NEW YORK—Representative Charles Rangel said no more tax dollars should be spent on “hunkering down in Iraq and Afghanistan” and if the people in the United States really support the conflicts, then Congress should be willing to set up a draft.
Speaking in front of an armed forces recruitment center in the middle of Times Square, the 20-term congressman said that he does not oppose President Barack Obama's continuation of the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq, as it is “America's war,” not Obama's.
In the near future, Congress is slated to vote on appropriating funds to both the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The 80-year-old congressman said he would introduce a bill on the House floor that would require a mandatory draft, and even if it “never becomes law, it should start a debate.”
Rangel said, “I say everyone should be prepared to serve.” Rangel was a decorated Korean War veteran, serving in the U.S. Army, and was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.
“There should not be a good feeling [about supporting the war],” he said. “That if you support the war and expansion, you should support the draft.”
With a draft, Americans between the ages of 18 and 42 would be eligible to go off to war, and would affect a broader segment of society because Americans “don't take any of this personally,” he said in reference to the approximately 5,400 soldiers who have lost their lives in the two conflicts.
Oftentimes, many people who join the branches of the armed forces do so out of necessity for a job, and many of the marketing campaigns that the Army uses target poor neighborhoods and regions, Rangel said.
He faces strong competition in his re-election campaign from state Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV, the son of his former opponent.
The Harlem Democrat stepped down from his position as chairman of the House Ways and Means Commission several months ago after being investigated over ethics concerns.