Wednesday, March 14, 2007 at 11:13 AM

Support the Draft to Prevent Stupid Wars!

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

It is arguable that the first strategic blunder President George W. Bush made in his war on terror was his failure to endorse HR 3598, the Universal Military Training and Services Act, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. And his blunder was made all the more egregious (and curious) given that this Bill to reinstate the Draft was introduced in December 2001 by members of his own Republican Party, Nick Smith of Michigan and Curt Weldon of Pennsylvania.

After all, nothing is more responsible for the bedeviling success of the insurgents in Iraq (and the resurgence of the Taleban in Afghanistan) than Bush’s refusal to deploy enough soldiers to win these wars. And this despite pleadings by his most respected military advisers, including his Secretary of State Gen Colin Powell and Army Chief of Staff Gen Eric Shinseki, for Bush to deploy 4 to 5 times the number of troops he finally ordered into battle.

It’s not surprising, therefore, that Bush is now surging troops into Iraq to salvage a mission that, alas, now seems woefully misguided and not salvageable.

What is surprising, however, is that so many of those who urged him to deploy more troops, including Powell, Shinseki and Sen John McCain of Arizona, actually supported his vow to veto HR 3598. Because, given the size of the military in 2003, it was practically absurd for them to think that Bush could deploy up to 500,000 in the Middle East without a Draft (or cyborgs) to pick up the slack elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon has actually conceded, albeit unwittingly, the need for a military Draft. Because, after just four months of the now four-year war in Iraq, most Americans had already lost that jingoistic (post-9/11) zeal to fight. And, consequently, recruiters at home have been expressing as much frustration about their efforts to enlist volunteer soldiers as generals in Iraq have been expressing about their efforts to defeat Iraqi insurgents.

Yet despite this clear and present need, no prominent member of military has urged Bush to change course and support the Draft. In fact some of them have argued publicly for him to stay the course. For example, in a Georgetown University article titled Why the Draft is a Bad Idea, U.S. Army Captain Jason B. Nicholson argued, among other things, that:

Maintaining a professional all-volunteer force is paramount in our nation’s ability to project its military power most effectively…. The current war in Iraq hardly threatens our very existence as a nation-state and the military we possess is amply equipped and manned to fight this war. Those who call for a draft are often those who need not fear its effects.

But on behalf of the 3,197 dead and thousands of injured troops – many of whom might have been spared if more forces had been deployed – I felt compelled to respond to Captain Nicholson’s article; and did, in part, as follows:

We are merely proffering the self-evident truth that politicians would be more circumspect about sending Americans to war if their loved ones were obligated to serve.

Meanwhile, generals are complaining that they do not have enough troops to execute their missions; volunteers are being forced to endure extended tours of duty; and recruitment is so anemic that the military is lowering its (physical and educational) standards for enlistment to fill its ranks (promoting 42-year-old mothers as lean, mean fighting machines?).

Therefore, I was heartened last November when Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York, himself a former Army Sergeant, raised the issue of the Draft again – as a political and moral imperative. Although I knew full well that there was neither the political will nor moral courage among members of both parties to reinstate it.

Indeed, because I am so acutely aware that Congress will do so only under public pressure, I was very encouraged on Sunday when 60 Minutes Commentator Andy Rooney, who was drafted in 1941 to fight in WWII, registered his influential support for the Draft as follows:

Now comes the part of this I never thought I’d hear myself say: Whenever we, as a nation, decide to fight a war – in Iraq or anywhere else – it should be fought by average Americans who are drafted.

To clarify, by “average Americans”, Andy means every eligible American should serve; not just the poor, dumb suckers who join the Army when they grow tired of flipping burgers. And, with today’s technology and access to information, people like VP Dick Cheney (who has been quoted as saying that he did not serve in Vietnam because “I had other priorities in the 60s than military service”) and former President Bill Clinton (who did the same by feigning conscientious objection) won’t be able to dodge the Draft quite so blithely.

So, forget the pissing contest in Congress over withdrawal plans and tell your Congressman to support the Draft to end this stupid war in Iraq!!

Related Articles:
Why the Draft is a Bad Idea
Rep Charlie Rangel calls for the Draft
Only dumb kids join the Army

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