Just as the country that sent those 4.7 million young men off to the Great War disrupted or ended those young lives for a larger purpose, today, the country that is America must decide whether it is prepared to disrupt or end young lives for another, greater, purpose.
No, that was not President Barack Obama reading from the Progressivism hymnal to underscore his collectivist agenda. It was Tony Blankley, prominent conservative columnist, pleading for the return of the military draft.
In November of 2003, Nick Provenzo, host of the Center for the Advancement of Capitalism and Rule of Reason, argued in a hard-hitting article that the draft was an anathema to human liberty. He was answering a Washington Times column by Blankley, who claimed that because the country was now at war with the “scourge of terrorism,” and that it was likely our volunteer forces would be stretched to the limit to fight it, it was incumbent on President George W. Bush to “substantially increase the size of our military” by calling for the reintroduction of the military draft.
Blankley and Provenzo were writing after the initial invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2003.
In January of the same year, New York congressman Charles Rangel introduced a bill in the House to reinstate the military draft. Those who could not serve in the military because of a physical or mental disability, would be required to perform “community service.”
Noting in the beginning that, as of the time of his writing, only forty-four doughboys were alive of the 4.7 million sent to fight in Europe during World War I, Blankley ended his paean to self-sacrifice and duty with:
Several decades from now, when our children's generation is all dust, save 44 old men, will their grandchildren think as kindly on us as we do on those surviving 44 Doughboys (and their millions of comrades) who left us a richer clay from which to be born?
Nick Provenzo addresses the question of why many conservatives, who even today claim they are for liberty, free enterprise, freedom of speech, and other liberties, are in agreement with their alleged political rivals, the liberal/leftists, that Americans should “give back” to the country that bestowed those liberties on them.
If the war against militant Islam is the preeminent crisis of our day, why call on the draft to fight it? Why frame the issue as a question of whether America is willing to disrupt or end the lives of its young people?
If militant Islamists threaten our lives, freedom and prosperity, defending against them is not a sacrifice for the "greater good." What good could be greater than defending one's own life and happiness? Why does Tony Blankley ignore one's selfish interest in defending one's freedom?
Why? Because Mr. Blankley, like many conservatives, considers selflessness and not selfish interest to be the moral ideal. Even though America is a nation dedicated to protecting the life, liberty and happiness of the individual, conservatives are forever conflicted by the problem of the "greater good" and how best to sacrifice the inalienable rights of the individual to it.
Fast forward to July, 2010. It is nearly amusing that Charles Rangel, who has introduced his draft bill in the House repeatedly since 2003, and has again this year, has been charged by the House Ethics Committee with ethics violations and may stand House trial in September. The charges range from his not declaring assets of nearly $1 million on his Congressional disclosure form, to using his Congressional letterhead to promote a private center at the City College of New York that would bear his name, to taking corporate lobbyist-paid junkets to the Caribbean.
The longtime Democratic congressman from Harlem has failed to report at least $75,000 in rental income from a luxury beachfront villa he owns in the Dominican Republic. Evidently this is because Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and the chief tax writer for the United States, doesn't know that money derived from an asset is called “income.”
The byzantine and wholly arbitrary strictures and definitions, and the confiscatory nature of the U.S. tax code, are not the subject here. If Congress had any sense of value of individual rights, this kind of issue would never arise. Someone like Rangel would be charged instead with advocating the usurpation of the Constitution and the violation of individual rights, and with violating his oath of office.
But Congress could hardly throw the first stone at Rangel or anyone else charged with violation of House or Senate ethics rules, when both chambers and the White House regard the private sector -- the only realm that gives value to anything -- as their private preserve to loot, game, and control. Obamacare, the nationalization of the car industry, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the financial reform legislation -- all the socialist/fascist law that has ever passed and been signed in the Oval Office -- originated in the House, and were approved with pointlessly finicky amendments by the Senate, often with Republication abetting.
While the notion of compulsory military and civilian service is repugnant to the American sense of freedom, no matter who proposes it, what sets Rangel’s apart is that it is founded on the ugly phenomenon of envy and “class hatred.” This is in character with the Obama agenda of leveling everything with the demolition ball of expropriatory legislation, of wealth and of liberty. When he first introduced his bill, Rangel made sure that its purpose was not primarily to swell the ranks of the military, but to collar the offspring of the rich and wealthy.
"I truly believe that those who make the decision and those who support the United States going into war would feel more readily the pain that's involved, the sacrifice that's involved, if they thought that the fighting force would include the affluent and those who historically have avoided this great responsibility," Rangel said.
"Those who love this country have a patriotic obligation to defend this country," Rangel said. "For those who say the poor fight better, I say give the rich a chance." According to Rangel's office, minorities comprise more than 30 percent of the nation's military.
Under his bill, the draft would apply to men and women ages 18 to 26; exemptions would be granted to allow people to graduate from high school, but college students would have to serve.
In November of 2006, Rangel again introduced his bill, amending it to include a big proportion of the working population, upping the service age to 42. And again, his Marxist malice was transparent.
Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., said Sunday he sees his idea as a way to deter politicians from launching wars.
“There’s no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm’s way,” Rangel said.
Rangel, the next chairman of the House tax-writing committee, said he worried the military was being strained by its overseas commitments.
“If we’re going to challenge Iran and challenge North Korea and then, as some people have asked, to send more troops to Iraq, we can’t do that without a draft,” Rangel said.
He said having a draft would not necessarily mean everyone called to duty would have to serve. Instead, “young people (would) commit themselves to a couple of years in service to this great republic, whether it’s our seaports, our airports, in schools, in hospitals,” with a promise of educational benefits at the end of service.
We haven’t challenged Iran, North Korea thumbs its nose at us, and the principal combat venue has switched from Iraq to Afghanistan. These are all excuses, however, which Rangel and his supporters use to argue for a permanent, peacetime draft that would expropriate the lives of millions of Americans to serve what Blankley claimed in 2003 and very likely would still claim is a “another, greater purpose.”
Now, in 2010, Rangel still harps on the alleged class inequities of fighting a war.
"What troubles me most about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is the total indifference to the suffering and loss of life among our brave young soldiers on the battlefield," Congressman Rangel said. "The reason is that so few families have a stake in the war which is being fought by other people's children.
"The test for Congress, particularly for those members who support the war, is to require all who enjoy the benefits of our democracy to contribute to the defense of the country. All of America's children should share the risk of being placed in harm's way. "In other words, if you support the war, you should support a compulsory military draft," Congressman Rangel said.
Briefly, Rangel subscribes to the collectivist notion that Americans should “give back” to the country that has provided them the “benefits” of living in a (semi-free) country. What “benefits” are those? Blank out. Is it a “republic,” as he described it in 2006, or a “democracy,” as he called it on July 15? It is doubtful he or anyone else in Congress knows the difference, but we can let that pass for the moment. Mandatory national service would, of course, certainly realize the political dream of “full employment.”
Aside from the evil of claiming the lives of Americans to serve a purpose “greater” than living their own lives -- the emphasis here on the fact that individuals literally own their lives, not the government or “democratic” mob that is alleged to bestow “benefits” on them -- there is in the bill a dangerous provision that grants the president certain discretionary, arguably tyrannical powers.
1(3) The term ‘national service’ means military service or service in a civilian capacity that, as determined by the President, promotes the national defense, including national or community service and service related to homeland security.
And, if not in a military capacity, Americans would be ordered to serve
(2) in a civilian capacity that, as determined by the President, promotes the national defense, including national or community service and service related to homeland security.
(c)….When the induction of persons for military service is authorized by subsection (b), the President shall determine the number of persons described in section 102(a) whose national service obligation is to be satisfied through military service….
Section 105 of Rangel’s bill, “Implementation by the President,” gives the president virtually unlimited powers over American lives. At his “discretion,” he may declare a “national emergency” at any time for any reason he chooses. One can imagine Barack Obama and his ilk in Congress and in the various “czardoms” drooling at the prospect of “remaking” America as a virtual, “full employment” penal colony.
To effectively combat the idea of “national service,” Americans must grasp two critical points: that as individuals, they do indeed own their lives; and that their lives, liberties, property, and their pursuits of happiness are inviolate and integral in their nature and existence as individuals, and are not “benefits” or “privileges” or “stewardships” granted them by a supernatural deity or by “society.” They must muster the courage and pride to tell the Obamas, the Rangels, the Pelosis, and all their ilk in and out of government: “You don’t own me!”
As beings of volitional consciousnesses, Americans can choose to take one political path or another: the one leading to glorious freedom, or the one to ignominious servitude. Time will tell which path they will ultimately take.
The Tea Party movement and the general disgust with government and the Democrats are heartening. But, to paraphrase an Army recruiting slogan, it is not all that it can be.