Saturday Mailbox


May 29, 2004

Question of the month

With the war in Iraq into its second year, some politicians have suggested reviving the draft to boost military manpower and distribute military service more equitably. Would you favor reinstituting a military draft?

Does the war on terror demand new draft?

The Sun's Question of the Month is one I have thought about since the day my son was born some 15 years ago.

I was in college during the height of the Vietnam War. I remember waiting with a small group of friends in the school cafeteria as the draft numbers were called. I remember being on the steps of the U.S. Capitol with others, begging to put an end to that war.

I remember my cousin's funeral with full military honors, and thinking, "What did he die for?" To this day, I have never gotten an answer to my question. I also remember coverage of body bags and burning monks and screaming children.

I have raised my son by my beliefs, which were formed during that time -- that war is not the way to peace.

If a military draft is reinstituted, I would find those same steps on the Capitol to protest.

If a person voluntarily decides to join the military, I wish him or her the safest journey possible. But I will never support a military draft.

No one is going to tell my son, or any son or daughter, to go to someplace where no one seems to be sure why we are there in the first place to put his or her life on the line.

R. Beitler

Owings Mills

Bring back the draft? No, no, a thousand times no.

I am the mother of a 14-year-old boy, and I feel confident that this war in Iraq will be in full swing by the time he is 18. I will not let the armed forces have him. He didn't ask for this mess, and he has no desire to be a part of it.

How do I know? I've asked him. He told me that he can do much more for his country from above ground than from six feet under. Seeing what happened to Pat Tillman rocked his world.

As soon as President Bush's daughters register for a draft, and all the members of Congress who supported this war in Iraq have their sons and daughters register, I'll consider having my son sign up.

Lori Zimmerman


The military draft should be reinstated. The United States is overextended by fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan and by maintaining a sizable presence in areas such as South Korea. We are already using the Reserve units.

While I commend the quality and spirit of our men and women in the military, it is clear that some of our forces are too thinly deployed and are carrying out tasks for which they are not adequately prepared.

The draft would also make military service more equitable and representative of the nation at large.

And I think a draft, with few deferments (and none for college), would make Americans take war and the use of force more seriously. Today, it is too easy for people to support a war they know they will never have to fight and die in.

Anthony F. Sarcone

Bel Air

Reinstatement of the draft would simply give the current administration more latitude to wage war around the world, and I can't imagine a greater disaster.

Instead of increasing our capacity to wage war, we must, as a nation, increase our capacity for compassion, justice and restraint.

Imagine how different our headlines would look today if rather than invading Iraq, we had invested the billions spent on the war in alternative energy research, education and job training.

Maybe there would be fewer radicals motivated to kill Americans, rather than exponentially more.

Maybe we would need fewer American soldiers rather than more.

Molly Mitchell


The military draft was done away with under President Richard M. Nixon as a means of getting him re-elected in 1972, which it did.

At the time, I thought that this was a good decision, but over the last 32 years it has had the effect of insulating our Hunt Cup-going and cotillion-dancing ruling class nabobs and the aimless, mindless, mall-dwelling, irresponsible youngsters of all classes and races from the pain of our leaders' increasing penchant for engaging us in more and more thoughtless military adventures such as the current foolishness in Iraq.

When the draft was abolished, many people believed that an all-volunteer military would make foreign wars less likely or, failing that, spare the general population the suffering of war by having wars waged by the new subculture of serving citizens who didn't matter to the reigning class.

But it hasn't quite worked out that way. Now, we don't have enough troops to man the ramparts of the new American Roman Empire.

When the draft is returned -- soon, I hope -- it will give our young people the sense of duty, responsibility, honor and comradeship that they and we, in general, sorely need, not to mention real skills and training they can use later in the nonmilitary world.

Blaine Taylor


As someone who evaded the Vietnam-era draft, I was thrilled when the country went to all-volunteer services.

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