Liberals prepare country for a draft

Workers Advocate, December 1, 1990
(reprinted in CV #33, March 25, 2004)


. Whenever the imperialists wage war, a section of the liberal Democrats come out for the draft. This is not only the case today, with Bush II's Persian Gulf war and occupation of Iraq, but it was the case with Bush I's Persian Gulf war. The following article is The Workers' Advocate, December 1, 1990, page 5.

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. Congressman John Conyers is one of the most liberal members of the Democratic Party and he is also a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. He has recently called for reviving the draft, with no deferments or exemptions. (Michigan Chronicle, Nov. 21-27)

. You would expect the militarists to want the draft. But Conyers wants us to believe that he is a man of peace. According to Conyers, reviving the draft would be a step towards peace. Why? It would make the prospect of military hostilities repulsive to more people by supposedly spreading the sacrifice of military service "fairly" to the whole population. He paints the draft in anti-racist colors as a way to ensure that blacks and minorities and the poor are not disproportionately in the armed services.

. Jesse Jackson too, ignoring the experience of U. S. aggression against Viet Nam, claims a draft would ensure fairness. One of is first acts as "shadow senator-elect" from Washington, D.C. was to call for Congress to reconsider the draft. (Chicago Defender, Nov. 14)

The real meaning of the draft

. But what is the real purpose for a draft? Conyers himself admits that "If we go to war, a draft is inevitable. There would be no other way for the president to maintain the troop strength and numbers."

. Doesn't this mean that the militarists need the draft in order to have sustained warfare? Doesn't this mean that by calling for the draft, Conyers is paving the way for more war?

. Today the Pentagon is worried whether recruitment for the volunteer army can be maintained during a war crisis. And liberals like Conyers and Jackson have come out for the draft in advance.

Democratic Party wants to regiment the youth

. Indeed, form its liberal wing to its "moderates", the Democratic Party has supported a universal youth service for years. Former President Carter reinstituted registration for the draft. NOW and many bourgeois feminists insisted that any draft should include women. Later other Democrats called for national service, either in the military or in a civilian service as cheap labor, for all youth. When this didn't get instituted, a new proposal was put forward for national service for those youth who needed government financial help for college or other reasons.

. And now the Democrats are again talking about the draft. This time the most liberal wing of the party is taking on itself the shame and notoriety of being the first to call for conscription.

Painting militarism in anti-racist colors

. Conyers says that what distinguishes his draft from that of the militarists is that he is against any deferments. According to him, this will ensure that minorities and the poor don't bear the burden.

. In fact, universal conscription would not end the extra burden on the minorities and the poor. The rich and privileged have long had favorable treatment within the military, and not just in escaping it. And today too, the numbers of blacks on the front lines is higher than their percentage in the armed services as a whole. As of mid-November, blacks were 29% of the troops in the Persian Gulf (according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff), although they are only 20% of total armed forces personnel. (Detroit News, Nov. 29)

. For that matter, if the draft is reinstated, it is not likely to be done according to Conyers' prescriptions. Conyers call for the draft wills imply make it easier for the rich and privileged militarists to impose this hateful step upon the country whenever they see fit. They can even present themselves as more humane than Conyers by adding a few exemptions. Indeed, while saying he is opposed to the extra burden borne by the minorities and the poor, Conyers' proposal would ensure that not a single black or working class youth escaped regimentation.

. Conyers holds that the harsher and more militarist laws that are passed, the more war will be repulsive. So he "fights" war by calling for a draft. He doesn't oppose the imperialist system, and expose its aggressive designs in the Middle East. He doesn't call for mass meetings of the working class to denounce the militarists. No, he calls for the draft, something he can do hand in hand with the imperialists and militarists.

. But never fear, Conyers won't just vote for sending the youth to the trenches. We have no doubt that, if necessary, Conyers himself will make the extreme sacrifice. He will take on the militarists hand to hand in the front lines ­ of a House subcommittee negotiating the exact terms of the draft. He will bear the burden of haggling with the enemy ­ while lingering over expense account lunches. What a hero! <>

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Last modified: April 14, 2004.