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Why Bush will restart the draft if re-elected

by : Sen. Tom Harkin
Monday November 1, 2004 - 17:19
7 comments

A major terrorist attack could easily serve as the pretext for setting the draft in motion.

By Sen. Tom Harkin

President George W. Bush may or may not have a secret plan to reinstate the draft. But this is besides the point. The deteriorating facts on the ground in Iraq, plus the Bush doctrine of acting pre-emptively and unilaterally against hostile regimes, will soon leave him no choice. If Bush is re-elected, he will have to restart the draft.

Indeed, Bush has already imposed stage one of a new draft. Many soldiers whose enlistment period is up are not being allowed to leave the service, and those who left the service years ago are being forced to put on the uniform again against their wills. It is clear that we already have a back-door draft. Bush has effectively ended the all-volunteer military.

And stage two of a reinstated draft would be easy to implement. Draft boards are already in place in every county in the United States, and young men who turn 18 are already required to register with their local draft board. A major terrorist attack could easily serve as the pretext for flipping the switch and setting this apparatus in motion.

It is obvious that our armed forces are stretched dangerously thin. We do not have enough people in uniform to meet current needs in Iraq and Afghanistan, much less to deal with a confrontation with Iran or North Korea.

Right now, total active Army and Marine personnel number approximately 655,000, and that includes support units, training units, headquarters personnel and others who do not see combat. In a long, drawn-out war such as Vietnam or Iraq, units sent to the front lines have to be rotated out periodically and replaced by an equal number of forces.

Currently, we have 135,000 troops in Iraq, 20,000 in Afghanistan, approximately 100,000 in Asia and more than 100,000 in Europe. Our armed forces have been strained to the breaking point. To fill the gaps and shortages, tens of thousands of National Guard and reservists have been called up, some for several years at a time.

But there is a cost to all of this. Morale is suffering, as evidenced by the recent refusal of an Army Reserve platoon to carry out an order. Enlistments and re-enlistments are down. The Army National Guard fell 10 percent short of its 2004 recruiting goal. The regular Army has had to ease up on standards to meet its recruiting goals.

What if all-out civil war breaks out in Iraq and we have to increase our troop strength to 200,000 or 300,000 to quell it? What if a newly re-elected Bush decides to act pre-emptively against Iran, Syria or North Korea?

Today, people are hesitant to join the National Guard or reserves because of skyrocketing odds of being sent into combat or kept away from family and jobs for a year or longer. Morale, enlistments and re-enlistments are falling, at the same time that military manpower needs are rising dramatically.

So where would a re-elected Bush get the manpower to pacify Iraq while pursuing the next phases of his doctrine of pre-emptive, unilateral war? There is only one viable option: a reinstated draft.

It is probably too much to expect Bush to acknowledge this before Election Day. But we would do well to remember when President Lyndon B. Johnson was running for election in 1964.

Voters were afraid he had a secret plan to escalate the war in Vietnam. He denied it, repeatedly promising, “I will not send American boys halfway around the world to do a job that Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.”

Johnson was re-elected. And sure enough, millions of U.S. boys were drafted and sent halfway around the world to Vietnam. More than 17,000 of those draftees got killed in combat.

So Americans, today we have good reasons to fear the return of the draft. Bush might have avoided the draft when he was a young man. But if re-elected, he will not be able to avoid the draft as president.

Tom Harkin is a Democratic senator from Iowa. Please send comments to letters@mndaily.com.

http://www.mndaily.com/articles/200...



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> Why Bush will restart the draft if re-elected
Tuesday November 2 - 00:42 - Posted by e7ea8128a99af72d...

Sen. Harkin is a liar. He is unconsionable. He neglects to say that it was his fellow Democrat Charlie Rangel from a New York district that brought the motion to reinstate the draft. Bush has consistently said that he doesn’t want to bring the draft and wants to maintain a voluntary army. I hope the good people of Iowa kick him out when his time for re-election comes.




> Why Bush will restart the draft if re-elected
Wednesday November 3 - 15:32 - Posted by 96ec80f334a00566...

Sen. Harkin called Dick Cheney a "coward" because he didn’t serve in Vietnam. There was no criticism of Harkin’s name-calling from the Kerry camp, which frankly is a little surprising. The name-calling aside, Dick Cheney wasn’t the only American who sat out the war by using legitimate student deferments, after all. John Edwards, in fact, did the exact same thing. But you are not likely to hear Harkin denouncing Kerry’s runningmate as a coward.

Sen. Harkin lied when he claimed to have flown combat missions over Vietnam and when pressured, he backed down to claiming that it was sorties over Cuba and when pushed even harder, he admitted that he was a ferry pilot and NEVER saw any type of combat at all. The closest Harkin came to combat was ferrying jets from Japan to Vietnam or the Philippines, well out of the range of Vietcong missiles.

Had he ever flown anywhere in Vietnam, he would have received two medals (the Service and Campaign medals) just for being there. Both were awarded at the same time and nothing beyond your presence in the country or Navy operating area was required to qualify for them. His records show he received neither of them.

The election results showed voter rejection of Democratic "obstructionism" in the Senate by the defeat Daschle and Harkin should be next.



> Why Bush will restart the draft if re-elected
Wednesday November 3 - 19:54 - Posted by 199b08f92968828f...

Rangel brought the motion to the floor as a protest bill. What the bill said was all people no matter gender, no matter wealth, no matter if you are higher education, you will be eligible for the draft. That means children of privileged means will also be vulnerable just as the many minority and underprivilege kids who fight the many wars for us to be free. Do you honestly think that any one of these senators or congressmen would have their children go? What Rangel was trying to do was close all the loopholes because maybe the people in power would think twice about escalating a war if their children had to go to war.



> Why Bush will restart the draft if re-elected
Thursday November 4 - 02:34 - Posted by 2f4f21efea295aa2...

It’s better to ensure future growth and development in the country by allowing people currently involved in higher education to at least finish their education, since those people are the ones who will go on to create new jobs and fill high-skill ones. I don’t know about you, but if all the future doctors and surgeons had to go to war, I wouldn’t feel very safe. The thought that I could have a heart attack in 10 years and there not be a doctor in the area simply because there aren’t many of them left is a scary one.

To be completely honest, most underprivleged kids don’t become any more than laborers of a sort. It’s sad, but true; there will always be a lot more people who can become carpenters or grocery store clerks than can become engineers and doctors.

And finally, don’t sign up for anything military-related if you don’t want to fight. There’s always the chance someone will declare war and you’ll be shipped off to some random country. Anyone enlisting should be aware of that risk and therefore shouldn’t act like they can’t be sent overseas.



> Why Bush will restart the draft if re-elected
Thursday November 4 - 15:57 - Posted by 876d0f66ff514a73...

When I was in grammar school and then again in high school (don’t ask how long ago) the "minority" students that showed an interest in education and took the time to read, study and do well, were berated by their "minority" classmates. They were called "brainiacs", "nerds", and told that they were "acting white". Many succumbed to the pressure to conform and stopped trying. Why is there this mindset in the black and latino community? Why is wanting to learn "acting white"?

The students that did the bullying are the future low level job holders. We need them in our society as well but the ones that show the hunger for education should be allowed to feed that hunger. The children that managed to resist and get an education will go on to bigger and better things while some of the others will wind up drug addicted, in prison, or dead. Those are the ones that may benefit by joining the military and turning their life around.



> Why Bush will restart the draft if re-elected
Friday November 5 - 07:35 - Posted by e7ea8128a99af72d...

The above two posts are examples of elitist, pompous, liberal horseshit that I deplore. What makes you think that that the college graduate is worth more than the plumber or the mechanic? They contribute to society and keep it functioning. The parents of these kids don’t feel any less pain if their kid gets KIA because their kids don’t go to college. And for your information, there have been plenty of college dropouts that have done very well: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Bill Gates, David Geffen, Irving Berlin, Agatha Christie, Liz Claiborne, Joe Dimaggio and a host of others. So stick your college and advanced degrees up your ass right through your nostril and eat it.



> Why Bush will restart the draft if re-elected
Friday November 5 - 18:12 - Posted by 115d2edb4bda1367...

Hello, To the person that said that John Edwards sat out Vietnam: John Edwards is only 51. He was not old enough to serve in Vietnam. What I really object to is the way things get spun so craftily and distractingly, so that now we’re talking about Vietnam again, instead of the reality that thousands of Americans, mostly on the lower socio-economic end of things, are being killed and maimed, and soon many more will be. Especially if the President "stays the course" as he has promised. How can we finish the job with not enough troops? Don’t these people deserve to go home? And who will replace them? Volunteers? Not likely. There has to be a draft. What a nightmare for families this "values president" has created.







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