Charles Rangel, the incoming Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee said yesterday that he will push to renew the military draft.
"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," said Rangel, a Korean War veteran. "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."
I happen to agree with Rangel for two reasons. The first, he articulated quite eloquently. Bush might not have been so cavalier with the lives of our servicemen and women if the Bush twins were on their way to the desert.
The second reason is that the American armed forces should look like America. We should have a military staffed with liberals and conservatives, rich and poor. Right now the military relies too heavily on poor white conservative Christian southerners. This makes me very uneasy and it is unhealthy for a diverse nation.
It is time to bring back the draft.
Those are two excellent reasons. I believe there is a third: The military is currently stretched to the breaking point. If the US is going to persist in these endless wars of choice, we need more troops, the all-volunteer Army isn't enough. Of course, forcing people to serve is going to fundamentally change the character of the military and make it something far less disciplined.
posted by Sam, at
11/20/2006 10:18 AM
It also relies too heavily on the 'poverty draft', i.e., poor blacks and Hispanics who see no other avenue of advancement except the military. Deferments ought to be few and far between. But conscientious objection ought to be an option for those who object to a particular war; not just to all war.
Finally, 'don't ask, don't tell' will have to scrapped. If the Israelis and the British can do it, so can we.
posted by Not hawks but owls, at
11/20/2006 10:32 AM
"The second reason is that the American armed forces should look like America."
Gee, and I always thought the military should be designed for winning wars and for defending our nation.
1. Conscription of another kind is still involuntary service. This is where you get people with attitudes anathema to a 'cohesive unit', the very excuse used to dismiss gay soldiers.
2. The military, as you know has dismissed, HIGHLY QUALIFIED and willing gay and lesbians from service. NOT because of a breach of competence or incompatibility, but their orientation being revealed. The military's position is archaic.
3. The same mindset that has created the most egalitarian military in our history, is also the same military that could weed out the homophobes with a policy of openly serving. Those who don't want to serve with gay people have the option of not signing up. Those who don't care, will.
The military is basing their discrimination on policy that had the draft. A old standard placed in front of an old one. And considering how badly we need skilled members and the military is now accepting those of questionable skill,intelligence and discipline....to get their quota up-this current policy is dangerous and stupid. Which unfounded discrimination inevitably turns out to be.
Bringing back the draft will give the military the opportunity to NEVER change it's discriminatory policy against gays if they get the number of boots needed, no matter who it is that wears the uniform.
posted by Regan, at
11/20/2006 11:45 AM
I met to say the military is maintaining an old policy up against a new one. Realigning the entire military with ALL new policies would make it more efficient and confident.
The unfortunate thing about our current leadership, is 'democracy' isn't for every country. Freedom is....and the people of the usual basket case countries will have to be shown how to fight for their own freedom.
Our new enemies, these wanton terrorists will have to learn something too, as the Hamas have among the Palestinians in Israel.
Now you have to provide and organized and supportive system of government for your people. They are in charge now of sanitation, commerce, education and cultural preservation for their people. Jumping up and down in the streets and firing guns (an incredibly stupid and dangerous thing to do) into the air and shaking fists at the Israelis won't feed or educate your your people and provide safety for your children.
I resent the invasion of illegal immigrants who won't stay and fight for their freedom in their countries of origin, particularly now that Americans have to compete for Third World wages.
The difference between say, the civil rights struggles of America, and those illegal aliens who crammed Los Angeles's streets and said this was THEIR fight for civil rights, got it completely WRONG. Black Americans were willing to fight in the Civil War in THEIR OWN COUNTRY. Although the Klan was formed in response to Emancipation and terrorized blacks for over a century since....black Americans made the sacrifices, marched and bled and were beaten to show the world what they were willing to sacrifice to get what was OWED to them. Coming to America and DEMANDING something not owed you is the utmost of disrespect to freedom others fought to get.
Iraq might have to have a civil war. And our only option is to make sure another country like Iran or Syria doesn't take advantage of the conflict. We had a civil war, exhausted ourselves...but FREEDOM prevailed. Our country may find itself fighting on our own soil because we're not securing our own borders and our response to 9/11 was incredibly weak in the years since. There are skirmishes and battles in different ways. Gangs and domestic terrorists of that like are a serious problem imported from south of the border. Our own President, although a fighter pilot, spent the Vietnam years in a safe and non combat position here. I'm sure his family's elite position gave him that privilege. In that way, Bush is VERY distanced from the real lives the rest of us have to live. He's already committed treason in his support of a global economy. That's proven a danger to the economic and physical safety of this country. It's very stupid of him to say 'we need a comprehensive guest worker program', when the 'guests' we already have WON'T LEAVE and nobody is making them.
I know I went on a tear...but I am DEEPLY offended by our President and his policies and his incompetent strategists putting us in harm's way in every way. Our military is wasting it's time on people who don't appreciate it and planned with people who are barely competent enough to put their shoes on in the morning.
They make big grandiose shows of 'we have it all under control', meanwhile our borders here at home are a chaos of invasion and disrespect for our domestic law.
Gay people have been very patient and tenacious in their efforts to be recognized as equal citizens. Still, our President calls illegal aliens 'hardworking people who want to care for their families', but can't look at gay citizens and gay soldiers WHO CAN VOTE and have already contributed to the wealth and support of this nation, and not see a model class in gay people.
The draft is not a symbol of FREEDOM. Our country, with the right Communicator, not 'decider' would and could be rallied to respect each other. And remember our 'can do' roots. And make the right and proper sacrifices to maintain the spirit we hold dear. However, sacrificing gay citizens to prejudice and our entire nation to backstabbing corrupted nations is easier than statesmanship.
Well the military is made up of Americans who have limited opportunities because of economics and finances. It has always been a good way to keep off poverty and death. After all, you get food , shelter and medical treatment. It's not just dumb white southerners. My cousin is in the army. His mom did not want him in the house and so he joined up. And if you'll notice the percentage of children in the military to statesmen is very, very low.
posted by Anonymous, at
11/20/2006 12:22 PM
I agree Regan. Illegal aliens have come to this country (invaded) and are now demanding our rights!!! Silly me. And black americans have shown great honor and nobility in defending this nation and making it a place they can also call home!! But these illegal aliens - hispanic, chinese, irish - do not care where they are from - are not contributing.
posted by Anonymous, at
11/20/2006 12:27 PM
If this war is really about our national security and protecting US citizens from terrorism, then the population should have been mobilized in a draft from the very beginning. I can't believe Americans were stupid enough to accept that a global war (which is what a "war on terrorism" amounts to) could or should be fought on the backs of Army reservists and National Guard recruits. What happens if we need those troops to defend the homefront, and they're on the other side of the world? Oh yeah, I forgot . . . engaging terrorism in Iraq means that we'll never, ever have to worry about fighting terrorists on our own shores, right?
posted by Stuffed Animal, at
11/20/2006 2:02 PM
I totally disagree with bringing back the draft for many reasons. Lets not forget that gays and lesbians were not allowed to serve openly during the Vietnam war when we had conscription and still can't in that abominable war in Iraq, so what makes people think by bringing back the draft would mean an eradication of don't ask don't tell? I don't see it happening.
a military draft will take care of the illegal immigrant problem instantly.....donal
posted by Donal, at
11/20/2006 3:44 PM
I really doubt that having the draft would much sway the supporters of the war. Those who are idealogically disposed to support the war in Iraq probably would think of their children as heros first and casulaties second. There's a reason that there are "military families".
However I do think the draft would have an interesting impact on don't-ask-don't-tell. In the 70's anti-gay sentiments (even among "liberals" and anti-war activists) was pretty strong. It was such a stigma to be thought of as gay that straight guys would rather go to Canada than use the gay excuse to avoid going to Viet Nam.
I think that stigma is less prevalent now. I don't think many guys would hesitate to tell their friends, "Dude, I just told them I'm gay and they let me go" rather than go die in Iraq (Canada is no longer an option).
I'm pretty sure that if I were a 17 year old facing the draft and the prospect of going to Iraq (or Iran or Syria) to fight this global "War on Terror", I'd be quick to join my local gay-straight alliance. It would come in handy when signing up for the draft the following year.
posted by Timothy Kincaid, at
11/20/2006 3:48 PM
I have a better idea than the draft. The U.S. should require at least two years of military service from all citizens whether male or female just like Israel. That would solve these pre-emptive wars.
posted by Adam Kautz, at
11/20/2006 9:21 PM
"The second reason is that the American armed forces should look like America." That's a really great reason. Maybe the army should make a point out of forcing obese people to join - that will make the armed forces look a whole lot more like America.
posted by Anonymous, at
11/21/2006 12:49 AM
The question of there being a military draft has become moot now that Nancy Pelosi has stated it's "off the table" as a Democratic initiative. However, if the Hamilton/Baker commission recommends troop increases in Iraq, and there's to be no draft to facilitate that troop increase, they'll have no choice but to look at increasing the number of allied forces. That'll be a tough sell to our allies. While the USA tries to convince other countries to take up the slack in an unpopular conflict, retaining troops becomes more important than ever before, and "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" makes less sense than ever before. It may be our best opportunity yet to do away with that absurd policy. ILGA and other Gay organizations could slam home the point that the US military can't ask other nations to fill the gap for them when they're busy widening it by discharging capable American soldiers for unjustifiable reasons.
posted by Stuffed Animal, at
11/21/2006 11:25 AM
off topic: good aricle that someone sent me on religion and homosex.
posted by Anonymous, at
11/22/2006 9:12 AM
I agree, but have some personal reservations since I never had to go myself... would I feel the same if I was 20. It will be good to have hearing about it and specifically address what is going on in the world as to why we aren't getting people enlisting in the current military,, and what would happen to gay people..esp gay married people from massachusetts.
posted by Steve Talbert, at
11/22/2006 4:11 PM
No. None of you remember the draft. And given the nature of this President, and his desire the hasten the second coming of God, and his belief that America is a Christian nation, and that all patriots go to heaven...why should we go to war all over the planet? We don't need more war. We need less war. GWB got sucked into Iraq by Iran's backroom chess game. Since our President doesn't know chess aned since he's playing with the people who invented the game, why should we, as gay people, support any policies that include war? I hate terrorists just as much as anybody, but we didn't go after terrorists. GWB went after Saddam because he plotted to kill GHWB, daddy. Draft? You don't remember the problems we had in this country with a draft. Bull. No draft. Period. Let the poor and rich white Southerners die for their country. Until we some equality around here, screw the policies of the US and The President of the US...and any Congressman who is a stupid as Rangel. What was good for Korea, which he fought in, is not good for the US now!!!
posted by Anonymous, at
11/23/2006 3:44 AM
Stuffed Animal... I like you a lot. Please drop me an email...Dishing with you, (we share several interests) looks like fun. Love ya! [:OP
posted by Regan, at
11/23/2006 2:10 PM
If there were a draft in place at the time Congress voted to give Bush authority to take us into war, I do think that it might have been a substantially closer fight. I also think that perhaps politicians and the media might have been more skeptical about the reasons given for why war "needed" to be waged.
However, as the mom of 14 year old and 16 year old sons, my heart truly breaks at the idea of them being cannon fodder for what I personally consider a meaningless and venal exercise. I was against the war from the beginning and remain against it now. I don't believe that I bear any personal responsibility for the war having happened or for the fact that it's continuing. Maybe this is not what it means to be a citizen of a country, but I do have a hard time wrapping my head around why it would be necessary for my sons to die in order to help a powerful politician work out his psychiatric issues.