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Local reaction mixed to reviving draft

...
Local reaction mixed to reviving draft

<www.santacruzsentinel.com/archive/2003/January/04/local/stories/02local.htm>

January 4, 2003
By BRIAN SEALS
SENTINEL STAFF WRITER

SANTA CRUZ -- In 2003, a military draft may sound like a historic
relic, stored away with leisure suits and eight-track tapes.
War can be a sobering reality, though.
With talk of war with Iraq continuing, a New York congressman plans
to introduce legislation next week that would revive compulsory
military service that was discontinued during the Carter administration
amid the country’s Vietnam hangover.
U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., has raised more than a few
eyebrows with his proposal.
Rangel wrote this week that he wants to bring back the draft to not
only bolster troop levels, but to share the service burden among the
poor and middle class who are more likely to enlist and the wealthy
who are not.
Whatever the reasoning, in Santa Cruz County there is no shortage
of people to quibble with the proposal, but there are supporters, too.
Reaction among some area veterans was mixed with some saying
everyone has an obligation to shoulder the load of military service and
others who saying people who want to serve make better soldiers.
Leo Smith, a Vietnam-era Navy veteran, favored volunteer troops.
“Just any man won’t do, you have to have men who want to stand
the line for their country,” said Smith, who volunteered for service.
“I’ve been with drafted men who didn’t look too good. They were
scared and standing there.”
However, other vets said all classes of people should be responsible
for the fight.
Frank Bolino, a volunteer Army veteran from 1976-79, said he would
support the draft for just that reason.
“It will give young people a chance to show their true patriotism,”
Bolino said.
Army veteran and former county supervisor Chris Matthews said a
draft could make people more conscientious about supporting war.
“I think if everyone realized they could be drafted, they’d be more
concerned about going to war anywhere,” Matthews said. “Now, it’s
just, ‘We’ll let someone else do it.’”
At least one parent thought it was a bad idea.
Dierdrie Biddiscombe, who has a 20-year-old son and opposes war
with Iraq, said the prospect was frightening for a parent. She said the
war should be fought by volunteers who want to serve.
She said she feels badly for volunteers who do have to fight if war
with Iraq occurs because they could get the same response many
Vietnam veterans received upon returning home.
“They’re going to fight a war that is very unpopular,” Biddiscombe
said.
Some young people said would oppose being forced to fight a war in
which they were not clear on the rationale.
Santa Cruz’s Adam Leon, 19, said he enjoys the fruits of living in
America but opposes compulsory military service.
“It’s tough to justify sending young men to fight for something that
right now doesn’t seem to have a clear-cut purpose,” Leon said. “I
don’t think it’s the best thing for the country.”
Brian Smith likened it to the often-stated Vietnam-era view that the
draft is sending young men to fight over old men’s problems.
“If people feel like the country is threatened, enough people would
be inclined to volunteer,” said Smith, 20.
And there are those who volunteer in Santa Cruz County. Marine
recruiter Sgt. Charles Madrid said about five people a month join that
branch of the service out of its Capitola recruiting station.
“We’ve always had a steady flow,” said Madrid, who added volunteer
troops are the best way to ensure soldier quality.
Bob Fitch of the Resource Center for Nonviolence in Santa Cruz
predicted lawmakers would resist the proposal, saying Americans
generally don’t like the draft.
“It’s a lousy bill,” said Fitch, who counsels young people about
registering for selective service and joining the military. “Even when
you have a draft, the rich get out of it and the poor get into it.”
Certainly the bill could face an uphill battle. Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld said last month a two-front war could be fought with
present troop levels, though many are skeptical of that. The U.S.
currently has about 1.3 million total troops and 1.2 million reservists.
Sarah Rosen, spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Sam Farr, whose district
covers most of Santa Cruz County, said the congressman had yet to
see the bill but has always opposed the draft.
Attempts to contact U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo, whose district includes
the north end of the county, failed.
Rangel is no hawk, having voted against the congressional resolution
authorizing the president to call for a military strike against Iraq.
However, he wrote in a New York Times column that a draft would
bring “a greater appreciation of the consequences of decisions to go
to war.”
“Service in our nation’s armed forces is no longer a common
experience,” he wrote. “A disproportionate number of the poor and
members of minority groups are make up the enlisted ranks of the
military, while the most privileged Americans are underrepresented or
absent.”
--------------
Contact Brian Seals at bseals (at) santa-cruz.com

 
 


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Comments

slavery and diversion

"Draft", what a polite word. Used to be called "conscription" - another polite word. In reality, it's still slavery and murder. No one needs to defend me from Iraq. What we need is defense from Washington.

What's worse, just as Washington's ongoing 10-year-old military occupation of Iraqi air space, and their pending all-out invasion of Iraq (which in reality is already happening as we speak on a small scale) is partially just to divert public attention from the STILL-crashing US economy, this draft nonsense is in part just the threat of an attack on the American people to divert attention away from the invasion and conquest of Iraq.

Washington fights every war on two fronts these days: one against their latest foreign target for military conquest, and another against the American people to keep them distracted, confused, apathetic, and ignorant. We are all enemies, so far as our political and military rulers in Washington are concerned.

All hail King George.

-Van
 

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