Better Warn Comrade Moore

Rep. Charles Rangel is calling for the return of the draft. This isn’t the first time, as Rep. Rangel discussed this during the 2004 election. But the populist rhetoric this time around is worth debunking.

“I will be introducing that bill as soon as we start the new session,” Rangel said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” He portrayed the draft, suspended since 1973, as a means of spreading military obligations more equitably and prompting political leaders to think twice before starting wars.

“There’s no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed 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,” said Rangel, a Korean War veteran. “If we’re going to challenge Iran and challenge North Korea and then, as some people have asked, to send more troops to Iraq, we can’t do that without a draft.”

Hello, we’ve already tested the theory that politicians wouldn’t get us into wars if their kids or the kids from their communities were in danger of being drafted. Considering that he’s calling for “national service” in the military, schools, hospitals, etc., is there any reason to believe that those in power won’t pull strings to get hospital rather than front line duty? Rep. Rangel should look no further than the current (and preceding, for that matter) occupant of the White House for evidence. Not that I’m condemning a refusal to acquiesce to forced servitude in the armed forces, but Rep. Rangel wants to ignore the obvious.

Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), who will be the Senate majority leader, agrees that the U.S. military is stretched too thin and that “the burden of meeting the nation’s security has not been shared equally by all segments of our society,” said Reid spokesman Jim Manley. But Reid “believes that these problems are best addressed by making needed adjustments in the all-volunteer force,” Manley said.

So, if what Rep. Rangel, and Sen. Reid to an extent, is saying is true, is it any less likely that the poor over-represented segments of society will be any less represented in future wars? Please. The military is as subject to free market principles as any other arena of life. If the correct incentives are there (more money, fewer wars, whatever), then more people will fill the roles, which I presume is the goal. Of course, I’m open to accepting the reality that Rep. Rangel isn’t interested in military readiness as much as he’s interested in playing to populist nonsense. Also worth noting is that Rep. Rangel’s expectation of “national service” comes with a “guarantee” of education benefits at the end. This is more about who the politicians control than controlling the politicians.

More thoughts at A Stitch in Haste.