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Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Oh, yeah -- one more post so that the information doesn't fall down the memory hole, as happened with Iraq. (e.g. "We only said that Saddam had programs" when everyone in the administration stated their 100% certainty that he had actual WMDs, ready to fire.)

Bush has flatly declared that he will not request a draft even if there is a national emergency.

To my mind, that has always been the more salient point. No one thinks that Bush will just turn around and institute a draft in his second term, even if Iraq heats up. The military has been asking (quietly) for more troops, and those requests are flatly (but quietly) denied, yet the occupation still continues. Thus, military strength is stretched to the limit, and Reservists are being exploited -- but we can continue in Iraq without requiring a draft to do it. The status quo will not lead to another draft. Bush will continue to make our soldiers suffer rather than to endure that embarrassment.

No, the real draft scenario involves an "incident." The more charitable view is another 9/11, in which an attack on the US suddenly motivates people and Bush asks them (for the first time) to "make sacrifices." In those circumstances, we wouldn't be likely to say "No troops -- you wasted them in Iraq." We would step up and get involved.

The less charitable (but more statistically likely) view is that Bush and Co. wait for something to go publicly wrong in North Korea or Sudan or Syria or Iran (and on and on), and then claim that this event justifies a departure from the previous promise.

This would be not unlike Bush's claim that he said he would only run deficits in case of war, recession, or national emergency, and that 9/11 was like "hitting the trifecta." Bush had never said it, but the media were gullible enough to let him demand his tax cut without holding him to his campaign promises.

That's the real concern with the draft.

Tinfoil hat time?

True story, taken from a neutral history book:

In 1964, Lyndon Johnson got his administration to draft a resolution that could be introduced in Congress to give his administration free rein to commit military actions in Vietnam. It wouldn't be a declaration of war, but it would prevent anyone in Congress from second-guessing him in an election year. When he started to suspect that Congress would kick up a fuss, he told his people to shelve the resolution and wait for something to happen that would justify it.

In August 1964, an American spy ship in the Gulf of Tonkin was fired upon by the North Vietnamese while supporting a South Vietnamese naval attack. Two days later, with the spy ships on high alert during a storm (and right back in their role of supporting South Vietnamese naval action), the ships thought they had been attacked again.

Johnson knew that nothing had happened. He told an advisor, and I quote, "Hell, those damn stupid sailors were just shooting at flying fish."

But Johnson told the world that America had been attacked without provocation, and he used that argument to justify the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution -- the same document that had been previously shelved. He leaned on his friend Senator Fulbright to get it passed.

In 1967, Fulbright found out that Johnson knew all along that nothing had happened in the Gulf of Tonkin, and their friendship turned into a very public feud.

That's what will happen with the draft. We've got our military stretched to the limit -- hell, the latest stories are that NG recruiters are sniffing around NG vets with medical training -- and we just can't take on another battlefront. Something will happen in this f*cked-up-crazy world, and we will need to defend ourselves, and we will need more troops to do it because all our regular forces are sunk into a wasteful, needless war in Iraq. It's like maxing out your credit cards on junk and then asking Mom for money to cover the rent, but it just might work. Because when it comes to Bush, America is a lot more like believe-the-best "Mom" than stern old "Dad."

So.

To reiterate, to get re-elected, Bush responded to a very prevalent concern about the draft by stating that he would not reinstitute the draft even if world events got worse.

God grant that you don't have to remember that fact.

 6:02 PM

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