Friday, August 10, 2007


I expect some serious walkback from the administration on this, but War Czar Douglas Lute suggested to NPR today that the administration has not ruled out conscription to relieve the enormous strain that the Iraq occupation has imposed on the U.S. military.

Q: How heavy a toll is the war taking on American forces? Do you agree with other military leaders who have expressed worries that U.S. forces are near the breaking point?

A: As an Army officer, this is a matter of real concern to me. Ultimately, the American army, and any other all-volunteer force, rests with the support and the morale and the willingness to serve demonstrated by our — especially our young men and women in uniform. And I am concerned that those men and women and the families they represent are under stress as a result of repeated deployments.


Q: You know, given the stress on the military and the concern about these extended deployments for an all-volunteer military, can you foresee, in the future, a return to the draft?

A: You know, that's a national policy decision point that we have not yet reached, Michele, because the —

Q: But does it make sense militarily?

A: I think it makes sense to certainly consider it, and I can tell you, this has always been an option on the table, but ultimately, this is a policy matter between meeting the demands for the nation's security by one means or another. Today, the current means of the all-volunteer force is serving us exceptionally well. It would be a major policy shift — not actually a military, but a political policy shift to move to some other course.
He's got that right. A draft would be a policy shift of tectonic significance. The Bush administration's singular achievement in selling the country on a policy of perpetual war has been the ability to insulate most Americans from the sacrifices associated with war. Gasoline, though increasingly expensive, remains readily available. The cost of the Iraq occupation has been deferred to future generations due to Bush's steadfast refusal to raise taxes to pay for it; indeed, he has cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

And most significantly, the occupation is carried out by volunteers in the regular military, reserves, and National Guard. Troops are serving multiple rotations in Iraq, with little downtime between deployments. The administration pays lip service to "supporting the troops," yet won't make the sacrifices necessary to actually support them in their mission - adequate protective equipment, and relief from endless tours of duty.

Bush has no choice but to run the all-volunteer force into the ground because the alternative changes the game to one he cannot win. Any serious talk of a draft brings the awful reality of the Iraq occupation right to the doorstep of every American family with children of a certain age. It makes this conflict tangible to young people, war opponents and supporters alike, for whom it has been not much more than an idea. Just listen to these callow College Republicans wax poetic about their Leader's glorious War on Terror. Now imagine any one of them getting a draft notice in the mail. Game over, Mr. President. Hear that whooshing sound? That's the air rushing in to fill the vacuum where millions of young GOP faithful used to stand - right by your side in support of endless war. Suddenly, they've got places to be, protests to wage, draft cards to burn.

I suspect that General Lute might be about to go the way of Paul O'Neill, Bruce Lindsey, Colin Powell, and any number of others who had the nerve to blurt out, in private or in public, a truth that George W. Bush would prefer not to hear. At the very least, the War Czar will have to endure the spectacle of one or more "senior administration officials" throwing him under the bus as they assure the American people that there will be no draft. They might even force Lute to do it himself.

Make no mistake. Bush has no intention of letting reality intrude on his imperial dreams, and talk of forcing hundreds of thousands of young Americans into the meat grinder is as real as it gets.


LeftLeaningLady said...

I heard this on NPR also. I only have one thing to say.. they are not taking my son. If the twins go, I will think about it.