Happy Birthday Jed! You're on the Rolls as a Potential Draftee in America's Wars
America’s wars came home today in the mail, with a letter from the Selective Service. Enclosed was my son Jed’s draft card, just a week ahead of his 18th birthday.
The card, which unlike the ones in my day, comes in technicolor, arrived along with a glossy brochure advertising the US military as: “The career you were born to pursue.”
The card featured a color photograph of a bunch of Army recruits jogging towards the reader wearing gray T’s and camo pants. Over the head of each of these runners was a career: scuba diver, computer software engineer, occupational therapist, firefighter, public relations, accountant, human services assistant, interpreter, musician, journalist...etc.
The journalist, appropriately, was buried behind the pack, so all you could see was about two thirds of her face. You might say she was “embedded” in the group.
Left out of these military careers were some important ones though: trained killer, sniper, spy, mass murderer, propagandist, wheelchair-bound amputee, depleted uranium cancer victim, homeless untreated PTSD sufferer, guilt-ridden survivor, incarcerated or dishonorably-discharged war resister.
The mailing also said nothing about the option of declaring one’s self a conscientious objector against war.
It would be easy to dismiss this mailing as irrelevant. After all, there has not been a draft in the US since March 1973. But there is clearly an ulterior reason why President Nixon, a true warmonger, ended the draft (his reasoning was that eliminating conscription would weaken the anti-war movement, which was true, though the withdrawal of US troops from South Vietnam in 1973 and the victory of the Vietnamese in overthrowing the US puppet regime in Saigon in 1975 were probably more important reasons), and there was also a reason why Congress reinstated mandatory registration with the Selective Service in 1980.
The war-mongers in Washington prefer a volunteer army of career soldiers to a draft army, because they don’t get as much resistance from the public to America’s policy of endless war when the people fighting it are volunteers (albeit many are driven to sign up by a lack of alternatives), mostly coming from the lower class. The draft, because it posed a threat to middle-class families and even to members of the educated elite, created many more political problems.
But clearly, there is a continual concern that America’s wars around the world could get out of hand, and that more warm bodies with guns could be needed, hence the continuation of registration, and the appointment of otherwise useless local and regional draft boards.
Selective Service registration also functions as a mechanism for social control. Young people who do not register with the draft agency cannot receive federal education grants or loans. It’s a bit like having a drug conviction. Either way, you’re pretty much barred from college.