'I will introduce [legislation] to resume the military draft,' Rep. Charles B. Rangel wrote in a column in The New York Times Dec. 31. The call did not come from a conservative but from a leading liberal who is a senior member of the congressional delegation from New York City and of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC).
'I believe that if those calling for war knew that their children were likely to be required to serve—and to be put in harm's way—there would be more caution and a greater willingness to work with the international community in dealing with Iraq,' he wrote.
Rangel, a Korean War combat veteran, had voted against the congressional resolution supporting the President against Iraq. He made it clear that his proposal was antiwar in nature and not in support of a larger military.
'A member introducing legislation that they don't really support in order to play politics and embarrass the President is disingenuous,' Rep. Nick Smith, R-Mich., told the Washington Post. He cosponsored the Universal Military Training and Service Act of 2001, which died in the House Armed Services Committee without a hearing. Rangel's bill is expected to suffer a similar fate.
One of the few members of congress to join Rangel was John Conyers, Jr., D-Mich., another senior member of the CBC. In a prepared statement, Conyers said the draft 'removes the long-held stigma that people of color and persons from low income backgrounds are disproportionately killed and injured while serving as ground troops on the front line.'
That claim was disputed by Larry Wortzel, a retired Army colonel and defense analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation. He agreed that African Americans suffered a disproportionate number of casualties during the Vietnam War. But over the ensuing decades, a large portion of the African American presence in the military has shifted from combat to support positions.
Charles Moskos, a professor at Northwestern University who is sometimes called the father the military's antigay policy of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' said that a revived draft would have to include women and gays. 'You can't use a gay ban with a draft because that would make it too easy for people to get out.'
'Of course there would be problems with that, there would be hassles, but they probably could be overcome,' Moskos told the Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military. He said, the draft was a 'higher virtue' than the privacy rights of straight soldiers concerned with sharing a foxhole with gays.
'Our President tells us he will do anything to prevail in our war on terrorism,' retired career sailor Keith Taylor wrote in a column in the Dec. 16 edition of Navy Times. 'If he means it, he'd better ask the functionaries at the Defense Language Institute to stop kicking out some of our most promising translators.'
'If we want to learn about our enemies, we have to use folks who can learn the language, regardless of their sexual orientation ... . Either our resolve to win the war on terrorism or our aversion to gays serving their own country has got to give.'