A recent report by Associated Press reporter Ben Hubbard indicates that the Syrian government’s brutal attacks on opponents of President Bashar Assad’s regime have led to a significant increase in draft avoidance.
Syria conscripts young men for a term of 18 months, which some people try to avoid by traveling abroad, seeking waivers for medical reasons, “using connections and bribes to get their names off the rolls,” or hiding in opposition areas. According to Hubbard, anti-regime activists are saying that the number of men avoiding the draft has increased significantly during the 15-month conflict that the U.N. says has taken 9,000 lives.
Hubbard says the true extent of draft resistance is hard to gauge, but a notable sign of its seriousness is the fact that Assad proclaimed an amnesty in June if men who have failed to report for duty will show up within 90 days (120 days for those outside the country).
Of course, we know something about draft refusal as a form of war resistance in the U.S., where the level of non-cooperation with conscription grew so widespread during the Vietnam War that the government finally stopped issuing draft notices and Congress temporarily disbanded the Selective Service System in the mid-1970s. Unfortunately, even though forced military “service” helped fuel dissention at the time, draft resistance itself did not stop the war from lasting 10 years and causing the deaths of 58,000 U.S. troops and 1-2 million Vietnamese. In fact, it was conscription that made it possible to deploy a U.S. force in Vietnam that peaked at 536,000 in 1968.
Information source: Time Magazine, June 6, 2012, “Syria Crisis Causes Spike in Draft Dodging.”
This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (http://www.comdsd.org/)