Does America Need a Draft?

Calls for a new military draft are designed to score political points using race and class arguments rather than creating an effective fighting force

Should America reinstitute a military draft? Do we need one? The issue has been resurrected by two members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Charles Rangel (D-NY) and John Conyers (D-MI).

Both representatives are liberal Democrats which has implications for the rationale underlying their proposal. Would it make our military more effective? Do we need more or better qualified people to serve in the military? Will a draft help in the war against terrorism, a possible military invasion of Iraq or give us greater security in dealing with threats against our country from around the world? Would it create higher morale in our armed forces?

Most knowledgeable observers answer “no” to these questions. Our military is effective. We have qualified people serving who are there because they choose to be there. The military has proven it is effective. All Americans benefit from their service.

And, as you might expect, the Congressmen are not making arguments on these issues. Instead, their proposal has more to do with the politics of class and race than creating an effective military force.

Both Congressmen voted against the Iraq resolution and are against using the military against Iraq. To accomplish that objective, they are willing to try and score political points to the detriment of America’s security.

Their argument is that our volunteer military forces will put black servicemen in the line of fire more than white servicemen. While the allegation is not true, that doesn’t stand in the way of a politician who wants to gain a political advantage in an argument.

According to a report issued by the Department of Defense, there are more whites in occupational specialties who are likely to be deployed. Members of minority groups have greater representation in occupations such as medical and dental care and administration. Moreover, the Special Forces, who played a major role in Afghanistan and who are likely to do so in Iraq, are mostly white as well.

There does not appear to be a significant chance of the Rangel-Conyers proposal succeeding. More likely, it is a cynical effort to put racial issues at the forefront of an antiwar movement and to generate some enthusiasm for protests on college campuses.

Perhaps Americans are stupid enough to fall for the “logic” of the proposal to create a draft. Perhaps the authors of this legislation are sufficiently cynical that they would be willing to create a less effective military and create more racial tensions in the nation for their personal political gain.

If our elected representatives cannot engage in a reasoned debate on issues of war and peace without creating huge problems and expense for the rest of us, we would be better off with new representatives.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47