The Media Floats The Draft Balloon
Today, on NPR, “War Czar” Lt. Gen. Lute was asked about whether he wants to see a return to government slavery, also known as conscription or “the draft”.
Here’s his answer:
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.
What is interesting though is that he a minute before had been describing the manpower shortages bedeviling the U.S. military:
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.
There’s both a personal dimension of this, where this kind of stress plays out across dinner tables and in living room conversations within these families, and ultimately, the health of the all-volunteer force is going to rest on those sorts of personal family decisions. And when the system is under stress, it’s right to be concerned about some of the future decisions these young men and women may make. I think our military leaders are right to be focused on that.
There’s also a professional and broader strategic argument to this, and that is that when our forces are as engaged as they have been over the last several years, particularly in Iraq, that we’re concerned as military professionals that we also keep a very sharp edge honed for other contingencies outside of Iraq.
So, the good general basically said that the all-volunteer military was under a great deal of stress, that a draft was not yet needed, but that the military wouldn’t have a problem with one.
This of course is 180 turn around from a few years ago when the senior officers were opposed to conscription.
Meantime the media had a very different take on the interview. Notice the spin:
Frequent tours for U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have stressed the all-volunteer force and made it worth considering a return to a military draft, President Bush’s new war adviser said Friday.
“I think it makes sense to certainly consider it,” Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute said in an interview with National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.”
“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,” Lute added in his first interview since he was confirmed by the Senate in June.
President Nixon abolished the draft in 1973. Restoring it, Lute said, would be a “major policy shift” and Bush has made it clear that he doesn’t think it’s necessary.
“The president’s position is that the all volunteer military meets the needs of the country and there is no discussion of a draft. General Lute made that point as well,” National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.
In the interview, Lute also said that “Today, the current means of the all-volunteer force is serving us exceptionally well.”
Still, he said the repeated deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan affect not only the troops but their families, who can influence whether a service member decides to stay in the military.
“There’s both a personal dimension of this, where this kind of stress plays out across dinner tables and in living room conversations within these families,” he said. “And ultimately, the health of the all-volunteer force is going to rest on those sorts of personal family decisions.”
The military conducted a draft during the Civil War and both world wars and between 1948 and 1973. The Selective Service System, re-established in 1980, maintains a registry of 18-year-old men.
Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., has called for reinstating the draft as a way to end the Iraq war.
Bush picked Lute in mid-May as a deputy national security adviser with responsibility for ensuring efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan are coordinated with policymakers in Washington. Lute, an active-duty general, was chosen after several retired generals turned down the job.
Now, to my jaded eye this is quite interesting. The wire report makes it sound like the General was suggesting that there be a political debate to bring back conscription, when in fact he was declining to rule it out after the interviewer raised the subject.
Folks, this is Fabian socialism in action: Let’s say that these news reports prompt a furor. The General can point to his actual comments and claim, truthfully, that he didn’t recommend a return to the draft. Those who kick up a fuss about the draft are made to look stupid, and the idea will float in the back up people’s consciousness, ready to be raised again.
On the other hand, if there is no furor, then the debate will probably take place. In the meantime, the media has actually made a case that the draft is reasonable and a traditional part of U.S. history. In effect the wire report is an editorial in favor of bringing it back.
Why the change on the part of the Bush administration? The problem is that to continue occupying Iraq, they will have to continue to activate and deploy reserve units. This means middle aged people with families and mortgages will find themselves deployed 3 or 4 times every 10 years. This tempo is not sustainable.
I think that with this interview, the White House is signalling an interest in returning to conscription, because General Lute is lying about the ease with which the military can adopt conscription. Instituting conscription requires a massive change in a millitary’s doctrine and organization. Imagine you managed a business that made whiskey with free laborers, and one day the owner called you into his office and told you that he would be bringing in slaves to do much of the labor. Now, would you be able to put the slaves immediately to work? No. You would need to arrange for overseers to watch them closely. You’d have to put locks on the doors so that slaves can’t escape. You’d have to stop work periodically to count your slaves etc. The claim that such a change is not a “military shift” does not pass the B.S. test. The lie effectively torpedoes the most effective argument against the draft, which is that the military does not want one. In this way, the Bush administration could get conscription without seeming to agitate for it. In fact, given their unpopularity and political weakness, the only way they will get a return to the draft is by having someone else do the heavy lifting while they put up an seemingly ineffectual false resistance.
It is shameful that, over a hundred years after the U.S. government claimed that it had eliminated slavery within its borders, its officers are still infatuated with it and wish to bring it back. Slavery has no part in civilization, and it is high time that the U.S. government, and governments thoughout the world for that matter, abandoned this disgusting practice of systematically enslaving young men.