Viewpoint: Here comes the draft—evasion tougher

“A government that is willing to enslave a portion of its people to fight an unjust war can never be trusted to protect the liberties of its own citizens. The ends can never justify the means, no matter what the neo-cons say.”—Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas

Ready or not, the draft is coming. Just when and exactly how is not showing yet on the radar screen. The best guess is it will be launched in the summer of 2005 or even sooner in the spring.

We already have a sort of draft, according to Stan Goff, former military science instructor at West Point and a retired master sergeant in the Army’s Special Forces.

It’s called “Stop-Loss.” It is aimed at halting or at least greatly slowing attrition in the ranks. By last New Year’s Day, the Army had blocked more than 40,000 troops from discharge or retirement. More than 16,000 of those were National Guard. Altogether, more than 70,000 troops have been affected by this program.

On Jan. 20, Lt. Gen. James Helmly, who heads the Army Reserve, said the current situation cannot be sustained and that the military faces a severe retention crisis. He believes the use of troops is abusive.

Our military is stretched razor-thin. We have troops in at least 130 countries and are contemplating actions and occupations in even more.

A year ago, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared: “We are not going to reimplement a draft. There is no need for it at all. The disadvantages of using compulsion to bring into the armed forces the men and women needed are notable.”

The fact that Rumsfeld doesn’t want the draft makes little difference. The administration is likely to need the draft more than it needs Rumsfeld. It has quietly been reactivating draft boards across the country.

Bush’s energy war is bogged down in the quicksand of Iraq. The current troop level is unable to pacify the country and restore order. Guerrilla action is chipping away at the military’s effectiveness, and troop morale is sagging.

Despite all the recent hype about handing over sovereignty to the Iraqis and coming home, Goff declares flatly: “The Bush administration has not the slightest intention of ever leaving Iraq.”

Why? That’s where the oil is, and supplies are beginning to decline, pushing us closer to an ancient pattern of war for food, water and energy.

Don’t believe it? You certainly have noticed the prices at the pump lately. Well, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet, as the fella says.

Half of our military’s ground combat strength is committed to Iraq. We are there to control oil production and to establish bases for use in controlling the region.

Jane’s Intelligence Digest said last August: “The reality is that U.S. forces are now severely overstretched and the number of their military commitments worldwide is increasing by the day.”

The empire is getting tired.

If you’re in the age bracket from 18 to 25 and you’re not interested in bleeding or maybe dying for oil in some foreign desert, you might be toying with the idea of going elsewhere.

In the Vietnam era, according to publishers Houghton Mifflin, between 30,000 and 50,000 young Americans skipped over our borders to avoid the draft. About 22,500 were indicted for doing that.

This time around, evading the draft won’t be so easy. Things have changed since the Vietnam War. There are new laws, new treaties and new technology.

A number of countries allied with the U.S. will extradite any young people trying to flee military service by hiding out in their countries, and the FBI is in 45 countries at least.

Canada is no longer a possibility. Yes, there are FBI agents there, too. A strong possibility exists that members of NATO and the ANZAC alliance will not harbor draft dodgers.

Additionally, the U.S. government has a hi-tech program to screen travelers to Canada and plans to implement the same program at the Mexican border.

Then, too, there are strict visa requirements and tough immigration laws in a number of countries that could keep young Americans out.

As Stan Goff stated: “In the end, it’s always about oil.” Until people figure that out, they’ll continue, as Sydney Shanberg, former New York Times writer, said when the elder Bush was dropping bombs on Iraqis, to be “the ultimate innocents. We are forever desperate to believe that this time the government is telling us the truth.”

Source: From the Wilderness Publications.

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