Sunday, July 16, 2006

The draft: Politics vs. policy

Rolling Stone has a piece up called "The Return of the Draft." You should read the whole thing, but I wanted to show you this:
During the campaign last year, the president dismissed the idea as nothing more than "rumors on the Internets" and declared, "We're not going to have a draft -- period." Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in an Op-Ed blaming "conspiracy mongers" for "attempting to scare and mislead young Americans," insisted that "the idea of reinstating the draft has never been debated, endorsed, discussed, theorized, pondered or even whispered by anyone in the Bush administration."

That assertion is demonstrably false. According to an internal Selective Service memo made public under the Freedom of Information Act, the agency's acting director met with two of Rumsfeld's undersecretaries in February 2003 precisely to debate, discuss and ponder a return to the draft.
Then there's this:
The politics of the draft are radioactive: Polls show that less than twenty percent of Americans favor forced military service...

Charlie Moskos, a professor of military sociology at Northwestern University, says the volunteer system also limits the political fallout of unpopular wars. "Without a draft, there's really no antiwar movement," Moskos says. Nearly sixty percent of Americans believe the war in Iraq was a mistake, he notes, but they have no immediate self-interest in taking to the streets because "we're willing to pay people to die for us. It doesn't reflect very well on the character of our society."

Even military recruiters agree that the only way to persuade average Americans to make long-term sacrifices in war is for the children of the elite to put their lives on the line. In a recent meeting with military recruiters, Moskos discussed the crisis in enlistment. "I asked them would they prefer to have their advertising budget tripled or have Jenna Bush join the Army," he says. "They unanimously chose the Jenna option."
And we're back to the cowardice of the Chickenhawk.

You see, kids, with the world going to hell in a handbasket, the military stretched thin and the neocons thumping their chests at Iran and North Korea, a draft just makes sense if you really think we should "stay the course." There is simply no way that our military can take on yet another fight without more troops. No honest observer says otherwise.

But the Republicans only believe in this war to the extent that it continues to bolster their dwindling credibility on national defense issues. The point isn't that there won't and shouldn't be a draft, but, if they really believed in their bullshit war in Iraq, there should be a draft but there won't. Their dedication to their own power forbids it.

The next time Republicans attempt to compare this war with WWII, point out that, in that war, there was a draft. This is especially important now that some Republicans believe the only way for them to stay in power is to call this World War III.


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