Regarding David Greenberg's April 26 Opinion piece "Calls for military draft promote illusion of equality": I do not challenge his history nor the inherent social inequalities of a revived draft. I would point out, however, that the historical environment on which much of his argument rests is no longer applicable. In most of the cited instances of war, the country was under some clear threat and that threat often elicited sufficient numbers of volunteers.
The current conflict in Iraq is clearly different from our earlier wars. This war smacks of imperialism. No clear national threat has been identified, despite neo-conservative protests to the contrary. The lack of a draft, or more accurately the existence of a purely volunteer Army, insulates decisionmakers from the full impact of poor decisions. A draft is needed to hold policymakers accountable.
Regarding Rondi Adamson's April 26 Opinion piece "Canada's romance with US military exiles": When the draft was disbanded in the US after the Vietnam War, there was hope that when the government decided to call another war, no one would show up. Of course, that hope was wishful thinking.
There will always be poor people in the US with few options for education, jobs, housing, or healthcare who consequently "volunteer" for military service in an attempt to meet basic needs for themselves and their families. All volunteers, as well as their families, hope that their tour will be without a call-up for war. I have two brothers and a husband who were drafted and served in wars. All three continue to suffer from their experiences. Oh, if only they had dodged the draft.
In his April 20 Opinion piece, "Third-party threat: It's not just Nader," Lawrence R. Jacobs refers to the Presidential Debate Commission, but there is no entity by that name. Two competing organizations are vying to host the 2004 presidential debates. The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) is a partisan entity created and controlled exclusively by Democrats and Republicans. The challenger is the Citizens' Debate Commission (CDC), a nonpartisan organization directed by 17 civic leaders.
Members of the CDC have one common interest: creating debates that serve the public and democracy, not merely the dominant political parties. While serious third-party candidates have been victims of arbitrary criteria used by the CPD to exclude unwanted challengers, the American public is the real victim. Even party loyalists should recognize that democracy must take precedence over short-term partisan interests. The CDC can play a critical role in reversing public cynicism and revitalizing democracy.
The writer is a board member of the Citizens' Debate Commission.
Your April 26 article "Racism Flaring, Northwest fights back" confirms that the best hope for this world is for our usually silent, passive, compassionate majority to step forward and assert itself against extremists. The hate groups, the ethnic cleansers, and the radical religious elements of all major religions have always been with us. But in today's world of technology, the Internet, and weapons of mass destruction a few extremists can wreak a great deal of havoc. Moderate citizens - Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and other Americans - must be more courageous in standing up to extremists.
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