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Recruitment down, chance of draft revival up.

"Faced with wilting recruitment and ongoing violence in Iraq, Army and Marine Corps recruiters are turning their attention to those most likely to oppose them: parents," reported USA Today for April 5. "The two branches are shifting from a strategy that focused first on wooing potential recruits to one aimed at gaining the trust and attention of their parents by using grassroots initiatives and multimillion-dollar advertising campaigns. The public relations push comes as the Army and Marines, which absorb the brunt of the casualties in Iraq, encounter one of their worst periods in recruitment."

One new recruiting approach involves home visits by a recruiter in the company of a veteran of the ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Under a provision of the No Child Left Behind law, school districts are required to provide military recruiters with detailed personal information about all of their students.

With plummeting rates of recruitment and retention, more than 130,000 troops still mired in Iraq, and the growing possibility of military conflict with Iran, Syria, or North Korea (or some combination thereof), the political Establishment is quietly but unmistakably preparing to reinstate conscription in some form.

As previously noted in these pages (see "Another Portent of Draft Revival" in our April 4 issue), the framework for draft revival will probably resemble a proposal outlined in "The Case for the Draft," an essay by Captain Phillip Carter, U.S. Army (Ret.), and Paul Glastris in the March 2005 Washington Monthly. Insisting that the United States "can be the world's superpower, or it can maintain the current all-volunteer military, but it probably can't do both," Carter and Glastris call for a system of conscription in which all 18-year-olds (regardless of sex) would be required to serve 1-2 years either in the military or a federally approved form of civilian service as a condition of being permitted to attend college.

Carter defended that proposal at a Washington forum sponsored by the Center for American Progress (CAP), a neo-liberal think tank. Among the "critics" invited to respond was CAP Senior Fellow Lawrence J. Korb (CFR), who was a high-ranking Defense Department official under Ronald Reagan. As summarized in a report in CounterPunch, Korb "advocates expansion of the military by 100,000 soldiers through an improved incentives program. However, Korb also said that if the United States invades Iran he would favor a draft."

Other Establishment-approved conservatives and libertarians have made it known that they would reluctantly support conscription should it be deemed "necessary." Reported the April 4 San Francisco Chronicle: "'The argument for a draft is political hot air,' said Daniel Goure, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute, a Washington think tank that supports a smaller role for the federal government. But he warned that if the Iraq occupation drags on, other foreign military operations are launched and a half-million more soldiers are needed, 'I don't think we can get there without a draft.'... Charles Pena of the libertarian Cato Institute, which opposes the draft, said the only way the public would accept a draft would be if it were part of a broader national service plan in which young people could still volunteer for the military"--which just happens to coincide with the Carter/Glastris proposal.

Perhaps the most important sign that reviving the draft is being considered seriously is a March 9 forum on the proposal held at the Manhattan headquarters of the Council on Foreign Relations. The featured speaker was Rep. Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.), a Council member, who has sponsored legislation to reinstate military conscription.
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Title Annotation:INSIDER REPORT
Publication:The New American
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 2, 2005
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