Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Next Stop: Conscription

In early August, about 300 Alaska-based soldiers of the 172nd Stryker Brigade, shortly after returning from Iraq, were ordered to return to Iraq immediately. Because of a bureaucratic bungle, the unit was not informed while in Iraq that its tour of duty had been extended. As a result, the soldiers and their families, relieved and grateful for their safe return, were torn apart once again without adequate time to prepare.

Shortly thereafter the Bush administration announced that at least 2,500 discharged Marines would be involuntarily reactivated for combat duty through the Marine Corps’ Individual Ready Reserves (IRR) program. Both of these developments illustrate just how over-extended the military has become as a result of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and how desperate it has become in seeking personnel to fill current needs — let alone those that will come if, as expected, military action is taken against Lebanon, Syria, Iran, or North Korea.

Meanwhile, “centrist” Republicans and Democrats alike are promoting a “Universal Service” program in which all 18-year-olds of both sexes would be required to give a year or two of federally approved “service” as a condition of college admission. This would likely include a military reserve commitment and the option of active-duty service in the military.

In their new campaign manifesto The Plan, Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) and Bruce Reed, president of the Democratic Leadership Council, call for “a real Patriot Act that brings out the patriot in all of us by establishing, for the first time, an ethic of universal citizen service.... All Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 should be asked to serve their country by going through three months of basic civil defense training and community service.... Universal citizen service will bring Americans of every background together to make America safer and more united in common purpose.” One function of that proposal would be to expand the military by at least 100,000 men — a target that belies Emanuel and Reed’s assurance that they don’t endorse a return to conscription.

Link to a post from June regarding the Universal Service bill introduced by Charles Rangel


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