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2003-01-08

Charles Rangel Introduces a Bill in Congress to Reinstate the Draft: A Debate Between Bill Co-Sponsor John Conyers and David Harris, Who Spent 20 Months in Prison for Refusing to Fight in Vietnam

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Rep. Charles Rangel introduced a bill in Congress yesterday to reinstate the military draft.

The New York Democrat says his goal is two-fold: to ensure that America’s fighting forces more closely match the class and racial makeup of the nation. And to help people think more personally about the consequences of going to war. As he wrote in a The New York Times op-ed last week, "I believe that if those calling for war knew that their children were likely to be required to serve — and to be placed in harm’s way — there would be more caution and a greater willingness to work with the international community in dealing with Iraq."

He told reporters yesterday, "Those who love this country have a patriotic obligation to defend this country… For those who say the poor fight better, I say give the rich a chance."

Almost no member of Congress has a son or daughter in the military. Most recent presidential candidates from the Vietnam generation managed to avoid the draft. President George W. Bush sat out the war with the Texas Air National Guard.

Rangel is backed by Rep. John Conyers Jr., (D-MI), who has also opposed a pre-emptive strike against Iraq.

Guests:

  • Rep. John Conyers, (D-MI).
  • David Harris, author who served 20 months in prison for refusing to fight in the Vietnam War. He recently published two books: The Last Stand, which is the story of the takeover of the Pacific Lumber Company, and Our War, a personal memoir of the Vietnam war period in the U.S.

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