Military draft talk irrelevant

Military draft talk irrelevant
November 25th, 2006  
Team Infidel

Topic: Military draft talk irrelevant

Military draft talk irrelevant

Mercury News Editorial

Nobody really wants to bring back the draft. Generals don't want unwilling conscripts in place of volunteers. Republican and Democratic leaders see the idea as political poison. Even Rep. Charles Rangel, who says he'll introduce a draft bill in the new Congress, voted against his own draft bill in 2003; it went down in a 402-2 vote.
Yet bringing back the draft -- or threatening to bring back the draft -- is again on the radar screen.
On CBS's ``Face the Nation'' earlier this month, Rangel, a New York Democrat, said he's serious about compelling Americans to serve for ``a couple of years'' in the military or in a civilian job that protects national security.
``This president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq . . . 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,'' said Rangel, a Korean War veteran.
The logic seems to be: Instead of a highly trained, very effective military, create a short-term, ineffective military that can't be used.
It's certainly true that some young Americans are volunteering for the risks of military service while others enjoy all the opportunities an affluent society provides while bearing no burden at all.
Some proponents of universal service dream of bringing back the shared sacrifice of earlier eras. But no conscription plan can do that. It's a different time, a different struggle and a military with different needs.
Despite the strain of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, the armed services met their 2006 recruiting goals.
Though Rangel complains minorities and lower-income families bear most of the burden of war, Pentagon data tells a different story, concludes a Heritage Foundation report issued in October.
``Wartime recruits'' who enlisted in 2003-05 ``came primarily from middle-class areas,'' writes Tim Kane. Only 13.7 percent of recruits come from families in the bottom 20 percent of the population in earnings. The poor are much less likely to pass qualifying tests for enlistment.
Among new recruits, whites and blacks are represented in rough proportion to their share of the population.
``With regard to income, education, race, and regional background, the all-volunteer force is representative of our nation,'' Kane writes. Furthermore, recruit quality as measured by high school diplomas and test scores ``is increasing as the war in Iraq continues.''
On a practical level, universal service would be a massive boondoggle. Rangel's 2003 draft bill called for inducting all young people 18 to 26 years old living in the United States -- citizens or not -- for two years. Even if the plan were scaled back to include only 18- and 19-year-old citizens, the government would spend billions of dollars to screen, train, house and pay millions of people. To do what? The armed services have no use for most of them. Either they'd displace current workers or they'd be assigned to jobs that have been left unfilled because they're not worth paying much for.
In running for office, Congress members have volunteered to make critical decisions, such as when to vote funds for military operations and when to say ``no.'' Talk of the draft is a distraction from their responsibility to decide how to use the military we've got.

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