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Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., commentator Ellen Ratner and a few other unlikely war hawks are proposing to reinstate the draft.

Consider this idea for what it is – a Hail Mary pass by people who want to see U.S. military moves in Iraq and the war on terror fail.

If you doubt their motivations, consider the following:

  • Rangel voted against the joint congressional resolution authorizing military action against Iraq. He says quite frankly: “A renewed draft will help bring a greater appreciation of the consequences of decisions to go to war.” In other words, he is banking on the reinstitution of the draft to put some life in America’s moribund anti-war movement.

  • Ratner wants a different kind of draft – one that would place those selected in all kinds of involuntary servitude of the government, not just military service.

Ratner, it should be noted, recently stated on Fox News Channel’s “Your World” that she hopes President Bush messes up the war so he won’t be re-elected in 2004. Here’s how that Dec. 28 exchange went:

Brenda Butner: “You’re basically saying that he’s going to be re-elected, I mean, essentially, unless the economy tanks …”

Ratner: “That is, unless he messes up the war … my hope.”

Butner: “Your hope?”

Ratner: “Well, I don’t want him to be re-elected.”

Butner: “Right, but I mean, ‘mess up the war.’ What do you mean by that?”

Ratner: “Do something that will make Americans say ‘Maybe we shouldn’t have done this.’ You know, that kind of thing.”

What better way for Bush to “mess up the war” than to bring back a draft. Ratner and Rangel are both old enough to remember why the Vietnam War was so unpopular. Even though it was a very complicated war, there is an easy, two-word answer: the draft.

Once the draft was killed by President Nixon in 1972, the life of the anti-war movement was gone. I’ll bet you a dollar to a donut both Rangel and Ratner opposed the draft then. Now they want to bring it back to recreate the good-old days of massive anti-war protests that empowered politicians of their ideological persuasion.

But there are other good reasons to oppose the draft at this time:

  • We don’t need it. No one in the Defense Department is calling for a draft. Manpower is the least of our problems. The voluntary army is working just fine. The Pentagon would like to build up some of the military infrastructure dismantled in the 1990s, but the U.S. has sufficient manpower to deal with the current threat.

  • Forcing Americans into involuntary servitude should be an absolute last resort. Ratner and some of the new draft proponents think it’s a good idea all the time – just another great way for the federal government to assert new illegitimate authority over individuals in wartime or not.

  • The same people making the case for the draft today think women should be permitted to fight on the front lines. This is not only morally wrong, it is militarily counterproductive. If they get their way, prepare for your daughters to be drafted.

The biggest reason to oppose the draft is because America needs to win the war on terrorism and the coming war in Iraq – which, to my mind, is nothing more than an extension of the war on terrorism. The draft will only complicate our mission and make it less likely that we achieve victory.

And that, I submit to you, is the biggest reason opponents of this war want to see the draft brought back – they don’t want us to win a clear victory.

Rangel and Ratner have shown their true colors. They have made their objectives clear. They have revealed their real agenda.

Some day this country may need a draft, again. When it does – and it may be sooner than many of us would like – I will support it. In the meantime, there are many things America should do to make the country more secure. Right now, the draft is not even on my list.

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