---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 11 Sep 2002 14:33:19 -0700
From: radtimes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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
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
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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