A Few Good Men: US-Iran Tension Raises Draft Fears

Well that escalated quickly. Last week's U.S. airstrike killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and Iran's subsequent threats of retaliation lit up social media and the internet with talk (mostly among younger people) of World War III and a new U.S. military draft. Memes and messages implied that the draft could be brought back within months and noted that those already registered with the Selective Service (a requirement for all American males over 18) are in danger of getting sent into combat duty. The Selective Service System's website even crashed because of the surge in traffic, prompting the agency to issue a statement assuring everyone that no draft is imminent and there has been no change in their operations.

While the U.S. did use a military draft for the Civil War and Vietnam, the draft was abolished in 1973. "Legally, there cannot be a draft unless Congress passes a law implementing a draft, and the President signs it," says Maj. Gen. Bill McClain (ret).

Furthermore, the current draft structure may not even be legal, after a Texas judge last year declared the draft unconstitutional because it only includes men. Whether it is legal or not, Gen. McClain believes a draft is probably unnecessary anyway. "We went through Desert Storm in the early 90s, then to the Gulf War in 2003 which led into Iraq, and we've been in Afghanistan since 2001," he says. "All with substantial numbers of troops deployed, and we have not had a draft."

Social media fears aside, it's highly unlikely that young people will be fleeing to Canada or burning draft cards anytime soon. "I think people have taken this several steps very quickly, to come up with the idea that we may have a World War III supposedly on the horizon," says Gen. McClain.

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