Congressional emasculation of the much-debated draft act has provided the world with the year's best example of electioneering and buck-passing. Despite repeated pleas by President Truman and General Eisenhower for Congressional support of our world-wide commitments, the House of Representatives has apparently decided that reelection is more important than reconstruction.
Starting with an attempt to appease all pressure groups, the House's gestation period has brought forth a bill that satisfies none completely. The proposed five-month holiday is merely a subterfuge by which the burden of decision is to be shifted to the already weary shoulders of President Truman, whose responsibility it will be to resume the induction of selectees in October. For many years the House complained of its subordinate position, yet having been given the ball by the executive authority, it held it only long enough to throw it back.
The problem is one of finding sufficient manpower to meet our occupation requirements and to fulfill our commitments to the United Nations police force. Our military experts, headed by General Eisenhower, have stated unequivocally that the present demand can be filled only by Selective Service. Yet the Representatives choose to listen to their campaign managers rather than their conscience. The exemption of 18 to 20 year-olds from the draft would in itself reduce the act to impotency, because the drafting of 18-year-olds since 1943 has already caught men now in their early 20's. The substitution of recruiting for the draft will not remove the objections to an adolescent occupation force. If the volunteers are to be men over 21, they will still be eligible for recruiting while the drafting of teen-agers will provide a flexible gap-filler to insure adequate manpower. If a sufficient number of men volunteer, induction quotas can always be cut.
Congress seems strangely unconcerned with the men now overseas, who must remain there for an indefinite time unless replacements are provided. By suspending the draft, the House has knocked the supports out from under policies and commitments it itself constructed. It is regrettable that the problems of the world cannot be confined to off-election years.