Whispers of an Imminent Military Draft

Feel a draft? A while back a Selective Service System recruitment drive for new members to fill up its draft boards was posted to a US Defense Department public website. After the blog world and the media picked this up and started speculating, the Pentagon took down the recruitment notice, but the speculating hasn’t stopped.

On , Democratic Underground reported that “Bush is gearing up the draft — there is no longer any doubt about it.” They cite the SSS Annual Performance Plan for (dated ) as evidence for that assertion. The Democratic Underground post seems to me to have an inflated hysteria-to-facts ratio, but it too is making its way around blogland.

Among the weirder side effects of this new anxiety about the draft has been arguments from anti-war folks who say that a military draft would be a good thing because it would bring the war home and force people to think about how it effects them personally. Case in point: Draft Offered Courageous Choice by Johann Christoph Arnold.

My generation (I became a teen during the McCarthy era) came of age when opposition to war cost something. My peers and I had to decide to either join the military or volunteer for alternative service as conscientious objectors. And no matter what we chose, we all saw combat, in a sense: not one of us could evade the battle that takes place inside when one is faced with such a question.…

As a young man, I knew what my faith demanded, and I knew that I had to honor its demands. Looking back I feel being forced to make this decision made me stronger.

That’s why I believe it could be healthy for today’s youth to face a similar choice. Deciding which side to stand on is one of life’s most vital skills. It forces you to test your own convictions, to assess your personal integrity and your character as an individual.

As I have argued on this site, we don’t need to have a draft in order to be confronted with a choice like this. We all confront the choice of whether to support or oppose the war.

But if you haven’t already, now’s a good time to think about how you will confront the draft if it happens. If you think it won’t affect you directly, you may be surprised. For instance, a number of current presidential candidates are saying that they would support ending the men-only draft and forcing women also to register (as far as I can tell this is the first presidential election in which contenders have supported this position).

Also, the draft has been changed over the years. It is not only designed to fill the front lines with young cannon fodder, but is also () designed to draft experienced medical personnel. There are also plans underway to create other specialty drafts designed to fill holes in the military in any number of areas, from engineering to language instruction, by drafting professionals from these fields.

So while this site will continue to encourage you to examine your response to the conscription of your money for the war effort, today I encourage you to imagine what you will do if the government starts conscripting bodies — yours or those of your friends and family.

David Wiggins has written a good primer on draft resistance if that route appeals to you.