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Friday, June 30, 2006

Restoring the Draft: The Universal National Service Act of 2006

by Michel Chossudovsky

Congressman Charles Rangel, a Democrat (NY), introduced on 14 February 2006 a bill in the US Congress which requires:

"all persons in the United States, including women, between the ages of 18 and 42 to perform a [two year] period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes."

The bill applies to both US citizens and non-citizens, to men and women. There does not appear to be a provision which would exempt women who are pregnant and/or caring for infants/children in a young age.

While there was some media coverage of Rangel's initiative prior to the formal introduction of the bill, the matter has not been mentioned by the US media since it was introduced in February. There has been a deafening silence: since February 2006, not a single article or editorial has appeared in print on the Universal National Service Act of 2006.

Neither has it been the object of public debate. The bill has been referred to the House Armed Services Committee and the Subcommittee on Military Personnel. Ironically, in previous discussion leading up the bill, Rangel's initiative to restore the draft was described as "an anti-war tactic".

"Rangel opposes war with Iraq and seeks to make the point that many soldiers are volunteers from low-income and minority families. Political leaders, his reasoning goes, would think twice about sending into war the sons and daughters of a more complete cross-section of America. But whether or not one agrees with Rangel's rationale, many Americans would agree that universal service can be a great leveler and a unifying force in society."

Despite Rangel's antiwar resolve, the bill supports Washington's stated objective to extend the war into new frontiers and to ultmately send an entire generation of young Americans to fight an illegal, and unjust war. It is worth noting in this regard that the Neoconservative Project for a New American Century calls for increasing active duty strength from 1.4 to 1.6 million.

The bill also supports Big Brother. Those who are not sent overseas to the war theater would, according to the clauses of the bill, be inducted into the civilian homeland defense corps and other civilian duties, including the Citizens Corps, the "Neighborhood Watch Teams" and the "Volunteer Police Service" established in partnership with local law enforcement. (see )

While there is at present significant opposition to the bill on both sides of the House, the US military is overextended and lacks the manpower to carry out its global war agenda. This shortage of military personnel is blatantly obvious in Iraq, where the occupation forces are meeting fierce resistance.

The situation regarding the draft could also change if the war were to be extended into Iran. In which case, the substance of this bill could indeed be adopted to meet the manpower requirements of the US military.

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