[sixties-l] Think the Days of the Draft are Gone? Think Again (fwd)

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Date: Thu Sep 19 2002 - 23:01:28 EDT

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    Date: Wed, 11 Sep 2002 14:33:19 -0700
    From: radtimes <resist@best.com>
    Subject: Think the Days of the Draft are Gone? Think Again

    Think the Days of the Draft are Gone? Think Again


    By William Rivers Pitt
    t r u t h o u t | Perspective
    September 11th., 2002

    2.7 million Americans served in Vietnam. 304,000 of them were wounded in
    action, and over 75,000 of those were disabled by their injuries. As of
    Memorial Day 1996, there were 58,202 names listing the dead on the long,
    black monument in Washington, D.C. Approximately 1,300 men are still listed
    as missing in action.
    There are many reasons why people today believe a return of the draft is an
    absurd notion, and the
    names on that wall stand tall among them. The insanity loosed within this
    nation when the draft was violently resisted stands as another firebreak
    against a politician who would call for its reinstatement.
    Finally, most Americans believe that our armed forces are utterly
    invincible and fully capable of performing any task we require beyond our
    borders. We stomped the Iraqi army, then the largest mechanized military
    force in the Middle East, like a roach back in 1991. After 9/11, we
    rampaged through Afghanistan.
    Perceptions of this nature are dangerous, for they depart in the extreme
    from reality. Though we have succeeded in shattering the Taliban and
    dispersing al Qaeda in Afghanistan, the threat posed by the latter
    terrorist organization remains quite real. The cultural and tribal rifts in
    that region will require a massive American military presence there for
    years. The recent car-bomb attack against Afghan president Karzai
    demonstrates that, though we may have won all the battles over there, we
    are far from obtaining victory.
    The situation in Afghanistan will be a significant tax on our military
    resources, unless we walk away as we did once the Soviets disengaged in
    1989, which would guarantee once again the rise of fundamentalist chaos
    there. We have reaped that whirlwind once already, and will hold this tiger
    by the tail until further notice. The fact that we have significant
    interest in the natural resources of that region only cements the
    permanence of our presence there.
    Our military presence in the Middle East is already significant, and has
    begun to steadily increase
    since George W. Bush began to beat the war drum against Iraq. A great many
    officers ensconced in the Pentagon strongly believe our military will
    become far too stretched in a repeat engagement with Saddam Hussein's
    forces. Few will say openly that they fear defeat, and in fact the odds of
    losing a war in Iraq are extremely low, but the pressure placed upon our
    military resources will be extreme. The potential for explosive upheaval in
    the Middle East should we make war on Iraq further exacerbates this.
    Between Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States military is reaching
    mission capacity.
    Still, the idea that forced military conscription of Americans could come
    again is a foolish one, right?
    Consider the following scenario. Consider it with particular care if you
    have loved ones of battle age.
    In July of 2002, the Defense Policy Board - a powerful group at the ear of
    the Bush administration which is chaired by former Reagan Defense
    Department official Richard Perle - listened with great interest to a
    briefing delivered by emissaries from a Rand Corporation think tank. The
    thrust of the briefing was that Iraq should be considered only the
    beginning of a protracted campaign to bring "regime change" throughout the
    Middle East. The final Powerpoint slide of this presentation described
    "Iraq as the tactical pivot, Saudi Arabia as the strategic pivot, (and)
    Egypt as the prize."
    Though the administration publicly distanced itself from this briefing once
    it was exposed on the pages of the Washington Post, going so far as to have
    Bush abase himself before visiting Saudi royalty, the substance of that
    talk surely resonated within the men calling the shots in D.C. Richard
    Perle is a famously hawkish neo-conservative who springs from the same
    think-tank environment as those who gave the briefing. The same goes for
    Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and his assistant Paul Wolfowitz.
    These three men, along with the like-minded Vice President Cheney, are
    fully in control of both American foreign policy and the War on Terror. A
    plan for region-wide regime change in the Middle East suits them right down
    to the ground.
    Noted MIT professor Noam Chomsky, writing earlier this week in the
    Guardian, described the invitation for more terrorism on American shores
    should we attack Iraq. "No one," wrote Chomsky, "including Donald Rumsfeld,
    can realistically guess the possible costs and consequences. Radical
    Islamist extremists surely hope that an attack on Iraq will kill many
    people and destroy much of the country, providing recruits for terrorist
    actions." The inference is clear: Any war in that region will spawn a new
    and terrible wave of attacks against this country. Any war in that region
    is exactly what the terrorists are hoping for. Fresh recruits, soaked in
    rage, will flood into their open arms.
    The unfolding scenario becomes all too clear. If Bush is pressed into a
    conflict with Iraq by the hawkish, neo-conservative platoon of Perle,
    Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Cheney, America will once again suffer a
    catastrophic terrorist attack. The result will be the complete
    militarization of America, complete with martial law and the suspension of
    all basic civil rights. Bush administration officials have already admitted
    as much when asked in the last year what the result of another attack would
    be. In the aftermath, the Bush administration will assuredly push for that
    region-wide regime change in the Middle East, but will be unable to do so
    without forced conscriptions, because the military is currently stretched
    too thin. Thus, the draft.
    Farfetched? Hardly. In fact, there is presently in Congress a bill pending
    that would require military
    conscription. H.R. 3598, entitled "Universal Military and Training Act of
    2001," was introduced into the House of Representatives on December 20th,
    2001 by Republican Rep. Nick Smith of Michigan. It calls for the drafting
    of all able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 22 for military service.
    Even those who would declare themselves conscientious objectors would be
    drafted and given military training, whereupon they would be peeled off to
    another Federal agency to serve out their term.
    At present, H.R. 3598 languishes in the Subcommittee on Military Personnel,
    which is attached to the House Committee on Armed Services, because it has
    not enjoyed enough support in Congress. Should the very real scenario
    described above unfold, and specifically if this nation is attacked again,
    H.R. 3598 could well enjoy an incredible surge in popularity.
    There is a high-stakes game of poker being played within the administration
    right now. The hawks are holding aces and betting them. Around them on the
    card table, the chips are piled high. Your sons, your brothers, your
    friends are in that pile. So are you, if you are of age. After September
    11th, the only thing likely to happen is that which was previously
    inconceivable. Could war in Iraq bring terrorism back to our country? Could
    it lead to a regional conflagration in the Middle East? Could it lead to
    another draft?
    I wouldn't bet against it.
    William Rivers Pitt is a teacher from Boston, MA. His new book, 'The
    Greatest Sedition is Silence,' will be published soon by Pluto Press.

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