Blogs > Liberty and Power > Draft Talk

Sep 23, 2004 8:49 am

Draft Talk

The pro-Bush blogoshpere's having a field day with Sen. Kerry's alleged statement that if President Bush is reelected, he'd bring back the draft. Instapundit jumped on the story but, then, after the quote was put into context, retreated a bit. Still, he linked to this snarky post from Chicago Boyz.

Here's what Kerry said:
"If George Bush were to be re-elected, given the way he has gone about this war and given his avoidance of responsibility in North Korea and Iran and other places, is it possible? I can't tell you."
Seems to me Kerry was implying our military is stretched too thin, and that if a front opens up in North Korea or Iran, all bets are off.

That the military is spread too far and wide is a point that's been made by countless ex-military people, strategists, media, commentators and politicians, including the GOP's own Kay Bailey Hutchison. Even the Pentagon admits as much at candid moments:
There was a rare public acknowledgement this week before Congress that at least some in the Pentagon know the U.S. military is stretched too thin, something that some lawmakers and military analysts have been saying for months.

Gen. Richard Cody, the Army's vice chief of staff, told the Armed Services Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives that the military could not properly respond with overwhelming force to a major war threat if one developed at this time.
There's also some evidence that if the Bush administration isn't yet entertaining the possibility of conscription, it's at least laying ground for the possibility later. Soldiers in Iraq who've served a full tour of duty are already being held over with stop-loss orders which, according to media reports, is having devastating effects on morale. Inactive personnel are also being involuntarily called up for duty. There's also been some suspicious activity of late from the Selective Service System.

Instapundit also writes that:
Maybe some reporters should ask him why, if this is a secret Bush plan, it's Democrats in Congress who are sponsoring bills to bring back the draft?
And the poster at ChicagoBoyz writes:
No Republican has ever suggested we do this, and some Democrats have proposed it.
I've been very critical of the left, and have mocked Reps. Rangel and Conyers for thier draft talk nonsense. But the idea that the right is innocent of draft talk simply isn't true.

Inroduced three months after 9/11, House Resolution 3598 is called"The Universal Military Training and Service Act of 2001."

"Makes it the obligation of male citizens and residents between 18 and 22 to receive basic military training and education as a member of the armed forces unless otherwise exempt under this Act."
Sponsors of that bill were:

Smith, Michigan -- Republican
Weldon, Pennsylvania -- Republican
Bartlett, Maryland -- Republican

Here's GOP Senator James Inhofe:

"I think I'm the only member of the Senate Armed Services Committee who would reinstate the draft. There are huge social benefits that come from it. I can assure you I would not be in the U.S. Senate today if I had not gone through the draft. When I look at the problems of some of our kids in America nowadays and then I go visit the troops, I see what a great benefit it is to give people the opportunity to serve their country."
And there's GOP Senator Chuck Hagel:
A Republican U.S. senator is calling for a return of the military draft so the cost of the Iraq operation could be borne by people of all economic strata.

Speaking at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on post-occupation Iraq, Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., said,"There's not an American ... that doesn't understand what we are engaged in today and what the prospects are for the future."

Hagel, a member of the committee, says all Americans should be involved in the effort.

"Why shouldn't we ask all of our citizens to bear some responsibility and pay some price?" Hagel said, arguing that restoring the draft would force"our citizens to understand the intensity and depth of challenges we face."

The senator also argued re-instituting the draft, which ended in the early '70s, would cause the burden of military service to be spread among all economic classes of people.

"Those who are serving today and dying today are the middle class and lower middle class," he claimed.
Sen. John McCain has repeatedly expressed his desire for a mandatory national service program. The only thing that's stopping him, he's said, is that the political climate isn't yet ripe for the idea.

And he's not an elected official, but influential neocon darling David Brooks has called for mandatory national and/or military service on the op-ed pages of the New York Times, writing:
"[Mandatory national service ] takes kids out of the normal self-obsessed world of career and consumption and orients them toward service and citizenship."
"Today's children ... would suddenly face drill sergeants reminding them they are nothing without the group."
Make no mistake, this is bipartisan stupidity.

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More Comments:

Charles Johnson - 9/24/2004

"Soldiers in Iraq who've served a full tour of duty are already being held over with stop-loss orders which, according to media reports, is having devastating effects on morale. Inactive personnel are also being involuntarily called up for duty."

Since these soldiers face jail time if they refuse and charges of desertion if they flee, this already amounts to conscription of unwilling soldiers. The Right's ability to muster such indignation at the claim that Mr. Bush might fire up a draft seems a bit strained; he's already drafting the unwilling for some time now, and the only open question is whether or not he will expand the draft to include those who have never served time in the military--in addition to those who have already served out all the time that they were supposed to have to serve.

Jonathan Dresner - 9/23/2004

...Neil Abercrombie (D-Haw.) has been talking about the draft lately. I'm glad to see that it's a bipartisan thing.

I like the way Republicans are trying to float the idea but keep it under the radar using the 'national service' rubric.

I do think, though, that Kerry should be a bit more honest: instead of saying that Bush might reinstate the draft, say that he might have no choice but to reinstate the draft to get us out of the messes Bush has gotten us into.