Social media flurries over a “draft:” could it happen?


Kellen Stepler | features editor

If you’ve consumed any form of social media this past month, chances are you’ve seen #WorldWar3 or #Draft trending and an abundance of memes, gifs and even TikToks.

After the killing of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani by an American airstrike on Jan. 3, concerns began to sky rocket over the possibility of World War III and even the return of a draft. The attack threw social media into a frenzy, and sent unverified, false and bogus information all over the Internet.

In fact, web traffic caused the U.S. Selective Service to crash on Jan. 3. The Selective Service then said in a tweet that the traffic was due to “the spread of

But, what are the chances of there actually being a draft?

Currently, there is no chance of there actually being a draft, because the draft has been abolished for 47 years. The last men to be drafted were those drafted in December 1972 for the Vietnam War.

According to the Selective Service website, if the draft would be reinstated, the Selective Service would conduct a National Draft Lottery to determine the order in which young men would be drafted. The lottery would establish the priority of call based on participants’ birth dates.

“In order to reinstate the draft, Congress would have to pass legislation, and the president would have to sign off on it,” said Kristen Coopie, Duquesne political science professor.

Once the bill is signed into law, the Selective Service would have to conduct a lottery to determine who would actually be drafted. Even though there is no active draft, all men between the ages of 18 to 25 must register for the Selective Service.

“By making all eligible men register, the Selective Service claims that this would lead us to be ready for a draft, if need be, and to make that draft more fair,” Coopie said.

According to the Selective Service’s website, their mission is “to serve the emergency manpower needs of the military by conscripting untrained manpower, or personnel with professional health care skills, if directed by Congress and the President in a national crisis.”

Coopie explained that if you are over the age of 18 and plan on filling out a FAFSA, the U.S. Department of Education requires you to be registered. She also noted that in a lot of states, registering for the Selective Service is also a requirement to obtain a driver’s license.

Failure to register for Selective Service can lead to felonies and fines; however, no one has been prosecuted for failure to comply since 1986.

Mark Haas, another political science professor at Duquesne, notes that the chances of a draft actually happening are slim.

“It would take a great war; a World War II type,” Haas said. “It would have to have significantly more conflict than what we are seeing in Iran.”

Despite the memes and tweets, the public consensus is not supportive of a draft.

“Even after 9/11 and the ramp up to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, we did not conduct a draft,” Coopie said. “In fact, public opinion was strongly against holding a draft then, and opinion today isn’t much more supportive. There aren’t really any politicians out there advocating to bring the draft back.”

Haas noted that it would take a great power war, and still the chances of a draft would be small.

“It would have to be a long, drawn-out war, like in China or Russia,” Haas said.

The draft, also known as conscription, has been instituted by the U.S. federal government in five conflicts: the Revolutionary War, the American Civil War, World Wars I and II and the Cold War, including both the Korean War and Vietnam War. From 1940 until 1973, during both free times and periods of conflict, men were drafted to fill the vacancies in the U.S. Armed Forces due to a lack of volunteers. The draft eventually came to an end once the U.S. Armed Forces moved to an all-volunteer military.

Currently, the United States has about 1.3 million active-duty troops, with about 865,000 in reserve.

“Our current military is so large,” Haas said, “For a draft to happen, we would have to have a need of more than what we already have.”

Even with rising tensions in the Middle East, the idea of a draft is unlikely.

“While we technically could have a draft, the likelihood is very small,” Coopie said.

“I wouldn’t worry about it,” Haas said.