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Charles Rangel and The Draft

New York congressman Charles Rangel has recently said he wants to reinstate the draft. This is not the first time he has done so. In 2003 he introduced a conscription bill, although he later voted against it. Afterwords, people started murmuring that Bush was going to reinstate the draft, even though it was Rangel's idea.

During the last election season some people were saying Rangel might try it again. I didn't think there was any way in hell that he would. It didn't make sense for him to give Bush a chance to veto a draft bill.

I was wrong.

His primary reason was that it is harder to go to war if we have a draft. Rangel opined that going into Iraq would have been harder if
"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".

In other words, he wants to force EVERY young person in America into service for the purpose of gaining political leverage. There is a word
for someone used as a bargaining chip against his will. It is "hostage". A good name for Rangel's bill might be
"The Hostage Conscription Act Of 2006".

He also said "I don't see how anyone can support the war and not support the draft". That is a silly argument. I support law enforcement, but I don't think anyone should be forced to be a policeman.

I am strongly opposed to the draft. No one should be forced into military service if they don't believe in it. Or any other kind of service. And I don't think it would help our armed forces very much. It seems we would get quantity at the expense of quality.
If I were a soldier in combat, I wouldn't want to fight alongside someone who didn't want to be there.

There are other reasons. For instance, members of the armed forces are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
This means that they do not have full constitutional rights. This is reasonable, because enforcing discipline and a sense of duty in the military is more crucial in the military than it is in the larger society. But it's not really reasonable if the truncation of rights is not agreed to. And this would be the case with the draft. The government can force someone into a situation where they don't have full constitutional rights. I am surprised this has never been used in a court challenge to conscription. (There has been a court challenge to the conscription on 13th amendment grounds, but it was rejected.)

It is a sad coincidence that Rangel proposed this bill so shortly after the death of Milton Friedman, who was a strong opponent of the draft,and in fact helped bring about an end to it with his work on the President's Commission on an All-Volunteer Armed Force during the Nixon administration.