Rangel: Bring back the draft before launching air strikes in Syria

Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) on Sunday renewed his call to reinstate the draft, arguing a vote should be held on mandatory military service before any decision is taken to launch strikes against Syria. 

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“I truly believe we should have a National Draft Act before the Congress acts,” Rangel told MSNBC.

Rangel, a decorated veteran of the Korean War, has for several years introduced legislation to bring back the draft and earlier this, for the first time, advocated that women should be included. 

The New York lawmaker said the burden of war unfairly falls on lower-income Americans. 

“They are not in the Hamptons. They are not in the wealthy neighborhoods,” he said. 

Rangel, a former chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and the third-longest-serving member of Congress, has made it clear he will vote “no” on a forthcoming resolution seeking congressional approval for limited strikes on Syria. 

Although Rangel said he is satisfied that Syrian President Bashar Assad is responsible for poison gas attacks on his own people last month, he argued it is not the U.S.’s responsibility to respond on behalf of the world. 

“There is no mandate that the United States of America has to get rid of every evil person,” Rangel said. 

“If it’s an international problem it should be an international solution.”

Rangel said he would not attend a Sunday afternoon “members-only” briefing for lawmakers on Capitol Hill about the proposed Syrian military strike because he could not justify the use of force to his constituents. 

“If I have the slightest idea how this gross violation of international law affects citizens of the United States of America, my ears are open to see the connection,” he said. 

President Obama surprised many in Congress on Saturday by announcing he would seek congressional approval before launching military strikes he argues are necessary to hold Assad accountable for the use of chemical weapons. 

In a letter to Obama last week, 53 liberal Democrats — including many members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) argued that Assad’s actions "should not draw us into an unwise war” without first having Congress authorize the action. 

On Sunday, liberal Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) argued there is no justification for U.S. involvement — especially since the country lacks allies for its proposed strikes. 

“How is it that this is always our responsibility?” Grayson said on MSNBC. 

The proper course of action is not to bomb Syria, but to take Assad to the international war crimes court in The Hague. 

“What would change my mind is someone explaining to me what the heck this has to do with us,” he said.