Prior to the invasion of Iraq, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) introduced legislation to re-implement the military draft, arguing that the cost of war should be borne more broadly.
Donald Rumsfeld said of Rangel’s legislation: “We’re not going to re-implement a draft. There is no need for it at all.” More than four years after the war began, the White House has changed its thinking as it seeks more resources to maintain its escalation. Last Friday, the White House “war czar,” Gen. Doug Lute, suggested that the reinstitution of the military draft is being kept on the table.
Appearing on ABC this weekend, Rangel suggested that the Bush administration would “get out of Iraq so fast if they thought that Middle America had to make any sacrifices.” He added, “Believe me, when a Congress knows you’re talking about their community and their families, you’re reluctant to go to war in Iraq as speedily as we have.”
Rangel went on to explain that there’s already a version of the draft taking place:
It’s easy to talk about supporting a war if someone else is fighting that war. And we already have an economic draft. We’re holding hostage reservists, National Guard. We’re enticing kids that come from the highest unemployment areas with $15 — $20 — $30,000 dollars.
But for the middle class and the kids of the Congress, and the Pentagon, and the White House, they’re not involved. So you find a situation where people support the war, but not my kids.
Rangel continues to push for a draft, but argues that it should not resemble the one this nation experienced in Vietnam. “Vietnam had a political draft,” he said. “All you had to do is what Cheney did, what Bush did. All you had to do was know a politician and get deferments.” Rangel is calling for a draft with no deferments.
UPDATE: Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) has written a letter to President Bush asking him to clarify his policy with respect to the draft.