it On - Bring Back the Draft
By Dan Gougherty
"Be the first one the block to have your boy come home
in a box!"
With that famous line in I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die
Rag, Country Joe & The Fish accurately combined post-WWII
materialism with the fear of just about every draft age man
of the 60's - go to Vietnam and risk coming home in a box.
The list of young men who heeded that call and managed to
avoid the draft, and/or serving in Vietnam, through a variety
of schemes and connections famously includes our current president
and vice president and a wide variety of policy makers and
politicians ranging from Paul Wolfowitz to former vice president
With the Pentagon acknowledging that American troops are
stretched thin and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ordering
extended duty for 20,000 troops (a sort of conscription one
might argue), it was only a matter of time before the "D"
word would pop up.
Of course the "D" word here is the dreaded draft.
Acknowledging this problem, Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel
of Nebraska has said that he would support reinstituting the
On first pass, many of my fellow liberals might recoil at
the thought of a draft. As the father of five sons, two of
which are at draft age and another quickly approaching, it
is certainly not my wish to see them drafted to serve as pawns
in Bush's oil war.
And that is just the point.
While many Americans say they support the war, they do it
with full knowledge that their sons, or daughters, are safely
exempt from becoming a battle statistic. In his suggestion
to reinstitute the draft, Hagel touched on this point. "Those
who are serving today and dying today are the middle class
and lower middle class."
Indeed, it was these very class distinctions that led Democratic
congressman Charles Rangel of New York to make the same suggestion
several months ago. Remembering the disportationally high
casualties the African-American community suffered in Vietnam,
Rangel has introduced legislation that would bring back the
draft. Not surprisingly, the legislation has languished in
committee and will never likely come to vote.
Stealing a line from the Bush playbook on taxes, Rangel
recently called the Iraq War a "death tax" on the poor and
minorities who often enter the armed services as the only
way of escaping poverty.
I wonder what Bush supporters would think if their able-bodied
sons and daughters were plucked from their college classes
and outfitted with battle fatigues? I wonder what Laura Bush
would think if her daughters were suddenly eligible for the
draft instead of slouching around Hollywood or Austin?
If we do bring back the draft, let's make sure there won't
be any Rush Limbaugh anal cysts or Dick Cheney 'other priorities'
deferments allowed either. Or to use another conservative
buzzword, let's make it a zero-tolerance-deferment draft.
Unless you are disabled in some dramatic fashion, you will
be required to serve in uniform for two years in Iraq, Afghanistan
or wherever the Bush war machine might take you.
It's the rich conservatives who are "sacrificing" their
way through this war with their lower capital gains and income
taxes who are the most frightened about the draft returning,
not the liberals or working class.
Maybe once a few conservatives are the first ones on their
well manicured block to have their sons or daughters come
home in box, we will see an end to the madness of King George's
oil-for-life war machine.
Visit Dan Gougherty's blog Left
Turn on Bird Street.