Stee-rike Two!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

(for The American Thinker with Charlie Rangel on the mound)

If the folks at The American Thinker believe they can keep Charlie Rangel from bringing back the draft by letting him seize the moral high ground, they are sadly mistaken. Fortunately, polls indicate that this is probably an uphill battle for Rangel anyway. (But maybe not. See this.) If so, we are fortunate, but the public debate on this issue hasn't really started yet. From what I have seen, I am not so optimistic that conservatives, left to their own devices, would be able to stop this terrible idea through their intellectual efforts.

Recently, I complained about another, weaker anti-draft article at the 'Thinker, one by Ray Robison, whose "argument" against bringing back the draft consisted, essentially, of daring the Democrats to do just that -- by calling them hypocrites on the issue of national security if they did not! Obviously (to me anyway) that was a horrendous argument. Today, Greg C. Reeson fares only a little better.

First, let's consider the merits of Reeson's approach, which, I am relieved to report, at least doesn't equate to "Double-dog dare ya!" He does attempt to answer some of Rangel's arguments. This is laudable, but not effective, as I will indicate later. For example:

Representative Rangel's second argument makes the claim that an all-volunteer military disproportionately puts the burden of conflict on minorities and lower-income families. However, in a report for Congress published in June of this year, the Congressional Research Service found that white soldiers accounted for about 74% of all deaths in Iraq and about 80% of all deaths in Afghanistan. African-Americans suffered 10% of the deaths in Iraq and 8% in Afghanistan, while Latinos / Hispanics accounted for 11% in Iraq and 9% in Afghanistan. [link dropped]
Fair enough, although Reeson should have taken this bit further and asked whether -- because Hispanics make up at least 12.5% of the population (Table 10) -- Rangel thinks we should "over-draft" Hispanics until the casualty percentages evened out. But just indicating in this way that Rangel's bean-counting is inane doesn't go far enough.

On national security, Reeson does better, indicating why a conscripted military is a terrible idea. After discussing aspects of the military manpower equation most journalists seem ignorant about, Reeson also informs us that:
Forcing people to serve in the military against their will produces an inferior force and lowers morale. The focus becomes one of numbers and not one of professionalism and competence. Discipline problems increase as people who want out focus their energies on achieving that goal, and not on the job for which they were drafted.

Ask anyone in the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps and they will all tell you the same thing: we want to fight alongside other people who want to be there with us. We don't want people who are forced to serve, because we cannot be sure that we can rely on them when the bombs start exploding and the bullets start flying.
This is an excellent point, and is probably one of the strongest he makes, but still, he has not gone far enough. Here's why.

Reeson still has not challenged Rangel's moral premise, which is that having a draft will somehow make America better than it already is. Much has been made over the fact that Rangel proposes the draft as a means of pressuring our leaders to make more careful decisions about whether to go to war, for example.

But that is not all Rangel is claiming in its favor. In my last post on this subject, I indicated that a mandatory two-year service requirement for American citizens would doubtless become some sort of bloated "national service" type requirement simply because the military does not need as many bodies as this measure would produce. As it turns out, I was correct:
[Rangel] said having a draft would not necessarily mean everyone called to duty would have to serve. Instead, "young people (would) commit themselves to a couple of years in service to this great republic, whether it's our seaports, our airports, in schools, in hospitals," with a promise of educational benefits at the end of service.
Given that Colin Powell and John McCain -- to name just two prominent Republicans -- both favor national service, how likely will other Republicans be to take a stand against Rangel's "draft"? If volunteering for the military can substitute for it? If the military gets to cherry-pick from the draftees? If some of the draftees get to serve in "faith-based" initiatives?

Since when did the Founding Fathers envision conscription and a state religion for our Republic?

Unless more people start pointing out that forcing people to work for any reason is slavery, and that slavery is wrong because it violates individual rights, that small detail will be forgotten either in the current debate over the draft or perhaps when the tireless enemies of individual rights raise the issue again later on. And if they are thwarted this time, they will.

America was founded to protect the rights of each of its citizens to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, not to enslave them. You risked your life for this ideal, Mr. Reeson. Why not proudly stand up for it in words now? In picking up the pen, you have chosen a mightier weapon than the sword to defend freedom, but it is only mightier if wielded properly. Rangel knows that people support what they believe to be right, even if it constitutes an illogical hardship. He -- or someone like him -- will defeat you even though you are in fact right and he is in fact wrong, unless you learn this lesson quickly.

Give your opponent the high ground at your own peril.

-- CAV


Anonymous said...

well now, see you have completely misrepresented my article from the start. I in fact made no argument at all against the draft or for it. That was not the intent. If it was the intent the article would have said something like "gee, this draft idea sucks". Which it really does, as an aside. The point of the article was "let the democrats be democrats" instead of misrepresenting their beliefs to fool the public. If rangel wants to promote a draft in order to trick the uninformed public (the casual news watcher I mean) into thinking it is Bush's doing (which is exactly what happened) then let him say it while the dems are in power so the uninformed public will know it was his baby all along. And that is exactly what happened. He came out for the draft again and every paper in the country now attributes the proposed draft to him (and the democrats), which they rather glossed over before to blurr the origin of this proposed legislation. To quote Denzel from training day, "this is checkers not chess". BTW, again, this bill will never pass so please stop the hand-wringing, buck up. -RR

Gus Van Horn said...

Yes. THIS bill might not pass, but then you have completely missed my point, which is that many conservatives (including some readers of this blog) do not oppose the idea of a military draft and fewer still the idea of (nonmilitary) national service, which -- as I pointed out -- Rangel has already floated.

Were I a religious man (Which I am not, as an aside.), I would get down on my knees and thank God a Democrat proposed it, for I don't see any reason to think that the GOP is fundamentally opposed to national service (e.g., Powell and McCain). If they oppose this measure, it will simply be because it was a Democrat's idea.

If you call a genuine concern for freedom and a warning about a future danger "hand wringing", then the admonition to "buck up" is being directed by the wrong person and at the wrong person in this conversation.