Rangel to reintroduce notorious draft bill
by People Against the Draft
Rep. Charles Rangel intends to reintroduce legislation calling for resumption of the draft during the current Congressional term, according to a memo circulated by Bill Galvin of the Center on Conscience and War.
Rangel, it will be recalled, was the author of the notorious HR 163, the "universal" conscription bill that became a political football during the 2004 Presidential campaign. When charges that Bush would reinstate the
draft emerged as a red-hot election issue last October, HR 163 became a liability for the Kerry campaign -- whereupon Rangel's bill was rushed to the floor and summarily voted down by a huge majority. For tactical reasons even the bill's sponsors, including Rangel, voted against it.
With the election over, the way is clear for politicians on both sides of the aisle to get behind the draft, and Rep. Rangel will likely be leading the charge. According to Galvin's memo, CCW officers were told in a Dec. 21 meeting with Rangel's legislative director, Emile Milne, that Rangel will "probably introduce similar legislation" in the 2005 term.
Rangel continues to argue that conscription would force privileged Americans to share the burden of military service now disproportionately
carried by the poor and minorities. He also asserts that future wars would be made less likely by reintroduction of the draft.
Both arguments are wrong. Conscription has never made the Armed Services more equitable, racially or economically. During the Vietnam war, minority
draftees disproportionately served on the front lines. The affluent had, and still have, the means to gain medical deferments, or to secure soft, safe positions. If Rep. Rangel and other pro-draft "progressives" really wanted to fix social and racial inequities, they'd be advocating for jobs, education, and opportunity, not equal-opportunity warmaking. More broadly,
it's not "fair" to people of color and the poor to let the government draft the bodies it requires to wage endless wars -- wars that steal money from education, health, and other programs people need.
The draft has never acted as a deterrent to war. While the draft was in effect, the U.S. began numerous wars. In fact, during World War I, the
reason for the instatement of the draft was to ensure a steady flow of soldiers into the battlefield -- just as it would be in Iraq.
Former national security advisers Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski recently estimated that the US requires 500,000 troops, and reinstatement of the draft, in order to sustain the war in Iraq. (LA Times, Jan. 8, 2005). Bush's aggressive foreign policy desperately needs the "boots on the
ground" that only a draft can supply. At best, Rangel's bill merely plays into Bush's hands. At worst, it's a stealth measure intended to supply "progressive" political cover for pro-draft Democrats.
The task ofthe antiwar movement is to deny bodies to the war machine, not hand them over on the silver platter of a bogus "progressive" rationale for conscription.
Please contact Rangel's office as soon as possible and let him know that we will not tolerate reintroduction of the draft:
Washington DC Office
2354 Rayburn House
Washington, DC 20515
New York Office
163 W. 125th Street #737
New York, NY 10027
People Against the Draft