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A Bail Out Draft for a Cakewalk War?



One of the favorite fantasies of right-wing talk radio and Fox “News” is that only Bush-hating liberals oppose the Iraq war and additional US military incursions into the Middle East or wherever.

Yet, it is the March issue of the Washington Monthly, a magazine with a liberal Democratic audience, which makes a case for the draft as the only way “America can remain the world’s superpower.”

The authors, Phillip Carter and Paul Glastris, take it for granted that America’s duty is to make the rest of the world conform to America. They regard this virtuous calling to be so great that a draft is a small price to pay.

The authors have no doubts that Americans exist in order to serve other countries. American lives, limbs, and treasure are required to rectify whatever happens elsewhere that fails to meet with our leaders’ approval.

Since other countries are not willing “to share the burden” by sacrificing their own citizens and resources, America must build a large enough army to do the job on its own.

The authors try to devise a draft proposal that “would create a cascading series of benefits for society” by instilling “a new ethic of service” among college-bound youth. Before America’s youth could be admitted to college, they would first have to serve either in the military or in tutoring disadvantaged children or by helping old folks, or in homeland security by guarding ports.

The authors admit that few would choose combat abroad, but say that some would out of patriotism. They write: “Even if only 10 percent of the one-million young people who annually start at four-year colleges and universities were to choose the military option, the armed forces would receive 100,000 fresh recruits every year.”

The authors mean “nationalism,” when they say “patriotism.” True patriots would oppose the Jacobin agenda of Global Cop and demand that America stick to its founding principles. But the authors cannot imagine America without “its mantle of global leadership” and regard enslaving youth in the service of the state as a small price to pay.

The authors are probably correct that the neoconservatives’ war plans cannot be undertaken with the present US force structure. The neocons thought that in Iraq all the US had to do was to defeat a poorly equipped army. They overlooked that insurgency is a different kind of fighting.

To deal with insurgencies requires vast numbers of troops and practices that tend to produce more insurgents. When the draft army fails to impose America’s will on the world, we will hear the case for “useable nukes.”

The US desperately needs to escape from Iraq before America is sucked into a wider conflict that will necessitate a draft. Once the Bush administration has created so much instability in the Middle East that a rising Islamic revolution is afoot, the stakes will be too high for the US to be able to withdraw.

What might save America from further neoconservative miscalculations is the collapse of the US dollar. A country dependent on foreign financing, as is the US, cannot fight wars that its foreign bankers do not approve. I suspect America’s foreign bankers would let the US fight itself into a deep hole before pulling the plug. It is the best way the world has of getting rid of us.

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at:






Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. Roberts’ How the Economy Was Lost is now available from CounterPunch in electronic format. His latest book is The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

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