If you want a good measure of how little the Regime cares for its subjects, consider this fact:
Members of local draft boards, who would be given the power to make life and death decisions regarding deferments or exemptions in the likely event that Congress decides to create a slave army, are required to receive only four hours of training each year.
Our nation is afflicted with 2,000 of the five-member draft boards – I prefer to call them Selective Slavery Soviets (SSS). Their members are appointed by the president, and the selection criteria aren't particularly demanding. And to judge from comments made by members of various boards to the press, the most important qualification is an eagerness to serve the interests of the State, rather than its victims.
“If there is a draft,” comments Steve Zurawski, who belongs to a draft board in Chicago, “we go into action. It's a necessary evil.”
That description is exactly half right. To fight a defensive war, a draft is never necessary. Conscription only becomes “necessary” when policy-makers are pursuing evil objectives.
Another draft board member, Jack McInerey Jr., insists that it's wise to keep the SSS network up and running, because otherwise “it would take a minimum of six weeks to organize a draft.”
“Do you want to give your enemy a month and a half to attack your nation?” asks McInerey. “I don't think so.”
Notes the Chicago Sun-Times: “The idea of mandatory military service in the United States can be traced back as far as the Revolutionary War, but the concept of panels of community members to help with the process did not appear until World War I.”
Note how subtly the author of that sentence misleads the reader by tracing the “idea” -- but not the practice – of conscription back to the founding era. The idea of a military draft was considered and rejected by those who drafted the U.S. Constitution.
On May 29, 1787 -- the first working session of the Philadelphia Convention -- Virginia Governor Edmund Randolph presented a detailed dissection of the Articles of Confederation and its deficiencies. The very first liability listed by Randolph, as recorded in James Madison’s Notes, was the fact that the Articles “produced no security against foreign invasion; congress not being permitted to prevent a war nor to support it by their own authority….”
With respect to matters of national defense, the chief weakness of Congress under the Articles of Confederation was its inability to raise money to pay recruits, by Randolph's reckoning.
Where it was necessary to muster troops to defend the Confederation, Randolph continued, with “neither militia nor draughts [drafts] being fit for defense on such occasions, enlistments only could be successful and these could not be executed without money."
Note this well: Randolph, a figure of no small consequence at the Convention, acknowledged that drafts are not “fit for defense” in the event of a sudden attack on our nation.
While Randolph and other Federalists at the Convention insisted that a stronger central government was necessary in order to defend the infant American republic from foreign aggression, their proposed remedy was to provide Congress with the means to raise money to pay a small professional army. Not once during the debates at the Convention was it suggested that the central government should have the authority to conduct a draft of the general population. Agreement was reached that the federal government – through Congress – could call state militia to the active defense of the union, but that the states would not completely surrender control over the militia.
The session of August 18 dealt with that question in some detail. A compromise was proposed by George Mason empowering the central government to create a “select militia,” which he considered “as much as the General Government could advantageously be charged with.” This suggestion failed to find favor with many of the delegates, as was referred to a select committee for further study.
When the issue was taken up again on August 23, the discussion focused on the power of Congress to regulate and discipline militia called to defend the union.
From those discussions emerged the congressional power to “raise armies” (with a two-year limitation on appropriations for the army) and to call the militia into the service of the United States when necessary for the common defense. Once again, none of the delegates suggested that Congress, or any other branch of the federal government, would be permitted to conscript citizens into a national army.
“After circumscribing the central government’s power to draw the militia into federal service with such careful restrictions, the delegates could not possibly have allowed the federal government to exercise direct control over the citizens by permitting a draft into the regular army,” observed legal scholar Leon Friedman in a 1969 Michigan Law Review article. “The matter was so impossible to imagine, given the circumstances and ideological climate of the times, that no voice was raised against it…. All that was given by the grant [to Congress of limited power to raise armies, and call out the state militia], was the power to organize and enlist a federal, professional army which – the delegates thought – would consist of a limited number of garrison troops. That power was given grudgingly, only in the light of the severe hardship Congress had experienced through the Revolution in depending solely on the states for manpower and military supplies.”
The idea that citizens could be compelled “to bear arms for a national authority, and work against their most profound interests, never occurred to the framers,” continues Friedman. To endorse that concept “would have been a contradiction to their entire political heritage, manifestly inconsistent with their sense of the delicate balance between liberty and power, between the appetite for oppression and the instinct for resistance. If the citizen had any military obligation, it was to his local militia.
Many of the grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence were inspired by abuses of military power by the British Government at expense of the rights of the colonists. Similarly, many of the provisions inscribed in the Constitution and Bill of Rights (such as the limitation of appropriations for the Army to two years, and the Third Amendment’s prohibition of the quartering of troops in private homes) were inspired by well-entrenched, and amply validated, American concerns about the potential danger of military establishments being employed against the people as occupation forces.
Given the care with which the Framers of the Constitution hedged and qualified congressional power to create military establishments, it is untenable to believe that they granted Congress the power of conscription.
It is true that several of the states had mechanisms to conscript citizens into militias. The chief purpose of those bodies, however, was not to fight on behalf of the union, but rather to defend each state in the event of internal insurrection or other crises (such as conflicts with Indians). While Congress had the power to call militias into service of the union, it was clearly understood that the militias could also be called into service to defend individual states from a rogue central government – a form of interposition explicitly endorsed by Madison in Federalist essay 46.
Once again, this fact is impossible to reconcile with the idea that the central government had the power under the Constitution to conscript the very militiamen upon whom the states would rely as an ultimate check against that same central government.
The War of 1812 came about, in large measure, because of the British government’s practice of “impressing” American citizens – that is, abducting American sailors on the high seas, accusing them of being deserters from the British Navy, and forcing them to serve aboard British ships. Thus it’s reasonable to say that the war was, to some extent, based on a profound opposition to conscription, albeit in this case conducted by a foreign regime.
In our nation’s republican infancy, the citizens of most states looked on the federal government in Washington as something akin to a potentially hostile foreign power (an attitude desperately in need of revival, in my view). Despite misgivings about the necessity and ultimate purposes of the war, Americans – even those in restive New England -- were willing to enlist in both militia units and the regular Army in order to defend the union from Great Britain.
However, widespread disaffection and mutiny spread through both the militia and the Army after it became clear that the “War Hawks” in the Madison administration sought to expand the war into Canada. Governors of New England states refused to act on requisitions of militia for a march on Montreal, and “guardhouse lawyers” descended on militia camps to inform soldiers that the federal government had no constitutional authority to deploy them in foreign wars.
“Rigid Republican doctrine, apart from party loyalty, also harmed the war effort,” records historian Robert Allen Rutland. “Republican views concerning the use of the state militia proved to be a genuine albatross [to President Madison and his administration]. In 1798 Republicans had argued that the Constitution limited the use of the militia (today’s National Guard) to executing federal laws within its borders, suppressing insurrections, and repelling invasions. Could the president call on the militia to invade Canada or the Floridas [at the time not part of the United States]? No, said doctrinaire Republicans and Federalists alike….”
This consensus against using the militia as a foreign expeditionary force was complemented with an equally widespread rejection of conscription – even after the land war against Great Britain took a disastrous turn.
By June 1814, the U.S. Treasury was depleted, the federal government’s credit lines were stretched tauter than a Hollywood face-lift, Napoleon had been neutralized by a British-led coalition (meaning that London would soon be able to turn its attentions toward the U.S.), and peace negotiations were stalling. Madison instructed his negotiators at the peace table to drop the U.S. demand that British end the practice of impressment .
Ironically, the U.S. peace negotiators who had previously demanded an end to impressment operated under the authority of Secretary of State James Monroe – who, as Secretary of War, would later submit the proposal for a U.S. military draft.
Within weeks, this diplomatic retreat was matched by a literal retreat after Washington, D.C. came under British naval bombardment. On August 24, President Madison fled into the woods as British troops burned the White House. First Lady Dolley Madison, seeking to protect official papers, household china, and a portrait of George Washington, left the presidential residence literally minutes ahead of advancing British troops. (A freak – or perhaps providential – tornado, coupled with the explosion of a nearby powder magazine, deterred British troops from actually sacking the White House.)
Losing ground in a desperate war with the world’s most powerful empire, suffering the indignity of an attack on our Capitol City and its most visible symbol, the United States faced a crisis unlike any it has experienced either before or since.
Indeed, the situation in which our nation found itself in late 1814-early 1815 provides an ideal test case for one of the arguments favored by some reluctant proponents of the draft: The claim that in the event of a foreign attack that literally threatens our national survival, conscription may be necessary as an ultimate means of national self-defense.
Compelling as that argument may seem to those who consider it hypothetically, the remarkable fact is that it was rejected by Congress when our nation actually confronted the possibility of losing the war to Great Britain.
The Monroe conscription proposal was placed before Congress in December 1814. The immediate congressional reaction – primarily from Republicans, but also from some Federalists – was one of astonished outrage.
“The power claimed is, doubtless, vastly greater and more dangerous than any other possessed by the Government,” protested Senator Jeremiah Mason of New Hampshire. “It subjects the personal freedom of every citizen, in comparison with which the rights of property are insignificant, to the arbitrary discretion [of government]. Had there been the intention of granting such power, would there not have been some attempt to guard against the unjust and oppressive exercise of it, as was done in the granting of power less important?”
Mason scored a telling point by recalling that the Madison administration had described impressment – which he described as a form of naval conscription -- as “utterly repugnant to our constitution and laws.” “The honorable Secretary [James Monroe] when he drafted those instructions, knew not how soon he should be directed to contend for the contrary doctrine.”
Easily the most eloquent and forceful opponent of the conscription proposal was Congressman Daniel Webster of Massachusetts.
“It was `usurpation’ pure and simple, cried Webster,” recalls biographer Robert Remini. “If such as bill is attempted, he warned, `it will cause a storm such as was never witnessed before.’ But the government was desperate. It had no money, and its army was slowly evaporating. In addition, many states had refused repeated requests for militia troops.
One version of Monroe’s plan did pass the Senate (remarkable, in light of the fact that the Senate as then constituted was intended to represent the interests of the state governments). Describing the plan as “wicked and violent,” Webster warned that it “will be a dead letter in New England.” Angered that proponents of the draft insisted that it was authorized by “implied powers,” rather than by any specific grant of power in the Constitution, Webster eviscerated the proposed draft in a lengthy speech on December 9:
“Is this, sir, consistent with the character of a free government? Is this civil liberty? Is this the real character of our Constitution? No sir, indeed it is not. The Constitution is libeled, foully libeled. The people of this country have not established for themselves such a fabric of despotism…. Where is it written in the Constitution, in what article or section is it contained, that you may take children from their parents, and parents from their children, and compel them to fight the battles of any war in which the folly or the wickedness of government may engage it?…. If the Secretary of War has proved the right of Congress to enact a law enforcing a draft of men out of the militia and into the regular army, he will at any time be able to prove, quite as clearly, that Congress has the power to create a Dictator.”(Spelling in the original.)
If Congress approved this patently unconstitutional and undeniably despotic measure, Webster continued, “It will be the solemn duty of the State Governments to protect their own authority over their own militia, and interpose between their citizens and arbitrary power. These are among the objects for which the State Governments exist; and their highest obligations bind them to the preservation of their own rights and the liberties of their people.”
The conscription proposal was conspicuous on the agenda of the Hartford Convention, which met shortly after Webster delivered his speech. Far from contributing to the defense of the Union, the proposed draft helped fuel a movement that very nearly tore it apart.
A little more than a week ago, Congressman Charles Rangel of New York introduced the "Universal National Service Act of 2007," which would not only re-instate the draft, it would extend it to all Americans of both sexes from ages 18 to 42. This measure is a transliteration of the eighth plank of the Communist Manifesto, which dictates a universal liability for all to serve as the state directs.
Rangel's bill would make all Americans from ages 18 to 42 the property of the President, to use as he sees fit in either military, homeland security, or other "national service" functions. The bill is written in such a fashion that it would provide a new pool of conscripts for immediate use in Iraq and Afghanistan if -- make that when -- the "surge" results in a larger and bloodier mess in the Middle East.
Who are the five people in your community who would have life-and-death power over the future of your children? Now is a good time to find out.
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