• Gearing Up For the Next Military Draft

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    most of us are preoccupied with the latest tales of mayhem and destruction
    emanating from Iraq, the Bush administration is quietly paving the
    way for the re-imposition of the ultimate form of slavery: a military
    draft to provide additional fodder for the so-called War on Terror.
    Without much fanfare, $28 million has been added to the 2004 Selective
    Service System (SSS) budget to prepare for a military draft that
    could start as early as June 15, 2005. SSS is charged with reporting
    back to Bush by March 31, 2005 (conveniently after the election),
    that the selective service system, which has lain dormant for decades,
    is ready for activation. If libertarians and traditional conservatives,
    who continue to regard Bush as the lesser of the major party evils,
    needed a convincing argument that it is long past time to get rid
    of this latter-day emperor in the making, this should be it. Libertarians
    can disagree on many issues, but on this one there is no room for
    equivocation; anyone who believes that the state has the right to
    compel its citizens to don battle gear and die for their country
    is no friend of liberty.

    Bush has succeeded in positioning himself as the enemy of everything
    libertarians esteem the most: free markets, peace, fiscal responsibility,
    and true liberty rooted in the principles outlined in the Bill of
    Rights. Even as our fundamental rights were being stripped away
    inexorably by this and past administrations, it seemed unthinkable
    that the most basic right of all — the right to life itself — would
    once again be jeopardized by a compulsory draft system that had
    seemingly been permanently interred more than thirty years ago.
    If Bush has taught us one lesson, it is that Barry Goldwater and
    Robert Taft-style Republicanism, with its classical liberal bent,
    bears as much resemblance to Bush's Republican Party as Aristotle
    did to Plato.

    If Bush is reelected in November and succeeds in his quest for a
    new military draft, it will surely be even more odious in its implementation
    than the one that existed before 1970. For one thing, the loopholes
    that allowed Bush to escape service in Vietnam during his own youth
    will be tightened nearly to extinction. Canada will no longer be
    a safe haven for Americans seeking refuge from this latest incarnation
    of American slavery as it was in the late 1960s, thanks to the "Smart
    Border Declaration," the Orwellian name given to a treaty signed
    by Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs John Manley, and U.S. Homeland
    Security Director Tom Ridge. This insidious document calls for a
    “pre-clearance agreement” of people entering and departing each
    country and, in an effort to make the draft more "equitable"
    along gender and class lines, also eliminates higher education as
    a shelter. It's as though Bush examined the escape hatches that
    were available when he was threatened with enforced military duty
    and is determined to make sure they are no longer an option for
    the latest generation of draft-age Americans.

    Unfortunately, the Democrats are not likely to offer much in the
    way of opposition to a new draft. New York City Congressman Charles
    Rangel only half-facetiously floated the idea himself a year ago
    in an effort to throw a monkey wrench into the Bush war machinery.
    John Kerry, who has been on so many sides of each issue that he
    is simultaneously right and wrong on all of them, doesn't appear
    to have any ideological backbone whatsoever to prop him up. As Chris
    Matthews of "Hard Ball" asked of Don Imus during the Primary
    season, "Does anyone know where Kerry stands on any issue?"
    Kerry has positioned himself as Bush-lite on the subject of Iraq
    and is far from likely to take a firm stand, one way or another,
    on an issue as explosive as the military draft. That leaves Nader
    and the LP candidate, neither of whom is going to be our next president.

    So it appears we are destined to suffer through the same old pro-draft/anti-draft
    arguments my generation was besieged with for the better part of
    three decades, roughly from the beginning of Word War II through
    the first year of the Nixon presidency. On one side a new generation
    of kids in their teens and twenties, along with their sympathizers,
    lined up against hordes of brainless self-styled "patriots"
    waving their American flags, denouncing the kids as "traitors"
    while they pledge their allegiance to God and Country. What a mindless
    and emotionally charged spectacle it was! How tedious and mind-numbing.
    And if Bush has his way, we will be able to thank the beady-eyed
    neo-conservative from Texas for visiting it on us all over again.

    I'm being paranoid. Perhaps it will never come to pass. But paranoia
    has always been my first line of defense, and it's beginning to
    seem like déjà vu all over again.

    22, 2004

    Tuccille [send him
    is the author of 21 books, including It
    Usually Begins With Ayn Rand
    , It
    Still Begins With Ayn Rand
    , and most recently of Alan
    , a biography of Fed chairman Alan Greenspan. In
    1974 he was the Free Libertarian Party candidate for governor of
    New York.


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