Jewish World Review Jan. 2, 2003 / 28 Teves 5763
Feeling a 'draft,' but not much
Greetings, young'ns. Uncle Charlie wants you.
Yes, Rep. Charles B. Rangel, a New York Democrat and Korean War veteran, who voted against President Bush's Iraq war powers resolution, has announced plans to introduce a bill to reinstate the military draft.
But cheer up, kids. The Bush administration has assured us that they would rather eat old Al Gore-Joe Lieberman bumper stickers than bring back the draft and, inevitably, huge waves of anti-draft demonstrations.
For example, when CNN's Larry King asked in mid-December whether there might be a draft, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld responded, "Absolutely not. Absolutely not. No!"
Gee, tell us what you really think, Rummie.
Pointing out that he helped sponsor volunteer army legislation as a congressman in the 1960s, Rumsfeld said, "We've got people serving because they want to serve, because they care about the country. And this is a calling. Understand the importance of this calling."
Understood. Today's military wants well-educated, highly trained and deeply committed technicians to run its high-tech gadgets and to stick around for more than the two-year maximum that Uncle Sam requires of draftees.
So why does Rangel want to bring back the draft? He wants to make a political point. As he explained on CNN Sunday (Dec. 29), we Americans have gotten "too cavalier" about using our military to enforce our foreign policy.
"I think if we (members of Congress) went home and found out that there were families concerned about their kids going off to war, there would be more cautiousness and a more willingness to work with the international community than to say, 'Our way or the highway.'"
He's right. Without a draft, we Americans feel a lot less involved in our wars than we used to. Beirut, Grenada, Panama, the first Persian Gulf war and Afghanistan have scrolled across the background of our lives as just another TV show between "The Bachelor," "American Idol" and reruns of "The Sopranos."
With most Americans looking the other way, as Rangel suggests, the unilateralist hawks who want the United States to go it alone in imposing our policies around the world have too easy of a time getting what they want.
In offsetting the unilateralists, we can thank the multilateralists like Secretary of State Colin Powell for Bush's decision to seek support from the United Nations and NATO before taking any military action against Iraq. If we do go to war, we should do it with the rest of the world's support.
It is easy to understand why Rangel would think the return of the draft would make his fellow members of Congress think a little longer and harder before they send any of our nation's sons and daughters into harm's way.
Ask your parents, your children. Or your grandparents. Nothing took the steam out of the anti-war movement as rapidly and completely as the birth of the all-volunteer army.
Yup, the return of the draft certainly would turn congressional trips home into a far more bracing experience.
Which is precisely why it is not likely to happen.
Besides, the experience of previous drafts indicates that the sacrifice would most likely not be spread very evenly. Kids with money, power and connections inevitably find ways to get out of drafts that snatch up the rest of us.
Besides, this is a different era for Americans. Whether we realize it or not, we all were drafted on 9-11-01.
When foreign intruders invaded mainland America for the first time since the War of 1812 and took thousands of casualties, every American was drafted.
When terrorists are attacking American missionaries, embassy workers and others here and abroad simply for being Americans, we all have been drafted.
Suddenly, after generations of going to wars elsewhere, war came to us. As Americans under fire, we all have a wartime obligation to pay attention, pitch in and make sacrifices, if only to save our own hides.
Unfortunately, the Bush administration, eager to please voters in an era of feel-good politics, has been reluctant to ask for sacrifices other than, say, some of our privacy rights and civil liberties.
Our gas guzzlers burn more gasoline than they have since the oil shock of the early '70s. Yet the administration that has oil industry veterans for President, Vice President and National Security Adviser has given remarkably little attention to our nation's continued dependency on foreign oil, other than to propose drilling for more in Alaska's wildlife regions.
An administration that does not ask Americans to sacrifice muscle cars and SUVs is not likely to ask us to give up our young people to a military draft.
But I appreciate Rangel's efforts to raise the right questions. Someday Bush might give us some answers.
Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Comment on JWR contributor Clarence Page's column by clicking here.
12/17/02: To rob a burning cross of its power
12/03/02: Closing black-white test-score gaps
11/19/02: Uncle Same wants your data
11/15/02: Marriage vs. 'player' impulse
11/11/02: How Oz can help the Dems
11/05/02: We reserve right to be complicated
10/22/02: What the pro-gun lobby and anti-gun lobby have in common
10/18/02: Take Sharpton seriously? For Prez??
10/15/02: A beauty and the bullies
10/08/02: Time to start 'fingerprinting' bullets
10/08/02: Poet laureate hater fell for Internet hoax
10/04/02: Keeping it real, despite howls from black 'leaders'
10/01/02: Revisiting the 'Jogger' horror
09/27/02: Sometimes freedom is a necessary nuisance
09/13/02: Foil Fidel with free trade
09/10/02: Measuring the myth of 'super weed'
09/06/02: A year later: A reality-check
09/03/02: Make better choices before some jury somewhere does
08/20/02: Bid farewell to the Cigarette Century
08/16/02: Rights matter, even in circus trials
08/09/02: Jousting with Rumsfeld's fog of wit
08/06/02: Covert action is cool again
08/01/02: Powell's premature obituaries
07/30/02: A common sense tip on internal snooping
07/18/02: Jacko plays race card badly
07/12/02: Last flight for a pioneer airman
07/08/02: Dems will miss Watts, too
06/28/02: 'Supreme Court reads polls, too
06/25/02: 'The Body' bites, then bows out
06/21/02: Punishment first, then the crime?
06/18/02: Reporting still risky for Haiti's press
06/14/02: Bush's security plan leaves large gaps
06/04/02: Fix FBI's culture gap first
05/28/02: Fidel's new apartheid for tourists
05/21/02: Now McKinney's lunacy sounds like the Democratic Party line
05/19/02: A paradox of historical proportions
05/14/02: 'Murphy Brown' revisited in age of Ozzy
05/10/02: America looks like a model of tolerance and inclusion
05/07/02: Forget it, Bill, you're no Oprah
04/26/02: Mapping out ethnic and racial change
04/23/02: A game of another color
04/19/02: It's high time to open up pot-law debate
04/11/02: 'Osbourne' family values rock, aging Ozzy quakes
03/22/02: Zimbabwe election leaves world sleepless
03/19/02: A slur? Where is thy sting?
03/15/02: A Pearl of wisdom for reporter's unborn son
03/12/02: Army race and gender policies on trial
03/08/02: A short list of losers to be left behind
03/05/02: Revenge of the 'mediasaurus'
02/26/02: Jihads aren't just for Muslims
02/26/02: It's hard to be 'objective' during wartime
02/19/02: Hollywood's new villain: Your HMO
02/12/02: Father of 'Manchild' leaves lasting message
02/08/02: $nookering the reparations crowd
01/31/02: Prisoners of a War of Words
01/29/02: One more Enron woe: Al Sharpton & company
01/25/02: Searching for slaves in bin Laden's attic
01/22/02: Andrew Young's newest 'friend'
01/08/02: Hard-earned lessons from 9-11
12/18/01: Whatever happened to questions about the birds and the bees?
12/14/01: The "White Negro" Taliban?
12/07/01: Jackson's turn to gloat
11/27/01: Friendly warning from a lover of liberty
11/21/01: The face of hunger is changing
11/15/01: Our troubled sense of trust
11/08/01: Lessons about terror from the 'hood
11/06/01: Getting used to the 'new normal'
11/02/01: Wicked ways to make them talk
10/30/01: It's not just about bin Laden
10/26/01: More than mail fell between the cracks
10/23/01: Terrorists threaten urban recovery, too
10/18/01: Sometimes, assassination warranted
10/15/01: Self-censorship rises again
10/12/01: Contradictions illustrate the complicated nature of the new terrorism
10/05/01: Look who's 'profiling' now
10/01/01: Don't trash liberty to save it
09/28/01: Life, love and cell phones during wartime
09/24/01: How to catch an elusive terrorist
09/21/01: The war I was waiting for
09/17/01: When rage turns to hate
09/13/01: Terror attack tests US, let's give right response
09/06/01: U.S. should have stayed and argued
09/04/01: Columbine killer's parents get upclose and personal
08/31/01: Virtual kids? Log me out
08/28/01: Two Africans, one black, one white, same fight
08/23/01: Sharpton for president
08/20/01: Shaking up the rules on keeping secrets
08/16/01: Bush's u-turn on racial goals
08/09/01: Outsider Bubba comes 'in' again
08/06/01: Not ready for 'color-blindness' yet
08/02/01: Immigration timing couldn't be better
07/26/01: Summer of Chandra: An international traveler's perspective
07/17/01: Overthrowing a régime is only the beginning
07/10/01: Big Brother is watching you, fining you
07/05/01: Can blacks be patriotic? Should they be?
06/19/01: Get 'real' about marriage
06/12/01: Amos, Andy and Tony Soprano
06/07/01: Getting tough with the Bush Twins
06/05/01: Bringing marriage back into fashion
05/31/01: "Ken" and "Johnnie": The odd-couple legal team
05/24/01: Sharpton's challenge to Jackson
05/22/01: Test scores equal (a) MERIT? (b) MENACE? (c) ALL OF ABOVE?
05/17/01: Anti-pot politics squeeze the ill
05/15/01: Was Babe Ruth black?
05/10/01: U.N.'s torture caucus slaps Uncle Sam
05/08/01: 'The Sopranos' a reflection of our times
05/03/01: 'Free-fire' zones, then and now
05/01/01: War on drugs misfires against students
04/26/01: Another athlete gets foot-in-mouth disease
04/23/01: 'Slave' boat mystery reveals real tragedy
04/19/01: McVeigh's execution show
04/12/01: Not this time, Jesse
04/05/01: Dubya is DEFINITELY his own man, you fools!
04/02/01: Milking MLK
03/29/01: The candidate who censored himself?
03/22/01: "Will Hispanics elbow blacks out of the way as the nation's most prominent minority group?"
03/19/01: Blacks and the SATs
03/15/01: The census: How much race still matters in the everyday life of America
03/12/01: Jesse is a victim!
03/08/01: Saving kids from becoming killers
03/01/01: Parents owe "Puffy" and Eminem our thanks
© 2001 TMS