January 9 commentary "No Draft, No Peace: Rangel and Conyers
are right," endorsed universal national service, as proposed
by Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and John Conyers (D-MI). "By
immunizing 95 percent of American families from the immediate
consequences of war," we wrote, "the militarists have
purchased consent to use the armed forces as they see fit. The
deal was concluded in 1973" - when the draft was shelved.
pointed out that Iraq is just the first stop on an endless itinerary
of Permanent War against all nations and forces that are seen
to challenge absolute U.S. domination of the globe, the clearly
enunciated policy of the Bush regime. The Pentagon opposes universal
service because it learned in Vietnam that citizen soldiers
are not suited to extended imperial adventures and foreign occupations.
The War Party opposes universal service because its middle and
upper middle class voter base would not tolerate direct risks
to its own sons and daughters. The pirates at the helm of the
U.S government require volunteer armed forces to sustain their
strategy of Permanent War.
very utility of this force encourages its use. The same qualities
that recommend the volunteer force to war planners, also make
endless aggression thinkable. Bush's Permanent War envisions
multiple military engagements at any given time, anywhere
on the globe, until the entire planet submits to an American-imposed
order. Such a strategy is inconceivable under a citizen soldier
- universal service - regime, which is why a recall of the
draft is anathema to the War Party.
War requires the political acquiescence of broad sections
of the middle and upper middle classes. Immunity from conscription
guarantees a high level of acceptance of the current rulers'
global military ambitions.
made it plain that our overarching concern is the War Party's
electoral support among the non-serving classes. We did not
echo the complaints of a previous era, that Blacks and browns
bear the brunt of combat duties. Rather, we are alarmed at the
actual composition of today's combat units: heavily white, from
the lower economic strata. Permanent War leads inevitably to
permanent domestic emergency. Cities will be occupied by these
troops. "African Americans cannot and should not feel secure
under the guns of the volunteer military," we wrote. We
believe that there is a need to confront the exclusion of
large chunks of Black youth from the possibility of service
under the volunteer military.
will be frank.
is not concerned that African American representation in the
combat services will increase under universal service. That
is to be expected. Blacks under arms are not the root cause
of the disconnect between the American people and the consequences
of U.S. foreign policy. The absence of upper income whites
from representation in the armed services is the political
cancer that threatens planetary survival. American class-plus-race
privilege has become a menace to humanity. For Black America,
lack of access to the military is the far greater problem.
Let us not become confused by hypocrites who claim to care
about Black youth mortality.
are three times as many African Americans in prison than in
the U.S. military. Homicide is the leading cause of death among
Black juveniles. Black youth are killed on U.S. streets at roughly
the same rate as the averaged, yearly Black mortality rate in
upper income elements of the larger society support war with
their votes, but do not risk their youth. The War Party rules
because of the deadly electoral math.
commentary also quoted Dr.
Martin Luther King's April 4, 1967 speech on the Vietnam
War, reproduced in this issue. The war had not yet reached its
bloody apex (Tet, February 1968), yet King contemplated an ominous
future of endless aggressions.
war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within
the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality
we will find ourselves organizing clergy- and laymen-concerned
committees for the next generation. They will be concerned
about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand
and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and
South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other
names and attending rallies without end unless there is a
significant and profound change in American life and policy.
Iraq for Vietnam, and the same prospect faces the nascent anti-war
movement, today. Pick any point on the globe. The policy of
the Bush regime is to suppress by force of arms all potential
challenges to global American rule. It believes the current
volunteer military is suited to this purpose.
job is to stimulate thought, not to echo the slogans that may
reverberate among its readership. Some readers responded thoughtfully;
others did not. Jonathan W. Hutto Sr. wrote:
is a right wing response to a very legitimate issue. As we
embark on Dr. King's birthday, let us remember his stance
on Vietnam and the question of War. Dr. King, in response
to the majority of those who fight and die being poor, Black,
Latino and from the working class, would not have fought for
a mandatory draft which would only widen the percentage of
the working class who will shed blood for the Imperialist
oil. Instead, he would have urged us to embrace mandatory
resistance, mandatory conscientious objection, mandatory struggle
and if need be, mandatory Jail!
and Rangel are wrong on this one and I will be writing an
article soon to debunk this nonsense. The Ruling Class will
ultimately thank them. No mandatory draft will ever ensure
that the children of the rich and ruling class die and shed
blood in oil wars. Conyers and Rangel both remind me of what
Osagefu Kwame Nkrumah told us years ago, neocolonialism
would be the last stage of imperialism!!! No mandatory
draft, only mandatory resistance, struggle and conscientious
Hutto engages in needless insult - appearing to label ,
Conyers and Rangel as stooges of neocolonialism - but proposes
nothing to change the rules of the game. He also gets the current
is no draft to resist - rendering conscientious objection meaningless
and leaving the middle and upper middle classes immune to participation
in the wars that they support with their votes. And it is illogical
that inclusion of the upper social strata would increase the
proportion of soldiers from the lower strata.
was also obvious that Mr. Hutto did not read much more than
the headline of our rather lengthy piece. His rebuttal arrived
a very few minutes after the commentary was published - instantaneous
analysis of a "legitimate issue."
Jacobs' tone was only slightly more acceptable.
Mr. Rangel and Conyers may have the best of intentions, they
are assuming something that is foolish to assume - that a
military draft would ever be fair. History tells us over and
over that, no matter what kind of draft exists, it is the
children of the poor and working class who do most of the
killing and dying. The upper and middle classes use the advantages
they have received via our society's economic structure to
get the military jobs that don't involve shooting people.
Those who oppose the wars of the Empire cannot count on the
government to do our organizing for us via a draft or any
other type of forced servitude.
task is left up to us. In addition, we must work to encourage
men and women not to join the military and to leave
it if they have already.
don't care what motivates people to action against the impending
war, as long as they act. We have absolute respect for
those who oppose military institutions on principle or on religious
grounds. We ask only that they say so.
Jacobs views universal service as "forced servitude,"
which we assume is meant to sound like slavery. If that is the
case, we trust that he opposes all militaries, under all circumstances,
for everyone. Voluntary slavery is illegal and an oxymoron.
than 30 years ago, the publishers of
were fully aware that the bulk of anti-war protesters were actually
"anti-draft." When the draft ended, the U.S. military
was allowed to perfect its volunteer force. Soon, the non-serving
electoral base of the War Party will watch the sanitized results
Jacobs appears to think that proponents of universal national
service are engaged in a cynical ploy. He calls us "foolish"
for saying things we never said. We have not called for universal
service simply as a tactic to derail the war against Iraq. It
is rather late for that. 's
position is that, as long as the United States retains a military,
every class of citizen should be equally vulnerable to service.
Jacobs avoids discussion of the principle by pointing to the
admitted impossibility of devising a privilege-proof system.
In reality, he is content to harass the current apparatus at
its edges, whenever a conflict excites him to activism, while
leaving the gross social/political distortions created by the
volunteer military unmolested. This is the road to "rallies
without end." It also enshrines the privilege that he purports
we certainly learned from the Vietnam era draft was that the
broad masses of the middle and upper classes scrambled to get
away from military service, period, and eventually withdrew
their support from that particular war. Rangel and Conyers call
for no exemptions from service. Mr. Jacobs seems to think
that our argument falls apart unless it guarantees that
upper class youngsters will get killed in large and roughly
proportionate numbers. We see no need to present ghoulish actuarial
tables. Everybody who knows anything about the military understands
that you can't trust it with your life. Mr. Jacobs is one who
doesn't know, having been shielded from the institution.
King, on the other hand, has smelled the animal at close quarters.
Draft, No Piece" in the January 9, 2003 issue of
The Black Commentator struck a discordant cord with some deep
seated values I have held concerning selective service since
Viet Nam, thus forcing me to reexamine my beliefs about the
draft. The process is ongoing.
I am white. I dropped out of High School
after my junior year in order to join the Marine Corps...
the recruitment slogans were too much to resist. I did my
time in a recon unit in I Corps (north part of South Viet
Nam) in 1968-69. Our teams were racially divided at roughly
60 percent minorities and 40 percent whites. The blacks, as
a general rule, were more politically aware. Most of the blacks
were drafted, were forced to join or go to jail, or enlisted
for a better future. On the other hand only about 50 percent
of the whites were drafted as the better off got college deferments.
My first question is: wouldn't college deferments
still be a pigeon hole for the same sorts to avoid the draft?
Besides, the rich always find a way to keep theirs from harm's
As far as racists go, there were both white
and black racists in Viet Nam. Granted, they were mostly white,
but the military psychologists have fine-tuned the methods
by which their minions condition and train young people to
be racist against the current enemy of the day.
Second question: what's to insure that the
draft will increase the number of blacks in elite or front
line units? Most of the blacks I knew and fought side by side
with in Viet Nam volunteered for Recon because they were less
likely to get killed than by serving in the infantry. I would
guess that the reason more blacks aren't in those units today
is because the nature of war has changed. With air assaults,
smart bombs, air drones that reduce the need for ground troop
exposed to combat, even with a new universal service blacks
would be even less inclined to volunteer for elite units.
I agree that the current elite forces reek
with the ilk of white supremacy; I just don't see how that
will change with the institution of a new draft.
I printed off a copy of "No Draft, No
Peace" and am discussing it with folks from both sides
of the issue. Your answers will help me a lot.
has excellent commentary and I really appreciate the service
that you provide.
I personally believe that capitalism is caving
in under its own weight. I just hope there is something left
of the planet, and if any humans survive, there will be enough
of them to not repeat the past and thereby transform humanity.
King later wrote that he is "leaning" toward support
of the Rangel proposition. We are satisfied that he is engaged
in the discussion, a duty of all citizens.
King and Bill Nilsen share the same demographic. We're glad
they also have similar tastes in reading.
am a Vietnam-era veteran (USMC) and I am white. I thoroughly
enjoyed your commentary entitled No Draft No Peace. Your points
were well taken and I agree with your take on the dangerousness
of this mercenary-army situation that has developed in the
one bright ghetto rapper put it a few years ago, "C.R.E.A.M.",
or "Cash Rules Everything Around Me." This exempting
of the rich from service is just another manifestation of
C.R.E.A.M. - and C.R.E.A.M. is not what made this country
great. It's what will be its downfall.
again for some serious food for thought. I like your always
well-written articles very much.
an enlightening and thought-provoking article! I couldn't
agree with you more. The disconnect between the upper middle
and upper classes [of all races and origins] with the actual
effects of our foreign policy, is clearly key to the haphazard
and dangerous foreign policy actions of this administration.
As always, you say it so very well!
reader named Russell:
enjoyed the article about Congressman Rangel's Draft Proposal.
It would bring a conscience to an otherwise unconscionable
focus of going to war to promote the financial success of
multinational corporations over the needs of the people that
furnish the tax dollars to fund this illegal government. "Pirates"
and "Cowboys" seem apt descriptions of infantile
idiots on glory hunts... with no regard for humanity. This
Bush Regime has done more damage to this country in three
years than we could repair in the next decade.
Ikuta noted a typographical mistake of huge dimensions in the
article, saving us from great embarrassment. Then, Ikuta made
us feel worthwhile all over again.
so much for your great work. I am Japanese, and I know that
your site is primarily for African American readers, but I
have to tell you how much I appreciate your commentaries!
have always been anti-war and anti-draft, but I have to admit
article made a lot of sense. In struggle and hope, thanks
Wise's article dissecting the phony math behind the Right's
suit against affirmative action at the University of Michigan
Law School ("Selling
Sloppy Statistics," December 12) represents progressive
reporting at its best. We're still getting mail about it. Temeka
Higgins has observed rampant white privilege at the law school.
just read this particular article and I felt compelled to
write. Why is it that African-Americans are forced to deal
with the unfairness of life but Caucasians aren't? I spoke
with an administrator at the University of Michigan Law School
about the Grutter case and I was told that her application
was a mess. (If you don't know about the law school application
- it is not simple or straightforward). Also, if you look
at the grid comparing grade point average and LSAT scores
of the applicant pool for the year the plaintiffs in the case
are suing over, you will see that Caucasians with lower scores
and grade point average were admitted into the school! Is
it okay for less qualified Caucasians to reap benefits but
not minorities? Evidently, it is!
Dwayne Revis, of Washington, DC, is a longtime reader of .
That fact alone is sufficient to mark Mr. Revis as man of daunting
came across your site by accident somehow, maybe a year ago.
I'm glad it happened. It is wonderful. Your commentary, the
articles, the writing... excellent. Superior to excellent,
in fact. Thank you very much for doing this work.
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