Ventaka: After Iran, attention turns to the draft

Morgan La Casse

Morgan La Casse

Uma Venkata

The Iranian nuclear deal has never been stable, and Trump threw it for a special loop when he entered office in 2016. The proxy war continues and hasn’t stopped yet. Then we kick off 2020 with a Trump-issued American offense on Iraqui soil, with the death of Qasem Soleimani, a general of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Compare it to his military counterparts in the U.S. for an idea of how unacceptable this was. Then Iran committed a ‘mistaken’ offense in shooting down a Ukrainian civilian jetliner on Jan. 8. 

During this recent melee, there was a scare (that originated from a hoax) that the draft would be reinstated what with the Iranian issues. The website about selective service was so jammed with queries about an impending draft that it crashed, as reported by NPR on Jan. 7. 

This entire conflict is obviously deeply complicated, but the scare of the theoretical draft indicates that people will not start paying attention until that threat is possible. As we all know, there is none at the moment. I think we can plan on none being implemented in the near future, either. The last time the Selective Service System (independent of the armed forces or DOD) implemented a draft was in 1973. And what we generally know about from that time period are protests, Agent Orange and M*A*S*H (about Korea, but aired during Vietnam). 

In terms of morale and support, it’s outside the interests of politicians who support war for the populace to oppose it. I believe too that united, we stand. However, this then means that it’s outside the interests of the government to institute a draft, because Americans — especially of our particular age demographic here at school — will start to pay attention to why we’re fighting, because our particular lives are suddenly at stake. No government wants that kind of scrutiny. 

We’ve always been comfortable sending a few people overseas to die for something vague, and our patriotism for the armed forces is instead expressed in catfights over kneeling before the flag at a game. Not a war game, just a sports game. 

The point of this is that we don’t have to let it take a vague threat of bodily harm to ourselves to scrutinize the government. Trump’s authorization for Suleimani’s death is interpreted as a transparent PR stunt to egg on Iran into doing something that would give license to Americans to call for yet another war — which mobilizes the nationalism base into support for Trump and makes everyone else against that hypothetical look like a bunch of pansies who are afraid to stand up for their country. Trump isn’t the first to do this. People noticed when Bush did it, too. 

Plenty of politicians will up unnecessary antes for their own job security, even against the interests of our country and citizens (this includes ally relationships). We give them license to do that by being too busy to notice, then focusing only on our own skins. 

Accountability is bipartisan. It’s hard, but this is our country. We, the voters, should enforce it.

Correction: a previous version of this article misstated where Qasem Soleimani was killed. He was killed in Iraq.