Sensing A Draft: Is Conscription in the Wind? | General News & Politics | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

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The Canada-US Smart Border Declaration, signed in December 2001, "provides for ongoing collaboration in identifying and addressing security risks while efficiently expediting the legitimate flow of people and goods across the Canada-US border." Although the plan is ostensibly designed to keep terrorists out of the US, it could also be used to stop would-be draft dodgers from fleeing into Canada.

Yet despite rumors and possible indications of a draft, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) remains largely unconcerned. The Nobel Prize-winning Quaker organization, founded in 1917 to carry out service, development, social justice and peace programs throughout the world, as well as assist civilian war victims and COs, has been closely monitoring US military policy since September 11, 2001.

"We've been monitoring [draft rumors] across the Internet, and much of it is alarmist, less rooted in fact than emotion," said Oscar Castro, director of the AFSC's National Youth and Militarism Program. "That's not to say the facts are erroneous-it's the interpretation of them that is. People who are concerned about the draft see things like this, and get upset, and it spins out of control."

Castro does not interpret Selective Service budget increases and recent moves to attract new draft board members as indicators of an impending draft. "Draft board members do have a shelf life of 20 years-they need to be replaced. There's no reason to believe a draft is coming just because new people are being brought in. While it's true the Selective Service has increased its budget to $28 million, the organization's standard budget allocation for the past 20 years has been $20 to $25 million. That's really only an increase of $3 million more, and not an extra $28 million-it's not like they've suddenly got an extra $28 million to do what they need to do."

Castro does not believe there will be a draft, or that the Universal National Service Act will be legislated. "People are using the legislative process to have a conversation about the costs of war and who pays," he said. "But the bills are dying in committee; they're not ever going to be passable because of what they are. In order to pass them the population would have to be indifferent to a perpetual draft, and that's not going to happen." Nonetheless, Castro said the AFSC will not cease closely monitoring the situation. "Let's just say we've got all our oars in the water and we're rowing in tandem, just in case."

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