Wednesday, 2 November 2005

"Pacifists for War" and the draft?

The cover story of today’s SF Weekly is on Pacifists for War (“within a feuding peace movement, counter-recruiters are conspiring to bring back the draft”). In response, I’ve sent the letter below. You can send your letters to .

Against the Draft

Despite pro-draft quotes from people as far removed from pacifism and counter-recruitment as a “former speechwriter for President Richard Nixon”, the only purported examples of “counter-recruiters … conspiring to bring back the draft” in Cristi Hegranes’ 4000-word cover story on Pacifists for War are one person “on the outskirts of the crowd” at a counter-recruitment rally in San Francisco, and a single post more than a year ago by a Wisconsin blogger.

It’s too bad Hegranes didn’t interview a single anti-draft activist, or look at any of the anti-draft Web sites like and .

The fundamental mistake in your article — and the source of the erroneous conclusion that opposition to military recruiting implies support for a draft as the “only alternative” — is the assumption that war is inevitable. But pacifist anti-war strategy is based on recognition of our power to stop war, not through appeals to politicians but by direct action such as refusing to fight.

Countering recruiters’ lies, supporting those in the military who want out, resisting reinstatement of the draft, and opposing the outsourcing of war to mercenaries are all complementary parts of that same strategy to deprive the military of cannon fodder.

There are differences of opinion among pacifists and other anti-militarists as to whether Selective Service or the current poverty draft is the “lesser evil”. But there’s agreement among all pacifists, and almost all anti-war activists, that if war is wrong, it’s wrong to send anyone to fight it. And there’s a common expectation — bolstered by 25 years of the government’s failure even to get young men to register for the draft, much less report for induction — that a draft would be at least as much a failure for the warmongers as recruiting is becoming.

The handful of show trials of draft resistance organizers like myself in the 1980’s served only to call attention to the resistance, and to the safety in our numbers. Enforcement of draft registration was abandoned, and no one has been prosecuted in almost 20 years. Whether or not the politicians or the Pentagon will want a draft if recruiting declines further, it’s not their choice, and resistance makes it not an option.

The real alternative to military enlistment, as advocated by both pacifists and other counter-recruiters, isn’t a draft. It’s an end to war.

Edward Hasbrouck
San Francisco
(imprisoned for organizing resistance to draft registration, 1983-1984)

Link | Posted by Edward on Wednesday, 2 November 2005, 23:34 (11:34 PM)
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