and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
November #4

Determination, not military draft, needed
to fix what's wrong with this war
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Wednesday, November 22, 2006

It wasn't two weeks after Democrats took control of Congress that we heard the "d" word.

I was once a Republican because of two Republican presidents: Abraham Lincoln, who freed the slaves; and Richard Nixon, who freed young men from the military draft. As the 13th Amendment says, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude ..."

The Vietnam draft was the issue that got me involved in politics, and a reason I decided that I don't like government in general -- and the Democrats' style of government in particular.

Later, as an independent, I continued to fear the Democratic Party; not just because it was after my money, but because I figured it would someday drag my son into some foreign war that it didn't intend to win, making his service an unwarranted sacrifice.

As a Navy wife, I supported our military and half-bought the reason for the war, but not the use of force to fill the ranks. I was all for fighting communism, but only if enough young men could be convinced that a particular war effort was likely to achieve the goal.

My Navy officer friends disagreed with me about the draft, but we all thought that the war was wasting its human resources by not being fought with focused determination. The politicians, with unlimited access to America's young men, didn't feel they had to justify their strategic decisions or make a logical case to continue the fight: they just grabbed a few more kids to replace the ones who died in battle.

When the kids were finally organized enough to end the war, the draft was ended too, and Americans my son's age and younger have never feared it. This was probably the last thing on their minds when they went to vote this past Nov. 7.

But then, last Sunday morning, there was Congressman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., on TV with Tim Russert, saying he will file legislation next year to reinstate the military draft.

Rangel's said it before, to make a point -- end the war in Iraq or send everybody's kids to fight it, not just those who have volunteered for a military career or the National Guard. But in the past, he was not about to become the powerful House Ways & Means chairman in a newly Democratic Congress.

Democrats started the Vietnam War; Republican Barry Goldwater, a libertarian-leaning Republican, argued we should fight to win and was also opposed to the draft. But voters chose Lyndon Johnson instead, and more American boys died while Defense Secretary McNamara lied. By the time a Republican -- Nixon -- was elected, there was little choice left but to cut and run. And many of us at that time promised ourselves: Never again.

This time it is the Republicans who have been leading a war, the argument for which -- to fight terrorism on its own turf -- I also half-buy. But they, too, seem to be holding back, not fighting with all our national power in order to win.

My original theory holds: Without a draft, the war can't go on forever. In order to continue to attract recruits, Washington must support them 100 percent, but must tell the whole truth about our prospects.

Rangel makes one good point, but misses another. If there were to be a draft, there should be no deferments for college students, or for the children or grandchildren of congressmen. But he seems to think that only kids with few opportunities volunteer, instead of appreciating that our military forces are made up of the best that America has to offer.

I think John McCain is right: We need more of them in Iraq to do the job right and give the utmost support to those who are already there.

We will need even more if we have to deal with Iran, whose leader has vowed to destroy Israel, and with the other Islamic terrorists who threaten us all. I used to wonder what the National Guard was doing in the Middle East, but then came to understand that this war is meant to protect us here in America, in a world that is much smaller than it was during the Vietnam era.

In "World War III," which is what former House Speaker Newt Gingrich calls it, the entire world really is involved; we have already been attacked on our own soil. As the Islamic threat grows, we may well need every able-bodied man and woman to stand in defense.

It wouldn't hurt us to do more now to make America stronger in every way. The danger is real. Time to stop fussing over celebrity weddings and O.J. Simpson and start spending some free time in political activity.

We must protect our borders, abolish foolish political correctness, get our budget and national debt under control, work on freeing ourselves from our dependence on foreign oil, and insist on Americans taking personal responsibility for their lives. We must teach our children about our history, our Constitution, and our traditional values.

As Thanksgiving weekend approaches, I am especially grateful to all the men and women who have fought for freedom over the centuries. It's time for us all to join them, not via a military draft, but by the way we live our freedom every day.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Lowell Sun, Providence [RI] Journal and other newspapers.