Congressman right on Selective Service proposal

Good luck to Peter DeFazio on his attempt to abolish the Selective Service System and “put it on ‘deep standby’ status.”

DeFazio recently announced his plans to reintroduce legislation to do just that when Congress convenes this month.

He reports that the SSS is planning to conduct a “readiness exercise” by 2009, which essentially means it will run a mock draft. He plans to offer an amendment in the 2008 appropriations process to prohibit the SSS from carrying out this exercise.

“Our all-volunteer military is the best in the world,” DeFazio said. “As the Pentagon, the president and the House of Representatives have agreed, there is no military or national security imperative to reinstate the draft. The current selective service infrastructure is obsolete and unnecessary. Taxpayers should not be forced to continue funding it.”

He is 100 percent correct. This system costs taxpayers money they should never have to pay. Though DeFazio would likely not want to go that far, that cash should go back to taxpayers along with cash saved through deep cuts in myriad additional federal agencies.

The draft should never be permitted to come back in any form. If the cause is just, the people will volunteer, as they did initially following the 9/11 attack. If the cause is just and people do not volunteer to fight for their country and freedom, then we deserve what we have coming.

Placing the unwilling in combat seems a bad idea from the start from a morale perspective, not to mention the moral ramifications of making people fight against their will.

Sure, without a draft, even in the most just war with widespread support, some will choose not to fight, letting their countrymen do it for them; but if they enjoy the fruits of such combat without paying the price, they can hang their heads in shame. It is not our duty or even our right to force them to fight.

The SSS is preparing a mock draft. Along with a rash of SSS advertisements during radio talk shows, it sounds ominous, perhaps portending some draft to be reinstated in the next few years. Let’s hope not, despite DeFazio’s fellow Democrat Charles Rangel’s recent attempts to reintroduce it to make a political point.

Rangel wanted to make sure that those who send troops into harm’s way also would send their own sons. His thinking is clouded. We have a volunteer army. Those in it signed up for possible combat.

Whether some of them comprehend that is another story. That’s the point of having a “volunteer” army. No one is forced to do something objectionable. Whether President Bush’s daughters do time in Iraq is irrelevant.

DeFazio said he opposes the SSS on grounds of fiscal responsibility as well and because he desires to protect personal liberties, which are threatened when the government is able to mandate military service. Those are the right reasons.

He first introduced the legislation in 1990 and has reintroduced it several times since. In 1995, an amendment to remove funding from SSS was defeated.

Taxpayers will spend $25 million this year on SSS, DeFazio said. They have spent more than $650 million since 1980 on an increasingly obsolete system. Going into “deep standby” will save more than $20 million per year plus the cost of running the mock draft in 2009.

If mass mobilization were necessary, he said, it could be accomplished with an SSS that is in deep standby. SSS has already developed a system that would provide rapid mobilization of healthcare professionals after declaration of a national emergency.

The SSS was established in 1940, the first peacetime draft. From 1948 to 1973, men were drafted to fill vacancies in the armed forces. The military went all-volunteer in 1973, and President Ford suspended SSS and put it in deep standby in 1975. President Carter reinstated SSS and registration requirements after the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1980.

The House voted to abolish it twice. In 1993 and 1999 the House zeroed out funding for the SSS. An effort to restore funding was defeated, but the funding was restored during conference committee with the Senate.