FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Would You Dodge the Draft in Afghanistan?

by ALEXANDER COCKBURN

Two years after he was sacked by President Obama as the top commander in Afghanistan for suggesting to Rolling Stone magazine that the real enemy were “the wimps in the White House”, General Stanley A McChrystal has recycled a perennial chestnut: Bring back the draft – i.e. a conscripted army, not the volunteer army of today.

These days McChrystal teaches at Yale with what must be a protection unique in the annals of academic freedom. According to CounterPunch’s David Price, everything he tells his students is by contractual agreement off the record.

But he made his proposal about the draft in a public venue. McChrystal claimed:

“I think we ought to have a draft. I think if a nation goes to war, it shouldn’t be solely be represented by a professional force, because it gets to be unrepresentative of the population,” McChrystal said at a late-night event June 29 at the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival. “I think if a nation goes to war, every town, every city needs to be at risk. You make that decision and everybody has skin in the game.”

It’s certainly true that the volunteer army is a mess. Suicides are surging among the troops. According to AP, the 154 suicides for active duty troops in the first 155 days of the year far outdistance the US forces killed in Afghanistan. The volunteer army also struggles with increased sexual assaults, alcohol abuse, and domestic violence.
 
Liberals like the idea of a draft army because they think it would curb any president’s eagerness to go to war. There are indeed sound arguments for a draft. They were put eloquently not so long ago by Bill Broyles, a Vietnam vet: “In spite of the president’s insistence that our very civilization is at stake, the privileged aren’t flocking to the flag.”

The war, Broyles wrote, is being fought by Other People’s Children. If the children of the nation’s elites were facing enemy fire without body armor, riding through gauntlets of bombs in unarmored Humvees, fighting desperately in an increasingly hostile environment because of arrogant and incompetent leadership, then those problems might well find faster solutions.

But the truth is that despite all these fine words, a draft is never going to happen. The military industrial complex needs the money – it’s why they’re cutting back troops right now.

When Obama introduced ‘the new strategy’ last year, he emphasized that the Pentagon will be getting more money not less. In the past five years the US has spent $2.59 trillion on defense. The new plans call for an allocation of $2.725 trillion between 2013 and 2017. So much for any peace dividend when the troops come home from Afghanistan.
 
As my brother Andrew Cockburn recently predicted, the budget will grow but the military will shrink. There will be no more “nation building” with its long and expensive occupations. Overall, troop levels will be cut by about 100,000 soldiers and marines. Fewer new planes will be built. America will no longer be equipped to fight two full-scale wars at the same time – an official requirement for decades.

Such was the military-cultural context for calls for the draft: huge ground forces stocked with draftees.  What we have now is precisely the opposite – robot/drone wars, with no need for suicidal soldiers or politically awkward draftee casualties. The money all goes to Lockheed and the other big aerospace companies.

Remember there’s a good reason why they abolished the conscript army. It mutinied in Vietnam and thus was a prime factor in America’s defeat. ·

The CounterPunch Auction

In celebration of Bastille Day, we’re opening the CounterPunch Online Auction tomorrow, featuring paintings, photographs, films, rare books, curios, oddities and objets d’art, donated by your faithful editors and friends and supporters of CounterPunch, including Ralph Nader, Noam Chomsky, Margot Kidder and painters (elin Slavic o’hara, Rob Urie, Josh McPhee, Tony Papa, Tom Tomorrow, Chloe Cockburn, Shephard Fairey), photographers (Tao Ruspoli, Chelsea Mosher, Marc Gaede),  musicians (Stewart Francke, Gilad Atzmon, David Rovics, Robbie Ameen), film-makers (Chris Simon, John Scagliotti, Saul Landau), jewelry-makers, revolutionaries (check out the Sandinista relics from Roxanne Dunbar-Oritz) and many others. Click here to bid, bid and bid again!

Our Latest Newsletter

JIM CROW IN THE FIELDS — Loans denied, humiliating terms, racist insults, farms foreclosed. Heather Gray reports on the struggle for justice by the South’s black farmers; ZONES OF EXTRACTION: Irish historian Iain Boal travels to Cornwall, recounting the social and environmental legacy of mining that extends from Penzance to California; CAMERON’S ASSAULT ON THE POOR: Joseph Richardson exposes the brutal nature of welfare reform in Britain; MY DAD THE ARCHDRUID: Kenneth Brower pays tribute to the legacy of his father, David Brower, America’s greatest conservationist.

 

SUBSCRIBE NOW!

Alexander Cockburn can be reached at alexandercockburn@asis.com

Alexander Cockburn’s Guillotined! and A Colossal Wreck are available from CounterPunch.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 23, 2017
John Wight
Trump’s Inauguration: Hail Caesar!
Patrick Cockburn
The Rise of Trump and Isis Have More in Common Than You Might Think
Binoy Kampmark
Ignored Ironies: Women, Protest and Donald Trump
Gregory Barrett
Flag, Cap and Screen: Hollywood’s Propaganda Machine
Gareth Porter
US Intervention in Syria? Not Under Trump
L. Ali Khan
Trump’s Holy War against Islam
Gary Leupp
An Al-Qaeda Attack in Mali:  Just Another Ripple of the Endless, Bogus “War on Terror”
Norman Pollack
America: Banana Republic? Far Worse
Bob Fitrakis - Harvey Wasserman
We Mourn, But We March!
Kim Nicolini
Trump Dump: One Woman March and Personal Shit as Political
William Hawes
We Are on Our Own Now
Martin Billheimer
Last Tango in Moscow
Colin Todhunter
Development and India: Why GM Mustard Really Matters
Mel Gurtov
Trump’s America—and Ours
David Mattson
Fog of Science II: Apples, Oranges and Grizzly Bear Numbers
Clancy Sigal
Who’s Up for This Long War?
Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail