The Hiller Instinct: Draft Debate
Among the casualties of the war in Iraq is the "all volunteer" U.S. Army. You can erase the "all volunteer," since thousands of soldiers have been extended - ordered to serve involuntarily - just as if they were drafted:
John Kerry wants to make it a campaign issue:
John Kerry, (D) Presidential Nominee
"We will end the backdoor draft of National Guard and reservists."
The president denies the "D" word.
President George Bush
"No, we don't need a draft. What we need to do--don't worry about it."
But Americans are apparently worried enough to make the Selective Service System declare "there is no need for a draft" on its web page. And two bills in Congress would bring back the draft--for men and women ages 18 to 26.
The draft is just one more link between Iraq and Vietnam.
At many anti-Vietnam war protests, draft cards were burned -- forcing Washington to create draft lotteries that randomly ranked birthdays to the order of annual call-ups:
Then, as now, there were concerns that military service wasn't equal for all Americans...since college students weren't drafted.
Sen. Edward Kennedy, (D) Massachusetts
"A boy that graduates from high school has a 60% chance of serving in the armed forces of our country...a boy that graduates from college only has 40%."
But 100% of the college students in the ROTC program at M.I.T. will serve because they want to--and their commander hopes the draft that died in 1973 is not revived.
Lt. Col. Brian Baker, U.S. Army
"There's nothing better than a professional all volunteer force…I don't see the requirement for a draft and understand the services aren't interested in one."
And neither are students we talked to at Boston University.
"I have my brother and I have friends that are under the age of 26 and I don't think they should have to go to war if they don't choose to at this point."
"What would I do? Personally? I would probably escape to Canada."
You don't have to be a cabinet secretary to wonder where all the troops America may need would come from.
And if that ever results in a serious move to bring back the draft, the political hurricane that would follow will make Charlie and Ivan look like gentle rain.