Home / Devils and Dust Too, or Beware the Ides of March

Devils and Dust Too, or Beware the Ides of March

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“On March 31, the Selective Service System (SSS) will report to President Bush that it is ready to implement the draft within 75 days. Right now, the SSS is staffing local draft boards, training volunteer registrars to work on high school and college campuses, and streamlining its induction process. They have also gained access to the Department of Education’s computer files, to ensure maximum registration.”

—from an Action Center email dated 3-15-05

Yes indeed folks, it is no longer just idle talk. The draft is coming, and it is coming soon—a matter of months, to be precise. Not satisfied with the signup rates at its recruitments centers (located primarily in low income areas), the Pentagon now wants your sons and daughters, your husbands and wives, your sisters and brothers. Are you ready for déjà vu all over again?

I remember back in high school in the late ‘70s, there was a hue and cry when President Carter instituted a voluntary draft registration program. The gaping wound of Vietnam was barely off the nightly news, and we were all too familiar with the “selective” service program, and how easy it was to get out of it if you were wealthy and connected (yes folks, there were plenty of “fortunate sons” in Washington DC, where I grew up). At the time, I argued—and still believe—that in a country that gives so much to its citizens, it is our civic duty to give something back. Of course, there are many ways in which to do this—President Clinton’s Freedom Corps program being just one—but there is no justice to a system that relies upon its most economically disadvantaged to fight its wars, and then discards them when their service is done. The statistics on the percentage of veterans who are homeless are staggering: 23 percent of all homeless are veterans, 47 percent of whom served in Vietnam [courtesy

The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans

]. And let’s not forget the benefits cuts to veterans and to military families, some of which were passed

during the war on Iraq

. All politics aside (and God knows there are plenty of geopolitical reasons why the average Joe would look askance at a Pentagon recruitment officer), it’s no wonder that no one wants to sign up for Rummy’s Folly.

Do I believe in a draft? Well, I believe we all should serve in some way. But there are a number of confounding moral dilemmas in the execution of any mandatory service program, not the least of which is, is it really service if it’s mandatory? Besides which, who will assign the various tasks, and who benefits? There are just too many problems with a mandatory system, which is why service plans such as the Peace Corps rely solely upon volunteers.

So what of this draft? It is safe to say a significant percentage of its victims will be inhabitants of the so-called “red” states that have (so far) overwhelmingly supported Bush and Co. in their “War on Terror.” The president and his staff have until now managed to keep photos of military funerals (and of the wounded and maimed) out of the mainstream press, but one wonders how long that will last once reality hits. (Visit


if you want to see these photos for yourself. They aren’t pretty.)

Yes folks, there are devils afoot in the dusts of Iraq, but there are just as many here at home. Stay tuned, it’s going to be a long, hot summer…

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About Lisa Iannucci

  • Jenn Kelly

    Hey before everyone gets their shorts in a bunch, read the draft proposal.

    Yes, everyone would be expected to participate, however, in order to be drafted into the military…….YOU HAVE TO MEET THEIR STANDARDS (ie: medical, moral, mental). If you don’t qualify, you don’t qualify, period!!!! Others would be expected to serve the U.S. in some other form of civilian service that promotes National Security! Does it really seem unreasonable to work two years for your country (paid, might I add)???? If you don’t like the country enough to contribute (not necessarily military) then LEAVE!!

    As a former Marine with combat experience, I would love to see some of the people who complain about the loss of “freedoms” out their having to fight for them. People, freedom isn’t free!!!

  • JasonLeimer

    Trust us they will put a draft in Im a diabetic and Hopefully I will get a exemption from service if and more importantly when they do it becuase you know theyre saying no draft but theyre lying to us and the draft is coming back and if no one is expemted IM GOING TO CANADA !

  • I want a draft! I have a 19 year old that I can’t get out of my house. I want to put a pool table in her room and she won’t leave! Reinstate the draft now!

  • Eric Olsen

    as I mentoned before, but perhaps not forcefully enough, NO ONE wants a draft: not parents, not young people, not Republicans, not Democrats, not the military. There is ZERO political support. Short of world war or invasion of the US, you will not see a draft

  • Let me add to your mention of that draft bill that failed in October that it was sponsored by Democratic Senator Charles Rangel and even he voted against it.


  • from http://www.sss.gov

    “On October 5, 2004, the House of Representatives voted 402 – 2 to defeat H.R. 163, the bill cited as proof that the Selective Service was preparing to reinstate a military draft. The vote made official what has been a reality since January 7, 2003, when H.R. 163 was introduced despite nearly total opposition in Congress to restoring the draft. Without Congressional support, the draft cannot be reinstated. A similar bill languishes in the Senate.

    Both President George W. Bush and Senator John F. Kerry have stated for the record that they oppose a draft. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld also has opposed the draft on numerous occasions.

    Since 1980, the Selective Service System has discharged its mission of preparing to manage a draft if and when Congress and the President so direct. The House action proves that the Selective Service has gotten no such direction. That being the case, the Agency will maintain its readiness as required by law, and to register young men between the ages of 18 and 25. That mission has been reaffirmed frequently by successive Administrations and by Congress under the leadership of both parties.”

    So, no draft yet. Not to say it absolutely couldn’t happen sometime in the future…but not now.

  • Wow, this is a new depth for draft fearmongering.

    The Selective Service Administration is required to report its compliance with the draft registration act and its readiness to implement a draft at this time every year, like most government agencies which are responsible to the oversight of the executive branch.

    It means absolutely nothing. There’s no chance whatsoever of a draft being implemented. The only people who ever even considered it were Kerry and some other Democrats under a draft/universal conscription/public works type program which they’ve been batting around for ages.

    A draft makes no sense at all right now, and there’s no indication that it’s needed. The military has definitively stated that it doesn’t want a draft at all. Under these circumstances why would it be implemented – not to mention being political suicide.

    Just more wishful thinking from the left wing fear machine.


  • RJ

    I thought the bogus draft fear-mongering ended when Kerry conceded the election?

    Apparently not…

    VOTE OR DIE! didn’t work. Maybe FLEE TO CANADA OR DIE! will…

  • SFC Ski

    First off, if the military was truly in crisis, the first thing we’d do is extend everyone in Iraq for the duration, basically as was done in WWII and Korea. You don’t go home until the job is done, period.

    Secondly, Eric: “I do think it’s a little bit disturbing that military recruiters troll poor neighborhoods, looking for young people with few options to better themselves”

    Should recruiters only go to places where where people are more affluent?

    Seriously, the military is so unknown with most people, everyone THINKS they know what the military has to offer, but a person has to be aware of his options, especially if Mommy and Daddy aren’t able to pay the bills for school, or if the person doesn’t know what they want to do, but knows they don’t want to continue their education in college at that point. Not only that, a healthy percantage of people in the military now have 2-4 years of college prior to enlisting, so it is not the street sweepings of the uneducated and ineducable that fill the ranks.

    I will agree though, I don’t know if it would make any difference for a greater appeal to be put out for recruits, I fear that Vietnam poisoned the well for a lot of society, and now you have a generation of civilians who did not serve, what can they tell their kids about the pros and cons of the military?

    The last thing I or any of my colleagues want to see is a return to conscription, and that runs all the way up the chain of command.

  • I see what you’re saying Lisa, but the Bush Administration would need to go into hiding if it implemented a draft. In other words, they would have to toss the GOP agenda out the window, because their credibility (and the credibility they currently possess is of course debatable) would be shot.

    Therefore, I think you’ll see more of what Kerry referred to as the “backdoor draft”: stretching the National Guard to the breaking point, extending tours and multiple tours in Iraq, not allowing soldiers to be discharged, etc.

    If all else fails, you’ll see multiple pay hikes and all-out recruitment before a draft.

  • I beg to differ. There have been numerous articles about the manpower shortfall–here are just a couple:

    Does the U.S. Need a Draft?
    “The Pentagon is rushing to train 200,000 Iraqi troops to take over combat duties by next August, but meanwhile the U.S. military is trapped in a nation-building marathon that the Army is ill prepared to carry out. ”

    Army misses recruiting goal
    “WASHINGTON — In what could be a troubling sign for the military, the active-duty Army missed its February recruiting goal by more than 27%. It was the first time in almost five years that the Army has failed to meet a monthly target.”

    As for what’s going on being “normal procedure,” well, not being privy to that information, I wouldn’t know. But as for it being to no one’s advantage…hmm..well, I would argue that using the U.S. military to occupy the countries that are sitting on vast oil fields would definitely be to somone’s advantage, and there is no way that can be accomplished with what we have now. How else to explain all the sabre-rattling about Syria and Iran?

  • EricO, you must hail from the idealists camp at the academy

    The National Interest, a conservative journal, recently had a split with 10 of the 12 directors walking out, about whether the war, and military affairs, in general were being conducted well. All is not hunky-dory in the corridors of power, and in the economy. History has shown, going back to the Romans, that increasing the standing army has a way of taking care of political, economic, and personal problems

  • My above analysis aside, I do think it’s a little bit disturbing that military recruiters troll poor neighborhoods, looking for young people with few options to better themselves.

    That said, I do think that the military is a great career path for many people… but it bothers me that the poor are the crop from which the military chooses to so actively seek its young.

  • Eric Olsen

    unless there is world war or invasion of the United States, there will not be a draft – it is to no one’s advantage. Things that are to no one’s advantage tend to not happen

  • Recruitment is not going particularly well for either the Army or the Marines.

  • Why would there have been a draft under Kerry but not Bush? Like it or not, but Kerry talked about a short timetable for bringing troops home from Iraq.

    About the draft: I have heard that the recent developments are normal operating procedure.

    The Bush Administration will only implement a draft if the military is beyond desperate for bodies. It would be political suicide, and would likely doom the ’06 and ’08 elections for the GOP.

  • Matt

    There is not going to be a draft, not in the next year, not in the next two years. Recruitment and retention are going well and neither the administration nor the military wants a draft. All that is being done is compliance with existing law. Registration and staffing of the draft boards has never gone away.

    There might have been a draft, but Kerry lost, so it won’t happen.