Bring Back the Draft?

Nov 262006
Authors: Andy Nicewicz

Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., has proposed a plan that would bring back the military draft to the United States.

Personally, I am very much against the draft, as I am against people being forced to do anything against their will, especially when it comes to fighting and dying.

However, the draft has been necessary in achieving military victory in the past (such as World War II), but in a conflict such as the war in Iraq where our motives for being there are questionable at best and it’s debatable whether or not more troops on the ground would even make a significant difference, a draft at this point seems very unnecessary.

Moreover, our all-volunteer military is the most highly trained fighting force in the entire world and in general U.S. troops are very motivated. But, as was proven in Vietnam, a draft reduces the amount of training soldiers receive and also greatly decreases the motivation of the soldiers.

However, Rep. Rangel raises some valid points in his support of reinstating the draft.

For instance, the military has a reputation of disproportionably recruiting from the ranks of poor and minority populations. Reinstating the draft would eliminate these inequities as everyone who meets the requirements would have a possibility of being forced to serve in the armed forces, regardless of economic status or ethnicity.

But probably the most compelling argument in favor of bringing back the draft is the effect it would have on decisions of whether or not to go to war. The theory is that when children from middle and upper class families will be sent off to fight, support for entering any war will decline dramatically. In retrospect, the people of the United States probably would’ve looked twice at the rationale for going to war in Iraq if the draft had been in effect at the time.

There is some historical backing of this theory. During the Vietnam War, the government started using a lottery system to draft people. This meant that everyone who met the age requirement could be drafted. The previous system was that a draft board would select who would be drafted. This system brought about accusations of unfairness as it disproportionably selected individuals with lower-income and minority status to be sent off to war. When the lottery went into effect on Dec. 1, 1969, popular support of the war fell to all-time lows and we withdrew all our forces by 1973.

I’m still opposed to the draft. However, Mr. Rangel brings up some interesting points that deserve attention. Inequalities of who serves in the military need to be addressed. We also need to make sure to think twice before going to war. But most importantly, we still need to find a solution to our forces being spread too thin, a problem that is even more urgent with the increased threats posed by Iran and North Korea.

I don’t think bringing back the draft is the best remedy to these problems, but talking about it may urge us to at least think about other possible solutions.

Andy Nicewicz is a senior political science major. His column appears every Monday in the Collegian. Replies and feedback can be sent to

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