...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003
      ( 4:01 PM )
Do I Feel a Draft in Here?

I haven't seen a tremendous amount of blogging about this one yet, but it looks like BushCo is secretly prepping for reinstituting the draft. In his Salon article, Dave Lindorff notes that while the administration publicly denies any thought of a draft, one of its websites is now advertising to fill all the draft board slots around the country. Evidently, some experts are starting to agree that this could be a very real possibility if Bush intends to remain in occupation in Iraq.

"The experts are all saying we're going to
have to beef up our presence in Iraq," says
U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, the New York
Democrat. "We've failed to convince our allies
to send troops, we've extended deployments
so morale is sinking, and the president is
saying we can't cut and run. So what's left?
The draft is a very sensitive subject, but at
some point, we're going to need more troops,
and at that point the only way to get them
will be a return to the draft."

Even though top military officials and Rumsfeld himself prefer an all-voluntary force out there, that may become little more than a hope denied if things keep up.

According to some experts, basic math might
compel the Pentagon to reconsider the draft:
Of a total U.S. military force of 1.4 million
people around the globe (many of them in
non-combat support positions and in services
like the Air Force and Navy), there are currently
about 140,000 active-duty, reserve and National
Guard soldiers currently deployed in Iraq --
and though Rumsfeld has been an advocate
of a lean, nimble military apparatus, history
suggests he needs more muscle.

"The closest parallel to the Iraq situation is
the British in Northern Ireland, where you
also had some people supporting the occupying
army and some opposing them, and where
the opponents were willing to resort to terror
tactics," says Charles Peña, director of defense
studies at the libertarian Cato Institute. "There
the British needed a ratio of 10 soldiers per
1,000 population to restore order, and at their
height, it was 20 soldiers per 1,000 population.
If you transfer that to Iraq, it would mean
you'd need at least 240,000 troops and maybe
as many as 480,000.

I have conflicting thoughts on the draft. I agree with much of what Dan (over at Lies, Damn Lies) says about the draft...and I also must concur with his disclaimer that I would probably avoid having to be on the list, so my view may be a little skewed. But I'm also a mother and if a draft is instituted it most likely would stick around this time, and so I have my son to consider. While emotionally my reaction is to be wholly against a draft of any sort, on a practical sense I can see how it might become a necessity.

The necessity of it, however, is produced by an administration that has chosen a wholly UNnecessary tactic in its foreign policy, specifically: the Bush doctrine of preemptive action. That's what got us into the mess we're in right now. Thus, it would seem so incredibly dishonest to claim that a draft is crucial when it actually wouldn't have been if we didn't go around invading countries and pissing off all our allies.

I also agree with one of the folks interviewed in the article, John Corcoran, who is a draft board member:

"To tell the truth, I don't think Bush
has the balls to call for a draft.

"They give us a training session each year
to keep the machinery in place and oiled
up in case, God forbid, they ever do
reinstitute it," he explains.

So all the signs point to it not happening. BUT... if it does, here are my thoughts.

1. I don't think it should be for men only. Our society is long past that gender bias, and Israel, among others, has proven that it's not necessary. Obviously, single mothers would be exempt, as would single fathers as sole providers of minor children.

2. I don't think it should be for active duty military service only. There should be an option for civil service of some type. This would give options to many who might otherwise seek exemptions or flee, and would cut down on the desertion problems. Also, I think it would institute a very good precedent for civil service for the community by young people before they get on with their lives. I would have definitely benefited from something like that. Of course, the civil service, as the military service should come with fully-paid for education benefits along the lines of the GI Bill.

3. I like the new rule that current college students aren't exempt, but can finish up their semester (or senior year if they are seniors). This will avoid the avoidance by those more privileged. While history has shown that in no matter what era, the rich find some way to sell or get rid of their conscription, this provision would make that less easy.

4. Active duty requirement should be no more than 18 months.

5. Don't Ask, Don't Tell has got to go. With a draft, there will obviously be people of all persuasions brought into service for the country and it would be absolutely inconceivable to continue to enforce an institutionalized discrimination against some of them. The service, military or civil, would have to be open to all Americans and would not be able to single out or put any at risk because of who they are. (the policy should go anyway, but the draft would make it absolutely essential to get rid of it).

I don't think the Draft will happen - it's political suicide for Bush. So if it doesn't, something's got to give. The question is, will it be the president or will it be our hard hit troops, once again?

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