Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The Reality of a Draft

I concur with a variety of bloggers and pundits that George Bush means it when he says he doesn't intend to restart the draft in his second term. The problem is that he is speaking from inside of his fantasy world where Saddam Hussein was in league with al-Qaeda, where there wouldn't be any casualties for the US in the Iraq war, where we acoomplished our mission back in May of 2003, and so forth. He honestly doesn't want to reinstate the draft. But wishful thinking and fervent assertions are no replacement for a cold, hard look at the real world.

  1. The US military is overextended. We're calling up the Black Horse regiment, moving troops out of Korea, and enacting stop-loss measures. These facts add up to a near-future need for more troops.

  2. Enlistment numbers are down. Recruiters are failing to make their enlistment quotas *in a period of record unenployment.* Young men and women who are not yet in the armed forces no longer see the military as a reasonable choice, where danger is balanced with opportunity. Re-enlistment numbers are also down as people at the end of their tours are not re-upping. They take one look at Iraq and calculate that the skills they've learned in the forces will be enough to get work, even in a depressed employment situation. It's not like they are paid a whole hell of lot while in uniform, remember.

  3. The Bush administration likes imperial adventures. They are sabre-rattling against Syria and Iran, even as Iraq becomes less governable by the day. They do not appear to have learned any lessons from either Afghanistan or Iraq in terms of planning, goals, and intelligent use of armed forces.

  4. Due to the mismanagement of relations with our allies (He keeps forgetting Poland in speeches, nowadays), we are not going to be given much support from other sources, particularly when our allies can see the real situation.

These are just a few reasons I can pull up with a little thought. The question isn't whether Bush *wants* a draft. The question is whether the known and observable policies of his administration, established over the last four years and defended as 100% correct, will place the US in a situation such that we will have to start conscription to meet basic defense needs.

What if a cold conflict turns suddenly hot, such as North Korea? We can't simply leave Iraq, we can't ignore that new attack, we will have to respond, and the one fast way to get trops is through a draft. That's why we have mandatory Selective Service registration.

Here are two articles in particular that discusss in more detail than I have why a draft is a strong possibility under Bush:

Lying About the Draft Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo

Yes, Virginia, there could be a draft Mark Kleiman

Both of them emphasize the selective part of the service - namely targeting skilled professionals such as medical providers and technology experts. So, don't think that your membership in a highly-skilled profession will keep you safe. It will probably make you more attractive.

So, while Bush's heart *might* be in the right place, his inability to understand, let alone acknowledge, that his perception of the world simply isn't in line with reality makes a draft more, not less, likely.

How does Kerry differ? First off, a realistic assessment of how things stand in Iraq and the rest of the world. Next, speaking honestly and respectfully with allies around the globe to clarify that a chaotic Iraq will bite us all and to win substantive support. This will definitely entail loosening Halliburton's stranglehold on contracts. My sense there is that we will all save some money by getting that pig away from the trough. Given a new assessment and better support, I anticipate a redoubling of efforts in both Iraq and Afghanistan to pacify the countries. He has stated he will support the Geneva Conventions, measures that protect our fighting troops.

Kerry has already said he wants to create two new *volunteer* divisions (one combat, one support) in the Army to beef up US forces the right way, but this takes time, it takes allocation of funds (not some numbers pulled out of somebody's ass), and it means that his policies will have to reassure the men and women who are asked to join that their lives will not be thrown away on a fantasy vision of what we are doing.

Bottom line: Bush has squandered the wealth, stength and reputation of our country in pursuit of his obsession with Saddam Hussein. His actions have weakened the US to the point where we may have to institute a draft simply to cover basic defense needs. To give him four more years of chasing bogeymen practically gurantees this will happen.


Kerry/Edwards - Realistic policies to defend the US

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