Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Press-Gang, Anyone? 

In February 2003, Acting Director of the Selective Service System Lewis Brodsky met with a small group of high-level DoD and SSS participants to propose the reinstitution of the draft and its expansion to include older draftees and women. While this was much played down as merely bureaucratic woolgathering and given barely any notice by the media, it continues to haunt us.
Now Bob Herbert wants you to know that he thinks the draft may be coming back:
"Now, with the war going badly and the Army chasing potential recruits with a ferocity that is alarming, a backlash is developing that could cripple the nation's ability to wage war without a draft. Even as the ranks of new recruits are dwindling, many parents and public school officials are battling the increasingly heavy-handed tactics being used by military recruiters who are desperately trying to sign up high school kids.
"I started getting calls and people coming to the school board meeting testifying that they were getting inundated with phone calls from military recruiters," said Sandra Lowe, a board member and former president of the Sonoma Valley Unified School District in California.
She said parents complained that in some schools "the military recruiters were on campus all the time," sometimes handing out "things that the parents did not want in their homes, including very violent video games."
Ms. Lowe said she was especially disturbed by a joint effort of the Defense Department and a private contractor, disclosed last week, to build a database of 30 million 16- to 25-year-olds, complete with Social Security numbers, racial and ethnic identification codes, grade point averages and phone numbers. The database is to be scoured for youngsters that the Pentagon believes can be persuaded to join the military.
"To have this national data collection is just over the top," Ms. Lowe said."
He goes on to link (gotta love it when the Gray Lady links!) to an organization called Leave My Child Alone, whose purpose is to stop such unwanted military recruitment and help parents and students fight back, and on whose site you'll find this explanation:
"Buried deep within the No Child Left Behind Act is a provision that requires public high schools to hand over private student information to military recruiters. The purpose of this invasion of family privacy is to allow minor students to be recruited at home by telephone calls, mail and personal visits. If a school does not comply, it risks losing vital federal education funds. The only way to keep your children’s contact information from military recruiters, is to submit an Opt-out” letter in writing to your school district’s superintendent."
I'll spare you the endless links proving Herbert's point, that the successful rate of luring new conscripts is dive-bombing along with troop morale as the American disapproval of the war effort rises. There are plenty out there.

Unless we find a way to staunch the flow of human cannon fodder into Iraq, the draft is inevitable. And this lame duck president is just the one to give it to us as his final going-away present.

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