New York Congressman Charles Rangel has revived discussion of a military draft.
“There’s no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm’s way,” he said.
As happens so often, a congressman has the right idea for the wrong reason. Congressmen will still find a way to “work the system” and keep their kids out of Iraq. The real reason to support a draft is a simple one.
Right now, the decision between war and peace is one that only roughly one million families have a personal stake in. For the rest, war is an abstract notion that might affect their lives in one way or another, but they will not lose a family member because of it.
Establish a military draft, or better yet, establish mandatory military service based on the model used in Israel, and peace becomes a priority at every dinner table in America.
The best part of it is that Americans will be forced to become better educated on foreign policy than they are now. There are people out there that think we found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. There are people out there that believe there were operational ties between Saddam Hussein, a despot that killed religious extremists, and the religious extremists of al Qaeda.
When every American family has a personal stake in the defense of this nation, people will demand accountability in our defense doctrine, something that hasn’t happened since the draft was abolished in the first place. Who knows how long Vietnam might have continued had the American people not mobilized against the war?
It all leads to one thing that the White House does not want— A personal stake in war and peace leads to a nation that is much more selective in whether or not they’ll go to war. Risking the neighbor’s son is one thing— Risking your own is another altogether. And there would be a steep political price to pay for recklessly chosen wars that put America’s sons in harm’s way.