VITAL SIGNSrnGOVERNMENTrnarnUncle Sam StillrnWants Yournhy Greg KazarnThe draft or draft registration destroysrnthe very values that our societyrnis committed to defending,” RonaldrnReagan wrote U.S. Sen. Mark Hatfield inrnMay 1980. Although few remember it today,rnRepublican Richard Nixon endedrnconscription in 1973, and Reagan campaignedrnagainst registration, pledging tornHatfield and others that he would end itrnif elected president. Following the declarationrnof martial law in Poland in 1981,rnhe reneged on his promise. Two decadesrnlater, registration and the Selective ServicernSystem still exist, Cold War anachronismsrnand grim reminders of the failurernof Beltway Republicans to exercise thernspoils of electoral victory by keeping theirrnpromise to voters to abolish outdated federalrnprograms.rnAt the peak of the Vietnam War,rneconomists (most notably Milton Friedman)rnargued that the draft should be endedrnin favor of an all-volunteer forcern(AVF). Conscription has rarely beenrnused in the United States, and for goodrnreason. Daniel Webster railed against itrnduring the War of 1812; there were massivernanti-draft riots in New York duringrnthe Civil War. Conscription was institutedrnduring World War I, but public oppositionrnforced its end after the conflict.rnMidwestern Old Right opposition to therndraft remained intense up until thernJapanese attack on Pearl Harbor. OldrnRight leaders such as U.S. Sen, RobertrnTaft (R-OH) and Rep. Howard BuffeUrn(R-NE) led the fight to abolish conscriptionrnafter the war. Until Vietnam, thernconservative and libertarian right regardedrnmilitary conscription as an attack uponrnindividual liberty and a tool of Democraticrnpresidents, such as LyndonrnJohnson, bent on pursuing imperialisticrnforeign adventures.rnNixon cleverly diffused the anti-VietnamrnWar movement, led by the New Left,rnby adopting Friedman’s AVF proposal.rnMore than a quarter-century later, nobodyrn—save a few career bureaucrats at SelectivernService—argues for a return to thernmilitary draft, although William F. Buckley,rnin his book “Gratitude: Reflections onrnWhat We Owe Our Countiy” (1990), hasrnmade a case for national service.rnWhile universal national service isrncommon in Europe, it has been viewedrnas a form of slavery throughout America’srnhistory. Not surprisingly, Buckley hasrnbeen joined in his call by liberals whornwish to impose national service in orderrnto achieve their social aims. The idea isrnespecially popular among liberal educatorsrnand other government planners whornsee it as an answer to social problems. Insteadrnof drafting young men—and womenrn—into the military, they demand socialrnconscription to fight for a cleanerrnenvironment, jobs in depressed urban areas,rnand other liberal panaceas. Ironically,rnsome of today’s advocates of socialrnconscription for youth vehemendy opposedrnthe militan,’ draft during Vietnam.rnToday, registration is a Cold Warrnanachronism that requires young men tornsign up within 30 days of their 18th birthdays.rnThe government can deny federalrnjobs and college loans to non-registrants.rnThe Selective Service is the only survivingrnpart of Jimmy Carter’s election-yearrnresponse to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan;rnthe grain embargo and thernOlympic boycott have been reduced tornanswers in the “Carter Malaise” categoryrnon jeopardy. Fellow Democrat Bill Clintonrn— whose own Vietnam-era experiencernwith the draft is well documented —rnhas tread more carefully, despite a Marchrn1994 Pentagon report that found that thern$29-million Selective Service programrncould be safely scrapped “without irreparablerndamage to national security”rn(since today’s wars are too brief for conscriptionrnto make a difference). Clintonrnhas avoided the issue of national servicernlest he appear hypocritical, preferring thernregistration status quo to charges fromrnBeltway Republicans that he is “soft onrnmilitary preparedness.”rnDuring his eight years in office, Clintonrncited three reasons for retaining thernSelective Service program: Registrationrnconstitutes a “relatively low-cost insurancernpolicy”; ending registration couldrnsend the “wrong signal” to potential enemies;rnand registration can help to “maintainrnthe link between the AVF and societyrnat large.” Cato Institute policy analystrnDoug Bandovv notes that all three argumentsrnlack credibility. Registration wasrnintended to generate, in a short period ofrntime, a large conscript army for a protractedrnwar. Today, that type of conflict isrnunlikely to occur. America’s militaryrncredibility rests on highly skilled personnelrnand advanced weaponry, not a list ofrnpotential conscripts. Moreover, merelvrnsigning a draft card does not instill patriotismrnin youth. Bandow, who served inrnthe Reagan administration, sees registrationrnan example of Beltway “institutionalrnimmortality.”rnU.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), a formerrnAir Force flight surgeon, has led the fightrnon Capitol Hill in recent years to abolishrndraft registration. Paul amended a Housernappropriations bill to strike $24 millionrnin funding for Selective Service. Hisrnmeasure passed the House, but the fundingrnwas restored in late 1999 by the Republican-rncontrolled Senate. The agencyrnwill live to see another fiscal year, as willrnthe federal Education and Energy Departments,rnwhich Ronald Reagan alsornpledged to abolish, and the CommercernDepartment, which was targeted for extinctionrnby the Republican freshmanrnclass of 1994 but is still wasting tax dollarsrnsix years later. If the mixed results of thernNovember election are any indication,rnAmericans may finally be asking themselvesrnwhy they should vote for candidatesrnwho do not keep their promisesrnonce they obtain political power.rnGreg Kaza served three terms in the MichiganrnHouse of Representatives. He recentlyrnreturned to his native Midwest after spendingrna year on Capitol Hill analyzing thernvoting patterns of members of Congress.rnThe Road to Brusselsrnby Brian KirkpatrickrnIshould have been prepared. MyrnBrazilian student had already expressedrnhis admiration for Fidel Castrornand the glories of the Cuban healthcarernsystem. Still, his next comment nearlyrnmade me swerve off the road as we drovernback from lunch.rn46/CHRONICLESrnrnrn