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The Ron Paul Platform: War Powers and the Draft

Part of a continuing series of excerpts from "The Revolution: A Manifesto."

"....  Whatever kind of evidence you want to examine, whether constitutional or historical, the verdict is clear: Congress was supposed to declare war, and the president in turn was to direct the war once it was declared....

The Korean War was the great watershed in the modern presidential power grab in war-making. President Harry Truman sent Americans halfway around the world without so much as a nod in the direction of Congress....

In spite of its complete lack of constitutional foundation, this belief that the president may take the country to war on his own authority, without consulting anyone, has become the conventional wisdom in both major parties.... Neoconservatives have been particularly eager to promote this deviation from the Constitution. This, it seems, is their version of the "living" Constitution....

Robert A. Taft, one of the most conservative Republicans of his day... speaking on the Senate floor:

".... Congress has the power to prevent any such action by the President; that he has no such power under the Constitution; and that it is incumbent upon the Congress to assert clearly its own constitutional powers unless it desires to lose them. In the long run, the question we must decide involves, vitally, I think, not only the freedom of the people of the United States, but the peace of the people of the United States.... If in the great field of foreign policy the President has arbitrary and unlimited power, as he now claims, then there is an end to freedom in the United States in a great realm of domestic activity which affects, in the long run, every person in the United States... If the President has unlimited power to involve us in war, war is more likely. History shows that... arbitrary rules are more inclined to favor war than are the people, at any time."

.... Meanwhile, all these wars have to be fought by someone, and that is why the military draft is being spoken about more and more. Given the overseas ambitions of so much of our political class, a return of the draft may actually be closer than we realize....

Having stretched our military to the breaking point, where do they expect to find the troops for the next conflict?

The draft is a totalitarian institution that is based on the idea that the government owns you and can dispose of your life as it wishes. Republican Senator Robert Taft said that the draft was "far more typical of totalitarian nations than of democratic nations. It is absolutely opposed to the principles of individual liberty, which have always been considered part of American democracy." Conservative thinker Russell Kirk referred to the draft as "slavery." Military conscription, said Ronald Reagan in 1979, "rests on the assumption that your kids belong to the state.... That assumption isn't a new one. The Nazis thought it was a great idea."

.... In late 1814, fearing that conscription was about to come to America, Daniel Webster delivered a stirring speech against it on the House floor:

"Where is it written in the Constitution, in what article or section is it contained, that you may take children from their parents, and parents from their children, and compel them to fight the battles of any war, in which the folly or the wickedness of Government may engage it?.... A free government, with an uncontrolled power of military conscription, is a solecism, at once the most ridiculous and abominable that ever entered into the head of man."

Webster was right both morally and constitutionally. Nowhere in the Constitution is the federal; government given the power to conscript citizens. The power to raise armies is not a power to force people into the army...

Lesser forms of the draft, such as compulsory "national service," are based on the same unacceptable premise. Young people are not raw material to be employed by the political class on behalf of whatever fashionable political, military, or social cause catches its fancy. In a free society, their lives are not the playthings of government."
Tags: american tyranny, draft, neo-con plan, ron paul
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