A bill has been circulating in the United States Congress (H.R. 163 and S. 89), entitled the Universal National Service Act of 2003. This bill would institute compulsory military and/or civil service for all American citizens between the ages of 18 and 26:

A bill to provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes.
Now, a similar bill was proposed in 2001 (read about it here), which is dead in the water. This bill is currently waiting on an endorsement from the Department of Defense. This bill is harsher, however, with a longer term of service (two years vs. one year) and more stringent requirements.

Lotsa problems arise here. A minor, but interesting one, is the fact that the bill provides for the conscription of U.S. citizens in Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, etc., who have no opportunity to vote for or against it, which is a bad way to start this off.

Moreso, in cosponsoring the bill, Pete Stark (D-CA) made the following remarks:

The president is intent on invading Iraq whatever the cost. Thanks to the president's brand of hotheaded daily diplomacy, war with North Korea may also be imminent. The only real question that remains is whether or not Americans are ready and willing to bear the cost?


It is my understanding that out of the 435 members of this House and the 100 members of the Senate, only one -- only one -- has a child in active military service. Who are we to know the pain of war when we ourselves will not directly bear the brunt of that action? It won't be us mourning the death of a child or a loved one. Maybe some of you in this Congress would think twice about voting for war in Iraq if you knew your child may be sent to fight in the streets of Baghdad?
That sure will teach George W. Bush, Petey. "You want an army, huh? Here's a HUGE army!" Woo. As long as California Democrats are sponsoring universal conscription, you know something's messed up. But why not pass this kind of law? Israel and other countries have used it to great effect, and secured their national defense besides. Why not?

We, as a nation, have a terrible history with the draft, lately. Vietnam? Korea? Iraq, depending on who you talk to? The bulk of the voting population doesn't trust the government to make war anymore, and the nation is so sharply divided on the question of when we should go into combat that no consensus has been reached since World War II, when the need was clear.

The 18- to 26-year-olds of this country, by and large, feel no obligation to serve. Yes, there are plenty of fine men and women who enlist each year, but they constitute a tiny percentage of the population. The formative years are something that people tend to cling to when they're taken away. I know I would vigorously oppose being sent off to the Army and having all the plans I've made destroyed.

Keep your eyes open for this bill, because it's garnering a hell of a lot more support than the last one did.