Monday, December 30, 2002

This could go down as one of the most extraordinary political poker plays of the last 10 years...
Rangel Calls for Mandatory Military Service A Democratic lawmaker said Sunday he will introduce a bill in the next session of Congress to make military service mandatory. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-New York, said such legislation could make members of Congress more reluctant to authorize military action. "I'm going to introduce legislation to have universal military service to let everyone have an opportunity to defend the Free World against the threats coming to us," Rangel said on CNN's "Late Edition." "I'm talking about mandatory service." The Korean War veteran has accused the Bush administration and some fellow lawmakers of being too willing to go to war with Iraq. In October, he voted against a joint resolution authorizing military action against Iraq. It passed 296-133 in the House and 77-23 in the Senate. "When you talk about a war, you're talking about ground troops, you're talking about enlisted people, and they don't come from the kids and members of Congress," he said. "I think, if we went home and found out that there were families concerned about their kids going off to war, there would be more cautiousness and a more willingness to work with the international community than to say, 'Our way or the highway.'" Rangel did not provide specifics of his proposal.
For years I have always been against mandatory military service. Part of that was, of course, due to the fact that I was subject to it as well. But it just always seemed unfair at some core level. However, in recent years, I have begun to wonder if having a standing military without mandatory service is a formula for disaster. I worry that it will lead to the creation of a military caste akin to what we see in many other countries in the world. A caste that might someday think it is better at running the country then the civilian authorities. I am conflicted to say the least. But, the politics of a proposal like this, coming at the height of war-mongering by the Bushies, could put Dubya into a serious quandry. Does Bush agree and risk personalizing his push for war? Does he disagree and appear to be weak on military preparedness in comparison to a democrat? Interesting times no?

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