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Monday, 20 November 2006



This is the type of national service I support. I would limit the compulsory military service to a formally declared war, not a "use of force" resolution, or emergency declaration.

I also would like to see the CCC restarted to clean up and fix up the national parks.

Think of how much better off New Orleans would be today if we had thousands of hands to gut houses and clean up the city, as well as to shovel dirt and rebuild levees.


We agree on "use of force" resolutions. They don't count as either declared wars or national emergencies. But if, say, the southeast had gotten pounded with another massive hurricane season this year (something along the lines of last year's disaster, say), and FEMA decided that they just couldn't cope with it all, I'd say that Congress or the president could reasonably declare that a state of limited national emergency such that the National Guard (and only the Guard) could get a priority on able-bodied personnel coming through the induction pipeline. But if they were inducted into the Guard during such an emergency, they could only be used to respond to it: they couldn't be sent out for combat duty, or forced to stay in the Guard once the state of emergency had passed. If they still had time left on their two-year service clock, they could transfer to their first choice of alternate assignments, or voluntarily remain in the Guard on non-combat duty until the end of their hitch. That seems an equitable distribution of the administrative pain and suffering--everybody's unhappy. Isn't that the sign of a good compromise?


I want VISTA, AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, etc. to be included in the national service area, and they should be able to provide the bodies necessary for a disaster.

You need the National Guard for security and combat engineering, but a lot of the tasks they do in emergencies don't require military training.

I'd like to see fewer uniforms and more people in humanitarian situations.


On the whole, I'd agree with your last comment, Bryan--but it depends on the time frame. The time for the humanitarian agencies to go in is after the emergency has passed and once the situation on the ground is again more or less stable. While it's unstable, and while the emergency is ongoing, that's when I want the National Guard there--keeping looting down, securing roads and bridges, clearing away debris, and so on. And we're hard-pressed to find the bodies and the equipment to do that, with so much of the Guard (and most of its equipment) off chasing Bushevik fantasies in the deserts.

Though I suppose if we're talking about people who've been inducted for a couple of years' worth of national service, they could be trained to do a lot of that stuff themselves. Have to think about that some more.

Wil Robinson

Unfortunately, I think this is just a "toe in the water." Remember, it was the Democrats that "escalated" the Vietnam War - and when it comes down to it, everyone (Republican and Democrat) loves a good war.

I think in the future we will see serious debate over the draft...and it wouldn't surprise me if in a few years we have one.

This was just "disguised" as political theater...in actuality, the Dems are wondering if they can escalate the so-called "war on terror" if they win the white house in 2008. Iran is a big threat to Israel, or so we are told, and Democrats are much bigger recipients of AIPAC money than Republicans.


Sorry, Wil, but I'm not buying it. There are only a few fossils in the Democratic Party who even believe in Bush's sacred War on Terra, much less anybody that thinks it would be a good idea to expand it.


Well, when I stage my takeover of the Defense Department and turn it into the Social Justice Department, here's how it's going to be. National service, sure. War, no.

BTW, I agree with you that we need the National Guard in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. I've ranted about that a lot. But there's also disaster mitigation/prevention that could be done before there's even the thought of an actual (oh shit here it comes) disaster. Building levees, raising houses (rather than razing) to beyond the flood line, retrofitting structures for soundness, even disaster education..... all of this could be the task of a national corps.

The timing of Rangel's repeated proposal makes it hard for me to support, though. There's this poorly planned and ineptly managed war, and now you want a draft? He'd get a better hearing if he'd wait.


I agree with most of the discussion here, but I'd want one more caveat--you don't get out of national service by being an intern or some other government flunky, thereby allowing congresscritters to protect their spawn or the spawn of donors.


Good call, Brian. The exceptions I had in mind were for people who were already doing real public service, or who were trying to get themselves to the point where they could do so. I don't think flunkying for a fatcat pol in Washington even registers on that scale.

Random Goblin

Keep in mind that the National Guard gets deployed to combat all the time now. It's a lot different from the Vietnam era when it was a place to hide out.

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