I was pleased to read Greg Kaza’s review of the fruitless campaign to end draft registration (“Uncle Sam Still Wants You,” Vital Signs, January). I remember well why Ronald Reagan reneged on his firm promise to end draft registration: Alexander Haig convinced him that Brezhnev’s tanks would be stopped before Warsaw only by the terrifying knowledge that two million American youths were marching to their post offices to fill out cards.
In 1974, I cofounded the National Council Against Compulsory Service to fight back against those who wanted to reinstitute the draft or, in its place, compulsory national service. It was easy to recruit a half-dozen libertarians to serve on its board. We naively thought that we could get a bunch of antiwar lefties to join us. Wrong. The lefties were against compelling America’s youth to go forth to fight capitalism’s foreign wars; at a deeper level, however, they also believed that society had the power to confiscate a couple of years of the same youths’ lives by imposing mandatory national service to assist the oppressed, poor, downtrodden, and other victims of the capitalist social order. Fortunately—not much thanks to our efforts—the nation never did get saddled with this particularly virulent form of involuntary servitude. Let’s hope we never do.
—John McClaughry Concord, VT