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Bob Herbert, in today's New York Times, points out the extreme hardships and horrors suffered by the families of soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Herbert suggests that if there was a new draft, politicians would be less likely to start such wars in the future, since they would be fearful for their own kids and meet a strong public backlash.

I like Bob Herbert but he's entirely wrong on this issue. A draft would only make things worse. And the sons and daughters of the rich and well-connected would STILL find loopholes to avoid service. Congress would see to that.

How do you feel about a future draft? Do you actually think it would "spread the sacrifice" or just spread the pain and suffering to many more Americans?

Bob Herbert, who I tremendously admire, has a column in today's New York Times, about why the nation should consider resuming the military draft. Herbert is sincere about this and he's coming from a good place with good intentions:

But Herbert couldn’t be more wrong about this issue.

Instituting a new draft, or something requiring either “domestic” or military “national service” would be a disaster for all Americans. It would increase the problems we already have. A new draft would ensure a steady supply of “fresh meat” for those armchair war hawks who see either monetary or ideological gain in starting new wars in the future.

It’s bad enough that so many lives have been destroyed, and so many families adversely impacted by the horrors of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Spreading this pain and anguish to many more families---against their will---isn’t a solution. It would only make things worse. Much worse.

It is also somewhat naïve---or just wishful thinking---to argue that a new draft would create wider opposition to these wars---and that they would then end sooner. It wouldn’t. The sons and daughters of the wealthy and influential would find some loophole, in one way or another, to escape any real obligation or sacrifice. Very few members of congress would would ever have to worry about their own children; they’d make sure of that.

If there were a draft, the wars would continue to be fought largely by the underprivileged, and ultimately nothing would change; except that more families would now be forced to sacrifice their children, whether they wanted to or not.

Does anyone really think that a new draft would end these wars, or prevent any similar future wars? I don’t. I think a draft would probably make such wars easier to conduct and much more likely to occur in the future.

What do the rest of you think? Do you really believe that a new draft would "force" Congress to come to their senses and think before they start new wars like the ones in Iraq and Afghanistan, or do you think it would only force more Americans to take a direct role in this madness and tragedy?

Originally posted to snesich on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 02:19 PM PST.


Do you think a new draft or "National Service" should be established?

17%11 votes
22%14 votes
7%5 votes
25%16 votes
26%17 votes

| 63 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

    •  I lived during the Nam draft. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      greatferm, coquiero

      And it doesn't work--the well-connected will always find ways to get around it, and the poor and unconnected will sacrifice for the games of the corporatists and imperialists.

      A much better solution is the war tax on the wealthy:  Levy a tax that is payable only by those making a million or more a year, and relate the level of taxes exactly to the level of war expenditures; the more war spending, the more taxes on the rich.  Combined with a serious policy of no exceptions, this has the best chance of causing the war pushers to back off.

      Or abolish the corporatist media and start telling the truth--nah, too radical!

      "Listen, son, said the man with the gun/There's room for you inside." [-8.62/-8.62]

      by alamacTHC on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 02:54:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  smesich - draft a political loser (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      enhydra lutris

      The first political party to push for a restart of the draft will be out of power for at least a decade and maybe a generation. This issue has been a topic of two diaries that have been on the REC list today.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 03:21:06 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  YES, then the moms and pops will finally get (0+ / 0-)

      involved in telling Congress that something is terribly wrong in America.

      No more wars.

      No more killings.

      Get mom/dad protesting because their little boy might be sent off to die.

      When I grow up, I want to be just like Keith Olbermann. ♥

      by 0hio on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 10:29:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  See those people? They're called draft-dodgers. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joy221, lgmcp, ZAP210, alamacTHC

    And those? Chickenhawks.

  •  Hmmmm...I'm guessing you weren't around (6+ / 0-)

    much today.

    There were two diaries on the rec list about this very topic today, they must have just recently been bumped off.

    I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

    by coquiero on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 02:23:47 PM PST

  •  I promised earlier. . . (0+ / 0-)

    to recommend any diary on the draft.  Ultimately, I agree with the diarist that the draft is a bad idea, but from a libertarian perspective; the government has to take everybody's money to function, it shouldn't take years from everybody's life (in some cases all the years they have left) in addition.

    When the United States becomes a low wage country, only bobbleheads shall go forth from American soil.

    by amyzex on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 02:32:13 PM PST

    •  On the plus side. . . (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Clem Yeobright, rubine, ZAP210

      a draft would also prevent the military from being entirely self-selected and possibly serve as a bulwark against military rule (since at least some supporters of progressive ideas would be serving).

      When the United States becomes a low wage country, only bobbleheads shall go forth from American soil.

      by amyzex on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 02:39:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  You seriously need (9+ / 0-)

    to read some history. We have had a draft of some sort for every war we've fought since the Civil War and your "disaster" scenario has never occurred. In fact, it was the draft that solidified opposition to the war in Viet Nam. The draft was a central factor in Eisenhower's election. He promised to bring the Boys home by Christmas. A citizen's Army cannot be politicized the way the current military is. A citizenry in which a noticeable proportion of the population are veterans has a better and more sophisticated view of what war is and what it does to people. I was in the drafted Army, I enlisted, in the 1960's. Several of the men I served with were, in fact, from families richer than croesus. There was an exemption for college or apprenticeship, an exemption for farmers and one for mechanics in war industries as well as one for fathers of children (Cheney's dodge). There wasn't one for rich people's sons and most members of congress had skin in the game. Nixon ended the draft to avoid the politicall effects of having a citizen soldiery. Its worked and its been bad for us.

    "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

    by johnmorris on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 02:38:43 PM PST

    •  Much of what you say is true ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      enhydra lutris, aoeu this comment, but I'd like to see some evidence of this: most members of congress had skin in the game.

      And, for the record, two-thirds of those who fought in Vietnam were volunteers, while two-thirds of those who fought in World War II were draftees.  

      Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

      by Meteor Blades on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 02:50:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There is a difference (0+ / 0-)

        During WW2 the draft was used a tool to manage the enlistment process. Every young man knew that it was coming after the training camps and weapons factories were built.

        During the Vietnam war the draftees saw themselves as the unlucky.

      •  The lead candidate (0+ / 0-)

        is Al Gore. He enlisted because his father, who was against the war and facing a tough election. I just tried a quick google and haven't found the magic phrase but I'll get you a list if one exists. And I may have been the vet who told you that 60% of Viet Nam troops enlisted and 60% of WW II vets were drafted. Both my dad and I enlisted.

        "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

        by johnmorris on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 03:59:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Al Gore is one. I am sure there .... (0+ / 0-)

          ...are others - maybe totaling 10%-15% of the total members of Congress.

          I've been aware of the draft percentage differences since the late '60s when I did draft counseling.

          Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

          by Meteor Blades on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 04:37:46 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Who is "us". (0+ / 0-)

      It's been great for professional military. Dealing with draftees was always a pain. The worst riots in our nation's history occured during the Civil War, the draft riots. Also, with forced conscription, you get far more war crimes. In spite of all the hype, the truth is that there were far more law of war violations during previous wars than there have been during the post draft era. In WWII the slaughter of German and Japanese POWs was common, if not necessarily well reported. During Vietnam, young, burned out GI's would "do" entire villages. There just wasn't any discipline because nobody gave a shit.

      There are always going to be stupid, young, unexperienced and just plain unstable people in the Army. They must be kept in line by disciplined and dedicated officers and NCOs. You obviously don't care for the politics of these people, but these guys aren't monsters. And since the removal of Donald Rumsfeld (who was in fact a horrible excuse for a human being) senior leadership has clampled down hard on rules of engagement violations and law of war enforcement in general. That just wouldn't be possible if half the force simply didn't give a fuck about their jobs.

      You want an uneducated, undisciplined bunch of drug addicts and malcontents running around the world with guns... bring back the draft. Because you're not going to get the utopia of peace and love that you're hoping for.

      •  Us (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        happy camper

        is we the people. Our Constitution relies primarily on local militias and allows for only two years of funding for the Army per Congress. There is a very small list of violations of the law of war in WW II in Europe. The Pacific was different because of the brutality of the Japanese. I'm going to say again, I served with draftees and they were not, by and large, "drug addicts and malcontents".

        When Eisenhower retired he was the hero of WW II and both political parties asked him to run for President because no one, not even his Chief of Staff Bedell Smith, had any idea how he voted. It was considered dishonorable for an officer or a Non Com to mention politics to enlisted personnel or junior officers and was still like that in the 1960's when I was serving. Petraeus is an open Republican and some of his contemporaries actively campaign. That's the pay back for eliminating the draft.

        Incidentally, I'm in Dallas too.

        "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

        by johnmorris on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 04:15:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  and (0+ / 0-)

        "You want an uneducated, undisciplined bunch of drug addicts and malcontents running around the world with guns."

        Hey, this is the professional miltary I knew in the sixties!

        You mean it's changed?

    •  A smaller pool of gun fodder (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      enhydra lutris

      Having a volunteer force limits the number of soldiers that can be dragged into a war and thus limits somewhat the imperial visions of whatever idiot President we have.

      Changing history at

      by Robert Urbanek on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 02:53:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Boy (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        happy camper, Bronx59, Ezekial 23 20

        that sure slowed down Bush. He held himself to only invading two countries.

        "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

        by johnmorris on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 04:00:29 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Still a smaller number (0+ / 0-)

          The draft helped kill 400,000 Americans in WWII; and about 65,000 in Vietnam. We have lost about 5,000 dead in Iraq and Afghanistan.

          The point is you can conscript millions with a draft; you can't do that easily with an all-volunteer military.

          Changing history at

          by Robert Urbanek on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 04:28:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  No they just hire (0+ / 0-)

            mercenaries for six figure pay and enrich the war profiteers even more.

            There are tens of thousands of wounded from Iraq who would have died in prior conflicts. Lack of a draft has nothing to do with that.

            "Well, you've got to understand, they're Republicans. They're just doing what comes natural." -John Dingell

            by happy camper on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 05:06:26 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  So (0+ / 0-)

            your opinion is that the Republic should leave itself undefended because you don't want to fight? If you think that the country does not need an Army, argue that. If it does, it ought to be a citizen force because we are a Democracy. Of, by and for the people is what our government is supposed to be and, if the Army is not part of the government, what is it?.

            "If I pay a man enough money to buy my car, he'll buy my car." Henry Ford

            by johnmorris on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 05:13:21 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Killing vs. Occupying (0+ / 0-)

              Killing people does not require a large army; we have many weapons of mass destruction at our disposal. Occupying a foreign nation does.

              Our occupation of Islamic countries is not going well. We will soon need a very large standing army to exercise control over Iraq (that country is not as stable as the media would have you believe), Afghanistan, Pakistan (if it becomes destablized), and probably Somalia if the CIA can't manage the secret war there.

              And, of course, the pro-Israel lobby is pushing for us to go to war against Iran, which will require another large military commitment.

              My policy on self-defense: Raise the drawbridge and put sharks in the moat (metaphorically). Tell the Muslims if there is another Nine Eleven here we will nuke Mecca.

              If the so-called "moderate" Muslims are opposed to the extremists, let THEM fight in Afghanistan. Why don't the so-called moderate Muslim nations like Egypt, Turkey, Saudia Arabia, and Indonesia have their own troops in Afghanistan to protect Islam from the extremists? Because they are playing us for suckers and know we will squander our lives and wealth. They want us "Crusaders" to be bled dry.  

              Changing history at

              by Robert Urbanek on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 11:28:26 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  But (0+ / 0-)

      "A citizenry in which a noticeable proportion of the population are veterans has a better and more sophisticated view of what war is and what it does to people."

      So, that was the case after WW2 and it didn't stop Vietnam.

      You're thinking that most actually learn...what?

      I'm thinking of the VFW in 68...the guys who gave me a donut and scorned the "hippies."  The donut I ate as the bus took me to Fort Dix.

  •  No. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    esquimaux, VClib, coquiero, Jantman

    This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.

  •  I'm interested in finding some fair... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ZAP210, Battle4Seattle

    alternative to the current system that bribes young folks to commit murder in two immoral and unethical wars.  Maybe something like; we cannot send over 200 troops onto any non-allied foreign soil without a declaration of war by 60% of congress.  Also we should remove the 15 thousand dollar enlistment bonus, it encourages a military of mercenaries, which is NOT an expression of patriotism.

    Corporate PACS, its not just bribery, its a lifestyle!

    by rubine on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 02:48:20 PM PST

  •  Your conclusion is 180 degrees away from (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The reality of the situation, even thought I think you mean well.

    It is exactly the opposite.  The current situation actually facilitates the M.I.C. goal of keeping the U.S. in a perpetual state of war, with the objective of maintaining an eternal supply of (war profits), and acquiring more and more power at the expense of the citizenry.

    Almost every economic and social structure we have today in the U.S. has been carefully planned by the ruling elite in order to exploit the population.

    A military draft with no exceptions or loopholes would not be much appreciated by the war profiteers in the M.I.C., as it would just serve to awaken the citizenry to the true horrors of war.

  •  Quick question (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    happy camper, ZAP210

    Do you actually think it would "spread the sacrifice" or just spread the pain and suffering to many more Americans?

    What's the difference between these two phrases? I can't spot one.

    Take a moment each day to appreciate how amazing the mere fact of your existence is.

    by Shaviv on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 02:51:56 PM PST

    •  thats what spread the sacrifice is (0+ / 0-)

      and thats exactly what should be done...militarily, at least

      we musn't forget, people, that our military and education systems are socialistic, as much as we might still be in red scaree induced denial

      "It is a sin to write this."

      by Ryan Brooke on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 03:07:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  It might be a good idea to cut... (3+ / 0-)

    the military budget by %50, it would lessen the enthusiasm for killing brown people.

    Corporate PACS, its not just bribery, its a lifestyle!

    by rubine on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 02:53:00 PM PST

  •  Worst idea to keep popping up. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    enhydra lutris

    It would be a tragic step backwards by a country whose leadership has often been blind to what it cost us in terms of sacrifice to fight our wars. To force people to serve would only embolden the war mongers among us. Look who didn't fight in Vietnam.  

  •  i support the draft, but only (0+ / 0-)

    because it would force the political to become personal...that's the only difference between now and then (then being before the youth was too timid to do anything)

    "It is a sin to write this."

    by Ryan Brooke on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 03:05:55 PM PST

  •  The real question concerning a draft is: (0+ / 0-)

    "pilsner or lager?"

    "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

    by enhydra lutris on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 03:30:16 PM PST

  •  fascinating poll I'll come back to check it. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I support a draft, reluctantly. It would be a fantastic pre-preemptive war reality check, but only if we registered EVERYBODY 18-65 (if wishes were horses . . . )

    As it would be, at the very least it might help mobilize youth against war. Folks burning draft cards on the capital mall could make a difference these days.

    But the real reason I'm for a draft is that I'm for whatever makes American's (rich or poor) feel the sting of war when we decide to wage it. We don't draft Americans into this war, but we've conscripted a great number of non-Americans against their will. And they seem to be taking the heaviest casualties.

    "Get hold of portable property." Dickens

    by ZAP210 on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 03:44:00 PM PST

  •  I recommended this because it's a topic that (0+ / 0-)
    really warrants discussion. I think a draft would likely end these wars.  
    "Conscientious Objector" filings would be through the roof. Most of the public is against these wars, and if there was a draft, people would march, protest, and hound their Congresspersons until the wars ended.  

    It's the right thing to do.  A volunteer army is nothing but a pledge to the military-industrial complex that there will be wars, forever.

    "[K]now that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy." -Barack Obama

    by Battle4Seattle on Tue Dec 08, 2009 at 04:20:47 PM PST

  •  Yeah -- bring back the good old days! (0+ / 0-)

    You can go to the movies in groups of six."
    The old sergeant says. I am at Fort Dix
    Just after basic. A General Alarm:
    Fort Dix is overrun by guys back from Vietnam.
    "What crap," I thought. And walked on down the hill.
    The army says "Don't do this." I say "I will."
    Go with one other. Some guy named Sam.
    Who tells me he can't wait to go to Vietnam.
    From some town in Ohio. Maybe Martins Ferry.
    At least I hope. Man I am very
    Interested to see what I can see. Strange days.
    I would see what I could see anyways!
    I don't know what the hell I mean by this
    Something about Fate. Whatever this THIS is.
    New to me and caught up... and here am I.
    From Here to Eternity crossed with Catcher in the Rye
    Unreal just then so I go... why ever tarry?
    Go with a nitwit from Ohio to see "Dirty Harry."
    And slump up from my seat in my most insouciant manner
    To stand ironically for the Star Spangled Banner.
    The audience --Jesus Christ-- all stoned or drunk
    They cheer and cheer. "Do you feel lucky, punk?"
    I don't. Leave. Go back and lie in my bunk.
    Asking myself all night: "Do you feel lucky, do you feel lucky


  •  Norman (Coughing) Codega -- In Memorium (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The most impressive physical feat I saw in the army was the mile run of Norman (Coughing) Codega. Codega was, to put it gently, not meant for life in the field. He was smoking two packs of Camels a day when he was drafted, was overweight, and cried easily. He was persecuted mercilessly, of course.

    It was the end of Basic. The final PT test. Our Drill Sergeants told us that failure would mean recycling -- beginning all over again. The naive and fearful believed this.

    Actually, the Army didn't want to spend the money and the goal was to get em out of basic and into Vietnam.

    These were the days of Project 100,000 -- when 100,000 persons in Mental Category Four were to be drafted anyway and given the chance to serve their country.

    Codega was one of these proud men.

    He completed everything but the mile run and, as it turned out, unless he finished in less that 6 minutes 20 seconds he would fail and have to go through basic all over again! Or such was the cruel hoax played on him.

    The Drill Sergeants cleared the track. His fate was explained to him. Under the specified time and he was free to leave to train as a cook and be sent to some squalid messhall in the Far East. One second above and he was doomed!

    Drill Sergeant Gilmore Davis bellowed into the bullhorn:

    "Private Coedga -- RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!"

    And he did. I have never seen such a look of terror and please remember that  I have given many final examinations ...

    He ran and then began to puke. Pounded the track and fell to the gravel skidding on his face. He was weeping and screaming and puking and running and we were all cheering.

    And he ran and ran faster and passed the finish where he collapsed in a puke covered trembling heap.

    He looked up in theological terror.

    Drill Sergeant Davis announced the time.

    6 minutes 17 seconds!

    Codega howled his gratitude to the God above.

    We screamed in joy and when, only five minutes later, we were run in formation the four miles to the barracks, Codega ran with us circling us as we ran whooping like a noble Native American and screaming obscenities so joyful and imaginative he might have been a Marine from Kentucky at a house of ill repute in Manila.

    It was a great day for America.

    That is -- the whole thing was absurd, Codega was OWNED.


  •  We need a way to spread the responsibility (0+ / 0-)

    beyond the military and their families.  These wars are taking a toll and it isn't pretty.  I wrote about military kids in my diary today because of Herbert's article.  It isn't only about a draft, it's about getting more Americans involved in the important decisions.  Most Americans don't even pay attention to the war.  It's about time they did.  

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