Rangel vows to introduce draft bill as calls for troops rise
The incoming Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means panel says he will introduce a bill to reinstituteamilitarydraftinorderto provide the U.S. with more troops, while Sen. John McCain continued his call for increase of troop levels in Iraq.
Rep. Charles B. Rangel of New York first called for a draft in January 2003, when Democrats were the minoritypartyinbothhousesofCongress. Now that his party controls Capitol Hill, he was asked Nov. 19 on CBS’“FacetheNation”ifhewasstill serious about the proposal.
“You bet your life. Underscore ‘serious,’ ” he said.
“I don’t see how anyone can support the [Iraq] war and not support the draft,” said Mr. Rangel, alluding to Mr. McCain’s call for increased trooplevelsinIraqandtotheneedto combat threats elsewhere in the world. “If we’re going to challenge IranandchallengeNorthKoreaand then, as some people have asked, to sendmoretroopstoIraq,wecan’tdo that without a draft.”
Mr. Rangel said his bill, which he will introduce again early next year, wouldallowAmericansturning18to choose between several forms of national service, including airport security,orjobsinschoolsandhospitals.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said in his own “Face the Nation” appearance that military conscription was unnecessary.
“I think we can do this with an allvoluntary service, all-voluntary Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy. And if we can’t, then we’ll look for some other option,” said Mr. Graham, who also serves as a reserve judgetotheAirForceCourtofCriminal Appeals.
Repeated polls have shown that aboutsevenin10Americansoppose reinstatement of military conscription, and the Pentagon has long opposed any draft. Outgoing Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told Congress in June 2005 that “there isn’t a chance in the world that the draft will be brought back.”
Meanwhile, Mr. McCain, Arizona Republican, continued to call for increased U.S. military presence in Iraqtostabilizethecountryandprevent what he described as a dire threat to U.S. national security.
“You’ve got to ask yourself some questions.One,arewewinning?And Ithinktheanswerisno,”hesaidduring an appearance on ABC’s “This Week.” “The other is, what are the consequences of defeat?”
“Ibelievetheconsequencesoffailurearecatastrophic.Itwillspreadto theregion.YouwillseeIranmoreemboldened,”saidMr.McCain,whotwo weeks ago formed an exploratory committeeinadvanceofalikely2008 presidential campaign. “We leave this place, chaos in the region, and they’ll follow us home. So there’s a great deal more at stake here in this conflict. In my view, a lot more.”
Mr.McCainsaidhebasedhisjudgment partly on the writings of Abu MusabZarqawi,thealQaedainIraq leaderwhowaskilledinaU.S.airraid in June, and of Osama bin Laden.
“The consequences of failure are so severe that I will exhaust every possibility to try to fix this situation. Because it’s not the end when American troops leave. The battleground shifts, and we’ll be fighting them again,” Mr. McCain said. “You read Zarqawi, and you read bin Laden. [. . . ] It’s not just Iraq that they’re interested in. It’s the region, and then us.”
ButMr.Rangel,aKoreanWarvet- eran,saidhehopedhismilitary-draft bill would discourage lawmakers from voting to authorize future military conflicts.
“There’s no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidencethatwaspresentedtotheCongress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm’s way,” he said.
Mr. McCain, a Vietnam War veteran,alsohastwosonsinmilitaryservice. His son Jack is currently in the U.S. Naval Academy, while another son, James, enlisted in the Marine Corps this year.
Incoming House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer said there are insufficient troops available for Mr. McCain’s suggestion.
“Asapracticalmatter,thereareno troops to increase with,” the Maryland Democrat said during his appearance on “This Week.” “Our objective was to remove Saddam Hussein and create an environment in which a democracy could be established. That has been done.”
Mr. Hoyer added that Democrats will continue to fund the war despite their doubts.
“That’s not an option, of not supporting our troops in the field and makingsurethey’reassafeaswecan make them,” he said.
Rep. Charles B. Rangel