The Draft? A Report Prepared for the Peace Education Division of the American Friends Service Committee
How to End the Draft: The Case for an All-Volunteer Army
The New Draft Law: A Manual for Lawyers and Counsellors
1001 Ways to Beat the Draft
How to Stay Out of the Army: A Guide to Your Rights Under the Draft Law
Why the Draft: The Case for a Volunteer Army
National Lawyers Guild Practitioner, Vol. 26, No. 3 (Summer, 1967): Special issue on Selective Service
Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants to Canada
The Draft: A Handbook of Facts and Alternatives
During the last few years critics have been calling for reforms of the draft or for its end, some suggesting in its place either a volunteer army or a system of national service. The Marshall Commission Report, for example, proposed ending college deferments and calling men by lottery, rather than through the idiosyncratic decisions of some 4,000 local draft boards. In the current political campaign, each candidate has had at least to acknowledge the widespread hostility to the draft by proposing major revisions (as Rockefeller did when he called for a lottery) or its eventual elimination (as Nixon and Kennedy have done—to begin after the war, to be sure). But the draft has continued, substantially unaltered, largely because it permits the President to wage war by administrative decree.
The recent debate in the Foreign Relations Committee about manpower needs in Vietnam illustrates how the draft works to bypass Congressional restraints. Congressmen talked not of the draft’s imperfections, nor of the draft at all, but demanded that they be “consulted” this time before more men were sent to Vietnam. President Johnson’s “task force” study of the Selective Service System was completed last December but is still unpublished. It is no secret, however, that it emphasizes the Administration’s unwillingness to reform the System. When asked to “review and compare with the present structure” the report of the Marshall Commission, former Secretary of Defense, Robert S. McNamara, former Budget Director Charles Schultze, and the present sss head Lewis B. Hershey all voted their confidence in the present system.
For several years, small but vocal numbers of college students opposed to the war have debated their privileged position within the inequitous system. Theirs was, to begin with, a moral dilemma: how could they allow others—especially the “underprivileged”—to bear the cost of the war? Should they retain their student deferments or declare their opposition to the war by renouncing them? Not surprisingly, most students avoided that dilemma; for them it meant only feelings of guilt, on the one hand, and the possibility of prison on the other. Although 158 members of “We Won’t Go” groups burned their draft cards in Central Park’s Sheep Meadow a year ago, most college students, if they were concerned about the draft at all, were agitated over the problem of “ranking.” For most students—and for many administrators—the question was one of “privacy” and “domain”: could or should college administrations advise draft boards on which men might, without loss to the “national interest,” be shifted from classroom to battlefield?
A YEAR has washed away these academic dilemmas. Congress declared in the 1967 draft law that if a man could stay in college, he could stay out of the army for four years. But it also opened the way for the National Security Council to end graduate school deferments, a step announced on February 16. And as the war has expanded and no reprieve has come—not even the President …
This article is available to online subscribers only.
Please choose from one of the options below to access this article:
Purchase a print premium subscription (20 issues per year) and also receive online access to all all content on nybooks.com.
Purchase an Online Edition subscription and receive full access to all articles published by the Review since 1963.
Purchase a trial Online Edition subscription and receive unlimited access for one week to all the content on nybooks.com.
Available August 1, 1968