The Draft Returns?

As U.S. casualties mount in Iraq, a Defense Department web site,
‘Defend America,’ has posted a notice calling for draft board
volunteers, reviving comparisons to Vietnam-era conscription and
fears that the national draft may be reinstated. Suzanne
Goldenberg, writing for The Guardian, reports that the
Pentagon is likely exploring all options ‘in response to concerns
that the U.S. military has been stretched too thin in its
occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq.’

Congress ended the draft in 1973 and 80 percent of the 11,000
draft board spots are currently vacant. There was no clear
statement from the Pentagon regarding why this period in time was
chosen for filling positions that have had no function since the
early 1980s. Goldenberg reports that the Defense Department may be
responding to concern about heavy reliance on the Army reserve and
National Guard — some 60,000 of the 130,000 soldiers in Iraq –and
furthermore, a recent opinion poll by Stars and Stripes
showed 49 percent threatening not to re-enlist. As families of
soldiers, and often soldiers themselves, are becoming increasingly
vocal about 15-month tours of duty, low pay, and the increasing
danger of service, the draft may be looking more necessary for the
Pentagon. However, as Goldenberg points out, ‘Bringing back
conscription would be catastrophic for George Bush in an election
year.’ Still, as Iraq is beginning to look more and more like a
dreaded quagmire, Bush just may resort to the even more dreaded
draft.
Joel Stonington

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