Friday, October 08, 2004

The Draft

Got this in my email this morning:

Dear Jay:

On Tuesday the Republican House leadership made a cynical decision to bring my national service legislation (H.R. 163) up for a vote with no notice, no hearings, and no consideration.

This is legislation that I introduced at the beginning of last year that would instate a draft -- requiring all young people to perform some sort of national service and subjecting them all equally to the possibility of military service.

I felt that too much would be asked of our so-called "volunteer" army made up primarily of young men and women from inner cities and small towns who join the service for economic and educational opportunities not available to them in their disadvantaged communities. I also opposed the war and felt that if the wealthy and privileged were faced with the possibility of having to send their own children to war, the political support for this elective war would disappear.

I always knew the issue of a draft would be controversial and it should be. But what the Republican Leadership did was to bring up the bill on "the Suspension Calendar" -- normally reserved for ordinary, non-controversial bills such as the naming of local post office branches. They did not bring the bill up because they supported it or even because they opposed it. (Most of them never read it even though it's only 12 pages.)

The reason they brought up the bill was to make a cynical political statement a month before the election. They thought they could address the public's suspicion that a draft will be necessary if Bush and the Republicans are re-elected if they held this surprise vote a month before the election.

Not only was this an abuse of the House of Representatives, but it also won't work.

The rumors of a draft are not due to my bill. They are due to the Bush Administration's failed Iraq policy. It is now clear that they did not have a plan when they went into Iraq. This week we learned that former US Administrator in Iraq Paul Bremer has even declared that the lack of enough troops on the ground created "an atmosphere of lawlessness" that has made it difficult to stabilize Iraq. Recently, the Commander of the Iraq forces, General John Abizaid said that more troops are needed to secure Iraq's scheduled January elections. And The New York Times (Sept. 27) reported the Army is preparing to keep troops at the current
levels in Iraq through 2007. All this when we all know that the National Guard and Reserve members have been recycled over and over and a back door draft is forcing people to re-enlist.

Where are we going to get all of these troops? I don't know. And neither do millions of Americans. So, they are rightly worried about a draft.

They deserve more than just an empty gesture. So do our troops, who are still on the ground, and left with the message that we couldn't take the time to discuss their situation and what should be done to relieve them. That's why I voted against this cynical ploy and told my fellow Democrats that this was not a serious vote.

I truly believe that if we continue Bush's failed policies in Iraq, a military draft will be unavoidable. Certainly, the idea that sacrifices should be shared in time of crisis is an issue that we must address. The Republicans want to sweep the sacrifices of the war in Iraq under the rug for their own political gain. We cannot let them get away with it.

Please pass this message on to your concerned friends and encourage them to visit and click on he "Learn More" section near the poll for more information.


Charles B. Rangel
Member of Congress


I think that this is a prefectly sensible position. Given all the talk about troop strength, how can either candidate say that we'll be staying in Iraq and at the same time promise there won't be a draft? I hope this is something talked about in the debate tonight.