A Republican U.S. senator is calling for a return of the military draft so the cost of the Iraq operation could be borne by people of all economic strata.

Speaking at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on post-occupation Iraq, Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., said, “There’s not an American … that doesn’t understand what we are engaged in today and what the prospects are for the future.”

Hagel, a member of the committee, says all Americans should be involved in the effort.

“Why shouldn’t we ask all of our citizens to bear some responsibility and pay some price?” Hagel said, arguing that restoring the draft would force “our citizens to understand the intensity and depth of challenges we face.”

The senator also argued re-instituting the draft, which ended in the early ’70s, would cause the burden of military service to be spread among all economic classes of people.

“Those who are serving today and dying today are the middle class and lower middle class,” he claimed.

Hagel’s call comes just days after the Pentagon moved to extend the missions of some 20,000 of the 135,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, noted a report from Agence France-Presse. The Bush administration has been criticized for not using enough troops as the coalition works to keep order in Iraqi cities.

As WorldNetDaily reported, a pair of bills was introduced in Congress last year that would bring back the military draft.

S. 89, the Senate version of the legislation, indicates its purpose is “to provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons in the United States, including women, perform a 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 was introduced Jan. 7, 2003, by Sen. Fritz Hollings, D-S.C.

Says the text of the bill: “It is the obligation of every citizen of the United States, and every other person residing in the United States who is between the ages of 18 and 26 to perform a period of national service as prescribed in this Act unless exempted under the provisions of this Act.”

This service, which would be for a minimum of two years, can be either in the military or “in a civilian capacity that, as determined by the president, promotes the national defense, including national or community service and homeland security.”

Under the bill, “conscientious objectors” may request a deferment from military training, but must still provide service “that does not include any combatant training component.” Alternatively, the objector can be transferred to a civilian service job.

The House of Representatives version of the bill, H.R. 163, is sponsored by Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y.

The bill differs from an earlier attempt to re-institute the draft. As WorldNetDaily reported, the “Universal Military Training and Service Act,” introduced in December 2001, applied only to men and only those from 18-22 years of age. Also, the earlier bill required just six months of service.

Libertarian presidential candidate Aaron Russo has launched a petition drive against the draft.

Last fall, media reported on the fact the Selective Service System had posted a notice saying the agency was looking for people to serve on local draft boards. Since then, the appeal has been changed to assure the public that “there is NO connection between this ongoing, routine public outreach to compensate for natural board attrition and current international events. Both the president and the secretary of defense have stated on several occasions that a draft is not needed for the war on terrorism, including Iraq.”

Libertarian commentators claim the government is getting things prepared so if the draft is re-instated, conscription can begin as quickly as possible. Recently, presidential candidate Ralph Nader also has warned about attempts to bring back the draft.

Related stories:

Petition drive opposes military draft

Congress considers new kind of draft

U.S. not considering conscription

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