Jewish World Review Jan. 17, 2003 / 14 Shevat, 5763
Debra J. Saunders
Leaders of the Left have stooped to hiding behind
the poor in order to win the war of words over war with
Consider the legislation to reinstitute the draft, with
no exemptions for college or graduate school,
introduced by Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y.
Rangel wrote in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that
his bill "is really meant to show my opposition to a
unilateral pre-emptive attack against Iraq by the
Actually, if the United States does attack Iraq, it
won't be unilateral -- not with Great Britain, Kuwait
and Qatar joining the war effort. And it wouldn't be
pre-emptive -- as any U.S. incursion would be the
result of Iraq's decision to flout a U.N. peace pact
that it signed after attacking another country. But I
Rangel is proposing a draft, which the military
strongly opposes, in order to demonstrate that war
with Iraq would be less popular if America's affluent
had to sacrifice their own sons.
Rangel knows the measure will never pass. He
doesn't want it to, I'm sure. His goal is to suggest
that if Washington refuses to spread the sacrifice of
military service universally, then there should be no
support of this war.
No matter that a draft hurt the military. Or that
Pentagon brass have no desire to risk their lives, or
those of their troops, fighting with reluctant recruits.
Rangel just wants to make a point -- that minorities
will pay more than whites if there's a war in Iraq.
But that's not true.
"Minorities make up 35 percent of the military, and
blacks 20 percent, well above their proportion of the
general population," Rangel wrote. The Pentagon
released the number on minorities in the volunteer
army on Jan. 13; 21 percent of the enlisted force is
black (and blacks comprise 15 percent of infantry,
armored and artillery units), while 12 percent of the
U.S. population is black.
In the Gulf War, however, minorities didn't suffer more
casualties than whites. African Americans accounted
for 23 percent of troops sent, and 17 percent of the
deaths, the Washington Times reported; Hispanics
represented 4 percent of Gulf War troops and 4
percent of deaths, while whites made up 71 percent
of Gulf War troops, and 76 percent of Gulf War
As KGO news anchor and Vietnam veteran Pete
Wilson noted, the myth that minorities will suffer
disproportionate casualties is "one of those things
that people have come to believe that isn't backed up
by the facts." Since Vietnam, Wilson adds, whites
have been over-represented in combat service.
And yet on Monday, Oakland teachers union leader
Sheila Quintana told me that one reason for the
Oakland teach-in on war in Iraq was to educate
"future draftees of a potential war."
But there is no draft, I said.
"Some are saying, there is no draft, do I have to go?"
If they think they have to serve in a volunteer army, it
must be because they're being misled, and it's not by
the U.S. military.
Of course, the Democrats weren't pushing for a draft
when the issue was whether to send U.S. "peace
keepers" to Kosovo and Bosnia. When there was no
national interest to fight for, there was no
hand-wringing about disproportionate minority
Indeed, when critics questioned whether it was right
to risk the blood of American troops serving as the
world's police abroad, Bosnia hawks were the first to
note that these volunteers knew what they were
getting into when they enlisted.
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© 2000, Creators Syndicate