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Elizabeth Edwards Addresses Rush Limbaugh's Draft Deferment

Appearing on Air America Radio today, Elizabeth Edwards criticized Rush Limbaugh regarding his Vietnam draft deferment.

My classmates went to Vietnam, he did not. He was 4F. He had a medical disability, the same medical disability that probably should have stopped him from spending a lifetime in a radio announcer’s chair; but it is true, isn’t it? If he has an inoperable position that allows him not to serve, presumably it should not allow him to sit for long periods of time the way he does.

I think this is a serious enough offense for the people who fund him, who buy ads and allow him to be on the air, need to be asked if this is what they really stand for, do they think it is all right for someone who has never served to denigrate the men and women who have simply because they are expressing an opinion. Frankly, I thought that is what we are fighting for.

According to Snopes, Rush did ultimately receive a 4-F classification after submitting a letter from his personal doctor. There is no record of him being examined by military doctors. His medical condition: a pilonidal cyst.


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Stressed and Fatigued Troops in Iraq: The Draft is Not the Answer

From the Sunday London Observer:

Exhaustion and combat stress are besieging US troops in Iraq as they battle with a new type of warfare. Some even rely on Red Bull to get through the day. As desertions and absences increase, the military is struggling to cope with the crisis.

....[T]he exhaustion of the US army emerges most powerfully in the details of these soldiers' frayed and worn-out lives. Everywhere you go you hear the same complaints: soldiers talk about divorces, or problems with the girlfriends that they don't see, or about the children who have been born and who are growing up largely without them.

Some, including Colin Powell, say our army is just about broken:


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Bush's War Czar Calls Military Draft an Option

Douglas Lute, Bush's Iraq War Czar, today said all options are on the table with respect to a military draft.

"I think it makes sense to certainly consider it," Army Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute said in an interview with National Public Radio's "All Things Considered."

"And I can tell you, this has always been an option on the table. But ultimately, this is a policy matter between meeting the demands for the nation's security by one means or another," said Lute, who is sometimes referred to as the "Iraq war czar." It was his first interview since he was confirmed by the Senate in June.

Too bad it's not his last.

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Pentagon Expert Say Military Draft May Be Necessary

Will anyone take notice now that at least one military expert is saying the only way to sustain our protracted ground war in Iraq is to bring back the draft?

The Senate Armed Services Committee heard testimony Tuesday that increasing the size of the Army and Marine Corps may not resolve severe and growing personnel problems. There was even talk of returning to the draft to fill the ranks.

....Lawrence Korb, a former senior Pentagon personnel official now affiliated with the Center for Defense Information and the Center for American Progress... [said] The all-volunteer force was never designed for a protracted ground war, but that is exactly what it faces, he said.

“If the United States is going to have a significant component of its ground forces in Iraq over the next five, 10, 15 or 30 years, then the responsible course is for the president and those supporting this open-ended and escalated presence in Iraq to call for reinstating the draft.”

There just aren't enough quality recruits the experts say to fill the need of Bush's war.

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Ding, Dong, The Draft Looks Dead...Or Does It?

Our new Democratic leaders have come to their senses and said Charlie Rangel's draft bill will be D.O.A. in the next Congress.

Others, however, aren't so sure.

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Charlie Rangel to Introduce Draft Bill

For all you naysayers who thought we were crazy when we wrote about bringing back the draft, here it is, Charlie Rangel, obviously having a deranged moment, is introducing a bill to reinstate the draft.

Rangel mistakenly thinks that a draft would have prevented the war in Iraq.

"There's no question in my mind that this president and this administration would never have invaded Iraq, especially on the flimsy evidence that was presented to the Congress, if indeed we had a draft and members of Congress and the administration thought that their kids from their communities would be placed in harm's way," Rangel said.

A draft would not have prevented Iraq any more than it prevented Vietnam. I cannot support risking the lives of this country's youth to make a political point. They should not be used as pawns in the war debate.

Let's hope Rangel's bill dies as swift a death this year as it did in 2004.

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Is There a Draft in Your Kid's Future?

Now that President Bush has said we're no-way, no-how leaving Iraq, and the Marines are calling up reservists (the Individual Ready Reserve), ABC's Brian Ross reports an Iraq War Veteran's group says a military draft is coming. Why? Because our military is over-extended and Bush has neither a victory nor an exit plan.

"This move should serve as a wake-up call to America," said Jon Soltz, an Army captain who served in Iraq and heads the group VoteVets.org, which raises funds for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans running for Congress. "Today's announcement that thousands of Marines in the Individual Ready Reserve will be called back to go to Iraq is proof that our military is overextended, and there is no plan for victory in Iraq."

"If this call-up directly fed into a plan for victory and bringing our troops home, we could take some solace. But there is no plan. We must demand a detailed, military victory strategy in Iraq, which will get our troops out of harm's way and relieve the strain on our active duty troops," said Stolz.

Also check out this article at Time: As the armed militias do their bloody work, neither U.S. nor Iraqi forces show any ability to curb them.

As more and more Americans come to understand that the war on terror is distinct from the war in Iraq, let's hope more people will voice their opinion at the polls in November.

[hat tip Raw Story.]

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If the War Spreads: Will We See a Draft?

Dave of Seeing the Forest reprints his 2004 post on the military draft and says it is just as important now. I agree. We need to keep Bush in check and vote these guys out. If you are draft-age, or like me, have a kid who is, pay attention.

A collection of my posts on the draft is here.

Here are some details of post-9/11 bills calling for the draft. More here.

Where's Country Joe when we need him? And Arlo? And Bruce? (scroll to the bottom for that one.)

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Army Stretched Past Capacity

Our Army is stretched past capacity. I'd like to think that this is just a numbers-crunching problem for Iraq.

But the way Bush is going, Iran and North Korea are also on the radar. What if troops are needed in those locations as well?

How will they do it without a draft? For those 21 - 25 year-olds who read TalkLet, I'm curious, would you go?

When it comes to the TL kid, I would say, "'over my dead body you'll take him." The greatest horror show I can remember was back in 1970 when there was a draft lottery to decide who would have to go into the service and presumably to Vietnam. The night of the lottery, I watched tv in Ann Arbor, MI with my male friends, who like me, had just taken our LSAT's and were planning on going to law school. I'll never forget the looks on the faces of those who were dealt early numbers. They just walked out of the room, when their numbers were called. And they didn't come back.

Now, as a parent of a kid in law school, who also is opposed to Bush and to war, I can't even imagine him in that situation. If it happens, I bet I won't be the only parent who says, "Hell, No, We Wont' Go." We'll play Arlo Guthrie's song, Alices Restaurant and find another place to live.

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Another Argument For the Draft

by TChris

As he has done during the invasion and government-building of Iraq, the president wants to spend money for Katrina-related purposes without asking taxpayers to pick up any part of the additional tab. Michael Rooke-Ley makes a compelling case that this is a time for shared sacrifice:

And so, at home and abroad, the levees have broken, exposing two Americas, rich and poor, from the battlefields in Iraq to the streets of New Orleans. Never before have we been such a divided people. If we are to make meaningful strides toward achieving our goals of equal opportunity and justice - among ourselves here at home, as well as with the rest of the world - we must devote ourselves to building communities, not empires. We must commit ourselves to a principle of shared sacrifice.

He makes the argument that shared sacrifice means equal participation in military service by all economic classes:

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Dems Seek to Raise Army Size

The Hill reports that House and Senate Democrats today will be introducing the Army Relief Act to increase the size of the Army:

Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services (SASC) airland subcommittee, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), a SASC member, and Reps. Ellen Tauscher (D-Calif.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.), both members of the House Armed Services committee, are pressing for the passage of the United States Army Relief Act. The legislation seeks to raise the cap of the Army’s end strength, said an aide to Tauscher.

If the army is authorized to recruit more soldiers, where will they come from in no one volunteers? Will it pave the way for a draft?

[Hat tip, National Journal, (subscription.)

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Joe Biden Feels a Draft

Joe Biden on Meet the Press today:

The United States will "have to face" a painful dilemma on restoring the military draft as rising casualties result in persistent shortfalls in US army recruitment, a top US senator warned. Joseph Biden, the top Democrat of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, made the prediction after new data released by the Pentagon showed the US Army failing to meet its recruitment targets for four straight months.

"We're going to have to face that question," Biden said on NBC's "Meet the Press" television show when asked if it was realistic to expect restoration of the draft. "The truth of the matter is, it is going to become a subject, if, in fact, there's a 40 percent shortfall in recruitment. It's just a reality," he said.

The number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq is now over 1,700. We should be thinking of an exit strategy, not a draft. [link via Oliver Willis.]

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Is the Army Playing a Shell Game?

by TChris

The Army knew that it couldn't meet its goal of recruiting 8,050 new soldiers per month, so in May it lowered the goal to 6,700 recruits. Despite vigorous efforts to persuade high school seniors to enlist, the Army missed the new goal by 25 percent.

Because of a series of recent incidents in which Army recruiters were found to be breaking or bending rules to meet their monthly quotas, two senior Army officials acknowledged that the shift in May could leave the impression that the Army was playing "a shell game" with its recruiting figures, shifting its goals to make the numbers look better than they are.

The officials claim that impression would be "unjustified." Supporting that impression, however, is this:

The Pentagon has delayed until Friday the public release of May recruiting figures for all the armed services, a decision some military officials say is an effort to minimize what has become a drumbeat of bad news for the Army and the Marine Corps at the beginning of each month.

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Parents Balk at Possible Reinstatement of the Draft

If they try to bring back the draft, as the parent of a draft-age son, and as one who actively protested the draft the last time around, you can be sure I'll be in the front lines of screamers. Markos of Daily Kos, as an appreciative enlistee and veteran of Gulf War I, makes a persuasive case against the draft. And parents across America are now getting ready to holler loud.

I think the "special skills" draft will be first. And with all the troubles recruiters are encountering, it may not be long off. [Here's a piece on a recruiting scandal in Colorado reported last month where a high school kid went undercover and got tapes of recruiters offering to help him a pass drug test and get a phony diploma. As a result, the Army shut down 1,700 recruiting stations for a day.]

Read the 2003 official memo (pdf) on the Special Skill draft. If you are under 34, with special medical, computer or language skills, or the parent of one who is, be very afraid. Women also will have to register under plans being considered. And Canada will not be an option.

Other good reads:

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Bush Won't Rule Out Military Action Against Iran

President Bush told NBC News tonight he won't rule out military action against Iran.

President Bush said on Monday he would not rule out military action against Iran if that country was not more forthcoming about its suspected nuclear weapons program.

"I hope we can solve it diplomatically, but I will never take any option off the table," Bush said in an interview with NBC News when asked if he would rule out the potential for military action against Iran "if it continues to stonewall the international community about the existence of its nuclear weapons program."

We don't even have enough soldiers to finish the job in Iraq. Who will he find to go to Iran? Still think there won't be a draft? It's time to take the blinders off.

Update: Seymour Hersh's New Yorker article is available online.

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