As men of draft age who oppose the present United States policy towards Vietnam, we believe that the establishment of an "alternative service" option would extend the inequities in the existing draft system and, more importantly, cut off potential sources of effectual protest among men in our "dilemma."
We fear that many of those about to be drafted are unlikely to possess sufficient political sophistication even to question the rhetoric of an emotional patriotism provided as the official justification for fighting in Vietnam. Those who select "alternative service" would merely be contriving an all too convenient solution for their own doubts without coming to terms with the real issues of conscription and the war. Delivered from their "dilemma," it seems likely that these few would be so comfortable performing "alternative service" that they would not "feel like" protesting or demonstrating further. Such persons would simply be exploiting the sacrifices of the well-intentioned who follow their leaders in everything they say and do.
The real issue remains the war itself: do we want not to fight in Vietnam more than we want to avoid going to jail? If so, we must consider civil disobedience. [Of course, one can apply for Conscientious Objector status, but currently so few are actually receiving this classification that it has ceased to be a real option for most.] In any case, before the U.S. Congress will provide alternatives to military service in wartime, it would vote unanimously to withdraw all our troops from Vietnam.
If we feel so strongly that we will not fight, then we should refuse to serve; specifically, sign the "We Won't Go" petition, work for "Vietnam Summer," and prepare to go to prison. If we do not feel so strongly as to go to jail rather than to war, then we should sign the "Negotiate Now" petition, perhaps work for "Vietnam Summer," but prepare to be drafted. If we feel that the war is right -- enlist.
There may be other options, but the "alternative service" proposal does not offer one. Thomas S. Erwin '67 Phllip Ray '67 William Stone '67