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January 16, 2003 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2003-01-16

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The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 16, 2003 - 5A





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he United States has not employed a military draft
ince the Vietnam War, and the looming possibility
war with Iraq has sparked a fresh debate on the
irness - or lack thereof - associated with
mpulsory military service. Questions of national
3curity and patriotism, discrimination and civility
bound ... here are a few possible answers.


'If we cannot justify draft, how can we justify war?'

As citizens of the greatest nation on
Earth, we profit tremendously from our
nation's hegemony. Each April, the Inter-
nal Revenue Service asks us to contribute
a slice of that profit in the form of
income tax. We make this sacrifice, some
more grudgingly than others, to provide
for a variety of government services. Sac-
rifices such as these are non-negotiable.
All able-bodied citizens have the obli-
gation to contribute in order that the
whole remain strong and intact. We con-
tribute so heavily monetarily to our
nations prosperity, yet we shudder when
we are expected to contribute to its
defense. Though not entirely analogous,
one can certainly make a case that given
our dependence on one another in all
other aspects of our lives, that we should
be equally dependent on one another on
the battlefield in meeting threats at home
or abroad. It is by this logic, that I whole-
heartedly support Democratic Congress-
man Charles Rangel's (D-N.Y.) proposal
to reinstate the draft to meet the challenge
of possible intervention in Iraq.
Some would argue that when the
threat is great enough and public support
is high, there is no need to conscript a
fighting force. This is not entirely the
case. In the Spanish-American War,
World War I and World War II, a draft
was utilized despite excellent public sup-
port for each conflict. Conscription helps
solve the collective action problem,
which in this case is the tendency for
some or all of a population to assign mili-
tary responsibility to others, but never
themselves. The necessity of military

action is not always connected with pub-
lic support, especially given that the pub-
lic rarely has all the facts. While in a
perfect world we could be totally
informed of every foreign policy initia-
tive, national security dictates that this
not be the case. Therefore, we must be
expected to contribute to its resolution as
a whole, regardless of how we perceive its
legitimacy individually.
Furthermore, no one group should be
asked to contribute more than any other
to a cause which, if it is worthy, affects us
all equally as U.S. citizens. I speak of the
poor and of minorities, who at times have
borne the brunt of U.S. foreign policy ini-
tiatives. It is well documented that while
involved in Vietnam, the middle- and
upper-classes avoided combat duty by
seeking deferments at colleges and in a
variety of other government services like
the National Guard and the Peace Corps.
Ironic, given that it was these same class-
es of men and women who ultimately
were making the decision to expand and
lengthen a war that ultimately cost more
than 56,000 American lives. Many of
these lives were of a class faceless and
expendable to the social elites hurling
them into a bloody and tragic guerrilla
war. The rich and poor should be expect-
ed to serve as equals, especially with
stakes as high as open combat, and a draft
is one means to that end.
In the case of Vietnam, we too often
refer to the draft as though it were the
cause of the trauma. We blame the draft,
when it was presidenta like John
Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, and Lyn-
don Johnson who all made the decision to
continue U.S. action in the name of the
infamous "Domino Theory." Certainly

they were erroneous in believing that
South Vietnam was the lynchpin of
Southeast Asia and, in retrospect, action
could have been avoided. Is Iraq a cause
worthy of military action?
That remains to be determined, but
perhaps the knowledge that it will not be
the lower classes, but all Americans
fighting and dying in this new war, that
will ultimately stave off a second, poten-
tially more dangerous Persian Gulf War.
Diplomacy is always preferable to war,
and perhaps the threat of a draft is
enough to jolt President Bush from his
persistent and reckless attitude toward
what will certainly mean the deaths of
thousands of Americans.
Rangel has hit a nerve with an other-
wise complacent American populace.
Content with the progress of the "War
on Terrorism," many Americans accept
out of hand Bush's allusions to a process
he has dubbed "regime change," making
it sound more like housekeeping and
less like what it is: the deadly serious
confrontation with a cornered and dan-
gerous leader.
Yet support for action remains very
high. Americans are all too willing to
support this war, but are they willing to
send their son to fight? We should
expect casualties. We should expect sac-
rifice. This sacrifice should not be borne
on the backs of the poor as in past wars.
Rangel's proposal to reinstate the draft
is, in many ways, a sort of litmus test for
our commitment. Serious threats call for
serious action and if we cannot justify a
draft, how can we justify the war?
Adams is an LSA sophomore and a member of
the Daily's editorial board.

Five reasons to oppose draft

A few thoughts on a military draft, which
I oppose for several reasons:
The smaller a nation's armed forces, the
less the temptation to go to the use of force
The fewer of our citizens who experience
military training, the fewer who have been
socialized into thinking that war is a legiti-
mate activity.
A universal draft would legitimize the
idea of women at war, and deprive us of

those citizens who by dint of cultural and
genetic evolution are most likely to resist the
further militarization of our society.
If the armed forces are desperate for
recruits, a dash of unemployment is easily
One of the few virtues of military service
is the acquisition of some useful skills, but
there are more economical and civilized
Singer is a professor of political science at the
University and specializes in international politics,
military policies and war He served in the US.
Navy in World War II and the Korean War

A panel discussion with:

Eloise Anderson
Director, Program for the American Family, The
Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship
and Political Philosophy, and former Director of the
California Department of Social Services
Rebecca Blank
Dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
and Henry Carter Adams Collegiate Professor,
University of Michigan
Sheldon Danziger
Professor of Public Policy, Co-Director of the
National Poverty Center, and H-enry J. Meyer
Collegiate Professor of Social Work,
University of Michigan
Judith Gueron
President, Manpower Demonstration Research
The panelists will be joined by a representative
from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for
Planning and Evaluation of the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services.
Friday, January 17,2003
3:00 - 4:30 p.m.
6050 Institute for Social Researc~h


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