"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." - George Orwell

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

No there will Not be a Draft 

Recently we have seen a new scare tactic by the left: the claim that the Bush Administration has a secret plan to impose an old-style draft on the American people against their will.

There's even an email going around the Internet warning people of an impending draft. Like most such hoaxes, it contains a mix of truth and fiction. It's conclusion, however, is false. Check out the link to the email so you'll be informed.

Bottom line: Relax, folks, there will be no draft.

Why, then, is there even talk of one?

First, our military is argueably understaffed. It is certainly stretched thin. We did not expect to have to keep a large number of troops in Iraq for so long, and we will obviously need to keep them there for some years to come. We had hoped for more support from allies, and did not expect others to cut and run as they have. Reserve troops have served longer than usual. We have had to pull troops from South Korea (which may be a good thing anyway) and send them to Iraq.

Second, over the years some conservatives have called for some type of mandatory "national service". William F Buckley Jr proposed just this some years ago in his magazine National Review. However, all of the service plans that I have seen envision people being given a choice between military service and something else, usually along the lines of Americorps.

And, as I have written before, there are those who see everything through the prism of Vietnam. We had an unfair draft them, ergo we will have one now. They yearn for the glory days of that era when massive protests could bring down a president, or at least force him to abandon a reelection campaign.

Sober observers know that a draft is politically impossible. The administration doesn't want it. Congress is against it. The military is against it. The public opposes it. The media would savage any serious attempt to impose one. If one were somehow magically passed, massive disobedience would be the rule.

Why, then, is there such talk of the Bush Administration (controlled, you know, by those evil neocons) having a secret plan to impose a draft?

One, some on the left are cynically using this as a scare tactic. They know how unpopular a draft would be and see this as a "wedge" issue to garner middle-class votes. Democrat Charlie Rangel, for example has a bill before congress to start up a draft. But his purpose, other than simple grandstanding, is to stir up opposition to the war in Iraq.

It is also tempting to believe the worst about one's political enemies. The neoconservatives are wrong, no they are evil, so they must want to evil things to us. They started an unjust war, ergo they will impose a draft on us. Some on the right fell into this trap during the Clinton years. It was tempting to believe every bad thing about the man.

Some may genuinely believe that a draft is necessary if we are to continue our current level of commitments around the world. But if they supported those commitments, they would be in favor of a draft, not against it. And if they opposed those commitments, one would hope they would stick to the subject of those commitments.

Update 9/30

Fox News has been running a story today on their TV channel about the bogus email linked to above. Nothing on their website yet. I'm glad to see this is getting some attention, as apparently a lot of people have been led to believe that the Bush Administration has a secret plan to reinstate the draft. This needs to get wide attention, as it is a scare tactic that the left is using and they need to be called on it.
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