Perhaps the most bizarre belief to come out of the events from last week’s airstrike against Major General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force, was that it was going to automatically trigger WWIII. The fear was that Soleimani’s elimination was going to be the Archduke Franz Ferdinand moment that was the match in 1914 that ignited WWI. 

But worst of all, a rumor, completely unsubstantiated, began that the United States was going to reinstate the draft (Selective Service Act). This caused the website for the Selective Service office to crash as millions of panic-stricken young men searched to find out if they were being conscripted for immediate war duty in Iran. 

This prompted the SSA to release a statement in which they tried unsuccessfully to allay the fears of this latest disinformation campaign. Because that is exactly what it is. “Due to the spread of misinformation, our website is experiencing high traffic volumes at this time. If you are attempting to register or verify registration, please check back later today as we are working to resolve this issue. We appreciate your patience.”

First of all, the chances of World War III happening are remote at best. The mullahs in Iran are nothing if not shrewd. They do not need a full-fledged open war with the United States or anyone else. 

They are facing mounting protests at home where it was estimated that 1,500 of their citizens were killed by government forces back in November. The situation became so bad that the internet was shut down by the Iranian government for almost a week to limit the amount of information getting out about how widespread the dissatisfaction with the government is. A large war could have the opposite effect of uniting the country.

The Iranians know that in a large scale shooting war with the United States, they’d come out second best. They’ve been targeting U.S. troops and citizens through proxies and terrorist organizations for nearly 40 years. The Marine Corps Beirut bombing in the early 1980s is a prime example. Soleimani was responsible for the deaths of many Americans in Iraq through the use of IEDs that Iran supplied to jihadists. Intelligence is being said to have shown that he gave the order to attack the U.S. Embassy with the expressed desire to capture hostages. That kind of activity will continue. 

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Soleimani’s car following the targeted strike.

The U.S. doesn’t want to invade Iran. For what purpose? To become embroiled in another long-term occupation and guerrilla/asymmetric war? Could things escalate further? Absolutely. But an open full-fledged World War III? That isn’t happening. 

But back to the draft, where millions of young men hit the panic button last week. If anyone bothered to do their history, their fears could have been allayed. Reinstating the draft can’t come from the orders of the President or any single person in the United States government. It has to be enacted by Congress. 

So, Congress would have to draft legislation that would have to pass both the House of Representatives and the Senate before being signed into law by the President. The chances of that happening are probably lower than getting hit by lightning or winning the lottery. 

Congressional support for the draft would be virtually non-existent in either the Democratic or Republican parties. Congress doesn’t want a draft and certainly won’t authorize one for a war with Iran. The military, despite having trouble meeting manpower goals recently, doesn’t want a draft either. 

The draft began in the Civil War with both the Union and the Confederacy conscripting soldiers. It continued right through World War I, World War II, the Korean conflict and the Vietnam war. The draft was abolished in 1973. The military has been all-volunteer for nearly 50 years and hasn’t looked back since. 

However, the government still requires men (not women) ages 18-25 to register for the Selective Service. Many do so by checking a box when getting a driver’s license while others do so when filing for federal student loans. 

That’s how the disinformation about the draft began after the Soleimani airstrike. It was claimed that anyone receiving federal student loans or Pell grants would be subject to the draft. One young man went so far as to block the “US Army” from his computer with the thought, ‘they-can’t-draft-you-if-they-can’t-see-you’ rationale. Ivy League material here.

FAFSA, the government organization that handles federal student loans, tried to allay fears but to no avail. And now young American men are in a quandary. If they don’t register for the draft, they can’t receive student loans or hold a government job. 

So, while this may be one way of limiting college debt, it probably isn’t the most prudent. But the fears of a new, reinstated Selective Service Act with young people worrying about the draft lottery and getting called up? A total fabrication. Congress isn’t enacting that. Disinformation and Fear Mongering 101, or even perhaps a clever tactic with the 2020 national elections right around the corner?