WASHINGTON, D.C. -- During the 2004 presidential campaign, the Democrats' standard bearer, John "Study or Get Stuck in Iraq" Kerry, was fond of claiming that if President Bush got re-elected, he would reinstate the draft. Though no Republican has advocated such a measure, the draft idea has created a lot of hot air on television and talk-radio outlets, which is what its proponents want in order to further depress support for the war in Iraq.
The champion of conscription is a legitimate Korean War hero -- Rep. Charlie Rangel, the dean of the New York congressional delegation, who was decorated with a Bronze Star in the Forgotten War. Last week on CBS he said, "I don't see how anyone can support the war and not support the draft." Long an advocate of legislation to begin conscription, he says a draft would ensure a "more equitable representation of people making sacrifices."
Rangel introduced a measure to have Congress reinstitute the draft early in 2003 and talked about it every chance he had. After he pegged the needle on the national conspiracy theory monitor that a draft was only a Bush victory away, Republicans called his bluff and brought his bill to the House floor. In October 2004, it went down to defeat on a 402-2 vote.
But that was two years ago, before the press and the politicians succeeded in molding public opinion so thoroughly against the war. Now Democrats, after campaigning for change in Iraq, have a certain responsibility to improve the situation in Mesopotamia. Knowing that it's not as easy as they made it sound on the campaign trail -- and needing more leverage to try to get the troop withdrawal they want -- Rangel is leading the charge to make young Americans believe that if the troops don't come home tomorrow, Uncle Sam will outfit college students with fatigues and ship them overseas.
"As long as Americans are being shipped off to war," Rangel says, "then everyone should be vulnerable." According to Rangel's office, all men and women up to 42 years of age would be eligible conscripts. He would exempt only those who have health problems or "reasons of conscience." And since the entire liberal establishment is against the war in Iraq, one can only conclude that all registered Democrats would be exempted from service.
Rangel's "reasoning" is directly contradicted by reality in today's Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marine Corps.
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.