PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: There is no draft, but we’re waging Forever Wars …
There is no draft right now. If our country declares war against Iran, there still wouldn’t be a draft. To do so would require an act of Congress. Theoretically, in a worse case scenario, the Trump Administration could argue that a war with Iran is already authorized under the existing ‘AUMF Against Terrorists’ from September 14, 2001.
Let me explain how this works, from the perspective of current law.
The War Powers act gives President Trump far too much power, as it has too many American Presidents. This act allows Presidents, including Trump, to engage in military actions overseas without an official declaration of war for sixty days, at which time they’re supposed to check in with Congress.
The US Congress is the only political body that can officially declare war, per Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution. The language reads, “… To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;”
In modern times, our Congress calls declarations of War “Authorizations for Use of Military Force” declarations, or AUMFs. In 2001, a very broad AUMF Against Terrorists was enacted by the US Congress, which declared war on terrorism itself. Only one member of Congress, Barbara Lee of California, voted against it. This broad authority has been used by Bush, Obama and now Trump to conduct overseas drone strikes and other actions overseas for the last 18 years, since September 14, 2001. It was the action that authorized the original bombing campaign of Afghanistan in October, 2001. Barbara Lee recently sponsored a resolution to repeal this law, in February 2019 (H.R. 1274).
An AUMF Against Iraq was authorized on October 2nd, 2002, which declared war against Iraq. 133 members of Congress voted No on this act, including 126 Democrats, 6 Republicans, and 1 Independent. Barbara Lee recently sponsored a resolution to repeal this law, in May 2019 (H.R. 2456).
If our country is still a nation of laws, Trump can’t go to war without Congress. Which means, the people in this country still have the power to withhold this. We don’t have to go to war with Iran. If enough of us stop this, and speak up, it’s not inevitable.
At present, there is no draft in the United States. While people are still required to register for selective service between the ages of 18–25, that registry can’t be used to draft people into service at present. To do so, Congress would need to pass a law reinstating the draft.
So, unless something extraordinary happens, you won’t be drafted. At least not legally.
I’ll say now what I said in 2002, the first time I explained all of this online.
The Vietnam War, enacted and escalated between 1955 and 1975, lasted for 19 years, 5 months, 4 weeks and 1 day. There was never a formal declaration of war against Vietnam, but a series of escalations by multiple Presidents, starting with sending military advisors, selling equipment and more. On August 10th, 1964, The Gulf of Tonkin resolution was passed by the US Congress, which authorized President Johnson to use military forces in Vietnam, while not formally declaring war. This resolution lasted 7 years. The ‘hot’ war of Vietnam lasted for 7 of those 19 years.
It’s been 18 years since the AUMF against Terrorists was signed. And 17 years since the AUMF against Iraq was signed. And neither law has been repealed. We’ve been fighting, actively, on and off, with force escalations and deescalation and reescalations, for almost 3 times as long as the ‘hot’ conflict in Vietnam, with no end in sight.
This war with Iran isn’t inevitable. And our Forever Wars don’t have to last forever. Maybe it’s time to finally change all of this, and put an end to it all.