Democrate Representative Charles Rangel calls for the draft

Rangel again calls for the draft

11/20/2006  AP

WASHINGTON - Americans would have to sign up for a military draft after turning 18 under a bill the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Democrat Representative Charles Rangel, says he will introduce next year.

Rangel, Democrate-N.Y., said yesterday he sees his idea as a way to deter politicians from launching wars.

"There's no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, 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," Rangel said.

Rangel, who's from Harlem and a veteran of the Korean War who has unsuccessfully sponsored legislation on conscription in the past, has said the all-volunteer military disproportionately puts the burden of war on minorities and poor families.

Democrats will control the House and Senate come January because of their victories in the Nov. 7 election but there's little support from politicians or the public for compulsary service.

At a time when some lawmakers are urging the military to send more troops to Iraq, "I don't see how anyone can support the war and not support the draft," said Rangel, who also proposed a draft in January 2003, before the U.S. invasion of Iraq. "I think to do so is hypocritical."

Rangel, the next chairman of the House tax-writing committee, said he worried the military was being strained by its overseas commitments.

"If we're going to challenge Iran and challenge North Korea and then, as some people have asked, to send more troops to Iraq, we can't do that without a draft," Rangel said.

He said having a draft would not necessarily mean everyone called to duty would have to serve. Instead, he said, "young people [would] commit themselves to a couple of years in service to this great republic, whether it's our seaports, our airports, in schools, in hospitals," with a promise of educational benefits at the end of service.

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