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30.9.04

Draftmongering

A surprising number of people on the left are trying to push the idea that the Republicans will bring back the draft. Never mind that Bush has clearly disavowed the idea. Never mind that the only people to have actually formally proposed reinstating the draft were antiwar Democrats making a publicity stunt. Never mind that if Karl Rove is the kind of evil genius he's reputed to be, he knows the draft would be political suicide.

The rationale for why Bush will being back the draft goes something like this. The American military is overstretched and low on recruits, but victory in Iraq is nowhere in sight. Within the next few years, the administration will be forced to make a choice between either giving up on the war, or using the draft. So while Bush may say he won't bring back the draft, he'll wind up with no other choice.

Looking at the president's handling of a parallel issue makes me skeptical taht events would force him to reinstate the draft. The nation's budget is overstretched and low on funds. The administration seems to be faced with a choice: either give up on government spending, or "draft" new funds by raising taxes. Yet Bush has shown little inclination to do either. Rather he's forging on ahead, even creating new spending programs.

If this were George H.W. Bush, who saw the writing on the budgetary wall and reneged on his "no new taxes" pledge, a case could be made that in similar fashion we'd see the draft come back. But not W. He's likely to continue to try to get one soldier to do the job of three rather than either reduce the workload or find more soldiers*.

Then there's the emotional side of things. One of the left's main critiques of Bush is that he's a neocon warmonger. It would fit this storyline perfectly if he were to start the draft. So there's a subconscious longing for the draft to confirm and prove Bush's warmongery, particularly since it's a move that could easily be used against him.

*Not that a draft would necessarily help. My understanding is that the military's need for poorly trained and unmotivated cannon fodder is rather low.

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