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EDITORIAL

... about fighting the draft

A burgeoning anti-war movement is needed to force Washington to back down on its attempts to restate a compulsory military draft, too.

Behind the scenes, in this election year, $28 million has been added to the 2004 budget of the Selective Service System for a draft that could reportedly begin as early as June 15, 2005.

Like the scurrying of rats, the Penta gon brass has launched a campaign to fill all 10,350 draft board positions and 11,070 appeals board openings.

Don't look for a Democrat to say "Hell no, they won't go." Congress moved twin bills--S. 89 and H.R. 163--forward this year that are entitled "The Universal National Service Act of 2003." They would require all young people between the ages of 18 and 26, including women, to "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." These active bills are currently before the armed services committees.

These and other ominous moves indicate that the U.S. ruling establishment is getting ready to revive the draft if it feels it needs to mobilize large-scale troops for its "endless war" of colonial expansion.

But best-laid plans often go astray. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats are going to implement such a plan while they're on the campaign trail. Instead, they've arbitrarily extended the tours of duty of GIs in Afghanistan and Iraq--which of course is equivalent to a compulsory draft. This has caused great rage among the rank-and-file--a sentiment reflected by their loved ones at home.

The courage and tenacity of the Iraqi people's resistance has continued to confront the foot soldiers of the occupation. And anti-war sentiment in the United States, now smoldering, could become a conflagration as the war drags on.

It was the resistance of the Vietnamese people and the terrible human toll there that ignited sentiment among U.S. soldiers and civilians against that war. The rising level of anti-war sentiment and the organizing among rank-and-file soldiers forced Washington to sign a peace treaty in 1973 and scrap the draft. It still took another two years before the last U.S. forces were driven out of Saigon and it became Ho Chi Minh City.

Just such a movement must force the Commander-in-Chief, from whichever party of big business, to not only cancel a planned military draft, but to bring the troops home.

All out for the March 20 day of protest against war and occupation in Iraq, Palestine and everywhere!

Reprinted from the Feb. 19, 2004, issue of Workers World newspaper

This article is copyright under a Creative Commons License.
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