Oliver North

  Not that facts seem to matter in this case, but no Republicans supported H.R. 163, the bill introduced by Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and 14 Democrat cosponsors, which would have compelled all men -- and women -- to serve a mandatory tour in the military. When Republican House leaders called his bluff and insisted on bringing the bill to the floor to prove their own opposition to conscription, Rangel fumed that the parliamentary maneuver was "hypocrisy of the worst kind" and voted against his own proposal.

  Though neither Kerry nor his campaign "scare-mail" acknowledge it, no president can require compulsory military service. Our Constitution charges Congress with the responsibility to "raise and support armies." Short of a cataclysmic attack on the United States, no Congress is going to vote for conscription -- particularly since it would inevitably force our daughters to fight.

  And therein lies the full fallacy in Kerry's "draft scare." He and his liberal colleagues have successfully argued "gender neutrality" for so long that male-only conscription is legislatively impossible. Any congressional vote to draft American men would immediately invite a legal challenge from Edwards' trial lawyer cronies -- alleging "sexual discrimination" against men. One can only guess how long this case would take to get to the Supreme Court.

  These realities, ignored by the Kerry campaign e-mail "rumor mill" and the media, are very much on the mind of our military professionals. The officers I cover in Iraq and Afghanistan are keenly aware that we are defended by an all-volunteer force. They also know that today's military is the brightest, best educated, and most proficient and highly motivated in history -- and they want to keep it that way. While pointing to unprecedentedly high re-enlistment rates among the regular Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps as proof that morale remains high, they also point to trouble on the horizon.

  Last year, all four branches of the U.S. military met their retention goals and exceeded their recruiting objectives. But this week, the Army announced that last month it was 30 percent short of its target of 7,274 new recruits. Privately, some officers and senior NCOs are now grumbling that "all the negative coverage" and "draft talk" is hurting new enlistments.

  How much of this is the consequence of the Kerry scare-mail is impossible to gauge. But it does beg the question why more of the media have not called him on the lie. No matter who wins on Nov. 2, we're going to need 200,000 bright, brave high school and college graduates to volunteer to serve in our armed forces this year. The terrorists who would kill us if they could will still be out there after the inauguration in January. It's time John Kerry did the right thing for the country -- and told the truth about the draft. Maybe he could send out an e-mail.

 And by the way -- no matter what it said in the e-mail about my congressional testimony, the terrorist I testified about was Abu Nidal.

Oliver North

Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.