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Charles Rangel on Why He Supports the Draft

He makes no qualms about it. He wants the draft not because he thinks it will make our military better but because it will make us weaker and less likely to go to war to defend ourselves in the future.

The question of whether we need a universal military draft will be important as long as this country is placing thousands of young men and women in harm's way in Iraq. As long as Americans are being shipped off to war, then everyone should be vulnerable, not just those who, because of economic circumstances, are attracted by lucrative enlistment bonuses and educational incentives.


Even before the first bomb was dropped, before the first American casualty, I have opposed the war in Iraq. I continue to believe that decision-makers would never have supported the invasion if more of them had family members in line for deployment.

So, his argument is that everyone should be forced into the military because it will create the disincentive to defend ourselves should we be attacked and cause us to opt for more isolationist policies.

Those who do the fighting have no choice; when the flag goes up, they salute and follow orders. So far, more than 2,800 have died and 21,000 have been wounded. They are our unrecognized American heroes.

But Rangel is contradicting himself. On the one hand he says that it's unfair that those who volunteer for the military are forced to "salute and follow orders," yet his solution is to thrust this same unfair situation on everyone. That makes no sense.

The great majority of people bearing arms for this country in Iraq are from the poorer communities in our inner cities and rural areas, places where enlistment bonuses are up to $40,000 and thousands in educational benefits are very attractive. For people who have college as an option, those incentives - at the risk to one's life - don't mean a thing.

But this is where freedom of choice comes into play. Those who volunteer for the military do have a choice to go to college if they wish. I was an adjunct instructor at a local community college for a number of years, and those of my students who Congressman Rangel would categorize as poor and disadvantaged got access to college through a variety of grants, government programs, and other financial assistance. And if these students had children, even their childcare and gasoline costs were covered by the government if they went to college. And these college opportunities are available in every state, so where does Congressman Rangel get this idea that college is not an option for poor Americans?

In New York City, the disproportionate burden of service on the poor is dramatic. In 2004, 70% of the volunteers in the city were black or Hispanic, recruited from lower income communities such as East New York, Brooklyn; Long Island City, Queens, and the South Bronx.

So are the college opportunities I mentioned above not available to New York City's disadvantaged students? If not, then I'd say, Rangel need to get on the stick and better serve his constituents. If they are, then why isn't he advertising them better so his constituents have a choice? Besides, he's indicting his own city's lousy public education system for educating its students so poorly that they feel they have no choice but to enter the military.

The Bush administration, the Pentagon and some Republicans in Congress are considering deploying up to 20,000 more troops to Iraq, above the 141,000 already on the ground. Among the planners are Army Gen. John Abizaid, head of the U.S. Central Command, who has admitted the difficulty of finding additional combat troops for the war without expanding the size of the active-duty military


If Abizaid is right, increasing troop strength will mean dipping further into the reserves and National Guard units, which are already carrying an unfair burden of multiple deployments. The overstretched active-duty Army is filling the ranks in Iraq with stop-loss orders and extended deployments, and even recalls of the Individual Ready Reserves, active-duty veterans who have time remaining on their military obligations.

These facts lead me to wonder how anyone who supports the war cannot support the military draft, especially when the growing burden on our uniformed troops is obvious, and the unfairness and absence of shared sacrifice in the population cannot be challenged.

There's that "shared sacrifice" again.

If this war is the threat to our national security that the Bush administration insists it is, then the President should issue a call for all Americans to sacrifice for the nation's defense. If there must be a sacrifice, then the burden must be shared fairly.

And now we get down to crux of the situation. Congressman Rangel doesn't buy into the fact that the war on terror is a threat to our country, which is why he is working to undermine it.

That is why I intend to reintroduce legislation to reinstate the military draft, making men and women up to age 42 eligible for service, with no exemptions beyond health or reasons of conscience. I believe it is immoral for those who insist on continuing the conflict in Iraq, and placing war on the table in Iran and North Korea, to do so only at the risk of other people's children.

Good luck with that. The leaders of your caucus aren't not pleased that you're pushing the draft and are going to kill it. But then again, that means you can make your case without any fear of it hurting your party because it isn't going anywhere.


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Comments (27)

"...with no exemptions beyo... (Below threshold)
engineer:

"...with no exemptions beyond health or reasons of conscience."

So, if you you are against the war, then by "reason of conscience," you can get out of service? In other words, only "volunteers" will be drafted, or those that don't object to the military.

The man is simply a loon; h... (Below threshold)
Old Coot:

The man is simply a loon; has been for many years. Pity the fool.

"...with no exempt... (Below threshold)
"...with no exemptions beyond health or reasons of conscience."

So, if you you are against the war, then by "reason of conscience," you can get out of service? In other words, only "volunteers" will be drafted, or those that don't object to the military.

Great point, engineer.

On the one hand he... (Below threshold)
jpe:
On the one hand he says that it's unfair that those who volunteer for the military are forced to "salute and follow orders," yet his solution is to thrust this same unfair situation on everyone. That makes no sense.

You're misreading him. His point isn't that it's unfair that soldiers don't have a choice; it's that, given that they have no choice, we want to be sure that the cause for the fighting is worth the sacrifice. We have a duty as a nation to insure that the soldier's fight is rightly waged; Rangel's contention is that a draft is a mechanism by which we can guarantee the nation discharges that duty faithfully.

In which Rangel would be wr... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

In which Rangel would be wrong, jpe. The protection from misusing the military stems from civilian command of the armed forces, through Congress and the Presidency as Commander in Chief.

A draft is a piss-poor idea for many reasons already stated.

jpe: "...we want to be s... (Below threshold)
Justrand:

jpe: "...we want to be sure that the cause for the fighting is worth the sacrifice..."

Yup...we need to pass a GLOBAL TEST first...right?

"Rangel's contention is that a draft is a mechanism by which we can guarantee the nation discharges that duty faithfully."

Huh?? So Charlie's "answer" is to have a military FILLED with the UN-WILLING???

What a f**king MORON!! i.e., what a f**king DEMOCRAT!!

<a href="http://www.willism... (Below threshold)

Willisms, as usual, has some analysis with data to back it up.

Rangel is a joke. What gove... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

Rangel is a joke. What government program did he use to get his education? The GI bill?

Now that he is in office his only hope is to keep his district black, dumb, and democrat. Providing his district with access to the educational system would be to his disadvantage. One year of community college would produce a person smarter than Rangel, and smart enough to get a job and vote him out of office and he knows it.

jpe doesn't belive trying to prevent another, or dozens, of 9-11's is worth fighting for. Now that is a citizen that should be flown over Iran and dropped out at 40,000 feet, parachute optional.

What happened to all of the documentation the NYT's verified as fact (a mistake by them) that Iraq and Saddam were involved in terrorism and building all types of WMD, including nuc's for future attacks. How many millions of Americans would have died since 9-11 in this country if we didn't have someone with the ba**s to go after the terrorists wherever they hide?

American deaths (total) in Iraq since the start of the war is now equal to 20 days of deaths due to drunk drivers in the U.S. Time to close or burn down every business that has anything to do with manufacture or sale of booze of any kind. Execute all drug dealers on the street. Dim's support the terrorists and the terrorists religion Islam ban's all booze. So dim's get on the ball in this country, carry out the Islamic demands.

The protection fro... (Below threshold)
jpe:
The protection from misusing the military stems from civilian command of the armed forces

That's a procedural protection. Rangel would argue it's insufficient, since the (human) costs of war are borne by relatively few, and that another level of procedural protection is needed.

Yup...we need to pass a GLOBAL TEST first...right?

We can draft people from other countries now? I had thought we fought a war or something over that, but I guess I was wrong.

New York City College is fr... (Below threshold)
David:

New York City College is free to everyone in New York. Perhaps Charlie thinks that it is a second rate school. Perhaps he can work on making it better rather than fighting for the draft.

That's a procedural prot... (Below threshold)
John Irving:

That's a procedural protection. Rangel would argue it's insufficient, since the (human) costs of war are borne by relatively few, and that another level of procedural protection is needed.

You don't damage the military by putting large numbers of unwilling draftees to provide procedural protection. The Constitution clearly designates responsibility for and control over the military in a practical, civilian controlled manner. What Rangel is attempting is to impose mob rule on the military, which would seriously impact our national security.

70% of the volunteers are b... (Below threshold)
meep:

70% of the volunteers are black and/or hispanic? I wonder what the %age of high school students in NYC are black &/or hispanic. Just curious. It would let me know how "disproportionate" this is.

Ah, well, there's something... (Below threshold)
meep:

Ah, well, there's something here in Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City_Department_of_Education#Demographics

No reference for those figures though, and not recognizing one can be black and hispanic. But let's assume these are disjoint groups (the stats are quoted as if they were): 36.7% hispanic and 34.7% black, for a grand total of 71.4%.

Congressman Rangel, that 70% recruitment is pretty darn close to the actual composition of the NYC school system. Think anybody will point that out to him?

The last quote from Rangel ... (Below threshold)

The last quote from Rangel in the post, sounds suspiciously like a thinly veiled chickenhawk argument. And I resent the constant use of the word "children". These are men and women who could volunteer because they are "adults". They are only "children" when that argument suits them.

The draft didn't keep us out of Vietnam or Korea. In fact it provided fodder for the movement to abolish it.

Ned anymore reasons why CHU... (Below threshold)
spurwing plover:

Ned anymore reasons why CHUCKY RANGLE is just plain nuts and out of his mind WHERES THE GUYS WITH THE NETS AND STREIGHT JACKETS?

It's the same old tired tal... (Below threshold)
Bo:

It's the same old tired talking point, that the War on Terror is being fought upon the backs of the poor, the minorities, the disadvantaged. This is the point to which Kerry alluded in his "botched joke," and the real point that Rangel is trying to communicate in his draft proposal.

Problem is, it's not true. So at best, it's a myth, perpetrated by those ignorant of the real facts and data; at worst, it's a lie.

Period.

Now, I would speculate that the decrease in enlistments amongst those with a high school diploma only (or less) could be attributed to the "rehab or military" option that is sometimes offered to first-time drug offenders; the military in a time of war not being considered as viable an alternative to rehab. That, of course, is strict speculation. I believe it's equally possible that the more educated person may be equipped with the resources to better understand the threat than is the person who relies on the occasional MSM blurb in forming his opinion of things political.

There is, however, an explanation I haven't heard from any other source for why Rangel sees the draft as particularly attractive. You see, if more and more young people do enlist voluntarily, regardless of their current social status, then more will see firsthand what we're fighting, and there's a good chance that many of them will come back with a distinctly conservative political attitude (as is very common amongst members of the armed forces). That sort of thinking intruding into the Democrats' strongholds of minorities and economically disadvantaged citizens is simply unacceptable, and Rangel sees a reinstatement of the draft as a tool to reduce the likelihood of declared war, making it possible in the future to drastically reduce the numbers of enlistees, and thereby curtail the numbers of young men and women from all walks of life who support the party that truly supports the troops.

As a Viewtnam Veteran who l... (Below threshold)

As a Viewtnam Veteran who led a drafee army, I believe that Rangel's idea is absurd. He admitted as much when he said recently that his bill had no chance of passage, but he "wanted to hold hearings." Translation: "I want publicity and the chance to air some personal peeves." Whatever happened to the good of the country?

Im a little confused, does ... (Below threshold)
RSp:

Im a little confused, does this mean that Charlie Rangel supports the militaries "Dont ask, Dont tell" policies?

Bo, I'm almost certain that... (Below threshold)

Bo, I'm almost certain that there is no "rehab or military" option EVER the same as there is no "jail or military" option for young offenders.

Once upon a time, maybe. Not any more.

Synova, "almost certain" is... (Below threshold)
Bo:

Synova, "almost certain" is your loophole. Both options are still offered occasionally.

I want some data, Bo. I kn... (Below threshold)

I want some data, Bo. I know people *trying* to get into the military and having to deal with various rules about education and how a choice of homeschool method, this year it's a very bad choice to use a public school homeschool program because the diploma counts as "alternative" while the homeschooled student who's mother prints out a nice diploma on her home printer qualifies as tier one.

It may be on the books, somewhere, that someone with a drug offence can chose to go to the military instead of rehab, but I want to SEE it. And if it's there I want ONE NAME of someone who managed to do it.

My point about the educatio... (Below threshold)

My point about the education thing is that it is certainly on the books that a small number of students with alternative diplomas (GED) can join the military. Reality is that if that's what you've got it's next to impossible.

If those students, with no drug involvement and no police involvement or court involvement are unable to get in I find it *exceptionally* doubtful that any person with any sort of drug involvement can enlist in the military.

The Army isn't rehab. They catch you with pot in your urine and you're out. No options, no second chances.

Synova, the data isn't ther... (Below threshold)
Bo:

Synova, the data isn't there. It's frequently an offer made "under the table" by local law enforcement to the offenders: "Now, if you're planning something after graduation like military service, we may could keep this off your record..."

I personally know of it happening, and it wasn't a matter of pushing low income kids into the service, it was an offer made to middle-class high school seniors and recent grads who found themselves in fairly deep trouble, chiefly because of following a "bad crowd."

I suppose if you could poll everyone in the military, you'd come up with some rough statistics about how many times it's been done over the past several years, but there's no hard data out there.

If it's done under the tabl... (Below threshold)

If it's done under the table by local law enforcement it's entirely likely that the military knows nothing about it. If the enlistee doesn't have any record that is going to come up on a records search then the recruiter isn't going to find any police or court records. If the enlistee passes the piss test then the enlistee passes the piss test.

Recruiters get in serious trouble for even the *appearance* of trying to "fix" police or court or other records and get an unqualified person into the service.

It can be a career breaker.

It also sounds like the law... (Below threshold)

It also sounds like the law enforcement officers *know* that anything on the student's record *at all* will disqualify they from military service.

And I wasn't trying to get ... (Below threshold)

And I wasn't trying to get on your case, really, it's just that the stereotype of the military being made up of criminals and druggies and the idea that the military will even take them is a favorite anti-military meme.

"But this is where freedom ... (Below threshold)
Mattew Abuelo:

"But this is where freedom of choice comes into play. Those who volunteer for the military do have a choice to go to college if they wish. I was an adjunct instructor at a local community college for a number of years, and those of my students who Congressman Rangel would categorize as poor and disadvantaged got access to college through a variety of grants, government programs, and other financial assistance. And if these students had children, even their childcare and gasoline costs were covered by the government if they went to college. And these college opportunities are available in every state, so where does Congressman Rangel get this idea that college is not an option for poor Americans?"

In freeing up money for the illegal war in Iraq, Bush has slashed many of the grants you are talking about to the point that most students are unable to go to the schools that accept them.




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