POSTSCRIPT / June 6, 2004 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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FilAms concerned over Iraq-duty draft

DRAFT COMING?: Making the rounds among FilAms in America is the tsismis about the quiet reinstatement of the draft program — “quiet” because it is an election year and the draft is a very volatile issue.

Iraqi resistance to US military occupation of their country is sucking more and more American lives. This has caused the disproportionate concentration of large US military forces in that war zone, and the diversion of resources that should go to social services.

With hundreds of Americans getting killed in Iraq at an alarming rate, there is fear that increased enlistment and even a draft would soon become necessary.

This could include “brand-new” Americans, such as FilAms, if only to test their loyalty to their new country of choice.

Proponents of the draft feel that “all Americans should bear some responsibility and pay some price in defending the nation’s interests” either through the draft or some other form of mandatory national service.

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MALE & FEMALE YOUTHS: Many FilAms who had moved their families to the States are wondering how a draft would affect their brood.

There is widespread concern that a draft would include not only Filipinos who have been naturalized but also legal permanent residents (green card holders) who are 18-34 years old, both male and female!

A no-draft website explains: “Conscription, or ‘the draft,’ is compulsory military service. Compulsory means just that: If you’re drafted and fail to secure an exemption, you must be prepared to fight and die — or face a lengthy prison term.

“The US has not drafted citizens since the end of the Vietnam War, but current law requires virtually all male citizens aged 18 through 25, as well as male aliens living in the US, to register with the Selective Service — the federal agency that manages conscription.”

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SENT BACK HOME: We remember the tragicomic situation of some friends in Pampanga who emigrated to the US in the 1970s just as the US was being sucked deeper into the Vietnam war.

Imagine some lad from Angeles City sporting a brand-new green card suddenly being drafted and being assigned, of all places, to Clark air base in preparation to being shipped to the Vietnam front.

If it was any consolation, at least while he was on Clark Field, he had a chance to see friends and relatives as if he never left home. But they could not escape the irony of his having gone to the US only to be drafted and shipped back to the old hometown.

Is a similar scenario developing? Many FilAms in the States are worried.

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QUIET MOVES: How do we know a new draft is in the works?

The no-draft site reports: “Nationwide, long-dormant draft boards — local committees that decide who must fight and who is exempted — have been quietly reactivated and restaffed. The Selective Service says it is prepared to call up soldiers within 193 days after a draft is launched.

“A consensus behind conscription is building on Capitol Hill. Senators Chuck Hagel (R-Neb) and Joseph Biden (D-Del), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, are among many prominent politicians suddenly calling for a “national debate” on the draft.Open supporters of the draft include Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-SC) and Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Nydia Velazsquez (D-NY), and Pete Stark (D-Cal).

“HR 163 and S 89, Democrat-sponsored bills to restore conscription, are quietly working their way through committee. Reportedly, Republicans are ready to sign on as soon as they get the nod from the Bush administration.”

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GLOBO-COP ROLE: The no-draft site continues: “Under cover of the ‘war on terror,’ the US has greatly increased its worldwide military presence during the past two years: 176,000 troops are now deployed in military bases and ‘peacekeeping operations’ overseas. (Those are March 2004 figures)

“Official US policy now calls for waging ‘pre-emptive war’ and effecting ‘regime change’ wherever threats to American power and security are perceived. Any new war — with or without an escalation of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan — would require many thousands of new soldiers. No President will tolerate an inability to wage war as and where he sees fit.

“The logic of current US foreign policy, which is globally aggressive, requires more ‘boots on the ground.’ Enlistment is barely sufficient to maintain current troop levels. Only draftees can fill the gap.”

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VOLATILE ELECTION ISSUE: But if powerful people support the draft, why is it not happening already? Answer: Because it is an election year, and the draft is a volatile issue.

The no-draft site says: “That’s why the Bush administration continues to maintain that current troop levels are sufficient, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Once the election’s over, however, a swift, powerful bipartisan push to reintroduce conscription can be anticipated.”

Will it make any difference if the Democrats win in November?

The non-draft site says: “Probably not. John Kerry, a member of the hawkish Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), supports escalating the war in Iraq and calls for enhancing US military presence worldwide. As a former war hero and Vietnam protester, Kerry would be a far more effective advocate for conscription than Bush.

“Kerry calls military service ‘the highest form of national service.’ Not coincidentally, a proposal for universal ‘National Service’ is available on his campaign web site.”

Another question: Will women be drafted?

The no-draft site says: “Almost certainly. Legislation now before Congress calls for drafting both genders, while internal Selective Service documents reflect extensive planning aimed at broadening the draft to women, including strategies for ‘marketing the concept’ to Congress.”

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MAYORALTY VS MAYORAL: Back to the local political scene. We wince every time we hear somebody on radio or TV saying “mayoralty candidate So and So” or referring to “the mayoralty election.” This is common among field radio reporters.

It should be “mayoral candidate” (not “mayoralty candidate”) and “mayoral election” (not “mayoralty election”). “Mayoralty” is a noun, while “mayoral” is an adjective.

A practical guide is: If you cannot decide instantly if it should be “mayoral” or “mayoralty,” mentally substitute either “presidential” or “presidency” and see which word fits better. If “presidential” sounds better, then it is “mayoral” you should use.

A candidate runs in a “presidential/mayoral election” (not in a “presidency/mayoralty election”). But he runs for the “presidency/mayoralty” (not “runs for the presidential/mayoral”).

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of June 6, 2004)

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