Blogs > Liberty and Power > Will There Be a Reimposition of the Draft?

Feb 15, 2004 11:49 am

Will There Be a Reimposition of the Draft?

Is there is going to be a draft? The question is in the air; Time Magazine prominently discussed the issue in its turn-of-the-year (Dec. 29 '03) issue. There is evidence that plans are being slowly and quietly laid to impose one. By now, most people have heard that the government advertised late last year for volunteers to serve as Board Members on local SSSs. (A Selective Service System Local Board is a group of five citizen volunteers who, upon imposition a draft, decide who in their community will receive deferments, postponements, or exemption from military service.} The Bush administration denied that any significance attached to the advertisement but, when media began to comment, the ad abruptly disappeared from the government website. Meanwhile, the SSS has requested $28 million in their 2004 budget, which is $5 million more than their last published budget request. Although this is not indicative of a draft, it does mean that SSS will be expanding and - presumably - its need for manpower will expand accordingly. Also indicative: According to,"The Army's plan to temporarily increase its force levels by 30,000 soldiers could become permanent if a handful of senators can garner support for new draft legislation likely to be included in the fiscal 2005 defense authorization bill." A back-door draft measure?

So far, the military has avoided using a draft by satisfying its manpower demands through "stop loss" orders. Since last November, the US Army has extended its stop loss orders to cover active-duty soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, preventing some 7000 soldiers from either retiring or being discharged." In an article entitled "Draft Creep" - by which term he refers to stop loss orders -- David Wiggins comments,"Draft creep is a sneaky draft. There is no congressional debate, and no new law is passed for the President to sign. Nonetheless, people are being forced into military service against their will. In other words, they are being drafted, conscripted, or whatever you care to call it. The government chooses to call it"Stop Loss," and it applies to members of the armed forces. After all, what better way is there to initiate a sneaky draft than to start with the group of people least likely to object to a draft, and at the same time, with the least legal rights to fight one?" But stop loss orders are a short term fix, at best. Already the murmuring of discontent within military ranks (not to mention their families) is rising. Enlistment in those agencies is also falling due to such draconian measures.

On the state level, there have been unmistakable moves in that direction. For example, in Alaska, Selective Service registration is now a requirement to get a Permanent Fund check - the annual"oil dividend" check that amounted to over $1,000 last year. Almost every eligible Alaskan registers for the check."The state plans to forward information from the dividend applications to the federal government, which will automatically register the eligible Alaska males who haven't already signed up. Under federal law, men are supposed to register with the Selective Service within 30 days of turning 18. Failure to register is technically punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000. But a lot of people don't do it."

No one expects such a dramatic and controversial move as the imposition of a draft prior to the November elections. Until November, everything Bush does will be about re-election. Even the release of those explosive military records is an attempt to defuse the controversy surrounding his possible-AWOL and to do so in February rather than in October. The Bush administration wants to explode any political bombshells right here and right now while there are several months of recovery time possible. The clumsiness with which the administration is proceeding may negate the strategy, of course, but I'm betting (and so are they) that people will soon be bored with hearing about Bush's military dental records. Nothing short of a sleazy sex-scandal or the spousal murder of a pregnant wife can sustain public interest for a period extending into months. But, if Bush is re-elected, then I expect a draft to be imposed in early '05.

If Kerry is elected, then probably not. I say"probably" because Kerry is not in principle but merely pragmatically opposed to a draft.

For more commentary, please see McBlog.

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