’t be sent overseas because their debt load makes them a security risk (easier to bribe).

  4. “There’s no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm’s way,” Rangel said….

    Not sure I can buy it, but I can see the argument. But then he says:

    “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,” he said.

    Um, so a draft is necessary for war but it’s the only way to prevent war? Not following here.

    Anyway, I predict that the following would happen if we had a draft:

    1) Within 48 hours, Canada would find itself with 20 million new residents, most of them angry young men harboring virulently anti-American sentiments.

    2) While the Canadians struggle to figure out a polite response to this situation, somebody in Congress decides to draft immigrants to make up for the shortage of young male US citizens.

    3) Within 48 hours of that decision, American farms run out of people to pick crops. Food prices skyrocket.

    4) Due to the deficit of labor, payroll tax recipts plummet. Medicare folds.

    5) The AARP leadership holds an emergency meeting during the Early Bird Special at Denny’s. They decide to lobby Congress to “do something.” First, however, they have to go to Canada to purchase some cheap medications.

    6) While in Canada, they learn that the Canadians have decided to appease their angry young men by declaring war on the US. The AARP folks are detained as citizens of an enemy nation.

    7) US soldiers in Iraq surprise everybody by refusing to come home and fight off the Canadian invasion. The last transmission before all lines of communication are severed says something about “You got yourselves into this mess, you can dig yourselves out.”

    8) With most US forces in Iraq, and the Pentagon unable to feed those forces in the US due to high food prices, the US military collapses in the face of the Canadian onslaught. The Canadians have the added advantage of cheap immigrant labor for their weapons factories.

    9) A new government is installed with Ahmed Chalabi as the leader. Nobody knows how he managed to swindle his way into that post, but since he abolishes the draft nobody asks too many questions.

  5. It’s sad to see that once again the military is being used as a political football. But I guess that is part of the price we have to pay for civilian control of the military.

    And it’s ironic that the left which a generation ago protested to bring an end to the draft is now trying to bring it back.

  6. “There’s no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq. . .if indeed we had a draft”

    Or you can – oh I dunno – not authorize the president to use military force in Iraq. Sigh.

    Another Dem taking stupid pills.

  7. Ironchef, they don’t need pills to act that way.

  8. The more interesting question here is where are all the libertarians who were crying before the election, “Ah, divided government is good… better not to vote Republican, but rather give the Democrats control of the House and Senate.”

    Vallah! This is the first thing we get with the Democrat win. The new Chairman of the Armed Services Comm. calling for the most anti of libertarian proposals.

    And Democrats were supposed to be “better on social freedoms” than Republicans.

    Ironically, it’s Bush and the Republicans that will save us from the Draft. And cynical libertarians will never give them credit for it.

  9. It’s just silly rhetoric that the rest of Congress will ignore. If the Democrats reinstated the draft, the LP might really become the second party in American politics. It’s political suicide, especially for a party that relies heavily on the youth vote.

  10. A military draft made sense when most of the troops were essentially handed a rifle and told which direction to start walking. With today’s military, it would be something between foolish and a disaster. The military itself is extremely opposed to the draft, and that should tell you something. You thought Abu Ghraib was a problem, imagine a military full of such miscreants.

    I understand where Rangel is coming from on this, but I think he’s mostly proved the value of term limits.

  11. Anyone who can read can tell that the draft is clearly in violation of the 13th ammendment to the US Constitution. Not that our elected officials actually feel bound by it.

  12. “Ironically, it’s Bush and the Republicans that will save us from the Draft”

    If it weren’t for Bush and Co. Rangel wouldn’t even be talking about a draft.

  13. I read that Heritage foundation article and there are quite a few fallacies. First it uses zip code income, instead of household, data. Within zip codes there can be huge variances of income. Not to mention, their claim that recruits tend to be better educated is based on high school graduation rates rather than educational level. In fact, it shows that while the percentage of those with a high school diploma* are higher than average, those with some college or more are lower than average. The more educated argument falls flat.

    That said, Rangel is an idiot and trying to implement a German-style draft on us.

    * Isn’t/wasn’t a high school diploma basically required until recently? I could be wrong.

  14. 2) While the Canadians struggle to figure out a polite response to this situation, somebody in Congress decides to draft immigrants to make up for the shortage of young male US citizens.

    thoreau, immigrants (including illegals) are already required to register for the Selective Service System and were drafted back in the days of the draft. It’s not something that would be very likely to change.

  15. The military itself is extremely opposed to the draft

    Because it would work to reduce salaries in the military and in its contractor force, also.

    I think Viet Nam and North Korea were difefrent times. Of course, a draft now will make the US less likely to get involved in wars of choice. People eligible for the draft would not let the government do and say what it did and said about Iraq circa 2003-04. If the US had re-instituted the draft in 2002, it would not be occupying Iraq right now. It doesn’t take a genius to see that.

    Next time they do a draft they should require that it uis ultimately wealth neutral. It is not fair when people get out of a draft by having money.

  16. “* Isn’t/wasn’t a high school diploma basically required until recently? I could be wrong.”

    Yes, or a GED.

  17. Hasn’t Rangel been on about this for years? I seem to recall a draft proposal of this sort cropping up during every Congress since I was in high school.

  18. Sam (nee DaveW), you are very, very wrong.

    Given how popular the war was initially in America’s heartland, a draft would not have stopped the war. After all, plenty of democrats were too scared that they would be voted out of office if they didn’t vote for the authorization.

  19. Oy. Did Milton Friedman really think that he eliminated the draft? Quelle ego. It was the Vietnam War that made the draft a political nightmare.

    Talk about bringing it back is just talk. A new draft would have to include both men and women. The 18-26 draft “pool” would be over 30 million, from which we would select less than 2 million. It would have to be some sort of lottery, with massive benefits to compensate the unlucky 8 percent.

    The draft is a total nonstarter politically, which is why Rangel feels comfortable talking about it. A big reason why the Bush Administration absolutely refused to talk about expanding the army was fear that even a trivial increase would induce “draft panic” among the young. Young Americans want to go to Cancun, not Parris Island. Nor do they want to be paid minimum wage to plant pine trees in Boring Camp, North Dakota. Hey, maybe they’re not so dumb after all!

  20. thoreau —

    SNL already presented that story — “AmeriDa” — when it spoofed ABC’s “Amerika” in 1987…

    http://snltranscripts.jt.org/86/86k.phtml

  21. Why not go to the other extreme, an allow soldiers to quit at will?

    Currently, once you sign the enlistment papers, you are practically a slave to the state. The only way out is through death, disability, or getting them to throw you out through use of pot, alcoholism petty crimes.

    Instead, let’s allow any soldier at anytime to quit, and they get evacuated with the battlefield after the lowest priority medevac, transported to CONUS and given an honorable discharge.

    Thus, every soldier fighting in a battle would be there because they felt the risk at that moment was worth the danger.

    This would allow us to retain the army as a fearsome weapon in defense (say if the warlike Canadian government decides to annex New England as it keeps threatening to do), and make it pretty useless for wars of aggression.

  22. I should have added, thoreau, that I realize your comment was a joke. But an awful lot of people think that the draft is limited to citizens.

    Hardly any country with a draft does that, as some Americans who moved to Australia during the Viet Nam war found out.

  23. Just a stunt. The Repubs might do well to go through a lotta motions and noise making it look like the Dems are indeed forcing a draft on the country. But it’s still just a stunt.

  24. One thing people never seem to think about when talking about a draft is how brutal it would make military discipline. Currently, most minor offenses are dealt with by kicking the person out of the military; essentially firing them. If you are enlisted and have less than six years service and commit some petty crime like drug use or theft or are just an all around screw up, the military can kick you out by the stroke of a pen. This is a good deterrence for most things because everyone is a volunteer and wants to be there and want to get out with an honorable discharge so they can get their college money and VA benefits. Bring back the draft and kicking people out is no longer a deterrent. That means the military would have to go back to the days of court-marshalling everyone for everything and putting large numbers of people in brutal prisons and having things like administrative confinement facilities and retraining brigades. It would be a public relations disaster. I really think Rangle comes up with this crap because he would like to destroy the military.

    Also, what do you do with all of these people you draft? Troop densities peaked in the First World War and have been falling ever since. Modern weapons are too deadly to have huge numbers of people concentrated on the battlefield. In World War 1 a division of 10,000 was responsible for three miles of front. Now a brigade of 5,000 would be responsible for ten or more times that.

    As far “drafting for national service”, that is even more nauseating although I guess it would have the virtue of not destroying the military. If we are going to do such a program of enforced slavery, why not just go with the idea and admit what it is and have the drafted youth build pyramids or cathedrals or something? At least we would have something to show for our stupidity.

  25. After all, plenty of democrats were too scared that they would be voted out of office if they didn’t vote for the authorization.

    I am arguing that the serious possibility of a draft would have given these stateswomen and men the backbone they needed to vote against Iraq. I am also saying that the war would have been less popular in middle America if they told us up front that we would need 500,000 to win in Iraq and that there would be no hesitation to conscript to get the needed women and men. I am also saying that this would have been a better outcome and is exactly what should have happened. Really, it is an accountability thing.

    Contrary to what PL says, Democrats don’t need to worry about losing the youth vote. They aren’t going anywhere.

  26. Sam, the government tricked the vast majority of people into believing it would be a cakewalk for a force of 150,000 or so.

    With that history in mind, you’re asserting that people would think it would be less of a cakewalk with when we could throw 500,000 people at it.

    This is some kind of joke, right?

  27. The military itself is extremely opposed to the draft

    Because it would work to reduce salaries in the military and in its contractor force, also.

    Umm, why would that happen?

    The military is opposed because it has learned that an all-volunteer force is a much better fighting force. Period.

  28. ChrisO writes: “A military draft made sense when most of the troops were essentially handed a rifle and told which direction to start walking. With today’s military, it would be something between foolish and a disaster. ”

    The thing is, our troops in Iraq are essentially depending on Iraqi security forces of a caliber even lower than the US would produce in a draft in a worst-case scenario. And, in addition to being poorly trained and ineffective, they are often loyal to the Iraqi factions causing all the trouble.

    Given the significantly loosened requirements for recruits that are being used, I can’t really see how American draftees would be worse than Iraqi enlistees, when it comes to accomplishing our goals.

  29. Umm, why would that happen?

    Because conscripted people have less leverage in slary negotiations. But you knew that.

  30. It’s just silly rhetoric that the rest of Congress will ignore.

    Agreed. We are about as likely to restore conscription as we are to go back to VietNam.

  31. The more interesting question here is where are all the libertarians who were crying before the election, “Ah, divided government is good… better not to vote Republican, but rather give the Democrats control of the House and Senate.”

    Ironically, it’s Bush and the Republicans that will save us from the Draft. And cynical libertarians will never give them credit for it.

    Ironically???? That’s the whole fricken POINT of wanting divided government, so that each party will have just enough power to save us from the stupidities of the other!! And what’s your definition of “cynical”, not voting Republican??

  32. So they say. But I can’t help noticing that the US army which helped smash the mighty Wehrmacht and the fanatical legions of Imperial Japan was a drafted army, while the current ultra-professional all-volunteer force has won exactly one (1) undisputed victory in its thirty years of life, and that was against an assortment of Cuban construction workers on the sun-soaked, rum-soaked battlefields of Grenada. Iraq is a fiasco and Afghanistan a joke.

    (OK, two if you count Panama, but Panama wasn’t really a war, more of a forced redundancy meeting between Gen Noriega and his erstwhile employers, with Southern Command in the role of the security guard who escorts you to the door with your desk tidy in a shoebox.)

  33. The thing is, our troops in Iraq are essentially depending on Iraqi security forces of a caliber even lower than the US would produce in a draft in a worst-case scenario. And, in addition to being poorly trained and ineffective, they are often loyal to the Iraqi factions causing all the trouble.

    Which only goes to point out how the entire Iraqi occupation is “something between foolish and a disaster,” as I put it earlier. It certainly doesn’t say anything about the draft.

    Assuming for the sake of argument that deposing Saddam was a good idea, the best move would have been to only occupy that shithole long enough to remove anything remotely weapon-worthy, and then get out. Trying to nation-build is pure folly, just as it always has been. And that’s true regardless of how your soldiers got there in the first place.

  34. Because it would work to reduce salaries in the military and in its contractor force, also.

    Quite possibly the most glaringly dumb thing you have ever said, Sam, and that’s no small accomplishment.

    As RC Dean notes, the military has learned that an all-volunteer force is vastly easier to train and deploy. Military commanders at any level will tell you that the under 5% of the soldiers, sailors or airmen causing problems in their command use up vastly more time and energy than the rest. In a conscript army that 5% rises to near catastrophic proportions.

    Moreover, however useful and often preferable contractor personnel may be for logistical and other non-combat functions, no military commander in his right mind would rather use non-military personnel for actual military missions. The “tooth to tail” ration in the armed forces inevitably requires more service personnel in non-combat positions, but anything that improves that ratio; that is, that permits the training and deployment of more combat-ready soldiers, as required, is a “force multiplier” and a substantial benefit. That is precisely what a voluntary Army of combat troops and the use of civilian support personnel enables and precisely what reliance on a vast conscripted Army defeats.

    It isn’t about money, you twit, it’s about lives.

  35. But I can’t help noticing that the US army which helped smash the mighty Wehrmacht and the fanatical legions of Imperial Japan was a drafted army…

    Different war, different times. If we were in a fight against fellow powers for our continued existence, then a drafted military would certainly be a more likely proposition. Of course, what good that would do in a nuclear exchange is rather debatable.

    Our wars since WWII have been pissing matches, by comparison. And they’ve gotten to be more so over time. The Iraqi army was a pushover, and it’s only trying to maintain some sort of peace in a tribe-ridden shithole that is causing us grief. But then, America doesn’t do occupations very well unless we’ve utterly smashed the country in question to bits beforehand. To truly “nation-build”, the occupier has to be willing to confront the occupied with the choice of death or cultural converstion. That’s not our nature, to our credit.

  36. It isn’t about money, you twit, it’s about lives.

    That is naive. It is always about money.

  37. Is it possible that the editors of Reason are already starting to regret their pimping of the DNC over the past year or so?

  38. I kind of get the idea that Rangel understands that the draft is not going to return, but it trying to illustrate the point that our society is unwilling to equally distribute the costs of war among its citizens (not to mention the benefits).

    Plus, I think the lack of a military or at least public-service requirement for citizens illustrates how out of balance our notions of rights (what society owes each of us) and duties (what each of us owes society) have become.

  39. Sam Franklin,
    The draft makes it easier, not harder, for politicians to wage dubious wars. Considering the misery-loves-company mentality by which parents rationalize the time-wasting, humiliating drudgery of high school for their own teenagers, I don’t believe the older generation can be trusted with the power to force the younger generation to pay for its geopolitical fuck-ups.

    As a thought experiment, consider what would have happened if the crowned heads of Europe had been politically incapable of conscripting their subjects in 1914 or thereafter. Some unfortunate young men might still have been swept up in early war mania and volunteered for service in the trenches, but their leaders would have had so much trouble replacing them that peace would soon become the only option. Almost certainly, the madness of war wouldn’t have lasted long enough to beget the madness of the Treaty of Versailles, which begot the madness of Hitler and another war. The twentieth century would have been much happier.

  40. “But then, America doesn’t do occupations very well unless we’ve utterly smashed the country in question to bits beforehand. To truly “nation-build”, the occupier has to be willing to confront the occupied with the choice of death or cultural converstion.”

    If people knew anything about history, which of course they don’t, they would know that in occupied Germany and Japan, the allies sumarily imprisoned large sections of the population, frequently shot partisians and terrorists on site, and engaged in mass punishments of cilivian populations by doing things like cutting off water and electricity to towns where resistance occurred. This was in the western zone of Germany and in Japan which were a picnic in comparison to the Soviet controlled zones of Germany.

  41. As an OIF Vet myself, I can tell you the LAST thing the military needs is more single-digit IQ dullards (that were too lazy to go to college in a country that still offers government-mandated interest rate student loans)

    so we get rid of the exemption for students (and all the other non-health, non-CO ones) and draft starting from the top of the class at the most challenging schools.

    Problem solved.

  42. If people knew anything about history, which of course they don’t, they would know that in occupied Germany and Japan, the allies sumarily imprisoned large sections of the population, frequently shot partisians and terrorists on site, and engaged in mass punishments of cilivian populations by doing things like cutting off water and electricity to towns where resistance occurred.

    Quite true. And, of course, we weren’t really trying to nation-build in Germany and Japan the way we have in Vietnam and Iraq. Germany and Japan were already advanced nations whose drastic losses did much more to discredit their ‘warrior ethos’ than anything the Allied occupiers did. All a German had to do to understand the failure of the Prussian warrior caste and its Nazi bastard offspring was to step out the front door.

    The goal in Iraq and Vietnam, by contrast, was to somehow convert culturally primitive nations into Western Democracies by simply being “Friendly Occupiers”. The notion that “winning hearts and minds” can remake cultures is both naive and arrogant at the same time.

  43. So, Sam, why do I suspect that you have an ulterior motive for starting the draft at the top of the class?

  44. Dan T.:
    Plus, I think the lack of a military or at least public-service requirement for citizens illustrates how out of balance our notions of rights (what society owes each of us) and duties (what each of us owes society) have become.

    We don’t exist to serve the state. The state exists to serve us.

  45. So, Sam, why do I suspect that you have an ulterior motive for starting the draft at the top of the class?

    OK, now I have to turn off the filter for a moment.

    Oh. Nicely done, RC!

  46. Is it possible that the editors of Reason are already starting to regret their pimping of the DNC over the past year or so?

    I think the editors of Reason, just like any libertarians who favored a Democratic Congressional victory, are and always have had their eyes wide open about the Dems being no picnic. That Gillespie would trumpet this rather than rationalize it as a true partisan would have done is good evidence for that.

  47. We had to take my dad’s car keys away from him when he was about 76 years old.

    Yet we give the keys to important committee chairmanships to incontinant old fools like Rangle?

    Sheesh!

  48. I thought I read somewhere that the percentage of the male children of congressmembers that entered the military was higher than the national average.

    It’s one of those things that’s difficult to search Google for. So far I’ve only found a “3 our of 535” statistic for members of congress.

    I dunno, true or not, I can’t imagine the country would sit still for the re-instatement of the draft.

  49. brian:

    We don’t exist to serve the state. The state exists to serve us.

    But of course there is no free lunch – somebody has to contribute to society (or “the state” if you prefer) in order for it to serve you.

    I’m simply saying that ideally, there is a balance between rights and duties. The libertarian idea that society owes us but we don’t owe society probably works no better than the totalitarian idea that we owe society but society doesn’t owe us.

  50. But of course there is no free lunch – somebody has to contribute to society (or “the state” if you prefer) in order for it to serve you…. The libertarian idea that society owes us but we don’t owe society….

    Hate to burst yer bubble there, Dan T., but that’s about as far removed from a libertarian idea as I can imagine. Confusing the state and society works well for the majority of liberals, though. Keep up the good work.

  51. I abhore the idea of a draft to support this or any “confrontation,” “police action,” or “war” that this country’s professional politicians deem necessary. However, I’d be interested to see how long it would take for this country’s unwashed masses to finally up and protest en masse against the actions the US has taken against Iraq. Does it take a “draft” for anti-war protestations to come from a mass of people large enough to affect the decisions in Washington? Like in the Vietnam era, where our protestors had to be paid attention to at some level? Or, did our government do a good enough job of cutting down Cindy Sheehan that no one else wants to put their toes in the water?

  52. My friends told me that if we reelected Bush there would be a draft. Guess they were right.

  53. I was at dinner Friday night with an old-school 1960s civil rights marcher liberal/progressive. He said he thought reinstating the draft might be a good idea because we might be less likely to go to war with a conscripted military.
    I don’t think is a non-starter. There are people who support the idea.

  54. Rangel provides us the first sighting of that vaunted species everyone was talking about before the election, the libertarian democrat!

  55. Dan T.,

    “The state serves us” != “society owes us”.

    Your conflation of “the state” with “society” is problematic enough (your sort of admission of conflation notwithstanding), but conflating “serves us” with “owes us” is where the train of your argument falls off the track and rolls down a cliff. The state serves us the same way an employee serves his employer, the way a good butler serves his master. The state does not owe us anything except to do this job and do it well. Society does not even owe us that.

  56. we might be less likely to go to war with a conscripted military.

    A lot also depends on how fair the conscription is. If there are no exceptions for smart people or wealthy people (and there should not be), then the war resistance will be more well-spoken and more well-scrubbed.

  57. “say if the warlike Canadian government decides to annex New England as it keeps threatening to do”

    Hell, no!

    We want Arizona & Florida. [And you thought those fogies with maple leaves were just retirees. Wait till you find out what’s hidden in those walkers!]

  58. This was big news 4 years ago. Remember when Rangel was pushing for the same thing back then? It must just be the time to trot out old “ideas” again. I remember a whole lot of talk on conservative talk radio back then, and then nothing came from it. It’s probably more a symbolic gesture than anything.

  59. I mostly don’t like Rangel, but on this issue I think he is mostly correct.

    The problem with the all volunteer force is that it is filled with the lower class, except for the officer corps. Rangel’s idea is a draft without loopholes. If implemented then the sons (and daughters too, maybe) of the rich would be conscripted along with the sons of the poor. Theoretically, that shoudl result in a military that truly and correctly represents America.

    I don’t understand why many of you are saying that a draft would result in an intellectually inferior military. That is ludicrous. A draft would would grab a cross section of America, maybe even Thoreau from this board. Some dumb, some smart, just like… America.

    I was in the army during the draft and many draftees were college graduates. One of the smartest guys I ever met was a draftee with a degree in Physics from Georgia Tech. One of the dumbest guys I ever met was a volunteer.

    Serving in the military is a bit of a hardship, but it is not the end of the world and it probably won’t kill you either.

  60. ChrisO writes: “Different war, different times. If we were in a fight against fellow powers for our continued existence, then a drafted military would certainly be a more likely proposition.”

    Supposedly, we *are* in a fight for our continued existence, and that assertion will be used to support our staying in Iraq for a good long time with just enough troops to lose.

    If nothing else, Rangel will likely get Republicans and Bush to contradict themselves on whether our nation faces the existential threat they and Fox News keep telling us about.

  61. highnumber: That’s what I’m talking about… where are our 60’s and 70’s war protestors now? They are mostly in their 60’s with adult children, who have children that would be drafted. I think the reason a draft has not been seriously mentioned by the politicats is because it really would bring the people out to be more involved, seen, and vocal about this entire situation. And, no matter what anybody says, it cannot be denied that the peace movement in the late 60s and early 70s had a drastic effect on the outcome of Vietnam.

  62. There will be no draft.

    Rangel is again trying to make the point that if we are serious about taking military action against Iran and North Korea as Bush claimed he would to stop the axis of evil from aquiring nukes. A draft will be necessary. Which is true if we are going to fight a couple of more wars while fighting the wars currently in progress.

    I doubt we will attempt to fight Iran or North Korea, so Rangel is talking crap and he knows it.

    But it makes good fodder for the pundits.

  63. Supposedly, we *are* in a fight for our continued existence

    The key word there being “supposedly.”

    This draft issue is good at bringing out the silliness on both sides.

  64. Serving in the military is a bit of a hardship, but it is not the end of the world and it probably won’t kill you either.

    Wayne, I think the government should draft your wife into service in my bed. It is a bit of a hardship, but it is not the end of the world and it probably won’t kill her either.

  65. Agreed. We are about as likely to restore conscription as we are to go back to VietNam.

    Jim Walsh:

    I’m going to take the very chancy assumption that you’re not making a joke, because if you are, you win the thread because of brilliant subtlety. However, in the tradition of hedging my bets– and guessing that this just might not be a joke– I say this:

    We have gone back to Vietnam. We spell it differently, though. Now it’s spelled I – R – A – Q

  66. I find the willingness of any politician to use the draft as a means of achieving a social policy unpleasant, even terrifying. This idea has at its root the concept that the state is free to do with its population what it desires. If our benevolent uncle Sam wants you to do military service – you do it, if he wants you to clean up the parks – you do it; if he wants you to do anything without having to pay you a fair wage for it, well – you do it.
    I believe a draft is only legitimate in a time of extreme national crisis. That is the only time the state should have the right to compel military service from its population. It should be tremendously hard to initiate a draft. I would prefer it if we got rid of all of the local draft boards and compulsory registration with selective service. When the state declares a right to draft you, it declares that it owns you – and can even compel you to die in your service to the state.

  67. The problem with the all volunteer force is that it is filled with the lower class, except for the officer corps.

    Wow, that’s the EXACT same argument they made about the makeup of American forces during Vietnam which… were… drafted…

    Rangel is either the worst student of history, or he’s got a very, very bad memory. According to Rangel’s office (in regards to his reasoning for a draft):

    “According to Rangel’s office, minorities comprise more than 30 percent of the nation’s military.”

    One of the complaints about the Vietnam era military which enjoyed the… wait for it… draft, is that a disproportionate amount of poor and minorities were caught up in it.

    Now yes, Mr. Rangel suggests that if we eliminate the college exemption that this situation won’t be repeated. I say bugger to thee.

    The wealthy and privileged will always be wealthy and privileged, otherwise they’d be called poor and disenfranchised. So any ‘perfect’ system to make it 100% fair and equitable will probably miss the mark by quite a distance.

  68. Upside for gay rights: a draft would either kill off “don’t ask, don’t tell” in a heartbeat, or the gay population of the US would increase by about 30 million overnight.

  69. The problem with the all volunteer force is that it is filled with the lower class,

    Umm, not really. Google military demographics and take a read. If anything, the military trends better educated than average, with a middle class background (albeit weighted toward the lower end of the middle class).

  70. According to Rangel’s office, minorities comprise more than 30 percent of the nation’s military.

    Seeing as the white population clocks in at around 75% according to the most recent census, this doesn’t strike we as shocking.

  71. Seeing as the white population clocks in at around 75% according to the most recent census, this doesn’t strike we as shocking.

    Excellent point. And for the record, I don’t buy that Military people are the “huddled masses”. I know people in the military. Some of them are even fighting in Iraq and none of them are officers. They’re regular folks. They drive late model cars, have houses in the suburbs. This notion that our ‘poorest’ are all dying in Iraq is spurious, to me.

    And even if the military had much higher percentage of lower income people, would it be better if those lower income soldiers killed in Iraq were there by force instead of by choice?

  72. A little background about myself. Solidly middle class upbringing, servrd 20 years in the US Navy, don’t regret it.
    We can argue about education ’til the cows come home (high school diploma, how much college etc.) After boot camp (boring, not very stressful) I attended 52 weeks of training/education to equip me to operate, maintain and repair an air search radar. Was I done with navy schools, you ask. Nay, nay. A rough estimate for the rest of my career is 2.5 years in the classroom. No, the greek classics, Shakespeare, and economics were not covered. Computer science, boolean algebra, eloctromagnetic wave propogation, sound propogation thru water, the warsaw pact capabilities and limitions and other subjects were. Call me uneducated and I’ll call you a fool.

  73. Was I done with navy schools, you ask. Nay, nay. A rough estimate for the rest of my career is 2.5 years in the classroom. No, the greek classics, Shakespeare, and economics were not covered.

    Interestingly, West Point cadets do study Shakespeare. In my opinion, it may be justifiable as a roundabout way of studying human nature, which it behooves a military strategist to know well.

  74. actually, it dovetails with my only advocation of affirmitive action: kids whose partents serve in elective office & kids of executive officers of corps who derive 30 or more % of thier revenues from military contracts get bumped to the front for combat arms slots.
    Otherwise, you have parasites benefitting from Empire with out paying Empires basic currency, which isnt bucks, as far as Im concerned, but blood.
    Of course, Im sure many H&R devotees are too valuable renting slums to illegegals, or ripping them off for thier labor- for the good of the country, of course- to think they ought to go.
    Ill find the entire thing endlessly amusing, however.
    either that, or get out of the empire bidnid. Pick one.

  75. Interestingly, West Point cadets do study Shakespeare. In my opinion, it may be justifiable as a roundabout way of studying human nature, which it behooves a military strategist to know well.

    Yeah, but I was one of those lower class, uneducated enlisted men. You know, the guys and gals that make it work. That said, the officer corps should have a liberal arts AND engineering background.

  76. Illegal immigrants don’t come here because we’re an empire. They come because we’re a republic with liberties and opportunities.

  77. My last comment was in reply to MUTT.

  78. RIGHT, Brian 423- this is where all the STUFF is. This is where the militaries & oligarchies we prop up/guarantee/arm/pimp for- ARENT.
    By jove, I think you’ve got it!

  79. I suspect that Rangel’s proposal is more a stunt, intended to draw attention to the implausibility of the proposals to put more troops into Iraq, and to the distinct lack of military distinction among the current Republican leadership, than a serious policy proposal he’d like to see enacted.

    And how much oxygen deprivation must one have experienced to still believe that John Kerry was commenting on the eduction of the soldiers in Iraq, rather than the intelligence of George Bush?

  80. MUTT,
    So you’re saying that H&R readers should be fighting in Iraq instead of providing housing and employment for immigrants?

  81. Of course, Im sure many H&R devotees are too valuable renting slums to illegegals, or ripping them off for thier labor- for the good of the country, of course- to think they ought to go.

    You mean, one of these H&R devotees is my landlord, or worse, my boss? Yikes.

    Joe:

    And how much oxygen deprivation must one have experienced to still believe that John Kerry was commenting on the eduction of the soldiers in Iraq, rather than the intelligence of George Bush?

    Of course everyone knew. It’s called “politics”. And given the oxygen-deprived brains we have running the country, I don’t feel sorry for him.

  82. joe

    I would be fine with this being a nuanced tactical move by Rangel except for:

    1) The “need” for a “National Service” plan has been at the forefront of every Democratic platform since the New Deal. And Rangel has supported every recent one including Clinton’s plan. We need to conscript the best and brightest to do all the things that need to be done for the uplifting etc, etc, ….

    2) The only reason we have the Selective Service System today is because “Mr Human Rights” Jimmy Carter reinstated it in 1979.

    3) Rangel is an autoritarian prick who never met a social control system from the drug war to the welfare system that he didn’t enthusiastically embrace.

    Thankfully the social control faction is divided as to which socials they want to control so there are still no clear majorities working.

    Thank James Madison for understanding factionalism. It is the only thing keeping us from utter ruin.

  83. We are about as likely to restore conscription as we are to go back to VietNam.

    Is GWB back from his trip already? What was it Viet Nam, then Indonesia, right?

  84. “I suspect that Rangel’s proposal is more a stunt, intended to draw attention to the implausibility of the proposals to put more troops into Iraq, and to the distinct lack of military distinction among the current Republican leadership, than a serious policy proposal he’d like to see enacted.”

    I disagree. Rangel has been talking about this for years.

    I agree with him in principle; the all volunteer force IS composed of the “not priviliged” in the enlisted ranks. I think that bothers Rangel because he thinks that if American blood is going to be spilled in far flung wars then some of that blood should run blue. His proposal is to make a draft that will take the sons of the rich and which will allow no exemptions, unlike the previous draft that allowed most of our current crop of “leaders” to dodge the fight.

    I think Rangel’s proposal has no hope of passing of course, but I admire the gesture because it points out the inequity of the current force. And he points out, correctly in my opinion, that the chicken hawks in the white house would probably be less likely to draw their swords if their own sons were involved. Of course, Rangel trots out the race issue as well, which I don’t think is germane, but he can’t help it, he is a Democrat after all.

  85. “And how much oxygen deprivation must one have experienced to still believe that John Kerry was commenting on the eduction of the soldiers in Iraq, rather than the intelligence of George Bush?”

    Of course every one realized that it was a slip of the tongue on Kerry’s part. Kerry, being the arrogant prick that he is though, could not bring himself to simply correct his words and offer a small apology for a small error until days later, when a large apology was required. He is dumb! Clinton would never have made a mistake like that.

    Kerry got what he deserved. He is a priviliged, silver-spoon-in-mouth, elite snob. Why ordinary people would come to his defence is beyond me.

  86. People come to Kerry’s defense because the way the Republicans have slandered him is emblematic of the sleazy and dishonest manner they have tried to bully anyone who’s dissented from the party line for the past five years, and people are tired of it.

  87. Computer science, boolean algebra, eloctromagnetic wave propogation, sound propogation thru water, the warsaw pact capabilities and limitions and other subjects were. Call me uneducated and I’ll call you a fool.

    I say my tax dollars paid for your education and that it was money wasted on a fancy form of welfare.

    The skills needed in Iraq are pretty much limited to how to drive big vehicles, how to use wweapons, when not to use weapons and crowd control. That is what your education should have been in, if anything.

  88. Well I guess my position on this issue will probably not be too popular but the truth is I’m probably the only commenter here that was drafted. I think we should bring back the draft whether the military likes it or not because the draft was good for the country. Being drafted probably instilled more good habits and responsibility into people than any religion ever could. Young men learned that there were things they would have to do whether they liked it or not. They learned it from people that were not there to put up with bullshit in any shape or form. Pride and confidence grew out of surviving training that was more rigorous than anything they had ever done in their lives. Young men learned not to give up easily, that persaverance would pay off if you hung in there.

    Whether the military wants to admit it or not the draft was great for them. Draftees were often older, more mature and better educated than most enlistees. In 1971 I went through basic training in a company that half the soldiers had some college and probably 20 percent had degrees. I was told by several career military types that they preferred working with draftees because of these factors and the fact that draftees tended to do their jobs and not make a lot of waves. They wanted to put in their 2 years as easily as possible.
    The draft was great for enlistments as well because some guys would enlist to get the training that they wanted rather than be drafted and have no say at all.

    The 2 years did me and most of those that went through it a lot of good with the obvious exception of those that died in Vietnam. If Rangel’s plan truly allows for no exceptions I have to agree that I think it will probably prevent more wars because the parents of those draftees are going to have more political clout than the present all volunteer force.

  89. Not having been drafted- I enlisted in ’67- I got to see & ponder what a draft actually meant. It puts a serious dent in untammeled war waging by profiteers & ideologues, for one. Nothin to keep a military honest like a lot of people who dont want to be there. Col. Dave Hackworth (worth a google) supportedit because it shared the burden of Empire, and schooled US citizens on what the US actually IS, abroad, and schooled them in proper firearms, self defense, (useful skills indeed) & caused folks to rub shoulder with people they wouldnt otherwise.
    While none of the above are valid for a libertarian society, I cant help but notice we dont live in one, or are likely to.
    So, while Rangels proposal (and I agree-he’s a Statist prick, one of many) is symbolic, it moves the ball sclearly on to Chickenhawk turf, and those who ignore the war because, to thier stunted minds, its a freebie- without cost TO THEM.
    As soon as it gets a tad more developed, we’ll hear the chickenhawks squawkin-Oh, my knee! Oh, my hemmoroids! Oh, my career as a zoning lawyer/bond trader/hilton- like in todays Doonesbury.
    Music to this ol soldiers ears, after years of prowar yammering……

  90. “The skills needed in Iraq are pretty much limited to how to drive big vehicles, how to use wweapons, when not to use weapons and crowd control. That is what your education should have been in, if anything.”

    Sam, I am embarassed for you. That is one of the dumbest things I have read on H&R. Maybe you are just a troll and I am “feeding” you.

    Dave D and Mutt, Yep!

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