We Are Agents Of The Free
June 1, 2004 7:02 AM   Subscribe

Be All That You Can Be. Draft legislation - Coming soon, to a real world near you!
posted by armoured-ant (62 comments total)
Hope for it, if you're anti-war. Nothing, but nothing, makes people pay attention more than the likelihood of getting shoved into uniform and sent off to get shot at.

The very large and extensive American anti-war movement (not to mention the counter-culture in general) went poof and evaporated during the Nixon presidency because Dick ended the draft, which nullified most of the energy the movement was running on.
posted by jfuller at 7:14 AM on June 1, 2004

I'm gay and I'm too old, so personally this doesn't make me nervous,
but I'll look forward to seeing the Bush daughters put in their service.
posted by troybob at 7:14 AM on June 1, 2004

This is not something that many of usdo not know about. My intrest--thanks for the post--is what position Kerry has on this. We have a draft only during wartime. Now we are "at war with terrorism." That is a war that has no end marker and thus a draft can go on forever. This time, exemptions will most likely go only to sons and daughters of those in Congress.
posted by Postroad at 7:16 AM on June 1, 2004

I've heard that the draft is coming to America, from many sources. This is so shocking to me I don't really know what to say. Unless I've got completely the wrong idea about how people think in the world, I'd expect this scheme to be doomed to failure, probably with massive civil unrest. Somebody reassure me please?

if Rumsfeld's prediction of a "long, hard slog" in Iraq and Afghanistan proves accurate, the U.S. may have no choice but to draft.

There's another option for the government: fuck off home and watch some 'Nam movies. While you're at it, develop the slightest inkling of respect for humanity.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 7:19 AM on June 1, 2004

posted by chipr at 7:21 AM on June 1, 2004

How hilarious. HR 163, the so-called legislation "quietly" entered in order to pave the way for the draft, is actually legislation introduced by Representative Charles Rangel of New York back in January 2003. Rangel, one of the most liberal members of congress, was trying to make a point that the enlisted military is disproportionally made up of lower-income, minority members. He thought that if we're going to go to war, it should require sacrifice of everyone.

S89 is the companion bill introduced in the Senate by Senator Hollings. Neither of these bills had any desire to actually institute the draft. Indeed, the drafters are not in favor of military action to begin with.

But please, continue believing everything you read.
posted by pardonyou? at 7:23 AM on June 1, 2004

(I see chipr beat me to the point, although I have to say that I didn't get my info from Snopes. I looked up the bills themselves at congress.gov)
posted by pardonyou? at 7:24 AM on June 1, 2004

You people scared me. I'm telling.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 7:26 AM on June 1, 2004

what position Kerry has on this

According to his campaigning:

Asked by a student if he believed the military draft would be resumed, Kerry said to sustained applause and cheers, "If you elect me president ... I will give us a foreign policy that absolutely makes it unnecessary to have a draft. What's happened right now ... is George Bush is running a kind of clandestine draft," Kerry added. "Because he has turned the National Guard and the Reserves into almost active duty." [source]

Kerry also said he doesn’t believe there is a need to reinstate the draft, a source of conflict during the Vietnam War. [source]

But on the other hand, compare this speech by Kerry in which he proposes a "Civilian Stability Corps."

Cf. stopthedraft.com.
posted by Zurishaddai at 7:30 AM on June 1, 2004

This page says,

Please don't bring up Rangel and Hollings bills in this thread. These are irrelevant bills that will never be passed. What is real is that this summer Bush is reducing DRAFT ACTIVATION time by having the SSS conduct NATIONWIDE EXERCISES to test the whole system, even to the point of filling all DRAFT BOARD vacancies and gearing up the Alternative Service for COs for the first time in three decades. http://www.sss.gov/perfplan_fy2004.html

But I don't know enough to say that anything is actually amiss in the performance plan.
posted by Zurishaddai at 7:33 AM on June 1, 2004

I'll look forward to seeing the Bush daughters put in their service.

silly wabbit! everyone knows the rich are exempt!
posted by quonsar at 8:08 AM on June 1, 2004

Thanks for the information on the Kerry position. Now hear this: how many bases (known and listed--there are others) are there worldwide? How many troops are stationed at these bases? A draft is not need for Afghanistan or Iraq if we transferred already trained military from such places as Japan and German (the obvious spots), where they are stationed to protect us and the world from ???????
posted by Postroad at 8:15 AM on June 1, 2004

Also discussed here.
posted by ben-o at 8:23 AM on June 1, 2004

Currently we have an army of "volunteers." In peacetime, that tends to mean an army of the poor -- those who see the military as the way out of their current poverty: inner-city blacks and hispanics, rural-poor whites (I know there are those who will claim this is not the case because they themselves are military of non-poor background; to them, I would say, look around you).

The draft is the only way to be egalitarian about who is in the military: sure, the top 1% will never have to go, because Daddy Warbucks can pay off the board. But the vast middle class and the even vaster those-who-consider-themselves-middle class will finally have to consider military service.

The draft forces all of us to think about the war on the personal level that the poor have been thinking about it. The draft helps middle- and upper-class families realize that the standing army we keep isn't made up of bloodthirsty volunteers, but of those who simply need a job. The draft helps galvanize those who don't want to lose their sons (and now daughters?) and who have the clout (money, votes, education) to do something about it. The draft helps us because it brings the war, or the fear of war, home to each and every one of us.

The USA should never enter a war that it isn't willing to institute a draft for, at the outset. It would give politicians pause to know that their constituencies might not return them to power, if they present carefully folded flags to too many sobbing voters. It would give voters pause at the ballot box if they knew we were all in it, together. It would give our own hawkish urges pause to know that black lace curtains might be drawn in all our neighborhoods, not just in those where fighting and dying in a foreign land represents a better future than exists at home.
posted by dfowler at 8:43 AM on June 1, 2004

If they're allocating more money to Selective Service, and filling long-vacant/previously non-existent positions, it's definitely going to happen. This is just another reason why Bush has to be gone (and my previous offer of claiming to be anyone's lover to get them out of this still stands).

Also, what are they going to do about women? They've never had to register, like all of us boys did.
posted by amberglow at 8:49 AM on June 1, 2004

Katha Pollitt: "If we want a society that is equal, cohesive, fair and war-resistant, let's fight for that, not punish our children for what we have allowed America to become."
posted by muckster at 8:53 AM on June 1, 2004

yet another reason why we need robot peace-keepers
posted by leotrotsky at 8:55 AM on June 1, 2004

I doubt being gay will save you.... If it would, Im gay. Really gay. my girlfriend said she would break my leg if they try to take me. I doubt that'd work either.

Ive heard rumors that Canada has already agreed to close its borders should we rev up the draft. Can anyone confirm/deny?
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 9:05 AM on June 1, 2004

I think you should all vote for Bush. With the reintroduction of the draft, he'll have solved the US unemployment problem, the poor problem, and the outsourcing problem. Fabulous!
posted by dayvin at 9:09 AM on June 1, 2004

I'll look forward to seeing the Bush daughters put in their service
In the USA Women have been drafted?
posted by thomcatspike at 9:24 AM on June 1, 2004

I don't think that supporting the draft in the hope of it making people think twice about war is any better of an idea than supporting the stockpiling of nuclear weapons for the same reason.

dfowler, i acknowledge that for many people, joining the military is an alternative to working at McDonald's (paraphrasing a line from West Wing). But to me, the fact that a choice, however desparate, is still being made, is very significant. Our armed forces are not volunteer, they are professional. I like the idea of being "defended" by a professional army much more than I like the idea of being "defended" by an army of people who have no desire to be soldiers. Here's an idea: let's keep the pool of soldier's lives to waste in Iraq relatively small, and let that be an incentive to the powers that be to pull out.
posted by bingo at 9:26 AM on June 1, 2004

posted by dagny at 9:29 AM on June 1, 2004

I'd go for a law mandating that all lawmakers have to send their children to serve in any and all military adventures they vote for.
posted by amberglow at 9:31 AM on June 1, 2004

In the USA Women have been drafted?
From the article:
"to provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons [age 18--26] in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes."

hmmm, 22,420 people whom are to fill the slots...that'll put a large dent in the unemployment rate.
posted by jmd82 at 9:33 AM on June 1, 2004

dfowler, you rock.
posted by beth at 9:33 AM on June 1, 2004

Rangel is right and Pollit is wrong--when she says, "Abolishing the draft was a tremendous victory for the antiwar movement," what she was really saying is: "Whew, we can go back to grad school." The best thing about a draft, loopholes and all, is that it would a)break up self-sustaining victimhood/righteousness of military community (witness, eg., Specialist Darby's inability to go home) and would b) make it harder to go to war/make anti-war movement a much more serious business than the public theater/excuse to trot out old socialists I saw when I marched last spring. As Dr. Johnson said, "Nothing so focuses a man's mind than the knowledge he'll be hanged in a fortnight." And, btw, every time I hear a smug, upper-class journalist/academic/professional tell me they're "so glad you sacrificed...," I feel like lacing up my jungle boots just to kick them in the ass. Honestly, people: we KNOW you're lying. If you really wanted to sacrifice, you'd go work with AIDS patients in Africa, or on a Greenpeace boat, or as a 2nd grade teacher in inner-city Houston. It's no credit to patronize those of us who served.

As part of draft legislation, however, we should add Smedley Butler's "Peace Amendment" to US Constitution, making it illegal to earn a profit on supplying US military && for all heads of corporations supplying US military, as well as all members of US government, to earn pay rate equal to pay rate in US military.

Full draft, shared sacrifice, no profit -- that'll put a crimp in most unjustified wars.
posted by minnesotaj at 9:35 AM on June 1, 2004

so whatdoihavetodo to convince the drafters that im gay?
posted by Satapher at 9:43 AM on June 1, 2004

>that'll put a crimp in most unjustified wars.

No it won't. The educated will test into non-front line jobs, the cronyism (something that will never go away, sorry) means that certain people will get nice deferments and the poor and the uneducated will be eating shrapnel.

If you can't stop illegitimate wars then I'd say there's something wrong with your government that no draft can fix.

Yes, the link is wrong, but Bush is running selective service up to full capacity for when he and the other chickenhawks declare war on the next "WMD hoarder."

Afterall, we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.


Vote Bush at your own peril. If a draft does come, I wonder if I can press charges, as a civilian, against Bush voters lying about their "conditions" to get out of it. Or at the very least expose them. We're all riding that cargo plane to Baghdad together!
posted by skallas at 9:44 AM on June 1, 2004


I agree, and in this case, it is too late for what I proposed:

The idea is, that were there a stipulation that war could not be declared without a draft, people (in power) would think twice about it. They would be more likely to ask their constituencies, or their mothers, or their consciences, or whatever.

I mean to say that it is easy for the elite powerful to send fighting men and women into another country when they don't see war's effects on the homefront. And the homefront in this war isn't, by and large, suburbia, or McMansion row. The homefront is Lenox Ave., or Rt. 1, or Crenshaw. And, while electioneering may take them into the 'hood or the holler to kiss babies, pols' interest in "the community" can be tracked by their voting records.

With a universal draft, the homefront shifts to all of us. It's too late now; the draft will never happen because the middle-class majority will never let the homefront shift. But if we were required to have a draft to go to war in the first place, we would only go to war for truly just cause.

If war depended on the draft, diplomacy would win the day.
posted by dfowler at 9:50 AM on June 1, 2004

>If war depended on the draft, diplomacy would win the day

Like it did in Vietnam? No, it just gave McNamara more warm bodies to play with the same way a current draft would give the PNAC crowd more warm bodies to catch shrapnel.

Talk about idealism, if you truly believe the draft is "empowering" than the lessons of history are lost on you.

I also believe McNamara is quoted as saying (could be wrong cant remember source) that the draft allowed them to keep the Vietnam war going for so long.

Not to mention this line of reasoning means the serfdom is empowering (it would stop corporate abuse as we all worked for BigCo with no rights), slavery is good for the economy (BigCo could lower its wages), etc.
posted by skallas at 10:16 AM on June 1, 2004

what if you tell them that youve taken your body weight in psychedelics?
posted by Satapher at 10:16 AM on June 1, 2004

I'd like to mention that the armed forces are not made up of the poor and (dfowler seems to intimate) uneducated.

I'll bring up West Point, and the numerous ROTC programs at colleges and universities that feed the military with professional people who are educated, and typically not poor, inner-city kids trying to escape the perils of their crack-filled homes.

While there are people who join the armed forces because it's better than the life they have and they get three squares a day, I'd be careful about characterizing the various services as made up of that majority.

People do join the military (as they do the police, FBI, and government) for reasons other than the money (because we know you won't get rich on a Major's salary).
posted by rich at 10:54 AM on June 1, 2004

I'm sorry, this doesn't make sense at all... There is a larger opposition to this war in the US right now than there was against the Vietnam war (until maybe the late sixties or early seventies), yet this administration would want to make sure that there is absolute rage among a large majority of the US population by reinstating the draft? Why would they do that? They're nuts but they aren't a self-destructive kind of nuts... I don't think it's going to happen.

But if it does, I will certainly show up for the inauguration of president Chomsky...

Apparently the Pentagon can't seem to kill the idea of a military draft.
posted by talos at 10:57 AM on June 1, 2004

Every once in awhile I come across a post that makes me reevaluate a long held stance.

Thanks, dfowler.
posted by cedar at 11:01 AM on June 1, 2004

May 30th's discussion
posted by thomcatspike at 11:05 AM on June 1, 2004


With all due respect, I don't think you understand my premise: If, prior to the declaration of war or the sending of troops/military advisors into a conflict, the C-in-C and his decisionmakers knew that they were required to institute a draft, then war would be unlikely.

I am not advocating a draft at this point in the conflict. The Viet Nam draft, just like the current proposal, does not fit with my premise, either. The USA had men on the ground there long before any were drafted, and the draft was a respose to a quagmire our foot had already sunk deep into.

You are right about what you say. You are wrong, however, about what I said. "Empowering" [your quotes] was not a word I used, and is the fulcrum of your argument. "This line of reasoning" is a line I never took. I join you in deploring serfdom, slavery, McNamara, the Viet Nam draft, and the current draft proposal. I would even join you in kicking the man who held that "line," were he not made of straw.
posted by dfowler at 11:07 AM on June 1, 2004

arrggg...sorry, my link above was meant for the thread, not a specific comment.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:08 AM on June 1, 2004

Snopes only says that it's "probably not" true, and doesn't cite any sources either.

On a related note: I've been given to understand that using narcotics more than 3 times in your entire life makes you undesirable to the military. That sounds awfully low. Also, the last time around college was grounds for deferment, so that if you can afford to go on with your studies indefinitely you're pretty safe. Ask Dick Cheney... he entered a graduate program in order to get such a deferment and quit the program after obtaining it.
posted by clevershark at 11:15 AM on June 1, 2004

dfowler: I don't really disagree with you idealogically, but I think that what you suggest would be impractical, even if it was already in place during peacetime.

Surely, sometimes a military action is warranted, but can be pulled off without forcibly increasing the size of the military. In such cases, forcing a draft is only going to cost billions of tax dollars and waste a lot of people's time. It's not as if, in peacetime, we have exactly as many people in the military as we need. We have more. We have to, just in case something happens that makes a larger military necessary (actually necessary, like being invaded).

We could recursively argue about the definiton of "war," but I think that is something that the people in power will always shape to their own ends. If we say that once X number of troops gets committed, it's a war, and that a war must bring a draft, then a hawkish administration would go ahead and commit the troops, throwing up their hands at the doves and saying, "Well, it's not our fault; we are obliged to commit X troops to this situation in order to protect freedom, and if the law says that a draft has to follow, then there's nothing we can do about it." Meanwhile, we've started training replacement soldiers.
posted by bingo at 11:32 AM on June 1, 2004

A draft would force people to kill and to risk death for a political cause they may not support. I don't care about military demographics - there's just no way to defend that fact. Nobody today is literally forced into the armed services - there is always a considerable and essential element of choice.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 11:42 AM on June 1, 2004


I agree that military actions are sometimes warranted. "Interventions," "missions," these are always performed with the approval of, and usually with the assistance of, the international community, UN, NATO, &c. But when I say "war," I mean a formal declaration of war by the C-in-C against another sovereign nation.

Yes, this is a "definitions" argument, but it's an argument with basis in the wording of our Constitution.

The idea that a draft must accompany a formal declaration of war would encourage diplomacy. In some cases, it would encourage a diplomatic cessation of hostilities. In others, it would encourage diplomatic construction of multinational coalitions to engage in military intervention for the good of the international community. In either case, the best interests of the USA would be protected: our allies would remain our allies; our enemies would not remain our enemies; our soldiers would be deployed in smaller numbers and with more support; most importantly, our nation would be seen by those within and without as once again seeking truth and justice: the American Way.

And who knows: if American youth knew that by enlisting they would only be called upon to fight in the name of justice, maybe our standing military would represent a cross-section af the whole America, not just those at the bottom.

...and rich,

West Point and ROTC programs train officers. The poor enlist. It's true.
posted by dfowler at 12:15 PM on June 1, 2004

The USA should never enter a war that it isn't willing to institute a draft for...

Bull. The USA should never enter a war that its citizens don't support - ie, no volunteers. In other words, if it is a just war, for a righteous cause, then the number of volunteers should be enough able to handle it. If it is an UNJUST war, then there will NOT be enough volunteers. Ideally, anyway.

A military draft is wrong - morally, philosophically, militarily, practically, economically.
posted by davidmsc at 12:21 PM on June 1, 2004

There weren't enough volunteers to fight Hitler and Tojo.

But there were once the USA instituted a draft.

Was that an UNJUST war, with NOT enough volunteers?
posted by dfowler at 12:25 PM on June 1, 2004

Spread the word. Even some diehard Republicans won't be able to take this.

Still, I wonder how the administration'll play this after the next terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

(In most Americans' mind, there isn't a difference between the war in Iraq and the neglected war against terrorism. )


Fleet Week was in New York recently. These soldiers were so young. Kids.

I think it was Powell's chief of staff who said it best, about "people who have never been in the face of battle making cavalier decisions about sending men and women out to die."
posted by Dukebloo at 12:32 PM on June 1, 2004

Damnation! I think I just undermined my whole point by responding to that troll.

It was so nice, back when I thought before I typed. Now, I'm just like the rest of us.

I loved you once, MeFi. Alas, the bloom is off the rose.
posted by dfowler at 12:36 PM on June 1, 2004

What troll, dfowler?
posted by LittleMissCranky at 12:39 PM on June 1, 2004

The one who started with "Bull" and ended with "ideally, anyway," shouted twice, and got me to undermine my argument by supporting a post-declaration draft.

I wish I was little again and didn't have a care in the world. Hopscotch, fireworks, fireflies, and the beautiful Alison adding the element of magic to my ninth summer....
posted by dfowler at 12:44 PM on June 1, 2004

Do draftees still have to make the military oath of allegiance when signing up? What if they refuse?

I googled and got the following as the military oath: " I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.''
posted by biffa at 1:01 PM on June 1, 2004

dfowler: "...when I say "war," I mean a formal declaration of war by the C-in-C against another sovereign nation...Yes, this is a "definitions" argument, but it's an argument with basis in the wording of our Constitution.

The C-in-C doesn't declare war; Congress does (Article I). And it hasn't happened since they declared war on Romania in 1942.
posted by bingo at 1:06 PM on June 1, 2004

Anyone who's taken that oath ought to be looking toward Washington DC to find some real domestic enemies of the Constitution, eh what?
posted by zoogleplex at 1:28 PM on June 1, 2004

forcing a draft is only going to cost billions of tax dollars and waste a lot of people's time.

War itself costs billions of dollars and wastes a lot of people's time. Just how expensive and complex a draft process are you imagining?
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:30 PM on June 1, 2004

Mars: Sure, and I guess if I thought that dfowler's suggestions really would prevent needless wars, then I would agree that wasting the money on drafting soldiers who will not fight would certainly be the lesser of two evils vs. spending the money and the lives of the soldiers on an unjust war. But, as discussed above, I don't think it would work. The fact that a proposed solution would cost less money than the problem itself does not mean that said solution is going to prevent the problem.
posted by bingo at 1:45 PM on June 1, 2004

Spread the word. Even some diehard Republicans won't be able to take this.

HR 163 and S 89, both introduced in January of 2003 (before the Iraq war began), have nothing to do with current events or plans of the current administration. In fact, H.R 163 was introduced by Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), and S. 89 was introduced by Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-SC). Aren't those D's after those names up there? I believe they are.

Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA), a co-sponsor of H.R. 163, stated his reasons for co-sponsoring the bill.
Reinstituting the draft may seem unnecessary to some. But, it will ensure all Americans share in the cost and sacrifice of war. Without a universal draft, this burden weighs disproportionately on the shoulders of the poor the disadvantaged and minority populations.

It is my understanding that out of the 435 Members of this House and the 100 members of the Senate, only one -- only one -- has a child in active military service. Who are we to know the pain of war when we ourselves will not directly bear the brunt of that action? It won’t be us mourning the loss of a child or loved one. Maybe some of you in this Congress would think twice about voting for war in Iraq if you knew your child may be sent to fight in the streets of Baghdad?
posted by David Dark at 1:49 PM on June 1, 2004

Ok guys. let's try this again.

posted by glenwood at 2:07 PM on June 1, 2004

Glenwood, that is well argued OPINION from Snopes. Not fact. It is there opinion that it is unlikely. Just because Snopes is authoritative on some matters does not mean that their opinions should be considered discussion-enders.
posted by chaz at 2:33 PM on June 1, 2004

Maybe some of you in this Congress would think twice about voting for war in Iraq if you knew your child may be sent to fight in the streets of Baghdad?

Yep. And maybe some of our chickenhawk war supporters would have been less in gung-ho favor of the war if they knew they would go to Iraq, then....or now.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 4:22 PM on June 1, 2004

Or not.
posted by David Dark at 4:41 PM on June 1, 2004

No troll I...simply asserting a moral point. A draft is immoral -- it is, quite literally, slavery. Or, fancied up, "indentured servitude." A draft means that your life, your body, are literally owned by the state -- and therefore wrong no matter how you slice it.
posted by davidmsc at 5:17 PM on June 1, 2004

then don't go to fucking war
posted by mr.marx at 7:45 PM on June 1, 2004

Read for content... "or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes"

So you still have options if you don't want to be cannon fodder. You could be guarding the airports (funny how no National Guard personnel are doing that now) or fueling airplanes.

Personally I'm all for it.
posted by calwatch at 9:45 PM on June 1, 2004

I think the bills and hype are basically election year politicking.
posted by rudyfink at 12:27 AM on June 2, 2004

USA Today: Army extends duty for soldiers.

So-called stop-loss orders can add weeks or months to the tours of soldiers otherwise eligible to leave the Army. In rare cases, the policy could extend soldiers' time in the Army by as long as 18 months past the end of their voluntary enlistments.

The move is further evidence of the difficulty the Pentagon has in fielding enough troops to fight al-Qaeda forces in Afghanistan and the stubborn insurgency in Iraq. The rules will affect deployments for the foreseeable future.

This makes the draft seem more likely to happen.
posted by letitrain at 10:03 PM on June 2, 2004

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