Senator Mark O. Hatfield


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Domestic Policy:
Military Conscription

May 14, 1969

Congressional Record: Senate: Page 12,582




Mr. HATFIELD. Mr. President, it seems that President Nixon has misunderstood the threat to freedom and equity which conscription poses to America. The President has proposed to reform the draft through a lottery. I submit that such a proposal is not reform at all but only a random distribution of inequity. Substituting Lady Luck for General Hershey will not alter the fact that some young men are forced into service and denied their individual liberty while others escape any military duty. An attempt to reform the draft is somewhat like trying to reform slavery - one does not reform inequity, one abolishes it.

Patching up the draft will not necessarily move us toward an all-volunteer Army. The continuation of a peacetime conscription serves as a case in point. Though the draft had served its usefulness, the impetus of bureaucratic machinery and its effect upon the American public has continued to perpetuate an outmoded Selective Service System. Similarly stopgap lottery system will only postpone the necessary transition to an all-volunteer military. As long as the incentives for voluntary enlistment are not improved, the undemocratic principle of the military draft is further entrenched in our society.

This proposal will only prolong the alienation of our youth and prohibit us from achieving a greater realization of freedom for all. The dehumanizing forces in our society must be halted if we are to regain youth’s confidence and participation in our democratic system. Delaying promised action to end conscription is certainly not the answer to such a pressing issue.

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