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The Military Draft Is Back! History of the draft during the 60s. Will History Repeat Itself ?





Even though the military Draft isn't officially the law of the land, it returned to Congress in 2024. On 6/14/ 2024 the recent measure passed by the House of Representatives to automatically register men aged 18 to 26 for Selective Service is a significant development in U.S. military policy. This measure was part of the broader National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which outlines the government's military and national security priorities for the upcoming fiscal year.


Children of politicians and high-ranking officials may not serve in combat roles to the same extent as the general population. This perception stems from the fact that politicians, who are often older and from wealthier backgrounds, may have children who pursue different career paths or have access to opportunities that mitigate the need for military service. This perceived disconnect can impact public trust and confidence in leadership, especially during times of conflict or when decisions about military engagement are being made.


The reinstatement of the Draft would likely have several significant impacts on the Black community in the United States, echoing some of the challenges and issues experienced during the Vietnam War era.  Historically, African Americans are drafted at higher rates compared to other demographic groups. This could occur again if the socio-economic disparities that limit deferment opportunities remain. African American soldiers faced higher casualty rates due to their disproportionate assignment to front-line combat roles. This had a profound impact on Black communities, with many families losing young men to the war.


Historically, Black Americans have faced significant discrimination and injustices, both within the military and in broader society. Despite their service and sacrifices in various wars, they often returned to systemic racism, segregation, and limited civil rights. During World War I and World War II, Black soldiers fought bravely but faced segregation and discrimination in the military. After the wars, they continued to face racial violence and inequality at home.


Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest boxers of all time, famously refused to be drafted into the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. His decision was based on religious, moral, and political reasons. Ali adopted a pacifist stance, believing that killing was morally wrong.


Ali made several public statements explaining his stance, famously saying, "I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong... "No Viet Cong ever called me nigger." This statement underscored his belief that the real enemy of African Americans was not in Vietnam but within the United States.


Ali highlighted the irony of fighting for freedoms abroad that African Americans were denied at home. He was vocal about the civil rights issues in the United States and felt it was unjust to ask Black men to fight for a country that discriminated against them.


Ali converted to Islam in the early 1960s and became a member of the Nation of Islam under the leadership of The Honorable Elijah Muhammad. His faith played a significant role in shaping his views on war and violence. Ali applied for conscientious objector status on the grounds of his religious beliefs. He argued that his faith prohibited him from participating in any war not declared by Allah (God) or the Holy Prophet Muhammad.


The drafting and subsequent deployment of many young Black men left families without fathers, sons, and brothers, disrupting family structures and support systems. The removal of these young men often meant a loss of income and economic stability for their families, exacerbating poverty and financial challenges within Black communities.


The impacts of a draft are not limited to any single racial or ethnic group but can affect individuals from various socio-economic backgrounds and communities. The absence of young men from poor white and other ethnic minority communities can disrupt family structures and community stability, similar to the impact seen in African American communities. Returning veterans, regardless of race or ethnicity, may experience psychological trauma from combat experiences, leading to issues such as PTSD and affecting their reintegration into society.


Poor decisions in war can significantly erode public trust in the government and the military establishment. When military operations result in costly mistakes, unnecessary casualties, or failure to achieve stated objectives, it can lead to disillusionment among the public. Such outcomes may question military leaders' and policymakers' competence and judgment.


How the Draft will work if Congress decides to move forward according to the Selective Service System


If the United States were to reinstate the Draft, it would involve a structured and detailed process as outlined below. This process ensures that the Draft is carried out systematically and "fairly," with provisions for deferments and exemptions.



Congress and the President


  • Triggering Event: A national emergency that surpasses the Department of Defense’s ability to recruit and retain its total force strength would necessitate the draft.

  • Legislative Action: Congress would need to amend the Military Selective Service Act to grant the President authority to induct personnel into the Armed Forces.

  • Presidential Order: The President would then issue an executive order to activate the draft.


Activation of Selective Service System


  • Personnel Mobilization: The Selective Service System would activate, calling all personnel to report for duty.

  • Opening of Area Offices: Reserve Force Officers and selected military retirees would open Area Offices to handle registrant claims.


  • Training of Boards: Members of Local, District Appeal, and National Boards would be notified and required to undergo refresher training.


The Lottery


  • Public Event: The draft lottery would be a public event, nationally televised, and live-streamed.

  • Process: A random drawing of birthdays and numbers would determine the order in which individuals receive induction orders.

  • Order of Induction: Those whose 20th birthday falls within the lottery year would be the first to receive orders. Additional lotteries would follow for those aged 21 to 25, then 19, and finally 18.5 years old.



Decline of a Nation Due to Unjust Wars is Possible. Are we willing to take that risk?


Unjust wars often provoke internal dissent and unrest among the population. Citizens may question the moral legitimacy of the war and the leadership responsible for initiating it.

Public opposition, protests, and social unrest can undermine domestic cohesion, weaken governmental authority, and divert resources away from other essential needs. The impact of unjust wars on Nations underscores the interconnectedness of military actions, ethical considerations, and long-term geopolitical consequences. Learning from historical precedents, contemporary societies can strive to uphold principles of justice, diplomacy, and responsible governance to mitigate the risks of overreach and decline.




References



  • U.S. Congress. (2024). National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2025. Retrieved from Congress.gov

  • Selective Service System. (n.d.). About Registration. Retrieved from Selective Service System

  • Congressional Research Service. (2023). The National Defense Authorization Act: Background and Issues. Retrieved from CRS Reports

  • National Archives. "Muhammad Ali and the Draft." Retrieved from National Archives.

  • Smithsonian Magazine. "Why Muhammad Ali Refused to Go to Vietnam." Retrieved from Smithsonian Magazine.

  • History.com Editors. "Muhammad Ali Refuses Army Induction." Retrieved from History.com.


  • Selective Service System. (n.d.). Understanding the Draft. Retrieved from Selective Service System.

  • Baskir, L. M., & Strauss, W. A. (1978). Chance and Circumstance: The Draft, the War, and the Vietnam Generation. Alfred A. Knopf.

  • Appy, C. G. (1993). Working-Class War: American Combat Soldiers and Vietnam. University of North Carolina Press.

  • Guttmann, A. (1973). The Black Soldier in Vietnam. The Massachusetts Review, 14(3), 588-597.

  • King, M. L. (1967). Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence. Speech delivered at Riverside Church, New York City.

  • Fitzgerald, F. (2002). Fire in the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam. Back Bay Books.


Citations:


Selective Service System:

  • "Understanding the Draft..

  • "Agency Structure and Responsibilities." Selective Service System.

  • "Lottery Procedures." Selective Service System.

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