THE BLOG
11/21/2006 01:47 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Want to End the War? Think of a Draft that Cannot be So Easily Dismissed

On 10/29, in Ultimate Accountability: The Conspiracy of Silence, it was suggested that there was some good evidence that the issue of military service, or, rather, the avoidance of military service, is much more sensitive to the neocons than they admit, and they invent all kinds of distractions to avoid the question. Jeb Bush and Bill Kristol each turned crimson when I posed it to them and then did not just disappear with the first non-answer.

Properly posed, it is a very potent issue.

The problem is the conspiracy of silence among the mainstream media, the members of congress of both parties, and the Administration. Yes, this even includes Charlie Rangel who told me that his way of getting at this is to propose the draft. This was in response to my simple request: go to the well of the House, and ask the simple question why it is that not a single member of the Bush family--nephews, nieces, children--have volunteered for Iraq . Note how even with Rangel's proposal, no one in the major media, not even Rangel himself, raises the specific question of the Bush family's military-age members, or Cheney's or other Administration officials. Indeed, Bush is described as "tough", "stalwart", "having backbone", much easier to do with other peoples' children at risk.

It is the stealth issue that could bring the war to a more rapid conclusion.

The military's response to Rangel's proposal is that the all-volunteer army provides better troops and fewer personnel issues. Whether true or not, this stance by the military is a major barrier to getting a draft passed. Moreover, it is clearly unpopular with the large bulk of the population, and always was, even during World War II. It is no way to build a sustainable majority. Morphing it into a "national service" proposal may be good in general, but it does not bring the question to a head.

There is an alternative, and it was posed by a responder to the 10/29 article ("AllAmericanAmericanBoy"), that went like this: "My father has figured out the swiftest, most honorable way to end the war ...The Beltway Brigade. Every federal government employee and their children would be sent to 8 weeks of basic training. After training, they will all be deployed to Iraq. Probably within the month the war will be over, and the beltway brigade will come home heroes"

I quote this verbatim, because it is the kernel of an idea that needs some tweaking. All Federal Employees ought not to be singled out, and it is also probably inconsistent to single out Members of Congress because 49.9% could vote correctly on the war, and still lose the issue.

The Administration, however, is different. It speaks with one voice, and discordant voices do not remain around very long. Hence, it would be logical and consistent to call for a "mini-Draft", to include any political appointee ( i.e., not career) who is of military age (today it is 17-40), and children and grandchildren of military age. The military could not object to impacting the quality of the troops since there are relatively few of them. It would not increase our total military. The general population would not be impacted, nor would members of Congress.

Very simply, it would put the Administration (any Administration, not just this one) to the test of whether the war they are fighting is worth the death or dismemberment of one of their own. Sometimes, it is. Afghanistan is such an example; but the war and peace decisions would be taken with far more prudence, troops would be provided the appropriate protection, and the rest of the country would see that we are at war because their leaders truly believe in its necessity, rather than to demostrate their own macho or serve their own glory.

In Bob Woodward's, State of Denial, he relates the decision of Jay Garner to accept a relatively inexperienced person to deploy to Iraq in place of Liz Cheney, with Paul Wolfowitz's comment, " Yeah, we we can't send her over there because she's too high-risk being the vice-president's daughter". (p.141). Just what did Wolfowitz mean by "high risk"? If captured, she knows secret information she would reveal? If so, Cheney violated (again) national security standards. If not, could it be that it would be too hard for Cheney to take the captivity of his daughter more than another's? That would be understandable, but what about all the others who must face that agony, and why she he, Cheney, be spared as opposed to any one else? Both of Lyndon Johnson's sons-in-law served in Vietnam, and no one suggested it would be too "high risk" for them.

Let us also be clear. No one wants any Administration person or offspring to suffer any harm or damage. But, no less so than anyone's son, daughter, grandson or granddaughter. When Jessica Lynch was captured and rescued, Bush commented that she was his daughters' age. Ok, and????

If, somehow, someone would introduce this "mini-Draft" bill, it would force open the conspiracy of silence. That probably means it will not happen, but if anyone wants to force some real choices on the Administration, to force them to come to grips with what havoc they are creating, try to get your Congressman or Senator to do it. It will likely not pass, but the discussion would be sufficient. Imagine Tony Snow explaining the Administration's opposition to this one!