So the Guardian’s G2 section, which is sometimes very worthwhile when not cringeworthy, has a, um, less than worthwhile article up. The writer, presenting as evidence an email from one kid in college and a advocative website disguising as “objective” describing a bill being presented, has decided that A Military Draft In The US Is Imminent.
Never mind that the writer of the article, John Sutherland, has spectacular factual errors and omissions accompanying his hyperbole.
Last Wednesday, the American public was officially instructed to panic. Attorney general John Ashcroft and FBI director Robert Mueller – brows furrowed, faces grim – took over primetime TV to deliver a spine-chilling message to their fellow citizens: “Al-qaida attack imminent.”
When, where, and what form the outrage will take, is unknown. But something very, very awful is going to happen very, very soon.
Okay, that’s irrelevant, and the author misses the point of the press conference, but hey, what a nice compelling intro. He mentions it again at the end as a nice touch to
maintain the irrelevance bring it all together.
On the same day that Ashcroft was terrifying his countrymen, I was emailed by an American student friend. He too is terrified. “The US legislature,” he wrote, “is trying to bring back the draft asap. Check it out at www.congress.org. For some reason no major news networks or printed media in this country are carrying this story. If these bills go through, the only thing between me and military service is my asthma.”
He’s right. There is pending legislation in the American House of Representatives and Senate in the form of twin bills – S89 and HR163. These measures (currently approved and sitting in the committee for armed services) project legislation for spring 2005, with the draft to become operational as early as June 15.
(Links to the bills added by me so you can look at them)
Oh, how I feel for that poor, oppressed college student. Lucky for the asthma, eh? Good thing he’s right, right?
Okay, here are a few qualifers. First, there are all sorts of bills, all the time, and there is usually a call for the draft every year or two. Remember the New York gasbag who called for the draft last year using a BS racial card that didn’t work?
The Senate bill is a bill for National Service (read: not necessarily military). It was sponsored by Senator Fritz Hollings (D-SC). Note the D there. Note also the lack of cosponsors. The bill was read into committee, and that’s about it so far. It’s also not what our asthmatic collegian thinks it 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. (my emphasis)
(By the way, there is no mention of Hollings being a D on his bio or on any of the pages I checked out on his web site. Interesting.)
Well, maybe the other one is what the article’s worrying about. The House bill has some cosponsors, including
that gasbag Rangel, and five other representatives. All Democrats. And it has the same “civilian service or military service, yer choice” thing the Senate version does.
(b) FORM OF NATIONAL SERVICE- National service under this Act shall be performed either–
(1) as a member of an active or reverse component of the uniformed services; or
(2) in a civilian capacity that, as determined by the President, promotes the national defense, including national or community service and homeland security.
Okay, so far the gasping emailer has led the grasping journalist astray. Maybe the journalist’s skills in fact checking and getting to the story will help.
All young Americans are obliged to “register for the draft”.
And maybe not. You know, that 50% of the population, those without Y chromosomes, not being part of this particular party. It’s a stag Selective Service right now.
Okay, maybe the ability to have things put in perspective will win out.
On how many fronts can America fight its global war on terror with a “professional” army of half a million? Half a million and shrinking fast. Reservists are not re-enlisting. They signed up for the occasional weekend playing soldiers and some useful income, not death or glory.
Okay. And I’m getting emails with photos of reservists in theater re-upping en masse and giving the finger to guys like this is because why? You got real numbers to back this up? In my service, we’ve got too many folks staying in and have to deal with it as a problem to solve.
The merits of the proposed legislation aside (because that’s a separate issue, and one I’d be happy to discuss over a beer), we have:
- One email and a partisan website presented as sufficient evidence
- No evidence the journalist actually looked at the legislation
- A profound omission that the legislation is being sponsored by Democrats in a Republican-controlled Congress, and an omission of any context of why this would matter in terms of the antiwar argument put forward by the same Democrats, and
- Random bad information, passed as if God’s own truth.
It took me about ten minutes to look all this up, minutes Sutherland could have used wisely. Jason, I see why you have a website devoted to this stuff. Argh.