Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has been trying to reinstate the draft for almost four years. In light of the Democrats’ retaking of Congress, he decided to revive his draft bill.
[Link] After touching off a firestorm by calling for a new military draft, Harlem Rep. Charles Rangel said Monday that what he wants foremost are answers to whether and why more troops are needed in Iraq.
The congressman insisted that his push for reviving a military draft wasn’t just a political pot stirrer. He told an audience at Baruch College that his primary objective in calling for the draft was to ask frank questions about the basis and objective of the war.
Rangel’s rationale is bullshit. He’s not the only anti-war member of Congress; plenty of others have had little trouble asking difficult questions without calling for a draft. What he really wants is the equal sharing of misery. He talks of equality and says “everyone should share in the sacrifice.” One is left to wonder if he also thinks the best way to combat rape is for the government to hire women to rape a number of men equal to the number of female rape victims.
During one of the earlier incarnations of the draft bill, Stentor wrote that, “What’s being proposed is essentially to put a gun to Jenna and Barbara’s heads in order to change George’s mind, to have the military hold them hostage with a peaceful foreign policy as the ransom. It’s putting a gun to my head, making me and other draftable doves collateral damage.”
And it won’t work. There was a draft in Vietnam; George W. Bush still managed to get out. There is a draft in Israel, with virtually no possibility of conscientous objection; it’s a trivial matter for the powerful to get their kids out or to ensure they serve in support positions.
Two years ago, Rangel was dismissable as a lightweight. Now that he’s the incoming chair of Ways and Means, one of the two most powerful Congressional committees, he has far more power than is healthy for the average 18-year-old who lives in the US.
I didn’t intend to write about this, but this is another example of the means of totalitarianism. By itself, the draft isn’t totalitarian. Sweden is a perfectly democratic country with conscription. However, it’s easier for a totalitarian state to wage global wars when it has a draft than when it has to deal with people who don’t think dying for the leader’s ego is their purpose in life.
Rangel says that the draft should be discussed as a means of increasing troop levels in Iraq. But that’s an exceptionally narrow view of things; for a start, it makes a war on Iran more likely. Rangel’s idea that a draft will make wars of aggression unpalatable doesn’t agree with the available evidence, but the contrary idea that dwindling troop levels will make wars of aggression impossible does.
After the 2004 election, Ezra noted that young Americans rarely vote because politicians continually screw them. He discussed campaigns against pop culture, police harassment, and the draft as three different things that depress the youth vote. It makes sense: fear-based campaigns don’t work – they didn’t work for Kerry on abortion, and they didn’t work in Virginia for Kilgore about the death penalty.
Rangel thinks he can draft an anti-war movement. He won’t; all he’ll do is draft a war machine for the United States and depress turnout in a strongly anti-war constituency.