Reintroducing the draft

Bills have been drawn up ready for presenting to US congress to reintroduce the draft.

First off, this worrying article from the UK Guardian,3604,1228178,00.html

Draft dilemma

They are going to reintroduce the draft in the US. But it's such a vote loser, no one wants to mention it

John Sutherland
Monday May 31, 2004
The Guardian

Last Wednesday, the American public was officially instructed to panic. Attorney general John Ashcroft and FBI director Robert Mueller - brows furrowed, faces grim - took over primetime TV to deliver a spine-chilling message to their fellow citizens: "Al-qaida attack imminent."

When, where, and what form the outrage will take, is unknown. But something very, very awful is going to happen very, very soon.

Cynics will be sceptical. Was this another attempt by the administration, like those "orange alerts" last year, to divert attention from Iraq, the soaring price of gasoline, and Abu Ghraib?

On the same day that Ashcroft was terrifying his countrymen, I was emailed by an American student friend. He too is terrified. "The US legislature," he wrote, "is trying to bring back the draft asap. Check it out at For some reason no major news networks or printed media in this country are carrying this story. If these bills go through, the only thing between me and military service is my asthma."

He's right. There is pending legislation in the American House of Representatives and Senate in the form of twin bills - S89 and HR163. These measures (currently approved and sitting in the committee for armed services) project legislation for spring 2005, with the draft to become operational as early as June 15.

There already exists a Selective Service System (SSS). All young Americans are obliged to "register for the draft". It has been a mere formality since conscription was abolished three decades ago, after Vietnam, together with the loathed (and much burned) draft card. SSS will be reactivated imminently. A $28m implementation fund has been added to the SSS budget. The Pentagon is discreetly recruiting for 10,350 draft board officers and 11,070 appeals board members nationwide.

Draft-dodging will be harder than in the 1960s. In December 2001, Canada and the US signed a "smart border declaration", which, among other things, will prevent conscientious objectors (and cowards) from finding sanctuary across the northern border. There will be no deferment on higher-education grounds. Mexico does not appeal.

All this has been pushed ahead with an amazing lack of publicity. One can guess why. American newspapers are in a state of meltdown, distracted by war-reporting scandals at USA Today and the New York Times. There is an awareness in the press at large that the "embedding" system was just that - getting into bed with the military and reporting their pillow talk as "news from the frontline". The fourth estate has failed the American public and continues not to do its job.

The American public just wants the war to go away. One thing that would get their attention (but not their votes) would be their children being sent off to die in foreign lands. Best not disturb the electorate until after November, seems to be the thinking. There are, after all, more important things than wars: getting your man into the White House, for example. Kerry has clearly calculated that, as president, he too may have to bring in the draft. So his lips are also sealed.

And, of course, the strategic case for the draft is overwhelming. If, as Rumsfeld promises, Iraq turns out to be "a long, hard slog", who will do the slogging? If others follow the Spaniards, and Tony Blair goes, the US may find itself a coalition of one. What then if something blows up in North Korea?

On how many fronts can America fight its global war on terror with a "professional" army of half a million? Half a million and shrinking fast. Reservists are not re-enlisting. They signed up for the occasional weekend playing soldiers and some useful income, not death or glory.

Panic Stations (which is where Ashcroft has placed America this summer) serves two purposes. It distracts the electorate and, like any state of emergency, it sanctions tough measures - like the draft. The advice to my student? Work on the asthma.

Here is what it says on

Pending Draft Legislation Targeted for Spring 2005
The Draft will Start in June 2005
There is pending legislation in the House and Senate (twin bills: S 89 and HR 163) which will time the program's initiation so the draft can begin at early as Spring 2005 -- just after the 2004 presidential election. The administration is quietly trying to get these bills passed now, while the public's attention is on the elections, so our action on this is needed immediately.

$28 million has been added to the 2004 Selective Service System (SSS) budget to prepare for a military draft that could start as early as June 15, 2005. Selective Service must report to Bush on March 31, 2005 that the system, which has lain dormant for decades, is ready for activation. Please see website: to view the sss annual performance plan - fiscal year 2004.

The pentagon has quietly begun a public campaign to fill all 10,350 draft board positions and 11,070 appeals board slots nationwide.. Though this is an unpopular election year topic, military experts and influential members of congress are suggesting that if Rumsfeld's prediction of a "long, hard slog" in Iraq and Afghanistan [and a permanent state of war on "terrorism"] proves accurate, the U.S. may have no choice but to draft.

Congress brought twin bills, S. 89 and HR 163 forward this year, entitled the Universal National Service Act of 2003, "to provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons [age 18--26] in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes." These active bills currently sit in the committee on armed services.

Dodging the draft will be more difficult than those from the Vietnam era.

College and Canada will not be options. In December 2001, Canada and the U.S. signed a "smart border declaration," which could be used to keep would-be draft dodgers in. Signed by Canada's minister of foreign affairs, John Manley, and U.S. Homeland Security director, Tom Ridge, the declaration involves a 30-point plan which implements, among other things, a "pre-clearance agreement" of people entering and departing each country. Reforms aimed at making the draft more equitable along gender and class lines also eliminates higher education as a shelter. Underclassmen would only be able to postpone service until the end of their current semester. Seniors would have until the end of the academic year.

Even those voters who currently support US actions abroad may still object to this move, knowing their own children or grandchildren will not have a say about whether to fight. Not that it should make a difference, but this plan, among other things, eliminates higher education as a
shelter and includes women in the draft.

The public has a right to air their opinions about such an important decision.

Please send this on to all the friends, parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and cousins that you know. Let your children know too -- it's their future, and they can be a powerful voice for change!

Please also contact your representatives to ask them why they aren't telling their constituents about these bills -- and contact newspapers and other media outlets to ask them why they're not covering this important story.

Make sure you check out the two links

add a comment on this article