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Ed Driscoll

Charlie and the Conscription Factory, Revisited

September 8th, 2013 - 9:45 pm

Ilya Somin of the Volokh Conspiracy spots Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) putting his name atop a Daily Beast article calling for Mr. Obama’s proposed…well, whatever the president wants to do in Syria, as the reason for America to begin a new draft.

This is at least the second time this year than he’s called for a draft; back in February, we wrote a post titled “Charlie and the Conscription Factory,” after The Hill reported that ““Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) on Friday said he plans to introduce legislation that would bring back the military draft and extend it to women for the first time.”

As I asked back then, when isn’t Rangel calling for the draft to be reinstated?

● “Charlie Rangel Renews Call For Military Draft On Pearl Harbor Day 2011″The Huffington Post, 12/7/2011.

● “This week marks the 8th anniversary of the War in Iraq, and Harlem Congressman Charlie Rangel commemorated the occasion by asking Congress to reinstitute the military draft.” — the New York Observer, March 7, 2011.

“Rangel eyes draft return” — the New York Post, July 8th, 2010.

“Rangel to reintroduce military draft measure” — the Hill, January 14th, 2009.

“Amid Uproar Over War, Rangel Renews Call for Draft” — the Washington Post, November 20th, 2006.

“Rangel introduces bill to reinstate draft” — CNN, January 8th, 2003.

As Somin writes today:

It’s also worth noting that Rangel is simply wrong in his assertion that there is “no such thing” as limited war. The US has in fact conducted numerous tightly limited wars over the years, including military interventions in Grenada, Panama, Libya, and Kosovo, among others. It’s certainly true that not all wars can be kept limited in this way, and that some military interventions are unwise or unjust even if they are limited. But Rangel’s rejection of the very possibility of limited war is incorrect.

I largely agree with Rangel’s bottom line position on Syria. Like him, I think the US should probably stay out. But not all arguments that point to the right conclusion in a particular case are generally valid. Both conscription and the pros and cons of limited war are important issues that go beyond the specific instance of Syria.

And Rangel makes a mockery of both of those issues by bringing up the notion of reinstating the draft every year. Something he’ll likely keep doing multiple times every year until retiring from Congress. Why does the MSM continue to take him seriously?

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You gotta give Caribbean Charlie a few points for being consistent -- during the Iran conflict, his draft demand seemed to be an attempt to recreate the situation with Vietnam, where anti-war protests were fueled by teens and young adults fearful of getting low draft numbers. But doing it under Obama would simply boost the growing consensus among American voters that this president shouldn't be allowed anywhere near any new military incursions.

It would make an already-impotent president look even weaker, but Rangel may be so locked into recreating the situation Nixon blew up with the volunteer military he may not care if it hurts Obama (especially since Obama already hinted he'd like to see a fresh, young liberal face replace Charlie as upper Manhattan's representative).
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