Reinstating the Draft is a Riot

On another forum (Guns and Patriots) there is an article by Cork Graham (his own interesting history here) about a speech by journalist Joe Galloway. Galloway suggested that the US reinstate the draft in a speech in 2008:

Joe Galloway commented on how much better it would be for all if they brought back the draft and required every President of the United States to not only serve in the military, but be a combat veteran: “So the President would know personally what he’s getting his young men and women into.” Almost everyone stood up and gave a standing ovation.

Note the use of “combat veteran” rather than just “military veteran.” That phrase was used a lot in 2004 and 2008 to make sure that everyone knew you weren’t talking about George Bush. With Obama’s rise, the phrase faded from common use on the left; since Obama was not a veteran at all, it was no longer important to be one.

Clues in the Standing Ovation

Why would a bunch of folks give “a standing ovation” on reinstating the draft? Well, the speech was by Joe Galloway, who has a very interesting history as a Viet Nam journalist and the only civilian to have received a Bronze Star. He’s described as a “war correspondent” which is certainly true; he’s covered many wars on many continents and he wrote the book from which We Were Soldiers was made.

But Galloway is fiercely anti-war, and anti-Republican (and specifically anti-Bush at the time, though he’s been disappointed with Obama recently, too) and was giving a speech against war and against Bush in San Francisco in 2008. Reinstating the draft was certainly a popular notion in that crowd — they anticipated riots — and the audience there was likely to be completely sympathetic to a leftist idea.

The Left Likes the Draft, Especially the New York Times

Why would someone on the left be in favor of re-instating the draft, forcing young people into the military? And why was this applauded?

Moreover, why is it that nearly everyone who has suggested the draft in recent years has been a leftist? In 2004, the New York Times ran articles on “rumors” that George Bush was going to reinstate the draft as soon as he was re-elected. But buried (or earlier, unmentioned) by them in those articles was that the only actual bills to do so were written and co-sponsored by Democrats, chiefly Charley Rangel. By the time of the linked article, even the NYT was admitting deep in the later parts of their articles that Democrats were behind it.

But not everyone at the New York Times: They have a person there so dishonest that he was willing to push the lie even after it had been exposed. Paul Krugman, two months later:

Mr. Bush’s claim that we don’t need any expansion in our military is patently unrealistic; it ignores the severe stress our Army is already under. And the experience in Iraq shows that pursuing his broader foreign policy doctrine – the “Bush doctrine” of pre-emptive war – would require much larger military forces than we now have.

This leads to the justified suspicion that after the election, Mr. Bush will seek a large expansion in our military, quite possibly through a return of the draft.

Mr. Bush’s assurances that this won’t happen are based on a denial of reality. Last week, the Republican National Committee sent an angry, threatening letter to Rock the Vote, an organization that has been using the draft issue to mobilize young voters. “This urban myth regarding a draft has been thoroughly debunked,” the letter declared, and quoted Mr. Bush: “We don’t need the draft. Look, the all-volunteer Army is working.”
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By all accounts, in a second term the architects of that doctrine, like Paul Wolfowitz, would be promoted, not replaced. The only way this makes sense is if Mr. Bush is prepared to seek a much larger Army – and that means reviving the draft.

Here’s a cartoon and commentary nicely depicting the real situation.

In the comments to the article on Guns and Patriots, I saw a number of folks making reference to the New York City Draft Riots of 1863. In that year, President Lincoln had instituted a draft (not the first one) to bring in additional troops, and rioters in New York attacked blacks and Republicans, burned buildings, and hundreds of them were ultimately killed by police. Many of the rioters were newly arrived Irish laborers, unhappy to be competing for jobs with freshly emancipated blacks.

It seems to me that the left hopes for riots again, and that this will somehow end the need for the military. But the US’s defense force, it seems to me, does not exist simply because we like the idea. It is necessary.

The Left, generally, would like it to go away. Those politicians who advocate reinstating the draft have consistently been on the left.

Grim Necessities

On the right, conservatives might note the grim necessity that makes the draft a possible solution, but generally recognize that it is a poor solution and should be avoided. But they don’t generally make noises about “illegal wars.” The Left does, and thus cedes the determination of “illegal” to some global agency.

It seems foolish to me to think that all wars can be avoided simply by carefully not offending the other side. And yet here, in the comments, we see people suggesting that Hitler, communism, and jihadism were “none of our business” and if we’d just stayed out of those conflicts (including the ongoing one with jihadists) the problems would just go away.

Do we suppose that people thought this in Poland in the late 1930s? Just ignore Hitler and stay out of conflict? How about Nanking about the same time? Or France? Or England? Do the “illegal war” commenters on that forum think that just not fighting, and not helping allies, would be enough to avoid all of those conflicts?

Hundreds of millions of people were killed by Nazis and communists, and millions are being killed now by jihadists. They only stop when they are opposed. Who would these commenters nominate for such opposition? Or is the idea of opposition to murderous ideologies what causes war, in their minds?

Cork Graham’s Premise?

A final note. Mr. Graham’s article is not about Joe Galloway; that was more of a lead in. This paragraph appears in the middle:

But, when you get a number of people together, and put them through the same kind of serious training required to defend a nation, you get a group of people who learn how to make things work, instead of what happens in societies where everyone is out to get what they can, and to hell with everyone else.

That paragraph signals to me that Mr. Graham has a problem with capitalism, and thus we have an insight as to why a collectivist state group might appeal to him more than the efforts of free individuals. The effect he’s complaining about here has been a core principle (and strength) of the United States. Too much can be read into this, but the comment seemed revealing.

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle