Skip

We have no friends, America only has interests.
November 19, 2006 1:30 PM   Subscribe

Kissinger declares Iraq can't be won. Rep. Hangel, incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means, proposes to reinstate the draft.
posted by bukharin (93 comments total)

 
...he sees his idea as a way to deter politicians from launching wars...

Wasn't that the same rationale behind the invention of the machine gun?
posted by Iridic at 1:54 PM on November 19, 2006


Hangel?

Hangel?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 1:56 PM on November 19, 2006


Not for the first time, either.
posted by IndigoJones at 1:57 PM on November 19, 2006


Here is Rangel on Face The Nation; article and video.
posted by beta male at 2:01 PM on November 19, 2006


draft me! health benefits! housing! clothing! food! insurance!
pension! seniority! promotion! flu shots! conoms! cheap beer!
smokes! travel! g.i. bill!
posted by Postroad at 2:03 PM on November 19, 2006


I'm in favor of a wartime draft, as I think progressives should be. If we are to take seriously the argument that the war on terror is a real war, not an excuse for a massive gangbang of political power grab and corporate war profiteering, then a draft is necessary -- empires come with a price tag attached. Not to mention, a draft did do miracles in the 1960s to make young Americans more politically aware, maybe it'll do the same to those PS3-loving, bored-by-Iraq American youth.

(and really "Hangel" is just lame)
posted by matteo at 2:05 PM on November 19, 2006



Woops, sorry about the typo - wasn't intentional.
posted by bukharin at 2:08 PM on November 19, 2006


Yeah, Rangel's been talking about this for years now. The truth is, the military is already the most diverse large organization in the U.S. But where are the rich kids, you ask? They're in the officer corps. They're at West Point, Annapolis and Colorado Springs. They'd be there if there was a draft, too.

"There's no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq ... if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm's way," Rangel said.

There are 435 members of Congress. What are the odds right now if you randomly sampled 435 middle-aged people that they'd have a son or daughter in the military?

Besides, where does Rangel think these people come from now? Some other country that doesn't have a Congressional representative?

Funny how Rangel is the House Ways and Means guy, but isn't out there stumping for pay raises and veteran's benefits as hard as he is on the draft issue. I guess he's more interested in scoring political points than actually doing something useful.
posted by frogan at 2:14 PM on November 19, 2006


Actually, I've never understood left-wing opposition to the draft, provided it's run with reasonable rigour to prevent evasion loopholes and provides for conscientious objectors. A draft is a fair way to share out the burden of war across the nation. If the war is a bad war, nothing will build opposition to it quicker than a draft.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:16 PM on November 19, 2006


It's too early to say the war in Iraq can't be won as we haven't yet explored all our options. For example, we could still try bombing Cambodia.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 2:16 PM on November 19, 2006 [11 favorites]


I would support a draft that included all 18-26 year olds, regardless of sexual orientation, university status ect. I agree with people that say that such a draft would make war a less viable option for foriegn policy. And I agree with matteo, that it would make people more politically active. I know that people loath the word "draft", and people will knee-jerk this into oblivion, but this is an idea worth a debate.
posted by recurve at 2:19 PM on November 19, 2006


I doubt this will gather much support. Seems like grandstanding. Seems like a waste of time, too.
posted by EatTheWeak at 2:20 PM on November 19, 2006


They're at West Point, Annapolis and Colorado Springs. They'd be there if there was a draft, too

So? Not ALL the 'rich kids' can 'hide' in the service academies, and thanks to Rumsfeld the NGs aren't safe quayle haven w this time around, 'neither.

I say we pop a 10% war surtax like LBJ did, too. Make this WW3/4 right popular with the nation.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 2:28 PM on November 19, 2006


The majority of Americans will not understand what Hangel is trying to accomplish. This is political suicide.
posted by ryanissuper at 2:28 PM on November 19, 2006


I've never understood left-wing opposition to the draft

what about oppostition involuntary servitude / dying for a BS reason is hard to understand?

The 19-odd dead in Grenada, our BS intervention in Lebanon that ended in a part of a BLT getting blowed up.

Draft me up to "protect the Constitution", but not to catch an AK-47 round in some shithole fighting for some poor sap's 'freedom'.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 2:31 PM on November 19, 2006


Political suicide for Rangel? The man gets like 94% of the vote in the Upper West side and Harlem. For most of my friends, he has been their congressman for their entire adult lives.

He's making a point because he can, and the people back home understand what he's trying to do and are still laughing because he finally said what everyone in their right mind thinks..

"Who the fuck wants to live in Mississippi."
posted by PissOnYourParade at 2:34 PM on November 19, 2006


nothing will build opposition to it quicker than a draft.

(I should read better)

OK, I see your full point. Problem is we/'the left' are thinking in postwar selective service frames, where the draft burden wasn't shared equally.

Thing is a voluntary military works very well for what we need it for. . . policing our borders, commerce protection, training our allies, make-work for JesusLand.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 2:36 PM on November 19, 2006


If the war is a bad war, nothing will build opposition to it quicker than a draft.

As much as I've opposed this war since well before it started, I'm not willing to risk the lives of my fellow citizens to make my anti-war point. If they want to risk their own lives, that's their choice to make, and no one else's.
posted by scottreynen at 2:38 PM on November 19, 2006


I will not live in a country were I have to surrender my autonomy to die or become a killer. I don't care if it makes military action less attractive. I don't believe it is worth it. There was a draft for World War I and for Vietnam and those were enormous human disasters. Much worse than the war in Iraq.

Further, I kind of think that not having a draft puts a limit on the number of bodies that you can throw at a conflict and is ultimately more limiting towards the amount and scale of conflicts that a government can engage in than having compulsory service.
posted by I Foody at 2:45 PM on November 19, 2006


Political suicide for Rangel? The man gets like 94% of the vote in the Upper West side and Harlem. For most of my friends, he has been their congressman for their entire adult lives.

It will certainly hurt the democrats. This will be all over the talking head shows and no one will explain why he wants to do it.
posted by ryanissuper at 2:47 PM on November 19, 2006


Rangel's just making a point, as he has before. I suppose a draft for national service might have some merits but can you imagine the bureaucracy it would require? And how different the military would be as a result? Makes me shudder, frankly. And by the way, the service academies are not filled with rich kids. Rich kids have lots of other options.
posted by etaoin at 2:49 PM on November 19, 2006


For example, we could still try bombing Cambodia.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese


For some reason, I read "Canada" instead of "Cambodia."
posted by leftcoastbob at 2:49 PM on November 19, 2006


I've never understood left-wing opposition to the draft

It's not very hard to understand, we oppose the draft because we don't want to be drafted and killed. It's a very simple motive. Also, the idea that a draft will reduce the amount of war is absurd. It may increase the intensity of political opposition, but so what? People were plenty opposed to Vietnam, but the political situation wasn't conducive to an exit, and so it continued.

If we had an all-volunteer army in 1964, the war would never reached the casualty counts it did, because we simply would have run out of volunteers.

I'm in favor of a wartime draft, as I think progressives should be.

Stalin was a "Progressive". A hallmark of liberalism is opposition to suffering and obviously opposition to slavery which the draft is clearly a form of. Also You also don't even live in the United States, so you would never be effected.

Funny how Rangel is the House Ways and Means guy, but isn't out there stumping for pay raises and veteran's benefits as hard as he is on the draft issue.

Do you have any evidence at all that he's not?
posted by delmoi at 2:49 PM on November 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


I say we pop a 10% war surtax like LBJ did, too.

Now, that'd be interesting. ;-)

For most of my friends, he has been their congressman for their entire adult lives.

Got news for ya' -- most of the Congress has been the Congress for yours and everyone else's entire adult lives, too. Mighty hard to unseat an incumbent once he/she gets their hooks in.
posted by frogan at 2:50 PM on November 19, 2006


I will not live in a country were I have to surrender my autonomy to die or become a killer.

You might want to poke around here, then. Australia, Canada, Ireland and the Netherlands look good.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:51 PM on November 19, 2006


Funny how Rangel is the House Ways and Means guy, but isn't out there stumping for pay raises and veteran's benefits as hard as he is on the draft issue.

Do you have any evidence at all that he's not?


Point me at an article where he's jumping up and down in favor of it -- I'd be happy to read it. Or you can go here and see how "veteran's benefits" curiously don't show up as one of the Congressman's "Current Issues."

No veteran's benefits, but he's mighty damn proud of a bill he passed "expressing the sense on Congress that all people in the United States should reach out across our differences in ethnicity, race, and religion to respect each other and to celebrate, in friendship and unity, one America."

Rangel's a tool. So are most of the members of Congress. Let's all be unsurprised together.
posted by frogan at 2:55 PM on November 19, 2006


If the war is a bad war, nothing will build opposition to it quicker than a draft.

So let me get this straight, you want people to go to war and die for the cause of... not going to war?
posted by equalpants at 2:59 PM on November 19, 2006


I would support a draft that included all 18-26 year olds, regardless of sexual orientation, university status ect.

i would support a draft that included the draft legislators in the drafting, or more specifically, an age bracket that actually contains the majority of the country and not an age minority who can't oppose it. the fact that i'm fitter and less likely to die/get injured in a war in no way makes me any more responsible to protect my country than anyone else.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 2:59 PM on November 19, 2006


On the age thing--it's your turn. It may seem shitty but there it is.
posted by etaoin at 3:07 PM on November 19, 2006


Yet the prospect of the long global fight against terrorism and the continuing U.S. commitment to stabilizing Iraq have kept the idea in the public's mind.

WRONG!! ... the media and our so called liberal congresscritters have kept the idea in the public's mind ... there is NO grassroots movement for the draft or anything like it

(my view on the draft/a national service draft ... you would see evasion and desertion at unbelievable levels)
posted by pyramid termite at 3:10 PM on November 19, 2006


It seems so logical to reinstate the draft if you are opposed to vaguely defined wars. Surely then the burden of milatary service would be shared fairly by all members* of our society.**

*Unless by "all members" you mean "everyone, including the wealthy and well-connected."

**And except those who have a legitimate boil on their ass.
posted by TweetleBeetleBattleBookie at 3:10 PM on November 19, 2006


On the age thing--it's your turn. It may seem shitty but there it is.

Please elaborate.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 3:10 PM on November 19, 2006


Right now, I see young men 18-24 in the news waiting in line to buy new gaming consoles.

And we have grandmothers serving in Iraq.

Something is distinctly not right with our current arrangements.

A draft would - if nothing else - serve to get the attention of the young men and women who don't bother to vote.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 3:12 PM on November 19, 2006


AS well there is no guarantee that a draft would actually catch up many of the "sons of congressmen". Hell, we have a president who's military service is awfully questionable because he was a fortunate son, for that matter most of the top guys in the White House managed to avoid active duty during the one major war in their lives... does anyone seriously think they'd arrange it any different for their kin?
posted by edgeways at 3:19 PM on November 19, 2006


AsYouKnow Bob
Being a 24 year old do I have to point out all the soccer moms/nascar dads who continue to buy fucking SUVs while we're in the middle of a war over oil?

There's something wrong with this country that goes beyond simply blaming it on the young.
posted by slapshot57 at 3:21 PM on November 19, 2006 [2 favorites]


For example, we could still try bombing Cambodia.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese

For some reason, I read "Canada" instead of "Cambodia."


Wishful thinking.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:25 PM on November 19, 2006


"Who the fuck wants to live in Mississippi?" What a radical! God.
posted by raysmj at 3:40 PM on November 19, 2006


He's playing to people who've in 99 percent of all cases have never been to Mississippi, and have certain impressions gained via historical reputation and media, some of which may be true and others of which are almost certainly false. (My favorite is the immediate impression that anyone from a non-metro area in Miss. is a hick who's never seen much of anything--you could be 50 and traveled all over and well-educated still get this from some people.)
posted by raysmj at 3:45 PM on November 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


I've never understood left-wing opposition to the draft

I think it has something to do with the idea that a free man should serve freely as dictated by necessity and reason ... or not ... rather than be conscripted by state coercion.

I'd argue that that's a fundamental, founding American attitude, not a progressive one. The draft was instituted in what year? because ...?

It's easy to understand being called on by one's community (people and places one cares about) when it is faced by imminent threat. One's failure to respond then is subject to judgement by that community. Pirates boarding the ship, outlaws attacking an isolated community — easy to understand.

It is not easy to understand fighting far away, for very abstract principles (what's a 'terrorist'?), for leaders whose real motives are kept hidden ... and who aren't above deceiving us. It would seem that Bush and Cheney and thousands of others couldn't understand serving in the 'Nam era. Ergo the decision is hardly a left-wing one.

The means of choosing people too "valuable" to serve as cannon-fodder is one that has never been codified and published. Clearly socio-economic status is an important factor, along with age, likelihood of failure, etc. In wartime, this decision is often made by very un-democratic means. Draft boards, like school boards, can be variously swayed by local politics.

At bottom, conscription and Jeffersonian ideals don't mix. Oil and water.
posted by Twang at 3:48 PM on November 19, 2006


There are 435 members of Congress. What are the odds right now if you randomly sampled 435 middle-aged people that they'd have a son or daughter in the military?

Around here (middle class city in Wisconsin) it's pretty good. I don't think it's as low as it is in Congress anywhere where the average income is < $50k. i>>I've never understood left-wing opposition to the draft

what about oppostition involuntary servitude / dying for a BS reason is hard to understand?

There are strong valid reasons for a left-wing movement in favor of a draft. A draft will have loopholes, they all do, but it is likely to spread the burden more fairly than relying on economic necessity to fill the ranks. It is also more likely to create a more politically diverse military than relying on gung-ho nationalism to fill the ranks. Right now there is a very real danger of a Starship Troopers trend where the military largely sees itself as a class unto itself. The current military is largely (but not exclusively!) Republican. Of course these people have already volunteered so it's unsurprising they are unreceptive to the argument that they're getting sent into a "BS war". In time, our military may become even more nationalistic and even more divorced from political feeling in the nation, and that could be dangerous. A draft-based military will continually maintain a sense of shared public service instead of a unique burden that the average citizen "doesn't understand".

Cf. "I want the truth!" "You can't handle the truth! ... you want me on that wall! You need me on that wall!"

I've seen the Freepers express again and again how they believe the troops would back them if there were ever a coup against "the left", which they hilariously define as Hillary Clinton. In 2000 some Freepers even tried to use FR to organize a phone tree to call people in the armed forces and get them to intervene in the election. (Robinson told them if they wanted to organize a coup, not to do it on his site.) I found that profoundly disturbing.

I don't want a military that is set apart from the populace. It's dangerous from both perspectives.

To put it in real but essentially metaphorical terms, I have never been happy with the right-wingers co-opting the US flag as a symbol of their nationalism, nor with the left-wingers abandoning it for the same reason. You end up with one group thinking they own the damn thing and the other wanting nothing to do with it. Replace flag with military, and what do you get?

Not to mention, a draft did do miracles in the 1960s to make young Americans more politically aware, maybe it'll do the same to those PS3-loving, bored-by-Iraq American youth.

The Vietnam draft was specifically targeted at the proverbial 19-year-old. There was a conscious decision to rely on short-timer draftees for that war, as opposed to (say) National Guard and Reserves. There was concern about political fallout should they take these units away from their communities; there was also concern about strength vis-a-vis a potential emergency elsewhere, like the Russians pouring T-72s through the Fulda Gap. In any case, the military experience with the rush of training and the mass of callow troops was not encouraging, and it's unlikely they would want to repeat it.
posted by dhartung at 3:51 PM on November 19, 2006 [4 favorites]


Shalom, Pee Wee! My name is Shalom-o. I live in Israel, I am nine years old. I have been in the army for three years.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:04 PM on November 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


i can only imagine what r&r is like for shalom-o, seeing as he's way too young for bars or whorehouses ...
posted by pyramid termite at 4:09 PM on November 19, 2006


All I know is this (voting) 26 year old would cease to be an American if a draft were instated.

I don't believe in God.
I don't believe in an afterlife.

And the only person who is going to make the decision to put my life on the line is me.

If that pisses you off, fuck you.
posted by nathancaswell at 4:11 PM on November 19, 2006


If we had a draft, I guess the theory is that we'd have fewer wars of choice. But I don't think the US has ever been involved in a war of choice. Every war has been against an evil enemy dedicated to our destruction.

And then once we're in, leaving would be disastrous, and lead to our destruction.

It's kinda funny how it works out that way.
posted by empath at 4:35 PM on November 19, 2006 [2 favorites]


We're sort of missing the bigger, real event here--Kissinger, who has been advising Bush, saying we can't win in Iraq. Yes, he's a tired old fool who should have been tried for war crimes. But he has been advising GW and if HE says it can't be won, heads will turn.
posted by etaoin at 4:47 PM on November 19, 2006


I'm in the military, and believe me: the vast majority of my peers DO NOT WANT a draft. That's from a purely military point of view.

From a personal point of view: a draft is morally wrong - period. There is NO justification - legal, moral, financial, strategic, etc - for a draft.
posted by davidmsc at 4:49 PM on November 19, 2006


The zombie's got a point.
posted by furtive at 5:06 PM on November 19, 2006


There are 435 members of Congress.

535.
posted by horsewithnoname at 5:09 PM on November 19, 2006


It is my unerstanding that the nation cannot have a draft without there being a declared war. At best, as they have it now, you can register for a draft, but you cannot have one. Rangel is pushing this to get the nation to realize that it does not want--at least those of draft age--kids to serve if there is no war to serve in. But remember: this time, should thee be adraft, it will include women too--equal rights--or there will be many law suits reaching finally to the Supreme Court.

I do not favor a draft in peace time (yea: war on terror andwar on drugs and war on cancer etc--though I have been in the military.
posted by Postroad at 5:13 PM on November 19, 2006


From a personal point of view: a draft is morally wrong - period. There is NO justification - legal, moral, financial, strategic, etc - for a draft.

I think it comes from the assumption that no one would actually want to volunteer to be a soldier - to risk being killed, and to have to kill other people. So if we are going to have an army at all, it is either going to be staffed by quote unquote volunteers, who are really just desperate people who get manipulated into it, or it has to be staffed by a lottery pick, because that's the only fair way.

The perception is that having an army at all is basically a necessary evil - we need to have a military, but it's ultimately tragic, and that tragedy should not be forced upon the poorest, least educated, most disadvantaged, etc, but instead should be shared as equally as possible by making it random across the population.

Now, of course, it seems as if there are some people who are more inclined to being a soldier than others, so this perception is not totally right. But it's probably not totally wrong, either - it sure seems like many volunteers have very limited options, and that we take advantage of that.

I will not live in a country were I have to surrender my autonomy to die or become a killer.

What about living in a country where your tax money is used to make other people die or become a killer? To claim some kind of moral high ground by refusing to fight seems a little disingenous to me if you agree that the nation needs to have a military at all. It reminds me of meat eaters who look down on hunters for shooting animals. Either you're against the whole enterprise or not; to dissociate from being directly involved while still taking advantage of the results is a little contradictory...
posted by mdn at 5:43 PM on November 19, 2006


Rangel is an ass. If he persists with this I will do everything in my power to remove him from power. If the Democrats follow his lead I will follow suit against them, but I won't have to as they will become a non-entity for at least a decade or more. Rangel thinks this will prevent people from foolishly entering wars, but it will just mean a bunch of innocent kids who don't want to be in the army will end up getting killed. Warmongers will still go to war. If we have a draft, there is no need to limit it to the youth. All you 21 to 40 somethings that missed out on the last draft should join the fun, girls too.
posted by caddis at 5:47 PM on November 19, 2006


We need a draft. I've been in favor of a small "ceremonial" draft of 1000 people of both sexes for years, if only to make the society acknowledge that we owe one another duties which go beyond what we would like to give to encompass what we must give. Our society cannot exist without an acknowledgment of the duties that we owe one another. For too long the political discourse has been "what's in it for me," not "what can I do for my country?" The advances of the civil rights era wouldn't have happened with an acknowledgement that we owe one another duties if our society is to survive.

We may not like it, but we are being indulgent if we think that we can get by without working to protect the society from those who would do us wrong. The fact is that those people exist, whether we like it or not. And sometimes volunteering isn't enough. The Civil War and the Second World War couldn't have been fought and won without a draft.

Note also that the most progressive countries of Europe all have universal service--you must serve in some capacity by law.
posted by Ironmouth at 5:51 PM on November 19, 2006


Ok you guys start the draft, I'll round up the protesters!
posted by j-urb at 6:02 PM on November 19, 2006


Really though, the US didn't have a standing army until something like WWII. Sort of about the time we decided to take over for the British Empire.
posted by j-urb at 6:03 PM on November 19, 2006


The current military is largely (but not exclusively!) Republican. Of course these people have already volunteered so it's unsurprising they are unreceptive to the argument that they're getting sent into a "BS war".

I think you're jumping to certain conclusions here. A friend of mine from high school joined the army voluntarily, after graduating from college. She'd been liberal, and come from a well-off liberal family. Her reasons for enlisting had nothing to do with her belief in a political agenda or party allegiance, or a lack of other options; she was there for personal development and a lifestyle of experiences you can only get through service to your country. Her perspective is pretty unique and very insightful.

I asked about her political affiliation when I saw her (after 10 years during which she served 2 consecutive tours, spread out over Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Germany). She replied that when your job and your whole life depends on the military industrial complex, you vote republican regardless of your ideological beliefs. Military spending becomes your sole issue as a voter because it so personally affects your day to day life.

She was very conflicted about our occupation of Iraq, and she'd been trained to reconcile any doubts by reminding herself how bad a man Sadam Hussein is, and what awful atrocities he'd committed. She had to live with herself and her career choice, she had to sleep at night. And she wanted to believe her government was asking her to put her life on the line in an effort to do the right thing by the world.

My point is, any hope you have of a draft making the military a more politically diverse place denies the true nature of an institution designed to change the people who enter it.
posted by nadise at 6:05 PM on November 19, 2006 [1 favorite]


mdn: The idea that chance is somehow fair is seriously stupid. Getting killed by a drunk driver is fair but getting cirrhosis of the liver isn't because the former is largely random and the second is a product of decisions, predispositions, and to a certain extent, income and race? I think the most fair thing would be to have everyone come from equal circumstances and those who choose to fight can fight and those that choose not to fight don't. That won't happen. But I don't see the fact that there is a sort of lottery of birth require a second lottery of the state to less efficiently distribute misery.
posted by I Foody at 6:41 PM on November 19, 2006


When I was growing up in a ring-knocker's house, he told me all about how a drafted army helped insure democracy and the continuation of the republic by a) putting everyone's children at (something like) equal risk to fight; and, b) avoiding an elitist military that might be swayed to a coup.

I remember when the last draftee left Berlin Brigade. Each battalion commander made a speech and there was a to-do about it in the post paper.

I think you can say some good things about the all-volunteer military. But, however unlikely a coup threat might seem to us now, I wonder if we would have invaded Iraq so blindly had a draft been in effect?

I'm of the opinion the Mr & Ms Everyman are pretty complacent about how things are run as long as they're comfy and their kids aren't in particular danger of getting killed for that comfort. But, you put folks' kids in the line of fire for some silly BS, you watch them wise up.

I've seen it here. My first reaction to BushCo's first mention of Iraq was wtf? Yet, I know plenty of folks who supported BushCo but now say they're "very disappointed." They got 'disappointed' when their kin, the local NG company, came back from Iraq and started to experience the military's medical after-care system.
posted by taosbat at 6:46 PM on November 19, 2006


We need a draft.

only if we're in a war big enough to require one ...

to make the society acknowledge that we owe one another duties which go beyond what we would like to give to encompass what we must give

like what? ... the "duty" to invade 3rd world countries because we think we know what's best for them? ... the "duty" to tell other countries that they can't have the weapons we've held over the world's head for 50 years? ... the "duty" to interfere in the middle east so the price of oil stays low?

For too long the political discourse has been "what's in it for me," not "what can I do for my country?"

no, actually, it's not been "what can i do for my country?" but "what the fuck is my government doing to my country?"

We may not like it, but we are being indulgent if we think that we can get by without working to protect the society from those who would do us wrong. The fact is that those people exist, whether we like it or not.

and if they don't exist in sufficient numbers, by god, we'll create some ... how many "iraqi terrorists" were targeting the u s BEFORE we invaded their country?

why the hell should we give a government that can't be trusted even MORE control over our lives? ... why should we let a government that can't even declare a war forthrightly and constitutionally (and give honest reasons for it) even MORE power to send troops overseas in little "preventative" wars?

the most compelling reason against the draft is that the government hasn't shown us it can be trusted with it ... (and if you think replacing the current occupant of the white house with a democrat will fix that, think again)

the most compelling reason for the draft would be that we're in a war too big to be fought without it ... but we're not, are we?
posted by pyramid termite at 6:51 PM on November 19, 2006


Is anyone here advocating a draft actually eligible for it (19 - 26)?
posted by bob sarabia at 6:59 PM on November 19, 2006


General William Westmoreland, testifying before President Nixon's Commission on an All-Volunteer [Military] Force, denounced the idea, saying that he did not want to command an army of mercenaries. Milton Friedman interrupted him: "General, would you rather command an army of slaves?" Westmoreland got angry: "I don't like to hear our patriotic draftees referred to as slaves." And Friedman got rolling: "I don't like to hear our patriotic volunteers referred to as mercenaries. If they are mercenaries, then I, sir, am a mercenary professor, and you, sir, are a mercenary general." And he did not stop: "We are served by mercenary physicians, we use a mercenary lawyer, and we get our meat from a mercenary butcher."
(via Brad Delong)
posted by alms at 7:24 PM on November 19, 2006


To those who oppose the draft on moral grounds, what are your thoughts on mandatory military service (for example, like in Taiwan and Switzerland)?

Also, if countries with mandatory service does go to war, are the current 'graduating class' the first to be sent off, or is it the standing military + volunteer from that year's class? If there aren't enough volunteers, is there a draft amongst that year's class?
posted by porpoise at 7:31 PM on November 19, 2006


"Kissinger declares Iraq can't be won."

Why would anybody - anybody at all - care what a man so totally discredited as Kissinger might say?
posted by speug at 7:34 PM on November 19, 2006


Because, as mentioned already, he's been advising Bush on this train wreck.
posted by bob sarabia at 7:45 PM on November 19, 2006


Precisely. I was trying to express horror that anybody - particularly the POTUS - would consider listening to Kissinger.
posted by speug at 7:54 PM on November 19, 2006


opinion from a 25 year old:

I would like to see a year or two of mandatory service in this country with a wide array of options: army, Teach for america, peace corp, etc as the army isn't the best option for everyone.

With the current situation the only way I could see entering the draft is if Barbara and Jenna Bush took the place of the first two kids called and went somewhere reasonably dangerous. But since the odds of that are rather slim...
posted by slapshot57 at 8:07 PM on November 19, 2006




Ahh, Kissinger. Why did it take you so long to finally speak up? It would've helped a lot more back in '02.
posted by wavejumper at 9:58 PM on November 19, 2006


Pentagon Review Sees Three Options in Iraq: "Go Big," "Go Long," and "Go Home." "Go Big" and "Go Home" have already been ruled out.
The group has devised a hybrid plan that combines part of the first option with the second one -- "Go Long" -- and calls for cutting the U.S. combat presence in favor of a long-term expansion of the training and advisory efforts.
...
That combination plan, which one defense official called "Go Big But Short While Transitioning to Go Long," could backfire if Iraqis suspect it is really a way for the United States to moonwalk out of Iraq -- that is, to imitate singer Michael Jackson's trademark move of appearing to move forward while actually sliding backward.
A Captain's Journey From Hope to Just Getting Her Unit Home:
Capt. Stephanie A. Bagley and the military police company she commands arrived in Iraq in December 2005 brimming with optimism about taking on one of the most urgent tasks in Iraq: building a new police force.

Now, as the 21st Military Police Company approaches the end of a deployment marked by small victories and enormous disappointments, Captain Bagley is focused on a more modest goal.

"I just want to get everyone home," she said.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:58 PM on November 19, 2006


I will not live in a country were I have to surrender my autonomy to die or become a killer.

You might want to poke around here, then. Australia, Canada, Ireland and the Netherlands look good.


I recently met an Australian who was drafted and went to Vietnam. I had had no idea that they did either. You might want a closer look at that list. Both Australia and the U.S. fit into the same category on it.
posted by dreamsign at 10:07 PM on November 19, 2006


Perhaps Rangel's strategy is to alienate the young voters who helped give the House and Senate back to Democrats by stabbing them in the back, insuring that they'll never vote Democratic again. Brilliant!
posted by homunculus at 11:20 PM on November 19, 2006


porpoise: Also, if countries with mandatory service does go to war, are the current 'graduating class' the first to be sent off, or is it the standing military + volunteer from that year's class? If there aren't enough volunteers, is there a draft amongst that year's class?

At least in Europe, mandatory service armies are defensive armies. So by definition nobody gets "sent off". In the case of an attack on the country, the current standing army would be the first to deployed, with the reservists being drafted and deployed in the meantime.

For other missions, as in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Lebanon, or Somalia, only professional soldiers with a service time > 2 years are deployed. This is the case for Germany, but AFAIK, it's similar across Europe.

Also, keep in mind that the number one reason for the existing draft system in Europe (after WW2) was to be able to mobilize as many soldiers as possible against a sudden Soviet land invasion. With that threat gone, mandatory service *may* be discontinued in the future in some countries. So the argument made above about the most progressive European countries having a draft is only partially true. A lot of people in these countries consider the draft rather backwards instead of progressive.
posted by uncle harold at 12:03 AM on November 20, 2006


Henry Kissinger
How I'm missing yer
You're the Doctor of my dreams
With your crinkly hair and your glassy stare
And your machiavellian schemes
I know they say that you are very vain
And short and fat and pushy but at least you're not insane
Henry Kissinger
How I'm missing yer
And wishing you were here

Henry Kissinger
How I'm missing yer
You're so chubby and so neat
With your funny clothes and your squishy nose
You're like a German parakeet
All right so people say that you don't care
But you've got nicer legs than Hitler
And bigger tits than Cher
Henry Kissinger
How I'm missing yer
And wishing you were here

Thank you.
posted by bouncebounce at 12:37 AM on November 20, 2006


He's making a point because he can, and the people back home understand what he's trying to do and are still laughing because he finally said what everyone in their right mind thinks..

"Who the fuck wants to live in Mississippi."
posted by PissOnYourParade


And as hard as it is for you to grasp there are people in mississippi who think "who the hell wants to live in new york?".

Just an ignorant, hateful statement backed by the equally clueless.
posted by justgary at 12:37 AM on November 20, 2006


MS Population in 2000: 2,844,658; 48.8% urban; 51.2% rural

With a population of 18.7 million, the New York Metropolitan Area is one of the largest urban areas in the world.

Seems like people have voted with their feets, justgary.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:09 AM on November 20, 2006


I would support a draft that included all 18-26 year olds

Wow, can we bring back the birch as well?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:12 AM on November 20, 2006



Sorry, I went away for hours. I'm saying that (most) previous generations served at this age group. Some sort of national service, including the choice to work in poverty areas, as medical assistants, during national or local emergencies such as hurricanes, etc., might be helpful. It would wake people up to the need to help others and that the world does not revolve around the latest concert, PlayStation3, etc.

posted by etaoin at 4:12 AM on November 20, 2006


Seems like people have voted with their feets, justgary.

seems like people have a tendency to stay in the sort of places they were born in ... if i had to choose between new york city and mississippi, i'd pick mississippi ...
posted by pyramid termite at 4:19 AM on November 20, 2006


Can someone please explain to me what "Victory in Iraq" means? I mean, I hear Bush et.al. prattle on about how we won't leave until we've won etc. etc....but I have no clear idea as to what "victory" actually means. Yes, there is the Global War Against Terror™, but that seems to be spoken of separate from the actions in Iraq.

If I go down the checklist of all the reasons I was told we were invading for, I find we've accomplished them. WMDs (or lack thereof)...check. Capture Saddam...check. Democratic elections...check.

All that's left is the insurgency/civil war...which our actions in the above would seem to have precipitated.

So, what is the vision for "victory"? A mountain built of the bodies of every insurgent in Iraq?
posted by Thorzdad at 4:38 AM on November 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


Seems like people have voted with their feets, justgary.

Not really. Hell, Philadelphia has gained population migrating from New York.
posted by oaf at 4:52 AM on November 20, 2006


> I'm in favor of a wartime draft, as I think progressives should be.

I would be in favor of an anytime draft, as I think conservatives should be. Those (locally numerous) folks who love to yammer about the perpetually impending fascist coup should be happier with a military full of people who hate every minute of it and want out ASAP, rather than a permanent cadre of volunteers who might be receptive to the idea "We are the last Americans with any sense of honor and duty, we should be in charge." The first clause is after all pretty much true, and it leads so temptingly to the second.

> I would support a draft that included all 18-26 year olds

I imagine a draft in which everybody is eligible, permanently. No outs, the only people not liable are those who have already served or those presently in the military. (Unfortunately this would probably be held to include the Commander in Chief, because I would just love to see him in fatigues digging holes and filling 'em up. Inspirational for the rest!) Of course in saying this I realize that I dream what never was and say why not forget it, never happen in a million years.
posted by jfuller at 5:07 AM on November 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


...[N]ot having a draft puts a limit on the number of bodies that you can throw at a conflict and is ultimately more limiting towards the amount and scale of conflicts that a government can engage in than having compulsory service.

Repeated for emphasis.
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:00 AM on November 20, 2006


I was thinking more about the draft. I want to dispel the notion that a draft would be useful in cases of a large scale conflict. This is flawed thinking. The alternative to the draft is not defeat. The alternative is paying soldiers enough to recruit an army sufficient for victory. This would require much more taxation. This seems only fair. Those people forgoing oppurtunites to risk there lives should be fairly compensated by those who cannot or will not fight. Having a draft makes war comparitively attractive to the majority of people who are in no danger of paying the true price of war. The draft is bad practically and morally in all ways. There is no redemtion for it. It is one of the most immoral features of recent history.
posted by I Foody at 7:57 AM on November 20, 2006


> Those people forgoing oppurtunites to risk there lives should be fairly compensated by those
> who cannot or will not fight.

Just because you're necessary doesn't mean you're important.
posted by jfuller at 8:44 AM on November 20, 2006


we oppose the draft because we don't want to be drafted and killed.

Just because you, personally, are afraid, it doesn't mean liberals are, or should be. Don't assume your personal weakness is the rule for others. Not to mention, you're not exactly the best spokesman for liberals -- they're mostly an intelligent bunch.


You also don't even live in the United States, so you would never be effected.

In fact, unlike you, I have been drafted in my country, when it was my time to, and I managed not to shit myself in the process (having saner leaders, les prone to foreign adventures in the last 60 years has helped a lot, too).

Not to mention, to come back to the US situation, you're oblivious to the very real fact that several thousands of the very soldiers who are doing the fighting -- and dying -- in your place are not even US nationals -- 3% of the men and women in the US Armed Forces are non-citizens. They die for your country but can't vote, can't serve in positions of importance, can't have a career longer than eight years -- they're your cannon fodder. A draft is more ethical than this horror.

And as I said above, empires come with a price tag. Wars too.


a permanent cadre of volunteers who might be receptive to the idea "We are the last Americans with any sense of honor and duty, we should be in charge."

In charge of what, unprovoked invasions (aka "war crimes" in the post-Nuremberg, pre-Bush world)?

Anyway, keep dreaming about the "last Americans". More or less 40,000 foreigners -- mostly lacking, I am assuming, not just your navy-blue passport but your Harvard degree as well -- are doing the fighting in your place.
posted by matteo at 9:35 AM on November 20, 2006


Really though, the US didn't have a standing army until something like WWII

I wonder who was getting shot at over at Fort Sumter in April 1861?
posted by pax digita at 9:47 AM on November 20, 2006



The alternative to the draft is not defeat. The alternative is paying soldiers enough to recruit an army sufficient for victory. This would require much more taxation.

What about the ongoing privatization of the military today? Many of the soldiers operating in the Iraqi theater are hired mercenaries, paid several times more than a soldier in the Army, with better weapons and army. Blackwater Security, for one. It seems like that's where things are going, which is troubling, because I would guess that these security contractors don't have as much congressional oversight, or something. Blackwater was said to be fairly brutal when they were deployed in New Orleans. Very troubling.
posted by bukharin at 10:14 AM on November 20, 2006


mdn: The idea that chance is somehow fair is seriously stupid. Getting killed by a drunk driver is fair but getting cirrhosis of the liver isn't because the former is largely random and the second is a product of decisions, predispositions, and to a certain extent, income and race?

what? what are the benefits of accident and disease? the whole point of this is that we all benefit from our country's military. If we all benefit from the sacrifices made, then perhaps we should all partake of the actual sacrifice. Now, if you believe that the country should not have a military, that is one thing. But I think many people believe the country should only have a defensive military, which is to say, we need to be protected, but we should not start wars. If all of us collectively made up the country's military in that soldiers were chosen by draft, we might be more invested in whether a war was actually one the country should declare - ie, the claim that iraq was defensive because 9-11 was an attack on our soil, etc.

With the mercenary army we have, the executive branch managed to direct troops without ever making anything official. If congress still had to declare war, and citizens still had to fight it, the whole thing would be quite different... would it be better? The military says things have changed, and plenty of historians and political scientists believe our era works differently as well. Perhaps we should play by new rules; modern nations interact and compete economically rather than in battle, and technology alters the very nature of war, so returning to the old paradigm may not be feasible. But to write it off as simply unfair to kids who don't wanna die is to miss the serious structural & political questions at stake.
posted by mdn at 11:03 AM on November 20, 2006


“They die for your country but can't vote, can't serve in positions of importance, can't have a career longer than eight years -- they're your cannon fodder.”

They become citizens. Military service is one of the most certain paths to being a U.S. citizen. That’d be the payoff. And not all of them are cannon fodder. In fact a lot of Filipinos are in the medical corps.

“Under every government the last resort of the people, is an appeal to the sword; whether to defend themselves against the open attacks of a foreign enemy, or to check the insidious encroachments of domestic foes.  Whenever a people... entrust the defence of their country to a regular, standing army, composed of mercenaries, the power of that country will remain under the direction of the most wealthy citizens.”

I’d oppose a draft. I would further be in favor of being able to quit the military (without full benefits of course) excepting in combat or dangerous situations, etc. And I’d favor short term contracts, and more reservists and better pay for reservists. Or at least a way to fight for the country without losing your house to creditors. (Although I understand that’s been a big problem in the U.S. since day one.)

I fully believe that given a threat, people are willing to fight and they will fight. As far as I’m concerned any coercion to make someone fight is ethically wrong. We need soldiers? Great, well, maybe we should let what we can do with our military - and by extension what volunteers will allow - drive foreign policy instead of the other way around.
If you can’t get anyone to sign up to fight for it, maybe it isn’t worth fighting for. And maybe people who favor some agenda or plan should go fight for it themselves. And maybe if the country gets screwed because not enough people enlisted, that’s what the country deserves.
But paying soliders a fair wage is reasonable. Cops, firefighters, other less at risk practice professionals get decent pay and benefits commensurate with training. I’ve never understood how, say, a highly trained special operator who can dive, jump, drive or fly a variety of vehicles, operate a variety of machinery, plan operations, etc. etc. - doesn’t make the kind of money/benefits a good RN does.
One can play with those pay scales a bit, but on the whole, military service is not a respected, well paid job. Mostly because it’s something of the reverse of what an RN might be doing (taking vs. saving lives).
But that means taxes. And everyone seems awful sticky when it comes to that. We love teachers, solidiers, etc. - except when it comes time to dig into our pockets and pay them.
So - obviously - have a small well-paid professional army or cut out the discretionary wars.
But we don’t wanna cut out the discretionary wars, so everything surrounding the service becomes red, white, and blue bunting and patriotic songs and medals.
I see the same thing happen to teachers. Like protecting lives and liberty - a good education for your kids is the most important thing in the world, except when you gotta write the check.
“Well, you’re in it because you love kids, right? Why do you want so much money? Sure, you have a doctorate in education, but it’s not like a REAL degree, like an MBA.”

Well, y’know, if I have a doctorate in EDU - why should I work for a public school when I can make more working for a private school?
And if I’m a seasoned combat veteran - why should my kids not go to that private school? And if my country doesn’t want to pay me enough for that why shouldn’t I work for Blackwater?

Ideals are great, until it comes time to eat. And you can’t eat medals, bunting or little yellow “support” bumper magnets.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:44 PM on November 20, 2006


It seems from what I'm reading here that a draft would be unpopular for the same reasons that volunteer recruitment numbers are currently in the shitter:

No one wants their lives thrown away in a stupid war fought for the interests of a rich few. If people really believed we were defending ourselves from an external threat, one would think we'd have no shortage of volunteers.

(Actually, a number of people did sign up right after 2001 for that exact reason- defending ourselves from the terrorists. I think some of them are a little pissed right now)

Universal service (not a draft, and no exemptions) would seem to resolve the Jeffersonian question. Rather than compelling people to serve, it would simply be assumed that everyone would serve in one capacity or another, much in the same way that in the fantasy frontierland that certain libertarians seem to believe in, everyone would just grab their rifles from over the mantle and muster up to fight.

Of course in my own idealist fantasy, this would also involve military action only in defense against an immediate threat, and not doublespeak about "protecting our interests overseas" or "domino theories".

Allowances could even be made for conscientious objectors (who, ideally, would also have less to object about), in support or civilian service positions. By the way, real conscientious objectors don't flee the country- they stay and defend their principles, knowing the potential consequences.

An aside: in yesterday's speech, Blair described the conflict in Afganistan as a generational one. How does this differ from straight up colonialism? Didn't the Brits have some trouble with that the last time they tried it? In fact, when did that ever work for anyone in Afganistan?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:42 PM on November 20, 2006


It is a stunt and it is a stupid one that only serves to hurt the Democrats both now and in upcoming elections and if it has ANY effect on that PS3-buying 24-year-old, it will be to make him vote for the Republicans that are saying they do not want a draft. If you think otherwise you are as big a fool as Rangel.
posted by weretable and the undead chairs at 5:22 PM on November 20, 2006






My mom emailed this talk by retired Army General Mitchell Zais (USMA '69, currently president of Newberry College) to me so I googled up a link for y'all. She got this from a West Point alumae mailing list.
posted by taosbat at 10:27 AM on November 24, 2006


« Older What next with Iran?   |   "Look at you! The Fantastic Four!" Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post