Thursday, January 15, 2009

Charlie Rangel's War

Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-NY 15) is planning to reintroduce his annual reinstate-the-draft legislation as soon as the stimulus bill goes through:

A decorated Korean War veteran and a member of the Out of Iraq Caucus, Rangel argues that the burden of fighting wars falls disproportionately on low-income people and that cost should be borne more broadly.

Now, the above statement is almost certainly true--skills training and the promise of college money are big incentives for young adults to join the military, but they are incentives that resonate most with lower-income kids and we often hear news reports that bear that out. And yes, it is unfair. I personally do not support military conscription except in the most dire national emergencies, though I have heard valid arguments for some form of mandatory national service, be it military or non-military. But here's where Charlie goes a little too far into the realm of odd statements:
If a draft had been in place in 2002 when members were making the decision on whether to support the war in Iraq, Rangel has said, Congress never would have approved the war resolution, because the pressure from constituents would have been too great.
Really? Is he serious? Even if you think a return to conscription is a good idea, this is the worst argument possible. I wasn't around for Korea or Vietnam, but if my understanding of history is correct, the draft increased Canada's population and provided an endless supply of cannon fodder for the war hawks, but it did nothing t0 keep us out of those conflicts. Sure the draft played a role in increasing public pressure to end Vietnam, but not before 60,000 Americans had died. Moreover, those with privilege managed to get around the draft when they wanted to (it ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no fortunate one), and there's no reason to believe that wouldn't happen again. 

Why would he be introducing a bill that has been soundly defeated multiple times in the past and will almost certainly be defeated again? Get it together, Charlie.

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