Here’s an issue that deserves a lot of attention, but has received precious little.
National security and military readiness experts generally concede that it will be extremely difficult for the United States to indefinitely maintain 130-odd thousand troops in Iraq and still maintain even threshold levels of capacity to deter and/or respond to threats in other areas.
By some measures the system is already stretched to near the breaking point.
At the same time the president’s oft-stated policy is that we will stay in Iraq as long as it takes to complete the mission of democratizing and pacifying the country.
With that reality and that policy, somethings got to give.
It doesn’t mean a draft is a necessity. But it does move it into the realm of serious policy possibilities the country has to face. This is particularly so when our military relies on regular recruitment of reservists who until now generally assumed that deployments in warzones were a serious possiblity as opposed to a near certainty, as they have been for the last few years. This is also the case since the administration has said very little about how it will confront this challenge.
In any case, it’s a very legitimate issue. And anyone who thinks seriously about military policy issues has to see that it is one of fairly few policy options to address a looming crisis facing the US military.
Now, the youth voter participation group Rock The Vote has been pushing this issue recently, calling for an election-year debate on the topic in ways you can see if you do a quick google search with their name in it.
And what has the response been from the president?
This week RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie sent the group a ‘cease and desist’ letter threatening legal action against the group and raising the possibility of seeking the revocation of the group’s status as a tax-exempt 501c3 organization if the group did not cease discussing the draft issue.
Claims that a draft is possible, Gillespie argued, are so ridiculous on their face that the the group could only be acting from ‘malicious intent and a reckless disregard for the truth.’ (Those, of course, are catchphrases laying the groundwork for legal action.)
Gillespie’s rationale for arguing that there is no basis for discussing the possibility of a draft is the say-so of the president. Gillespie quotes him saying, “We don’t need the draft. Look, the all-volunteer force is working …”
That, to Gillespie, is — quite literally — the end of the debate.
This move, if you think about it, is extraordinary. In a political campaign there are very few forms of political speech — judged by content — that should ever be subject to legal proceedings. But to threaten legal action to squelch discussion of a subject that is obviously a very newsworthy and relevant issue — and one the country could face in the next four years — is simply astonishing.
And yet, no editorial condemnations. Hardly a mention of it. These are now, apparently, the rules of the road — expected and calling for no particular commenton.
That’s even more astonishing.