John Edwards: No military draft if Democrats win
September 15, 2004 5:38 PM   Subscribe

John Edwards: "No military draft if Democrats win" - which comes as a relief to me today as my own son turns eighteen. However, as it stands, the Selective Service System has been ramping up its ability to begin a draft as early as Spring 2005, especially a possibility should Congressional Bills S. 89 and H.R. 163, known as the "Universal National Service Act of 2003" pass in the House and Senate. Many people who have been in the military feel a draft would actually degrade the quality of our military forces. Nonetheless, this time around, a draft would include men and women. And the Selective Service is also looking for a few good people to become a Selective Service System Local Board Member, one of the tasks of which is to guarantee "that each CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR is properly CLASSIFIED, PLACED, and MONITORED."(emphasis added)
posted by jackspace (61 comments total)

 
It's not nearly the social stigma to claim to be gay these days. Wonder how that will affect the military's ability to draft people without giving up on that particular issue. (though I suspect it's more repub politicians wanting to keep gays out tan the military wanting to keep willing and able recruits away, but I don't know for sure either way)
posted by Space Coyote at 5:42 PM on September 15, 2004


They also want to be able to draft people up to 45 or some ridiculous age like that. So it might not just be your son at risk.

If we are going to have any chance, in my opinion, of 'pacifying' Iraq, we are going to need a draft.
posted by delmoi at 5:45 PM on September 15, 2004


CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR. They say you can't be one unless you prove you've meant it for a long time. CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR. Only if you are truly one can you be excluded. CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR. People who love peace must not allow themselves to be pulled into wars of imperialism. CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR. Did I mention that I am a CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR. I hope so, because I am a CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR.
posted by benjh at 5:48 PM on September 15, 2004


They've got Job Openings too.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:51 PM on September 15, 2004


That last link is now dead. Check it out at the Memory Hole: become a Selective Service System Local Board Member
posted by jackspace at 5:51 PM on September 15, 2004


Hey jackspace, I think it works if you take of the l on the file extension. right?
posted by sciurus at 5:56 PM on September 15, 2004


"that each CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR is properly CLASSIFIED, PLACED, and MONITORED."

This is an unfortunately worded section heading, but what it really means is that CO's are placed in alternative service positions. Read between the lines: "alternative service" = "empty bedpans at VA hospitals."
posted by PrinceValium at 6:00 PM on September 15, 2004


Well since the Iraq War was so popular, maybe they can get plenty of volunteers by just asking people who were Pro-Iraq War.

Having already served in the military, including being part of the first Iraq War, I think I can say from experience that I wouldn't wish combat on anyone.
posted by jackspace at 6:10 PM on September 15, 2004


From what I heard a few months ago the maximum draftable age is to be raised to 35.
posted by clevershark at 6:37 PM on September 15, 2004


Since it is a Democrat promising no draft (implying that the Republicans favor a draft), and since two bills (two years since last action on both, almost) are being pointed to as enablers of a potential draft, it is probably worth noting that the sponsors of those two bills are Democrats.

Personally, I would not support a draft at this time, but considering the current situation, it makes sense for the SSS to be thinking about it.
posted by obfusciatrist at 6:40 PM on September 15, 2004


Maybe they really are planning another illegal war?
posted by dash_slot- at 6:43 PM on September 15, 2004


Drafts equal terrifying.

I remember after Sept. 11, talking about the possibility of a Draft. Me and my friends just sort of laughed it off.

Eep. Glad je suis Canadian.
posted by hughbot at 6:44 PM on September 15, 2004


Seems it's not so dire a threat
posted by kamikazegopher at 6:47 PM on September 15, 2004


oops. Worked on preview. link
posted by kamikazegopher at 6:48 PM on September 15, 2004


BC04: "the other guy will raise your taxes"
KE04: "the other guy will draft your kids"

Let's see how many people value their pocketbooks over their children.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:48 PM on September 15, 2004


> BC04: "the other guy will raise your taxes"

Isn't it supposed to be: BC04: Vote for anyone else and a lot of people will die again!

I fail to see the logic in that one as 9/11 happened on Bush's and Cheney's watch. While those two knuckleheads were either vacationing and ignoring memos about bin laden or were just busy giving the US's energy policy to their friends, they are the ones who screwed up and should be fired ASAP.
posted by skallas at 7:00 PM on September 15, 2004


> Seems it's not so dire a threat

Isn't this the same snopes which is run by a couple of Republicans who used their popular site to launch a false attack against Michael Moore's claim about the bin ladens getting flown out of the US? Oh right, it is.

Sorry, but whatever credibility snopes had is forever gone.
posted by skallas at 7:02 PM on September 15, 2004


The pro and anti draft notions are nonsense. First ask yourself: how many bases are there worldwide for theUSA? take a guess. If you say under 500 you are way off. Next ask yourself where these bases are and what they are "defending" or guarding? Who, for example, is the potential enemy that confronts the many servicemen we have in Germany? Norway? Poland, Russia? How many countries pay the total cost of our being in their country to protect and defend them? How much money is saved by those countries because they do not have to spend a large portion of their own money for "defense"? How many jobs would be available if a large number of the soldiers decided to quit the military and return to the states for civilian jobs? What jobs?

Now, with some thought to this, why is the draft needed?
If the military is so important, why has the president cut the budget for the Veterans' hospitals? Why did we send HumVees without armor protection into what is clearly a war Zone? Body armor?

The don't ask don't tell idea will probably get you alternative service rather than a home free pass....how many in congress have children who will in one or another way find a way to avoid conscription?
and on and on....
posted by Postroad at 7:03 PM on September 15, 2004


Who, for example, is the potential enemy that confronts the many servicemen we have in Germany? Norway? Poland, Russia? How many countries pay the total cost of our being in their country to protect and defend them?

I'd understood that part of the reasoning for having military bases in these places is that they help us get to other places.

I am no hawk, but it seems to me there's some wisdom in having bases around the world, including among countries we don't need to defend -- just so we have a presence in the region.
posted by weston at 7:11 PM on September 15, 2004


Bush doesn't want a freaking draft, he wants to be widely seen to be unable to re-implement the draft (they'll blame pinko bleeding heart liberals) to give total cover to the real intention: the outsourcing and privatization of military functions to companies like Halliburton and others. They're already there - Bush and Co want them to be the only ones there.
posted by mikel at 7:23 PM on September 15, 2004


Maybe they really are planning another illegal war?

Could be.
posted by homunculus at 7:46 PM on September 15, 2004


skallas: I've relied on Snopes for such a long time for accurate information (and with much success) that I took their credibility for granted. I remembered seeing this particular issue on their site a long time ago, and immediately referenced it. Now, I'm not sure what to think.
posted by kamikazegopher at 7:46 PM on September 15, 2004


I absolutely do not support the idea of the draft for this war.
posted by ugf at 7:51 PM on September 15, 2004


U.S. Intelligence Shows Pessimism on Iraq's Future
posted by homunculus at 8:16 PM on September 15, 2004


Jesus, mikel, even I hadn't considered that... christ.

outsourced soldiers.. the ultimate disposable human beings. I can feel the heat from cheney's erection from here from him just thinking about it.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:19 PM on September 15, 2004


If I sign up to be an SSSLBM, does that mean I don't have to go?
posted by mwhybark at 8:33 PM on September 15, 2004


Let's just say, if there was a draft and you were of age, what would you do?
posted by tomplus2 at 8:57 PM on September 15, 2004


From what I heard a few months ago the maximum draftable age is to be raised to 35.

I'm 36 in 26 days! Woot!
posted by kindall at 9:03 PM on September 15, 2004


skallas: I've relied on Snopes for such a long time for accurate information (and with much success) that I took their credibility for granted. I remembered seeing this particular issue on their site a long time ago, and immediately referenced it. Now, I'm not sure what to think.

From what I understand, the request whent directly from the saudi government to Richard Clark, who authorized it. Clark dosn't claim that Bush or anyone else pressured him to do it, so I don't really see how bush should take the blame for this.
posted by delmoi at 9:05 PM on September 15, 2004


1. I'm military, and I do NOT want a draft; nor do most of the co-workers that I've talked to about this.

2. Some might argue -- maybe even me, in the right mood -- that a draft could have beneficial effects on "society" as a whole, by taking large numbers of young men (and women, now) and giving them training, education, discipline, skills, etc. But the military isn't about enhancing society -- sure, that is one of the beneficial aspects of military service, but it is purely incidental to the sole purpose of the military: fighting wars and defending the nation.

3. The very notion of a draft is appalling -- it truly amounts to little more than slavery by claiming that a person is literally "owned" by the state.

4. I honestly don't think that a draft will be approved/implemented/accepted. Politicians and pundits (from all sides) will debate it to death, but in the end, I think that a military draft will not occur.
posted by davidmsc at 9:24 PM on September 15, 2004


why would they need more people now that the war is over?
posted by Satapher at 9:29 PM on September 15, 2004


To continue what obfusciatrist posted:

I checked each sponsor, through www.house.gov and www.senate.gov. They are ALL Democrats.

This means one of three things:

1. Edwards isn't versed enough in current legislation to realize that it his own party behind the current draft movement.

2. Edwards does know enough about pending legislation to realize that his party is behind this discourse. He willingly infers that is the fault of the Republicans to gain political traction.

3. The sponsors, highly-ranked Democrats all, are actually rogue agents of the party, and are willfully pursuing legislation that is out of step with the views of their Presidential ticket.

Oh, and in the future, maybe people should actually check a few facts before they start speaking about another war, illegal or not.
posted by crabtreecharles at 9:35 PM on September 15, 2004


crabtreecharles, I'm too sleepy to google up some cites right now, but I'm sure someone else will in a moment ...

... my recollection is, however that the Dems who proposed this did so in an attempt to shift the bulk of the casualties away from the less economically advantaged socioeconomic strata who might tend to see joining the military as one of the few "ways out" of their current situation, or who might join the military for other, cultural reasons, and more towards the super-upper middle class (i.e. the Yuppie, Soccer mom class), thereby 'bringing home' the risks of military expeditions of this type.

(In other words, they wanted to make sure that people other than young blacks and poor southerners would die to 'liberate' Iraq.)

Of course, Bush, strangely, did that for them, with his virtually unprecedented use of the National Guard in long term, front-line roles. A quick poll at my (fairly liberal, upper-middle-class) workplace revealed that out of 30 people asked, no one knew anyone who was 'regular' military who is currently stationed in Iraq (although some knew military folk who are stationed in other places, mainly US & possessions and Europe), but everyone knew someone from the Guard who was there, and many knew four or more Guardsmen who were serving 'in country'. Granted, my state (Maine) has the highest percentage of serving Guardsmen of any state in the country, but I'll bet that this holds true in other states as well.

Also, I think Mikel nailed it. On the other hand, nothing these men do would surprise me any more. Fortunately, I have a passport and its only four and a half hours into Canada from my house.
posted by anastasiav at 10:01 PM on September 15, 2004


Is it not still the case that the draft proposals are from anti-war politicians, essentially saying "if you really want it, are you prepared for *your* kids to go?" - hence the proposals are being made as extreme as possible?
posted by freebird at 10:03 PM on September 15, 2004


Well if the government is desparate enough to draft someone like me to fight on the front lines in Iraq, then the situation would probably be so bad that they probably should pull out of there. Of course since I support the war it's only fair of me to go and serve. Though with people like me defending the country I really wouldn't blame anyone that moves to Canada.
posted by gyc at 10:12 PM on September 15, 2004


freebird, that's my recollection -- that it was a political statement with all sides knowing full well the bills wouldn't go anywhere.
posted by transient at 10:18 PM on September 15, 2004


The draft bill was proposed by Charles Rangel solely as political theater meant to highlight the fact that the US wasn't prepared to invade and occupy Iraq.

Edward's claim has nothing to do with that bill, and everything to do with fear, uncertainty, and doubt about the future of the occupation.
posted by eatitlive at 10:18 PM on September 15, 2004


anastasiav:

Okay, you might be right.

However, I do understand Rangel's reasoning. I know that this was for political theater, and that current concerns over the draft are in regard to potential resolutions that ight spring out of another Bush administration.

I just find it a bit funny that everyone is worried about a potential threat from the right, when the only national mention of the draft has come from the left. Also, it just doesn't make any sense for the leadership of the Democratic party to endorse one course of action, regardless of potential political reasons, while their most important political candidate endorses another.

The least they should do is kill the Democratic legislation. Rangel's point has been made, and he's not likely to receive any more helpful press on this issue. For them - the Democratic party - to continue to pursue both ends is not smart politics.
posted by crabtreecharles at 10:29 PM on September 15, 2004


re: snopes, FWIW there is a huge apology on that page.
posted by scarabic at 11:14 PM on September 15, 2004


Also, it just doesn't make any sense for the leadership of the Democratic party to endorse one course of action, regardless of potential political reasons, while their most important political candidate endorses another.

That's a mischaracterization. Who has been pushing for the reinstated draft recently? Nobody in Washington -- not Rangel, not Hollings, not Bush, not Rumsfeld -- not even as political theater. The bills were introduced before the war started. The press covered this modest proposal for about a week, and that was that. It's going on two years now, and the bill is resting soundly in the Congressional hopper.

Edwards's insinuation is obviously designed to revive some sort of media coverage on Iraq as a campaign issue. (Anyone else see the influence of the Clinton team here?) It's unfortunate that he's using an urban legend, but just look at the competition's bag of tricks. It's also unfortunate that Kerry/Edwards are still relying on these sort of flanking maneuvers, instead of turning and "facing the fire" of the Iraq question. If the Democratic Convention speech is any guide, then I suspect Kerry wants to save his "A" material for the best opportunity -- the debate. I hope, for the sake of healthy national discourse, that the (current) war becomes the major issue.

Wouldn't elections better fit the democratic ideal if campaigning was limited to a six-month-long series of mandatory debates, instead of the endless whistle stops and shitty little gripes like this? Who do I call about that.
posted by eatitlive at 11:42 PM on September 15, 2004


Also, it just doesn't make any sense for the leadership of the Democratic party to endorse one course of action, regardless of potential political reasons, while their most important political candidate endorses another.

I appreciate where you're coming from, but this actually does make sense.

The draft might very well be the best way to respond to the Bush policy, which has stretched the military thing. With Bush gone and a new policy in place, perhaps then the draft won't be a necessary measure.

It's not as if Democrats in Congress are saying "We need to do X today" while Kerry is saying "We need to do Y today." What Edwards is saying here is that under a completely different scenario, we'd be able to avoid a draft entirely. And wouldn't that scenario be nice? Let's get there.
posted by scarabic at 11:58 PM on September 15, 2004


The draft might very well be the best way to respond to the Bush policy, which has stretched the military thing.

Especialy if they plan more preemptions during a second term. Is the draft the inevitable price of hegemony?
posted by homunculus at 12:51 AM on September 16, 2004


so many people unliberated, so many more missions to accomplish...
posted by quonsar at 1:01 AM on September 16, 2004


I always thought all those draft legislations were intended as scare tactics in order to say, "ok, it's on the board. If we keeep going the way we are, things are going to fall apart, and we'll be coming for your sons."
posted by benjh at 3:24 AM on September 16, 2004


re: snopes that post still misses a lot. I remember a news article from the time when one FBI guy was moaning that they jot just ten minutes with each Saudi before they left. That contradicts the statement that the FBI were "all over that plane".

I don't think I'll trust anyone on political stuff, if that's okay. I'll leave snopes to debunk the use of Coke to clean engines...
posted by twine42 at 3:46 AM on September 16, 2004


Seeting aside that no one actually wants a draft, the whole draft scare seems to be based upon an faulty, or at least unproven, premise, that recruiters would be unable to meet increased new enlistment levels.

Recruiters have managed to meet their goals quite well for the past three years, during which time every volunteer was entirely aware of the real risk of combat. In that time, the military has historically high standards both for new enlisted men and for new officers, standards vastly higher than those which applied for recruiting soldiers in World War II, for example.

Should a need arise for more troops, there's no evidence that recruitment couldn't meet the challenge based on current factors. If they started to fall short, adjusting standards closer to, but still well above, the historical means, would open the door further.

The government could also rejigger the entry levels of military service. Right now, the military is set up with an officer-enlisted dichotomy appropriate for a time when only a small portion of the population obtained college educations. Now we have millions of people going to college who aren't officer material (and would exceed the numer of officers required by any measure), but who see themselves, or are seen by the military as, overqualified for the lowest-grade level enlistments. If the military could find an intelligent way to channel those people in, that could make a huge difference both in quantity and quality.
posted by MattD at 6:06 AM on September 16, 2004


Recruiters have managed to meet their goals quite well for the past three years, during which time every volunteer was entirely aware of the real risk of combat.

To my mind, their goals should be a lot higher, then. It's ridiculous how many National Guard troops are currently in Iraq despite the fact that they were supposed to be switched out long ago. I can understand deploying troops from the guard when there's a necessity for more people than the armed forces can immediately provide, but keeping them there longer than promised and making them return after short trips home is a little bit beyond the job description.
posted by mikeh at 7:24 AM on September 16, 2004


Fuck! If it's inevitable for good ol' US of A becoming a militaristic nation, then it's a sorry thing not to have gone along with Hitler. At least the Germans are a lot more efficient and effective.
posted by acrobat at 8:00 AM on September 16, 2004


plus: hugo boss uniforms!
posted by mr.marx at 8:32 AM on September 16, 2004


eatitlive Wouldn't elections better fit the democratic ideal if campaigning was limited to a six-month-long series of mandatory debates, instead of the endless whistle stops and shitty little gripes like this?

One of the advantages of the Canadian model of unscheduled elections is campaign time is short. A whole election cycle is only a couple of months and there isn't a lot of pre-positioning to peak at the right time because no one knows when that time will be.

Can't see americans going for it though. Too many enjoy the election game.

homunculus Especialy if they plan more preemptions during a second term. Is the draft the inevitable price of hegemony?

Form a foreign legion as an alternative?
posted by Mitheral at 8:41 AM on September 16, 2004


but keeping them there longer than promised and making them return after short trips home is a little bit beyond the job description.
The National Guard units are sometimes the first to ship. In WWII many walking the Baton March were National Guardsman.
posted by thomcatspike at 9:00 AM on September 16, 2004


acrobat - a lot of Americans did, in essence, go along with Hitler. Just not any of the ones fighting and dying on the front lines. But, American capitalism built Hitler's war machine, and Hitler might not have had the capability to launch his invasions in Europe but for I.G.Farben's acquisition - from the Rockefeller owned Standard Oil Company, of the patents and technology for the production of synthetic gasoline from coal. Oil remained one of the limit factors for the German war effort throughout WW2.
posted by troutfishing at 9:08 AM on September 16, 2004


Forget being a CO. Be Bi.
posted by jmccorm at 9:29 AM on September 16, 2004


Historical note: Woodrow Wilson promised not to have conscription, or to get involved in a "foreign war" (WWI).

FDR promised that conscription would be limited to only 1 year for WWII. His draft lasted through Truman's Korean War and Kennedy/Johnson's Vietnam War, until finally ended by Nixon.
posted by kablam at 9:41 AM on September 16, 2004


Fuck! If it's inevitable for good ol' US of A becoming a militaristic nation, then it's a sorry thing not to have gone along with Hitler. At least the Germans are a lot more efficient and effective.

Wow, zero to Godwin in 10 seconds...
posted by mkultra at 10:30 AM on September 16, 2004


scarabic:

To summarize your post - and feel free to let me know if I'm wrong here:

It makes sense for the Democratic representatives to threaten the draft, because of our growing military involvement. It also makes sense for Edwards to cry out against it, as we wouldn't need such a policy in a new administration.

Okay, so let me get this straight. The Democrats raise the spectre of a draft, and threaten to use it if Bush gets elected. If not, fine, there won't be a draft.

That's kind of like holding the votes of concerned mothers hostage.
posted by crabtreecharles at 10:32 AM on September 16, 2004


Hey, if Cheney can go around making "out of context implications" that a Kerry-Edwards presidency will result in another domestic terror attack, I don't have any problem with tactics like this. Kid gloves are off.
posted by mkultra at 11:24 AM on September 16, 2004


GIs claim threat by Army: Soldiers say they were told to re-enlist or face deployment to Iraq
posted by homunculus at 3:25 PM on September 16, 2004


since two bills (two years since last action on both, almost) are being pointed to as enablers of a potential draft, it is probably worth noting that the sponsors of those two bills are Democrats.

I don't think the majority of Democrats actually support a draft. The reason Democrats introduced the bills was to put Republicans on the spot. If you were a Republican who wanted to have a draft, the smart thing to do would be to wait until George W. Bush is a lame duck. By introducing bills on the draft, Charles Rangel and other Democrats in Congress close off that option for the Republicans. It's actually quite smart political strategizing IMHO.
posted by jonp72 at 3:32 PM on September 16, 2004


>The Democrats raise the spectre of a draft

Rangel's bill is taken as seriously as Bush's credibility. Its bullshit "show politics." Rangel pushes the bill every year. As far as "democracts" go, is this their platform? Do they caucaus together for the draft?

You might as well be talking about how Democrat Zell Miller represents all democrats.
posted by skallas at 3:54 PM on September 16, 2004


Bush doesn't want a freaking draft, he wants to be widely seen to be unable to re-implement the draft (they'll blame pinko bleeding heart liberals) to give total cover to the real intention: the outsourcing and privatization of military functions to companies like Halliburton and others. They're already there - Bush and Co want them to be the only ones there. posted by mikel

Wow...I hadn't even thought of that.

but everyone knew someone from the Guard who was there, and many knew four or more Guardsmen who were serving 'in country'.

Agreed. I know of many more guardsmen than actual military who have been mustered up. I don't know the charter of the reserves, but it sure seems to me that they shouldn't be the first ones in and last ones out....which seems to be the case now.

GIs claim threat by Army: Soldiers say they were told to re-enlist or face deployment to Iraq -homunculus

Jebuz. That's unreal.
posted by dejah420 at 1:29 PM on September 17, 2004


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