Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., is, once again, proposing the reinstitution of a military draft. It’s once again embedded in the context of Iraq and the supposition that the ill-advised invasion of that country might not have occurred had “members of Congress and the Administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm’s way.”
What isn’t is Rangel’s rationale that the all-volunteer military disproportionately places the burden of war on minorities and lower-income families. Of course it does. These are precisely the ones most likely not to have better-than-military prospects coming out of high school.
But the current Iraq mess obscures a bigger point – bigger even than military needs that now necessitate ever-eroding standards for recruits.
A draft would make everyone, regardless of demographic caste, a stake-holder. It would address a glaring, growing anomaly in this country: We don’t ask something of everyone who benefits by living here.
Sacrifice is an abstraction to most Americans — except for today’s military and their families — or yesterday’s Greatest Generation, including erstwhile “Rosie the Riveters” and everyone who toughed out home-front rationing.
But, no, a draft wouldn’t mean military service for everyone eligible. Just service. The details, of course, could get devilish, but the premise is that national service – from guarding seaports to working in a domestic Peace Corps to battling an enemy militarily – would be everyone’s obligation. Regardless of socio-economic status and pedigree.
Meanwhile, part of our birthright continues to include under-taxed gasoline and new model Hummers during a civilizational war fought more for oil access than desert democratizations.