Viewpoints

Letter to the Editor

The Draft is coming back

The draft is very likely to be reinstated in the next year if Bush is reelected for a second term, despite administration denials. Bringing back the draft will be necessary to sustain the troop commitment in Iraq. Earlier this year the Department of Defense issued a “stop loss” order, which basically holds back soldiers who have completed their service and are about to be discharged from duty in Iraq. This order is still in effect. In July of this year, the Army was forced to bring new enlistees into the ranks early rather than allow them the promised deferred entry of up to one year to finish high school, say good-bye to their families, etc. Last week the Army announced it was lowering requirements to increase enlistee numbers. The president has had no success with increasing the number of foreign troops in Iraq and has no time frame for withdrawal of American troops.

Outlined at the Selective Service website (http://www.sss.gov/whhap.htm), the draft is reinstated “…when a crisis occurs which requires more troops than the volunteer military can supply.” The crisis appears to be Iraq. Women are excluded from the new draft while those who were born male and had a sex change are still eligible. Under the new draft, a college student can have his induction postponed only until the end of the semester. A senior can postpone until the end of the academic year. The “only son” or “the last son to carry on the family name” and “sole surviving son” can only be exempt from the draft if there was a military death in the immediate family. This new draft plan is a done deal. It is sitting on the shelf waiting to be “called up.”

What are the implications of reinstating the new draft? It would not reflect well on President Bush, who continues to deny that there will be a draft. One question he must then answer is why the draft was revised in 2002. Since President Bush has no exit strategy from Iraq, would the reinstated draft become permanent in his second four years in office? Would this increase in troop numbers embolden him to undertake other unilateral military adventures? Sadly, the answer is yes to both questions. What options exist for men who oppose the draft and are refused conscientious objector status? The college deferment is out. A sex change is out. Canada recently passed anti-terror legislation that increases monitoring to ensure foreign tourists leave when their visa ends, so Canada is out. The only option left is, when reporting to the draft board, wait for a “don’t ask, don’t tell” moment and “tell!”

Tim Ryan

SSA/Chapin Hall IRB