Since U.S. troops have been in Iraq, the media instilled baseless fears around college campuses that President Bush would bring back the draft. The Washington Post reported in 2004 the following:
Rumors of reinstating the military draft, which have flourished for months in panicky e-mails, online chat rooms, college dorms and student newspapers, suddenly dominated the House floor yesterday in one of the strangest parliamentary maneuvers in memory. With even its sponsor voting against it, a bill to require young adults to perform military or civil service failed, 402 to 2.
The news, however, remains silent as President-elect Barack Obama rolls out his own plans for conscripting America’s youth.
Obama will have help pushing this agenda from his new chief of staff appointment, Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel proposed conscripting young Americans in his 2006 co-authored book, The Plan:
It's time for a real Patriot Act that brings out the patriot in all of us. We propose universal civilian service for every young American. Under this plan, All Americans between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five will be asked to serve their country by going through three months of basic training, civil defense preparation and community service.
Here's how it would work. Young people will know that between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, the nation will enlist them for three months of civilian service. They'll be asked to report for three months of basic civil defense training in their state or community, where they will learn what to do in the event of biochemical, nuclear or conventional attack; how to assist others in an evacuation; how to respond when a levee breaks or we're hit by a natural disaster. These young people will be available to address their communities' most pressing needs.
Emanuel’s and Obama’s thoughts are not new. In fact, Rep. Charlie Rangel, (D-NY), had his own plans for a draft in 2003. An MSNBC.com 2006 piece covered Rangel’s proposal:
In 2003, Rangel proposed a measure covering people age 18 to 26. This year, he offered a plan to mandate military service for men and women between age 18 and 42; it went nowhere in the Republican-led Congress.
Democrats will control the House and Senate come January because of their victories in the Nov. 7 election.
At a time when some lawmakers are urging the military to send more troops to Iraq, “I don’t see how anyone can support the war and not support the draft,” said Rangel, who also proposed a draft in January 2003, before the U.S. invasion of Iraq. “I think to do so is hypocritical.”
The article also includes more comments from Rangel about where individuals could serve other than the military:
Rangel, the next chairman of the House tax-writing committee, said he worried the military was being strained by its overseas commitments.
“If we’re going to challenge Iran and challenge North Korea and then, as some people have asked, to send more troops to Iraq, we can’t do that without a draft,” Rangel said.
He said having a draft would not necessarily mean everyone called to duty would have to serve. Instead, “young people (would) commit themselves to a couple of years in service to this great republic, whether it’s our seaports, our airports, in schools, in hospitals,” with a promise of educational benefits at the end of service.
Sound familiar to this Obama idea at change.gov? (H/T to J.D. Tuccille at the D.C. Examiner for pointing out the following :
Well, no more. On the president-elect's official transition Website, Change.gov, the "America Serves" page now contains the following language [Note: The page was changed, removing the explicit "require" language, after the publication of this article. The original is still in the Google cache here]:
The Obama Administration will call on Americans to serve in order to meet the nation’s challenges. President-Elect Obama will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in underserved schools, as well as a new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps. Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year. Obama will encourage retiring Americans to serve by improving programs available for individuals over age 55, while at the same time promoting youth programs such as Youth Build and Head Start.
Just by changing the language on their website, the Obama transition team is already in spin mode on this issue, so whenever the mainstream media eventually decides to pick this story up, they will know exactly what to say.