Jewish World Review Sept. 24, 2004 / 9 Tishrei, 5765
Who favors bringing back the draft?
Two recent polls indicate the presidential race has tightened again to
within the margin of error. John Kerry made it clear that this isn't true
in a speech in Florida Sept. 22nd.
In response to a question after a speech in West Palm Beach, Kerry said
President Bush might bring back the military draft if he is re-elected.
This has become a meme among Democrats.
"There will be no draft when John Kerry is president," said vice
presidential candidate John Edwards.
"America will reinstate the military draft" if Bush is re-elected, said
former Sen. Max Cleland, a Kerry surrogate, in a speech at Colorado College.
"I think that George Bush is certainly going to have a draft if he goes into
a second term, and any young person who doesn't go to Iraq might think twice
about voting for him," said former Kerry rival Howard Dean at a speech at
Brown University in Rhode Island.
Web logger Betsy Newmark said that college students at the University of
Arizona have been getting an email that says:
"There is pending legislation in the House and Senate, S 80 and HR 163, to
reinstate mandatory draft for boys and girls (ages 18-26) starting June 15,
2005. This plan includes women in the draft, eliminates higher education as
a shelter, and makes it difficult to cross into Canada.
"The Bush administration is quietly trying to get these bills passed now,
while the public's attention is on the elections. The Bush administration
plans to begin mandatory draft in the Spring of 2005, just after the 2004
There are bills in the House and Senate calling for reinstitution of
conscription. They have attracted a handful of sponsors and cosponsors, ALL
OF WHOM ARE DEMOCRATS.
The bills are going nowhere, because the Bush administration strongly
opposes them, as do about three quarters of the Members of Congress.
President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have said repeatedly
that America does not need a draft to fight the war on terror.
"If you add up everyone we are looking for in the active forces, 1.4 million
and the Guard and Reserve and the Selective Reserve and the Individual Ready
Reserve, it's about 2.5 million. And all you have to do is alter the
incentives and we can attract and retain all the people we need. We do not
need to go to compulsion."
The draft is an artifact of a bygone era. We would sooner bring back the
musket or the crossbow than the draft, because military leaders recognize
the U.S. armed forces are the best in the world in large part because they
are all volunteer.
During Vietnam, the IQ and education levels of the young men who were
drafted into the Army and Marine Corps were significantly below the average
for the youth cohort as a whole. In my Marine recruit platoon in 1970, half
were high school dropouts; there were twice as many convicted felons as
people with any college, and the other college boy was dual-hatted. (He'd
been busted for smoking dope at the University of Tulsa.)
The men and women entering the Armed Forces today have intelligence and
education levels far above the youth cohort as a whole. The
"judge-motivated volunteer" is a thing of the past.
In the Vietnam era, morale in the Army was poor. Morale in today's Army is
high, and it is out of sight in the Marine Corps.
The high technology military we have today requires bright young men and
women to operate complex equipment, who are willing to serve long enough to
recoup the cost of training them. A draft which would bring in the
unwilling for too short a time to be useful would undermine this.
I do think we need a somewhat larger Army and Marine Corps to effectively
wage the war on terror. But there is no reason to suppose we cannot recruit
the 40,000-50,000 additional troops we need voluntarily, out of a population
of 294 million.
Kerry's lie about the draft is of a parcel with Democratic claims to seniors
that Republicans will end Social Security, or to blacks that Republicans
will bring back segregation. It is as much a sign of desperation as it is
of a lack of integrity.
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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a
deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan
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