Archives » Soul of the City

Close The Window

There's a draft in here


Draft boards across America once sent legions of "willing" young men to Southeast Asia to meet exotic people and kill them. They've been little more than a bad memory since Congress abolished the draft in 1973, but a Defense Department website devoted to The War Against Terror has quietly begun a campaign to revive the dormant boards.

The Bush Administration has long said it is all about creating jobs. If a "long, hard slog" lies ahead in Iraq and Afghanistan, a return of the draft may soon be providing employment opportunities for thousands of young Americans. Of course, with elections coming up next November and Dubya increasingly concerned about keeping his job, the administration has denied it is considering bringing back the draft. My guess is that means they'll be calling it a "Service Opportunity Lottery" (SOL) instead.

Representative Charles Rangel (D-NY) favors a return of the draft: "We've failed to convince our allies to send troops, we've extended deployments so morale is sinking, and the president is saying we can't cut and run. So what's left?" Rangel argues that a disproportionate number of deaths and injuries in an all-volunteer force fall on poor and less-educated Americans. "In Iraq, minorities represented a disproportionate 32 percent of the deaths among combat-related specialties and 40 percent of those among the non-combat ranks." As they say, there are no white Marines or black Marines, only green Marines -- 32 to 40 percent of which just happen to be dark green.

The SOL would differ from its Vietnam era predecessor because of rules changes that have taken place. Draft deferments once allowed college students to avoid being called up until after graduation; it was even possible to avoid getting drafted altogether simply by going to grad school (e.g., Vice President Dick Cheney). In a Brave New Draft, college students whose SOL number came up would now be permitted to finish only their current semester. After that, they'd be glory bound. In the past, it was also possible to dodge combat duty by joining the National Guard (see President George W. Bush). National Guardsmen, as we've already seen in the current war, are already shit-outta-luck (SOL) and are likely to face extended overseas combat opportunities.

Incidentally, the "Serve Your Community and the Nation" web page was taken down after news of its existence began to circulate last week. With typical Defense Department candor, a spokesman said of the page, "We're not even quite sure how it got there." It can still be viewed through Google cache at .

Add a comment