Charles Rangel: Bring back the draft

There was a time when I thought that this was a bad idea, however I’m not so sure now.

The arguments Rangel make are good ones – the military needs more people and those that make the wars might be less likely to start voluntary imperial ones if they knew there was a decent chance of their kids finding themselves in the line of fire. The fact that he has proposed this twice in the last three years before now to have it rejected by the Republicans makes me suspicious that the latter reason strikes home in some.

Rumsfeld et al. have long defended the “all-volunteer” force without actually explaining that “volunteer” actually meant “for the poor with no other way out”. The “all-volunteer” force effectively isolates the governing and ownership class from bearing personal responsibility for rash or poor decisions, so from my own way of thinking, in some ways a draft is not a bad idea.

It’s not a bad idea, but it won’t work.

Should a draft actually occur, many of the wealthy will naturally find cosy deferments as did Bush the Lesser and Cheney the Anal Cyst, and there is no reason to believe that many in Congress or the White House would actually have to face the tearful farewell Rangel threatens. Also, resistance to the draft is one of those touchstones that unites the youth in a way that I’m quite sure the government would like to avoid. Resistance to the draft galvanized American youth against the war in Vietnam because the consequences were very real for them and I don’t think the Republicans, which at the best of times turns everything they touch to shit, wants to go near this issue with a barge pole, and I’d be really surprised if the rank-and-file Democrats would either.

As for the immediate problem, the under-staffed military, there is an easy solution staying within the framework of the all-volunteer force – raise interest rates a point or two. The actual fact is that there is nothing “voluntary” about the “all-volunteer” force – kids sign up when there is no other pay cheque available or when there is no other way to get to university or college. Raise interest rates and kill the economies of a few small towns and I guarantee the doors of the recruitment centres will swing wide and often.

Of course, the US economy is a precarious beast right now, and I’m not so sure that the effects of voluntarily raising interest rates would be controllable or even predictable. But then again, when did that ever stop these clods?


8 thoughts on “Charles Rangel: Bring back the draft

  1. I predict that some idiot is going to decry your description of the American armed forces as poor by crying “you forgot Pat Tillman”. Of course, said idiot will be ignoring all recruitment statistics which point out that Tillman types are an anomaly.

    PS. Don’t give the Republicans any ideas.


  2. Whooee! Forced conscription ain’t much fairer than what they got now. Back in the 60’s an’ early 70’s when they was fightin’ a losin’ battle in Vietnam, they had a draft. They realised it weren’t 100% fair an’ they made sum reforms but they still had it an’ they still forced young fellers but – an’ this is important – but no gals t’ join up an’ become trainer killers.

    I ain’t opposed t’ sum sorta forced national service but there’s gotta be a choice between bein’ trained t’ kill an’ doin’ sum other service. The Mewrkins’ll say they already got provisions fer conscientious objectors but they made it damn hard t’ get that classification.

    Merkins gotta attitude that they gotta support the troops an’ they think that admittin’ that the current system draws a disproportionate number o’ uneducated an’ poverty-induced enlistees is seen as disrespectin’ the troops. Jest ask John Kerry.

    The answer ain’t in hirin’ the biggest army. The answer is fer Merka t’ use its bigass wealth t’ buy off bad guys. A coupla million inta Moqtada al Sadr’s back pocket’ll buy more security than sendin’ in Merkin kids in tanks. The dough the Merkins spend on their military in a post-Cold War reality is jest plain wrong. It’s a waste o’ money bein’ used in a strategy that wastes lives on all sides.

    Here’s a point t’ ponder… a quarter of the Merkin defense budget would be enuff t’ completely eradicate food shortages in the entire world.

    They don’t need a draft. They need t’ get their heads screwed on right.



  3. There’s no arguing your (yer) logic on world hunger, JimBobby, but buying off al Sadr is the kind of thing that created the likes of the Taliban and Mujihadeen. It might buy some peace now, but it is very likely to bight them in the ass in the future.

    Your right, a bigger army is no solution – preventing it’s misuse is.


  4. the draft should be brought back. its called democratizing the ranks. you’re right, most of the elite would get deferments, but many middle class folks wouldn’t. this is a huge impediment to militarism.

    fighting for ones country used to be the epidemy of civic duty. its been replaced by bumper stickers that read; “support our troops”. this is a dereliction of our civic duties. if wars are such a great idea, we should all be willing to fight in them.


  5. cancuck,

    You’re right in that catching the middle class in a draft might hedge their desire to vote for idiots bent on world domination – I hadn’t thought this through entirely. I wonder how many would “support the troops” as blindly as they have if they were asked to fork over a kid or two.

    Question for the masses: did the draft in the 70’s democratize the military?


  6. To kevvyd’s question about whether the draft democratized the military, during the Vietnam War, there was a disproportional number of poor southern boys and African-Americans in the ranks of the US Army and Marine Corps. Somehow, the children of privilege managed to avoid service with deferments, medical exemptions, or by joining the National Guard (hello Dan Quayle and George W. Bush.) In today’s political climate I would expect they could institute a draft system that would not change the demographics of the military one bit, much like the reforms to campain financing and lobbying rules that have no real effect.


  7. That doesn’t surprise me. The Chicago Boys, under Friedman, have a long-standing tradition of “proving” that exceptionalism and authoritarianism for the rich is good for the economy. Reagonomics was based on that notion. As was the Chilean “success”, known outside economic circles (and outside Ralph Klein’s head) as the reign of terror.


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