Like being told that you have one month to live, getting the news that you have been drafted is a life altering shock that no one wants or expects.
Upon hearing the word “draft” our first response was “It’s never going to happen.” Even so, New York congressman Charles Rangel is proposing that America reinstate the draft, and it’s not the first time either.
Rangel has decided to bring out the “D” word yet again, in an attempt to refocus some energy on the war in Iraq and possible conflicts in other countries.
According to the congressman, there are not enough troops in an all-volunteer military to function effectively in a drawn out war like the one in Iraq. Also, the decreasing number of volunteer soldiers will make future conflicts in either Iran or North Korea difficult if not impossible.
If there was ever an attack on the United States, there would be a significant surge in enlistment. Pearl Harbor and the attacks of Sept. 11 are historical evidence, and compelling examples of how the numbers in the volunteer military tend to swell after an assault on the US.
The fact that the volunteer forces are dwindling is a two part tell. Firstly, it demonstrates that we are losing large numbers of our soldiers to the ever climbing death toll. Secondly, it shows that many Americans are not in favor of the war. If more people agreed with the cause, a greater number of citizens would enlist.
Drafting people to go to war in Iraq, or any other place, would create the same political unrest that was present in the 1960s during the Vietnam conflict.
Even though the attitudes toward the draft would be similar, the draft that Rangel is proposing is different than the one that was in play during Vietnam.
According to Rangel, anyone between the ages of 18 and 42, men and women alike, would be eligible for the draft. Once drafted, it will also be more difficult to be dismissed. Deferments would only be granted to those with serious health concerns, and no, not wanting to die is not the type of “health concern” they’re looking for. This way, a greater range of Americans would be included in the draft.
With even more people thrown in the pool of eligible draftees, it stands to reason that fewer people will be supportive of the measure. The majority of citizens already find it deplorable to force someone to fight in a war.
Here comes the twist that made us take a second glance at Rangel’s proposal.
Precisely because it poses such a threat to such a large number of citizens, Rangel asserts that reinstating the draft could actually be an effective political tool.
“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.
The way Rangel sees it, Congress has the vote on whether or not we, as a country, go to war. Citizens, in turn, have the vote on which politicians are elected and how long they will stay in office. Now, if Rangel had his way, with the possibility of going to war, there would also be a chance that people could get drafted.
Since there is generally an increase in the volunteer military when the US is genuinely threatened, there would be less likelihood ever being needed in the wake of an assault on the country. On that note, if America was in legitimate danger, Congress would have no hesitation when voting to declare war.
On the other hand, if there was a war or conflict that the majority of Americans did not support, there would not be as great a number of volunteer soldiers. The lack of troops available to fight could then, in turn, lead to the draft going in to effect.
Since a large portion of their constituents would be at risk for being drafted, members of Congress would be less likely to go to war on shaky evidence or unpopular grounds.
As such, the draft could be used as a safeguard, helping America protect itself from unjust or unnecessary wars.
According to that abstract train of thought, yes, having a draft would be a great idea. The draft, Congress, and the people would hold each other steady in a system of checks and balances similar to our three branches of government.
The theoretical benefits of reinstating the draft are compelling. Unfortunately, the price of sending even one unwilling citizen to die in a war he or she does not wish to be a part of is too high to pay.
So, even though Rangel’s proposition was worth considering, it is in the best interest of the people that the measure is shot down once again and hopefully for good.