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Gearing Up for a Draft?

by MIKE WHITNEY

 

There’s only one way the American people will accept the reinstatement of the draft. There would have to be “a massive casualty-producing event” on American soil.

That’s it.

There’s simply no other way Bush can get the popular support needed.

And, since we’re able to figure that out, it’s certain that White House planners-and-schemers have figured it out, too. This sets us up for some very ugly scenarios, including the possibility that we,ll be seeing more terrorist “events” sometime in the near future.

We’re hearing stories almost daily about how “stretched” the military is. A recent army survey discovered that only half the soldiers are planning to re-enlist. Elaine Monaghan reports from the Times of London that: “The US military is fighting desertion, recruitment shortfalls and legal challenges from its own troops.”

She also notes that, “a further sign of strain can be seen in the Army’s decision this year to mobilize 5,600 members of a pool of former soldiers that can be mobilized only in a national emergency,” and that, “Forty per cent of the 138,000 (National Guard) troops in Iraq are part-timers who never expected to be sent to the front line.”

These are signs that the military is understaffed, demoralized and seriously overextended. It needs more “warm bodies” to fill their depleted ranks, and it needs them soon. The state of affairs in Iraq is quickly deteriorating. The siege in Falluja did nothing to quell the insurgency, and for all practical purposes, the situation is getting worse. Stop loss rules have been enacted, forcing soldiers to stay in the military well beyond their original commitment, and tours of duty have been extended for everyone presently in uniform.

Those who watched CBS, 60 Minutes last Sunday saw how the Defense Dept has even called a 55 year old woman back to duty to serve in Iraq. These are signs of desperation, and a clear indication that the draft will be reinstated.

Casualties in Iraq are also high, increasing the pressure on the Pentagon to come up with more men. Consider the comments of Paul Craig Roberts in a recent Counterpunch article: “According to the US military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany, the hospital has treated 20,802 US troops for injuries received in Iraq. According to the Pentagon’s figures, 54% of the wounded are too seriously injured to return to their units. If that figure is correct, it would mean that the insurgents have put 11,233 US troops out of action. Add in the 1,254 US troops who have been killed for a total of 12,487. That’s 9% of our total force in Iraq and a much higher percentage of our combat force.”

9% in less than two years. If that doesn’t show how badly the war in Iraq is going, then this will. Roberts says that the Pentagon has begin “redeploying the disabled” because “we have no more troops to throw at the few thousand lightly armed Iraqi insurgents who have tied down eight US divisions.”

“Redeploying the disabled”? Are you kidding me?

Ironically, the plight of the falling dollar also creates greater urgency for a draft. Part of the Bush plan was to underwrite America’s enormous $7 trillion debt by controlling the world’s oil. The administration wizards figured that the tax cuts and lavish defense spending would be offset by a quick wrap-up of the Iraq conflict. Foreign countries would then be forced to carry our debt because we would have shown our determination to control the world’s oil.

It hasn’t worked that way. American forces are bogged down and the flow of oil from Iraq is erratic at best. Youssef Ibrahim says in a recent Znet article that the Iraq war has “resulted in the loss of an average of 2 million barrels a day of Iraqi oil from world markets;” a major factor in the dramatic fluctuations we’ve seen in the last few months. Add to that, the fact that the US is spending nearly $1.6 Billion per month on military operations and you have a formula for a major economic disaster.

So, both the military and economic situations demonstrate the need for a draft; and not just a draft, but a full mobilization of 500,000 to 1,000,000 men. (Keep in mind the saber-rattling with Iran, Syria and North Korea.)

Draft Boards; Ready to Go

An article in Z Magazine’s Nov issue “A Military Draft” outlines the extent to which the SSS (Selective Service System) is gearing up for a draft. The SSS has already admitted that it is “designing procedures” for a “skills draft”, that is, a draft that would target ages 18 to 34 for jobs where there are immediate shortages. (“truck drivers, mechanics, engineers, computer specialists”)

The highest level officials in the SSS have produced an “Issue Paper” that recommends sweeping changes to the current system. The first of these recommendations is: “Change the very mission of the SSS to become a massive conscription service in the war on terror for the entire government”.

Another recommendation: “Create a massive data base of virtually every young American age 18 to 34. This database would be used to draft in war and to recruit in peacetime. State and even local governments would be given access to the names for recruitment and help in emergencies”.

For years the SSS has operated at a minimal level. Now things are in high gear. “The SSS Performance Plan for 2004″will: “Ensure a mobilization infrastructure of 56 State Headquarters, 442 Area Offices and 1,980 Local Boards are operational within 75 days of an authorized return to conscription.”

“If the Administration asks for reinstatement on April 1, Congress could pass it that night and the first batch of more than 1 million 20 year olds would face the national lottery as soon as June 15.” (Z Magazine, Nov 2004)

$28 million has been (covertly) diverted from other programs to get the SSS up-and-running. Nearly $8 million was spent on “Increasing the effectiveness of the Manpower Delivery Systems”. In other words, how to get your son quickly into a uniform and off to Iraq.

No minute detail has escaped the attention of the SSS. Even the procedures for processing Conscientious Objectors (now, called Alternate Service) is covered in excruciating detail. Overall, it’s proof-positive that Washington understands that present troop levels are unsustainable and is preparing for a draft.

Right now, the SSS is 95% ready for the “Combat Induction Process” to begin. All that’s needed is the word from Bush to set things in motion. The “trigger mechanism” will probably come in the form of a “massive casualty-producing event” on American soil. The return of the draft is just the first of the changes we can expect from such a catastrophe.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He can be reached at: fergiewhitney@msn.com

1. Z Magazine, Nov, 2004; “A Military Draft”; from blatanttruth.org; pages 5-7

 

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MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

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