McCain and the Draft

In 2008 Presidential Elections, Chattering classes/punditry, Iraq War, neoconservatives, politics, War on August 21, 2008 by Editor Z

Presumptive Republican Presidential Candidate Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has always been a staunch backer of the U.S invasion and occupation of Iraq. He has also frequently heralded a hard line against Iran’s suspected nuclear program as well as against Russia for its recent invasion of South Ossetia and Georgia. In regards to Iraq, much has been made of his statement that we might remain entrenched in Iraq for another century and that would be just fine and cause few problems (after all what could go wrong with a predominately Christian country occupying a country of people whose language we by and large don’t know, and a region that is a sea of Arabic and Islamic people). Not only is this an unpopular position, but even backers of the Iraq war and current occupation likely are aware that such a near permanant and heavy prescience is politically unsustainable. Plus where would we get the money to fund such an endeavor or the number of troops to continue the occupation.

Well Wendsdsay at one of his signature town halls in New Mexico, a person in the audience inquired about this and McCain seemed to leave the door open to re instituting the military draft, which would require that many young people serve in the U.S military. The draft ended in 1973 in the wake of protests and unpopularity of the Vietnam War, partly at least because of the draft and young people who had doubts if not opposition to the War but were nonetheless forced to fight in a war that many did not believe in.

Here is the question and McCain’s response (Watch the Video below):

Attendee: “If we don’t reenact the draft, I don’t think we’ll have anyone to chase Bin Laden to the gates of hell.”

McCain’s response: “Ma’am– let me just say I don’t disagree with anything you said.”

Anything? You don’t disagree with anything she just said Senator? Supporting the draft would be an act of political suicide for McCain’s presidential campaign, especially with the Iraq war that still remains unpopular. The soon to be 72 year old McCain remains dramatically behind the 47 year old Obama with voters between the ages of 18-34. Plus their parents aren’t exactly eager to send their children into war. Not to mention the American public are by and large not eager to engage in another Iraq style war prefaced on the neoconservative philosophy.

Some reports, such as one in the Atlantic magazine say that the comment may have been taken out of context by some Democrats, Obama supporters, and liberal bloggers.

However, a year ago in September it appears that he was willing to contemplate the idea.

And asked about the draft last September, McCain said, “I might consider it, I don’t think it’s necessary, but I might consider it if you could design a draft where everybody equally could serve.”

These are foolish comments, especially in the heat of a campaign. Our military remains the strongest in the world because it is all volunteer, not despite that it is all volunteer. The military is a noble institution, but it is not for everyone and is much more costly and burdensome from an institutional point of view than a volunteer force. Plus do you really want to be engaged in battle with someone by your side, who is likely to be not mentally prepared to be in combat or any desire to do so. Not to mention it would re-open the problem of draft dodging and everything else.

Plus despite some problems with recruitment in recent years, our problem is largely not the quality of our armed forces. What is needed is more prudence and wisdom in deploying our military in conflicts. After all, to paraphrase President John F Kennedy, not every world problem has an American Military solution.

I doubt McCain is sincere about these comments and if he was he never would have made them in the first place. If for no other reason than if he was, he would never have admitted it.



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