As detailed in Paul Krugman's column this morning, when challenged whether his kids would sign up for military service, Mitt Romney said that his kids were serving the nation... by working for his campaign. Frankly, I haven't heard something so funny since Al Bundy on Married with Children said, "I served my nation... I played High School football!"
Here's the thing, though. Romney's kids better sign up, along with all the chickenhawks under age 42 (I'm lookin' at you, Michelle Malkin), because the Republican candidates' Johnny-come-lately notion that we need to increase the size of our active duty component is inconsistent with staying the course in the war in Iraq. In fact, the only way to do both is to reinstate the draft. Maybe the President's war czar heard Romney's comments when he said the draft was on the table.
Like I said, the idea that we need to increase the size of the force isn't new. John Kerry proposed it during his 2004 campaign. Frankly, it's something we need to do, in preparation for the long war against terrorists we have ahead, and maybe some unforeseen global conflicts.
It's interesting that when the size of the military is brought up, many of those on the right do -- what else -- blame Bill Clinton. However, a downsizing of the active duty component started long beforehand, with President George H.W. Bush dismantling divisions as they came home from Kuwait, just like he promised to do just before the Gulf War. And, it was the Republican Congresses that pushed forth a downsizing of the military during the 1990s, by favoring expensive missile defense over military pay raises. And so, as started with Bush-41 and continued with the help of the Republican Congress throughout the 90s, the military was downsized.
George W. Bush could have reversed course upon taking office. Yet, he and his administration fought pretty hard to have the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review shrink the size of the Army from ten divisions to eight. In the end, September 11 made it all but impossible for the president to propose such a thing. Yet he still decided the size of the military was fine from the Clinton years, and used funds to pass tax cuts and fund missile defense, instead of growing the size of the active duty component. Donald Rumsfeld, of course, was completely on key with this, being hailed by the DC-elite for pushing the idea of a smaller, leaner, quicker force.
That brings us back to the war on terrorists, Iraq, and the draft. It's clear, now, that Rumsfeld's idea of a smaller strike force for "new" wars was a complete disaster. We went into Iraq with far too few troops (despite the protests of Generals like Eric Shinseki) and we're still paying the price. Our early mistakes have led us to a point where this war is no longer sustainable from a personnel point of view, and even the 100,000 additional troops that Mitt Romney and others on the right want to bring in won't change that.
In fact, they'll find it pretty impossible to sign up 100,000 new troops the longer the war goes on. As it is, the Pentagon has needed to lower recruiting goals just to say they met them, and have lowered recruiting standards so that our military now allows in ex-cons and Skinheads. When young Americans know that they'll be sent off to a protracted war, 15 months at a time, they just don't want to enlist. Surprise, surprise.
But, if Mitt Romney and others are going to be so bullheaded as to say they'll keep the war in Iraq going and add more active duty troops, they have to admit it will mean a draft.
If Romney wants that, we can start with 5 fresh recruits: Romney, Romney, Romney, Romney, and Romney. That would be leadership by example.
Note: Just to follow up on the last couple of Pat Tillman posts I wrote, today at VoteVets.org, we released a letter to the NFL and NFL Players Association, as well as a Letter-to-the-Editor tool, so you can write your local paper on the President's refusal to come clean on the death of Corporal Tillman. Check all of that out at VoteVets.org.