Cultural Revolutions

Reinstituting the Script?

A draft is being proposed by Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), who opposed the congressional resolution supporting war in Iraq.  He lost, so now he wants to conscript young people into the coming conflict to ensure that Americans “shoulder the burden of the war equally.”

Reinstituting conscription is bizarre on its face.  America currently deploys the most powerful and effective military on earth.  The all-volunteer force (AVF) combines extraordinary high-tech weapons with dedicated soldiers, professionals who are substantially brighter and better educated than their draft-era counterparts were.  In 2001, nine out of ten Army and Navy recruits possessed high-school diplomas; high-school graduates accounted for 96 percent of Marine and 99 percent of Air Force enlistees.  In contrast to its draft days, the military takes virtually no one who does not have at least a GED and does not score in the top three of five mental categories on the Armed Forces Qualification Test.  Real equality would require lowering the military’s standards.

Equally important, the AVF is staffed by soldiers who want to be there.  A draft military cannot let the discontented leave.  Discipline, performance, and readiness would all suffer if today’s servicemen were just counting the days until their involuntary terms ended.

Some draft advocates, like Representative Rangel, spin the...

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