Activist speaks on draft
Students enrolled in universities across the nation will no longer be able to divert a military draft, if the Bush administration - along with the Selective Service System - implements the already planned and organized mandatory recruitment, said Dustin Langley, a U.S. Navy veteran and activist with No Draft No Way.
Langley spoke about the possibility of an upcoming draft in the face of a dwindling military enlistment Wednesday night at the Rutgers Student Center on the College Avenue campus, as part of the third annual Palestinian Awareness Week, sponsored by New Jersey Solidarity.
The event also featured guest speaker Nadia Taha, a Palestinian activist from N.J. Solidarity.
A lot of people will say the government cannot bring the draft back due to the political cost, but the Bush administration has gone back on its word before, Langley said.
"Both Bush and [U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld] said the draft is not coming back, but they also said they knew about weapons of mass destruction and that they were going to restore dignity," he said.
No Draft No Way - the organization Langley represents - sent out a call for people to take action because on March 31, the SSS, the agency responsible for military enlistment, planned to file a report to the president, stating its performance goals had been met in terms of improving its level of recruitment and preparing for the draft, he said.
The steps taken include staffing local draft ports, training high school registrars, buying new software and practicing with their lotteries, Langley said.
"The goal is to have the entire apparatus fully operational," he said.
Once the report is filed, it signifies the agency is ready to implement a draft within 75 days.
Schools in areas like New York, Iowa and Pennsylvania began protesting last week through picketing, holding walk-outs and even blocking access to recruiting stations, Langley said.
This possible draft, like the previous one, will be based on a lottery system by birthdays mainly of individuals from ages 18-26, with an emphasis on age 20, he said.
Unlike the previous draft, there's a greater need for a broad level of skills usually requiring higher education.
Computer skills and linguistics are just some examples of the levels of education being of interest to the military, Langley said.
But those lacking in higher education skills and in general financial opportunity will more likely be placed in combat roles, he said.
"What many people are not aware of is the existence of an economic draft also known as a poverty draft, which is the specific military recruitment targeted at poor communities," Langley said.
"In general, the military has targeted individuals from these communities, who do not have many opportunities making false promises of education and job training," he said.
"[The military] presents this as a way out," he added. "The reality behind the sales pitch is much different than what is represented."
Military training for military jobs doesn't always transfer over, even with such jobs as accounting, the information taught is specifically geared toward military accounting and so on, Langley said.
"Only 8 percent of men and 6 percent of women in the military will ever use their job training," he said.
Also, for most individuals the GI bill gives them only $34,000 of the $50,000 they're thought to receive, an amount that will not cover tuition at most universities, he said.
Currently, there are about 130,000 troops in Iraq, and they need three times this amount to maintain occupation.
Rutgers College junior Nadia Taha, president of N.J. Solidarity, spoke about the similarities between the U.S. occupation in Iraq, and the ongoing struggle in Palestine.
"Both occupations are illegal invasions of indigent land for economical-political aims," Taha said.
The situations in Iraq and Palestine are pretty inextricable from one another, in terms of political occupation and the production of refugees, she said.
"They both look the same on television," Taha said. "Just the same image of this huge military force coming in and oppressing these people that have suffered for so long."
Both nations face an enormous political prisoner problem, with civilians being captured in large quantities and being placed alongside real criminals in prisons, she said.
It is crucial to think about these issues when discussing Iraq and Palestine, Taha said.
By Diana Pichardo / Staff Writer
The Daily Targum - University