Students get reality check on draft

Amanda Hooper and Amanda Hooper

Nobel Prize winner and Vietnam War veteran, Bobby Muller spoke, sometimes shouted from his wheelchair on stage to University students and faculty last night. “What the hell do you know out here?! What do you know about Islam?!”

“I don’t fault you for not knowing. I fault us as a society,” Muller continued on.

He spoke about American foreign policy, the war on terrorism, and the possibility of a draft in the near future. He stated that education and dialogue are vital to understanding the problems the U.S. faces today.

“The number one reason we suffered the tragedy of the Vietnam war was that we didn’t understand the Vietnamese people,” Muller said, drawing on his experience to relate to the war today. “The Vietnam war experience was huge. What is ripping me apart is, given the public discourse today, it’s like it never even happened.”

Bobby Muller was a Marine Lieutenant paralyzed from a bullet wound to his spinal cord in Vietnam. He subsequently became an anti-war activist and in 1997 won a Nobel Peace for his work as co-founder of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines.

Last night’s event was sponsored by the Honors Program, the Honors Student Association and the Hendel Fund.

“We decided to sponsor the event since it is so relevant today with the upcoming Presidential election, the draft talk, and America’s role in the world right now,” said Honors Program Assistant Kevin Fleming.

Muller recently founded the Alliance for Security to encourage citizens to talk about the consequences of war, ask questions and demand answers.

He is traveling on the Tour of Duty to speak to young Americans. Campuses are a key target for the tour because young Americans will be most affected if a selected service draft is reinstated.

According to Mulller, the manpower the U.S. needs to continue the engagement in Iraq and protect the nation around the world are stretching our military thin.

“This ain’t just about Iraq,” Muller said. ” We got a storm coming our way. There is a rising tide of anger among Islam.”

He presented numerous scenarios around the globe, where he believes the U.S. is at risk for being drawn into a new military conflict. He cited Presidential assassination attempts in Pakistan, Iran’s support of Iraq with tangible war materials and Egypt’s Muslim brotherhood that could take over if a general election occurred.

“If any one of these situations occurred, the U.S. military could not sustain enough troop support, Muller said. America is facing a potential crisis.”

Muller said he believes that the whole notion of service to country is very different today then in the past because we favor the idea of a professional army, as opposed to a draft. The Alliance for Security conducted a phone survey in August that found that, if the draft were reinstated today, and they were selected, 32 percent of draft-age Americans would not serve.

Muller pointed at the audience and said, “You’re right to be anxious. You are at risk.”

Sarah Warren, Harvard graduate and former humanitarian aid worker in Kosovo, accompanied Muller and spoke to students about educating themselves about the draft. The entire process, from when the President approaches Congress, to when the Selective Service implements the draft lottery, can occur in as little as three days.

“I think the message tonight is: don’t wait. Start educating yourselves now. Start asking questions,” Warren said.

Muller and Warren suggested and the documentary “Fog of War” as good starting points to obtain knowledge about American foreign policy and the war on terror.

“It’s not enough just to talk about freedom and democracy. We have to live it,” Muller said. “A democracy is only as strong as it’s citizens are engaged.”