August 14th, 2007
09:08 AM ET
10 years ago

Dem candidates concerned about military draft

Clinton said Bush needs to clarify his draft policy Monday. Edwards and Obama have weighed in as well.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - New York Sen. Hillary Clinton said Monday that President Bush needs to clarify recent comments from an administration official saying the military draft "has always been an option on the table."

In a letter to Bush dated Monday, Clinton writes, "While our forces, in particular the Army and Marine Corps, are under strain, re-establishing a draft is not the answer. The seeds of many of the problems that continue to plague our mission in Iraq were planted in the failure to adequately plan for the conflict and properly equip our men and women in uniform."

"In previous years, when asked about a draft, your Administration has stated that it is the Administration’s policy to oppose a military draft and support the all-volunteer force," the presidential frontrunner added. "Given Lieutenant General Lute’s comments last week, I ask that you clarify whether there has been a change in your Administration’s opposition to reinstituting a draft."

On Friday, Deputy National Security Adviser Douglas Lute told National Public Radio, "I think it makes sense to certainly consider [the draft.]"

"And I can tell you, this has always been an option on the table. But ultimately, this is a policy matter between meeting the demands for the nation's security by one means or another," added Lute, who is sometimes referred to as the "Iraq war czar."

It was his first interview since he was confirmed by the Senate in June.

The United States ended the draft in 1973. Restoring it, Lute said, would be a "major policy shift" — one that Bush has made clear he doesn't think is necessary.

UPDATE: Both of Clinton's chief rivals for the Democratic nomination have also weighed in on Lute's comments. Illinois Sen. Barack Obama called any draft considerations "completely unacceptable" in a statement.

"It is completely unacceptable that a senior administration official is considering reinstating a draft that would send thousands more young Americans into the middle of a war in Iraq that never should've been authorized and never should've been waged," Obama said.

"I call on President Bush to clarify his Administration's position on maintaining our all-volunteer military," he added.

Former Sen. John Edwards, in a statment released over the weekend, said the comments reveal "the true danger of the Administration's breathtaking failures in Iraq and around the world."

"Now, instead of ending this war and doing what is right for our troops, their families and the nation, President Bush is floating the idea of a draft that would send more young Americans to Iraq," he added. "Enough is enough. Let there be no doubt that the Bush Administration's new talk of a draft is a profound measure of how much this president has failed our brave men and women in the military, and the American people."

- CNN's Alexander Mooney and Jessica Yellin

soundoff (212 Responses)
  1. Tony, Lake Worth FL

    always been an option on the table

    Well, Charles Rangel(D-NY) has certainly always considered it an option.

    Nuking the moon was always an option too.

    August 14, 2007 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  2. Kup DuPage, IL

    A. Chico-Juarbe, Arecibo, Puerto Rico said, "
    Senator Clinton KNOWS that reestablishing the draft would require an Act of Congress, and it would never approve it. So, she should cut her political grandstanding..."

    Ever hear of an executive order? In the dozen years from 1948 to 1970, U.S. presidents issued ten different executive orders altering eligibility standards for potential draftees. (Source: U.S. Selective Service System website,

    It's not that difficult to imagine President Bush issuing an executive order that simply reinstates the draft. Given his track record of abusing executive privilege, issuing signing statements that in effect amount to line-item vetoes of congressional mandates, and the various secret domestic spying programs, I wouldn't find an executive order to be a surprise at all.

    And what incentive would the president issue an executive order to reinstate the draft? He no longer has to win any elections, at least five Supreme Court justices would back him up if the order were ever challenged in court, and his daughters will turn 26 in November, so even if such an executive order included women, it could "conveniently" be written to only include those up to 25 years of age.

    Yes, this does sound like conspiracy-mongering. But tragically, the Bush administration has given us ample cause for being overly suspicious.

    And to everyone on this thread accusing Hillary Clinton of political grandstanding: I trust you were just as outraged with President Bush after "Dead or alive," "Mission Accomplished" and the flight suit, "Bring 'em on," "Heckuva job Brownie," "I'm the decider" . . .

    We have seen six and a half years of the Grandstander in Chief.

    August 14, 2007 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  3. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    I'm gettting the impression that few recognize a Genuine, Honest, Intelligent, Political Savy, International Diplomat, For the American People Candidate, if He Got Up and Bit Them in Their Hiny!

    Maybe the Bush Looney/Tooney mode of Leadership has been around so long they actually think these qualities are actually what a would be President should posess to lead a Nation!

    And on the War, Bush led us into it with no strategic plan or a way out. He jumped in blind and is still blind. He put your country, our country, the rest of the world, your military, and ally military in severe peril on a whim! And is willing to put more military and nations in peril. He knows there is no tactical way out, and all he can do is buy time until he leaves office and can blame the mess on someone else in an effort to save face!

    He tore into Iraq for no reason whatsoever unless you call his supposition that Sadam had WMD'S (Unproven) a reason to destroy a country. He bombed them to (*&&^%) and left them as homeless and hungry as his tax payers in New Orleans are today. Not to mention the number of brave military from the US and Nato Forces who lost their lives for a mere Bush Thank You. And not to mention that Iraq had a higher level of peace and stability before Bush than after!

    Meanwhile the terrorists are hiding in Pakistan and Bush has thousands of troops in Iraq! And this keeps our shores and borders safe how? Bush can't even secure the borders in Mexico to keep the illegals out!

    The Terrorists will attack us on our homeland when they decide to do so. They've proven that already! And what is a better set up for terrorists then to know our troops are all in Iraq and Afghanistan and the homefront is clear from counter attacks! Terrorism is here to stay until we find a way to change Terrorists' perceptions and mindset. No one can annilate Terrorism. It can't be bombed out of existence. Not even by Bush.

    Sadly, this administration is the stuff that that good books and fairytales were made from! Only the heroes in books and fairytales didn't really die!

    August 14, 2007 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  4. Houslow, Middlesex, UK

    Hapy N. Texas,in the event that u can pull yourself away from ur moonshine distiller for a sec to do some fact-finding and inform urself on the US economy and how tax cuts have made the US of America's economy the largest in the world. FYI, the top 5% of US taxpayers pay for more than 50% of annual total tax revenues received by the Govt. You mean if someone works harder and smarter to be successful, he/she should be penalised by paying for more than his/her share of taxes because losers, not unlike urselves, can sit on their behinds and collect the welfare cheques till kingdom come. Give us a break, PLEASEeeee! Get a bloody job and leeching off us. And the hoozpah to turn around and whine about how Bush is the cause of all your woes. Next time u wake up in a pool of your own vomit, look carefully and introduce yourself to the mother of all causes for your screwed-up mess of a life, U!!!!Ta Dah!

    August 14, 2007 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  5. Jim, T.O. CA

    I believe that if Mrs. Clinton is elected president, the draft will have to be re-instituted. There simply will not be enough volunteers willing to serve under her command. (Notice I didn't say leadership.) Her husband loathed the military and was totally inept at employing it in combat. It would be a safe bet to presume that he has some influence on her feelings about the military. Also, like her husband, I believe that her decisions regarding use of military force will be "focus group" driven. How will it play in Peoria? The military will go to heck and back for any leader that gives clear objectives and unwavering support. Mrs. Clinton has not demonstrated any of these traits

    August 14, 2007 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  6. Linda Feldman

    What better way to end the war in Iraq than to reinstitute the draft? The country would finally be engaged, college students will take to the streets and elected officials with draft-age children will vote against further funding.

    August 14, 2007 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  7. Steve, Houston, TX

    No surprises there, Mrs. Clinton is only echoing the fears of the political and economic elite in America, that reinstating the draft would send their sons and daughters to fight and die in a war that they so willingly sent and continue to send other people's children to fight and die in. Shame on you Mrs. Clinton and all those Washington elitist principles that you speak for in your comments. We have been told that the war in Iraq is part of a larger war on terror to secure the safety of ALL our children and grandchildren, shouldn't the burden and sacrifices be equally spread out across the American society regardless of social standing. Why should Mitt Romney's 5 sons not serve in the military yet hope that Americans will vote for their dad who says he will expand the military and sustain the war in Iraq? Politicians, including Mrs. Clintn made this war out of the ideology that we ought to spread our version of democracy to the Middle East, the president and his Republican party continue to sustain it out of dillusional personal convictions while the sons and daughters of middle class and poor Americans continue to die and be maimed there – their own sons and daughters are home safe and will never serve this country in any way outside of driving SUVs to campaign for their parents' political ambitions. When will America wake up to this reality and support the draft? If not to sustain our badly damaged military, let the draft come back to end this meaningless war.

    August 15, 2007 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  8. James, Phoenix AZ

    Tricia from Canada,

    It's always amusing that people from such an innocuous country like yours attempts to chide and weigh-in on US politics.

    You said, "He tore into Iraq for no reason whatsoever unless you call his supposition that Sadam had WMD'S (Unproven) a reason to destroy a country. He bombed them to (*&&^%) and left them as homeless and hungry "

    PLEASE do your homework before making false statements. You'll want to read unanimously passed UN Resolutions 1441, 660, 661, 678, 686, 687, 688, 707, 715, 986, and 1284. Saddam over 10 years defied compliance, toyed with inspectors, gassed hundreds of thousands of his own people, etc.

    But you would rather the US didnt remove Saddam. No, you would happier seeing him in power today.

    And I'm sure it pains you little girls NOW can attend school in Afghanistan and Iraq, Al Qaeda was removed, Bin Laden – if alive – lives in a cave or a hole, and the AMERICAN troops are doing a hell of a job killing insurgents and protecting/helping the Iraqi people.

    Tricia, you're nothing more than Nancy Pelosi – lite, which insult and undermine the efforts of our troops. No doubt you’re proud of the fact terrorists and OBL couldn't agree with your statements more!

    August 15, 2007 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  9. Chip Celina OH

    Let's reverse this. The citizens should draft the next government.

    Get the current crop of clowns out of there, admin, Congress, everyone. Find 10 people through a random drawing of driver license or voter registration or even a group of volunteers for each position. Hold debates for ech seat among the candidates for that seat then the people elect the one they feel will do the best job. After the first term, the incumbent can elect to run for one more term and the random selections become 9.

    Once some one has 2 terms in a position, they're gone.

    Sure would be a change, heck, something might even get done. Special interest money would be forbidden. Anyone found taking illegal dough would be fired and sent to jail for abusing a position of trust.

    Ah, only to live in such an idyllic world.

    Have a good day,


    August 15, 2007 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  10. Byron Keenan Palisade

    Is Hillery serious. The draft process has been used and is well established. As Commander and Chief that option would be reinstated if it were needed. However, as an educator in the Student Career Futures Center the military is after the same students that the colleges are. Thsi is not 1960 or 1970. The Recruiters Officer informed every Senior, if you were not in college in September you would be in Vietnam by November.
    Hillery get with it the military more
    selective and a viable profession for many of our brightest students.
    Palisade CO

    August 15, 2007 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  11. jj

    I agree, if president bush wants a draft give it to him, but this time lets not discriminate and send girls as well

    January 15, 2008 03:12 am at 3:12 am |
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