Iranian Turmoil Felt in SHP Community

  • Finn Roblin ’21 & Timothy Meneses ’21

On January 3rd, Iran and the United States plunged into a period of tension that left many people unsure of how the future would unfold. This deep uncertainty soon surfaced on social media, with the hashtag “World War 3” trending on Twitter. Many people wondered how the elevation of this conflict would be felt within the Sacred Heart community.

The events that came to a boil on January 3rd started with the proxy war in Iraq, where Iran and America have competed for influence since 2003. In the beginning of last fall, Iranian militias launched rockets at Iraqi bases that house American troops, but these attacks inflicted little damage and caused no casualties. However, on December 27th, an Iranian rocket launched by the Kataib Hezbollah killed an American contractor, leading the US to retaliate with airstrikes, taking the lives of at least 25 people. December 31 marks the day when Iranian protestors swarmed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The conflict fizzled out and Marines protecting the location did not use lethal force.

Three days later, an American drone strike assassinated Iranian General Qassim Suleimani. Tehran responded by mourning their leader and condemning the assassination. Retaliation occurred four days later with an attack on Iraqi bases that again killed none. Iran then stepped down and America began to deescalate the conflict. On January 8th, a commercial Ukrainian plane was shot down in Iranian airspace, killing all 176 passengers. Iran denied responsibility for three days, admitting their fault only after Ukranian investigators found shrapnel from surface-to-air missiles within the wreckage.

The escalation of this conflict has caused a great deal of uncertainty among Americans. The hashtag “World War 3” trended on social media after the assasination of General Qassim Suleimani. Perhaps the biggest reflection of turmoil, however, was a federal website crashing. Extreme web traffic to the Selective Service System, “sss.gov,” caused it to crash and become unavailable. A paranoia from the strikes led more people than the website could handle to check their registration status for the Selective Service. The Selective Service is a program which all men between 18 and 25 must register with. It is not a draft, nor a registration for the military. Instead, according to their website, the mission of Selective Service is “to register men and maintain a system that, when authorized by the President and Congress, rapidly provides personnel in a fair and equitable manner while managing an alternative service program for conscientious objectors.” Failing to register with the selective service would result in a federal felony charge and other penalties.

However, a draft authorized by the President and Congress is probably unlikely. Ms. Allison Hurley, AP US History and Bill of Rights teacher, “cannot see [a draft], especially in an election year” because “it would be pretty unpopular.” In order for a draft to be likely, Ms. Hurley thinks “it would have to be a pretty big threat.” There is also the question of gender equality in a draft, especially since women already hold positions in all branches of the military. In a recent court case, a Federal judge found that excluding women from the draft is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment.

In addition to the political controversy of starting a draft, there is a question of its efficacy. America already sustains a large military with 1.3 million volunteers. Due to changes in the ways wars are fought, such as more advanced technology, having the largest physical fighting force is no longer a necessity. Draftees may be unmotivated and bring the quality of the fighting force down. There should be some answers in March 2020 when the National Commission on Service will release a report to Congress.

This report will likely provide some answers by reevaluating the SS and the draft. In my opinion, the draft will be abolished. It would be unpopular for the government to restart the draft. People from both sides of the aisle would object to a draft, and any decision to reinstate it would require a huge amount of political backing, which frankly does not exist at the moment. This was seen after Sulemani’s assassination when many prominent political figures condemned the decision. Although Iran is geographically distant from SHP, the impacts of any advancement in conflict will be felt even within our own community. Everyone who turns eighteen will have to register with the Selective Service, even though the draft is inactive. Iranian-Americans will have greater difficulty visiting their family in Iran.

Even the mental pressure caused by violence takes a toll on our community. When asked about the relevance of the Iranian conflict, SHP Assistant Principal and Marine Corps Veteran Mr. Brian Bell responded, “armed conflict anywhere in the world” is “a concern for humanity.”

Photo from NBC News

By Axel de Vernou

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