Monday, 18 October 2004
Military draft becomes a campaign issue
Military conscription has become an issue in the Presidential campaign -- even though neither Bush nor Kerry has done anything to put their claimed opposition to the draft into action.
Campaigning around the draft includes television ads being broadcast this week, Web-based appeals to student voters , an ad in the New York Times today raising questions about the draft from students, and a media campaign by Vietnam veterans and others.
But as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman points out today in Feeling the Draft , the issue isn't whether Bush or Kerry claims to oppose a draft, but what they are actually likely to do, after the election, if the military can't get enough of the soldiers they want, with the skills they want, without a draft.
Will they then support a draft? Or will they limit or reduce the size of the military, and adjust their military policy to respect the limits imposed on it, and on them, by the (un)willingness of the people to fight the Pentagon's and the White House's wars?
The reality, as is gradually becoming more widely recognized, is that today's young people (not to mention health care workers ) are even more opposed to the draft than the Vietnam generation. Results of a poll commissioned by Newsweek and released yesterday found that 29% of young voters would resist a draft . As the song says, "It's up to you not to heed the call-up.... You don't have to act the way you were brought up."
An editorial yesterday by the Philadelphia Daily News calls on Bush to end registration and Selective Service , and asks exactly the right question: "If we don't need a draft, why have registration?"
[Addendum, 23 October 2004: Another newspaper in swing-state Pennsylvania joins the editorial call: "The Bush administration could put the wild rumors to rest -- and save taxpayers nearly the $30 million a year it costs to administer the Selective Service?s draft registration program -- by asking Congress to terminate draft registration. If Democrats really are worried about a renewed draft, then they should agree to fast-tracking the necessary legislation."]
If he's really ruling out a draft, Bush could end draft registration today, with the stroke of a pen, by Presidential proclamation. But he hasn't done so. As a U.S. Senator, Kerry could have, and still could, introduce or endorse legislation to abolish the Selective Service System and eliminate Presidential authority to order registration. But he hasn't done so.
The Republicans who control the agenda in Congress, who have been complaining that questions about whether they might enact a draft after the election are unjustified, and who were able to bring a meaningless bill for reinstatement of the draft to a vote and defeat in a matter of days, could have, and still could, bring a bill to abolish the SS and eliminate authority for registration to a vote, and passage, just as quickly. But they haven't done so.
Any of these things could still happen before the election, if the public demands that the candiates suit their actions to their claimed positions on the draft. We'll see if that happens, or if the "debate" about the draft remains limited to partisan posturing.
The fact that health care workers would be the first to be drafted is also beginning to get some notice. The New York Times , quoting some of the sources they found through my FAQ on Health Care Workers and the Draft , has a long feature today, U.S. Has Contingency Plans for a Draft of Medical Workers .
Since they weren't available anywhere else online (they were published in 1989, and the Federal Register isn't available in electronic form that far back), I've scanned and posted the Selective Service System's Proposed regulations for the Health Care Personnel Delivery System (HCPDS), including the complete list (on the last page of the proposed regulations) of more than 60 job categories potentially subject to the draft under the HCPDS.Link | Posted by Edward on Monday, 18 October 2004, 22:32 (10:32 PM) | TrackBack (0)