August 14th, 2007
09:08 AM ET
9 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. HomeoftheBrave

    I guess she missed that part about them meeting their recuitment goals this month..

    August 13, 2007 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  2. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    More political grand-standing by Hillary Clinton. If anything – she would LOVE President Bush to reinstate the draft and stir up a political hornets nest.

    Any time Hillary "writes a letter" and it gets published by the mainstream media – she is using free publicity and creating a stunt to appear as though she is fighting this administration.

    Do we REALLY want this type of politics?

    I at least respect Obama for being authentic!!

    August 13, 2007 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  3. pl, at the UN, for a while.

    Ms Rodham Clinton's concern and request for clarification on a presidential stance is itself presidential in nature.

    August 13, 2007 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  4. Erik, Austin TX

    The real question is this: If Bush instituted a draft today, and Clinton won the Presidency, would she rescind the draft? I'm not so sure that she would, and I would love to hear her answer that question.

    August 13, 2007 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  5. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    President Bush could not be clearer in his STATED opposition to the draft being re-enacted.

    Nice try Shrillary.

    August 13, 2007 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  6. Al, WA

    "The United States ended the draft in 1973."

    Thanks to a five month filibuster by one man: Mike Gravel.

    August 13, 2007 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  7. Dan, Maryland

    A military draft would be terrible news for the Democratic party.

    All of their supporters would leave the United States for Canada. 😉

    August 13, 2007 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  8. KLHA, Kansas City

    What does she need clarification on this issue? General Lute very clearly said that the option is there, but that the President does NOT think it is necessary. That seems pretty clear to me, but then again I am not the typical kool-aid drinking Democrat/Republican, I have the ability to think for myself. To say that the option of a draft should "always be on the table" seems logical. Without our volunteer armed forces, a draft would be the only way to fill the ranks needed to defend our great country. General Lute never said that the draft was going to be re-instated, only that is an option that we should keep open. To close off all options means to close off all chances of bringing home the troops safely.

    Is this one of the issues/stances that Senator Clinton would deem "naive" if taken by another candidate? As the President of the United States, difficult choices will have to be made. Senator Clinton does not seem willing to make said choices, rather she will take the popular stance. The United States needs a leader with guts.

    August 13, 2007 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  9. A, NY NY

    Sen. Clinton knows that there will not be a draft. The current President is basically a sitting duck, and no one would allow him to send more troops into harms way, so the idea of having a draft should not even be discussed. In fact, they need to start planning what to do with all the soldiers who come back from Iraq, and make sure they have the tools (medical care, psychiatric therapy, career coaching) they need to re-assimilate into civilian life.

    Sen. Clinton is trying to jump into the spotlight once again by asking for explanations. Just like she did a couple of weeks ago when she requested a copy of the Iraq "exit strategy" from the Pentagon. Don't you have enough media coverage??

    August 13, 2007 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  10. Ron, Boston, MA

    Too little too late Hillary. You staunchly supported Bush's war until very recently. Now you're trying to appear as if you care. Bogus.

    August 13, 2007 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  11. Chip Celina OH

    If one looks deeper, they find that the General said nothing about the policy changing, only stating the fact that it IS an option, since we've had the Selective Service Registration in place since 1980. Is it worth considering? Tell me, at this juncture what isn't? Because someone states that something can be considered does not constitute that it is the direction you want to head. That's the problem with so many lawyers in government, it all becomes a matter of semantics and needing to find out what the meaning of is is.

    If she were truly the intellectual that many here claim her to be, she wouldn't bother requesting clarifications to simply gain political points when further reading would make the clarification for her.

    She probably had a staffer write the letter, and then concurred with their draft. This endeavor was a waste or her time, the staffer's time and our tax dollars. Quite frankly, as a tax-payer, I'm not satisfied.

    Good day,


    August 13, 2007 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  12. KLHA, Kansas City

    Please note that Senator Clinton addressed the letter on Monday the 13th, while General Lute's clear comments were made on Friday the 10th.

    I dont want any arguments to my statement about Senator Clinton not understanding the Generals comments.

    August 13, 2007 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  13. Mike, Santa Fe, NM

    Ms. Clinton voiced no such opposition when Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) made such a proposal.

    Can you say "politics-driven-double-standard"? I bet you can!

    August 13, 2007 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  14. RH Pyle Roxboro, NC

    Want to see the Iraq war end in one gbig hurrt? Just reinstate the draft. When the Govt starts sending the unwilling in harms way to advance God knows what agenda,, the outcry will be deafening. Also, women would now be elligible for the draft. Equality and all that, you know.

    August 13, 2007 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  15. Al, Seattle WA

    "The United States ended the draft in 1973."

    Thanks to a five month filibuster by one man: Mike Gravel.

    August 13, 2007 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  16. David Weitz

    I support a draft. If we had one, we would be out of Iraq within 20 weeks, which would coincide with the completion of basic training and AIT.

    August 13, 2007 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  17. Mark, MA

    So, let me get this straight. While generally opposed to the draft, Bush would use it if he felt it was necessary. And this needed more clarification from Hillary, presumably attempting to associate the words "draft" and "republican". Sounds good to me.

    August 13, 2007 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  18. Johan, Los Angeles, California

    Senator Clinton, as well as anyone in the Bush Administration, knows very well that a bulk of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan is done by mercenaries. Clinton knows that no draft is impending because the government is not stupid enough to take such action when they don't need to. This is a political game by Clinton who already knows about the heavy presence of mercenary fighters and has supported this war from day 1 but who is now attempting to shift her stance.

    August 13, 2007 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  19. Pam, South Kingstown, RI

    I would suggest that we pay these brave men and women in the military more money when they are deployed and make sure that their families are taken care of emotionally and financially. The top military at this point is against the draft because of the cost and time to train recruits that will not make a career out of the military and will leave immediately when their years are over.

    August 13, 2007 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  20. Johan, Los Angeles, California

    To David, the gentleman who made the comment supporting the draft:

    Go fight the war yourself if you support it so much. What are you doing at home, surfing the internet when you should be fighting? Some patriot you are.

    August 13, 2007 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  21. Hapy N. Texas, Conroe

    I would love a draft. All these right wingers will now have a real chance to help the war, send their kids. I believe this time we should draft the richest first since they receive more from the USA

    August 13, 2007 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  22. Pat P., Huntington, NY

    Oh boy, there's only one thing more predictable than a Bush Basher, and that's a Clinton Basher at every move that she makes. If she didn't say anything, she'ld be lambasted for it. She says something aboud the "D" word, and she's criticized by you neo-cons. Stop the damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you don't rhetoric. She's raising a legit concern that many are thinking about in the back of their heads as we head into year 7 of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, with Iran obviously in the works and God knows who else Bush wants attack before he leaves.

    August 13, 2007 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  23. pat, ny, ny

    the problem is that a draft will not send republicans off to fight – they'll just take their cue from Bush and dodge the draft, or pay off the republicans in power to keep them from being drafted.

    August 13, 2007 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  24. c cooper, Seattle, WA

    The Rove Republican strategy might be to expand the War, increase the danger and threats to our country. Since the Republicans know they are likely to lose the coming election to Democrats, they can Leave the Democrats painted in a corner and thus the Democrats to be forced to impliment the Draft to save the broken military that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, broke. And Halliburton get wealthier and weathier. The middle class gets poorer and deader.

    (Let the lower income families fight the War under the banner of Patriotism but really to protect the wealth held by the Wealthy, Primarily Republican Controlled Corporations.)

    August 13, 2007 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  25. Michele Portland, Oregon

    To Johan and Hapy, I'm a Republican and proud of it. And the military has BOTH of my sons. We're a proud ARMY family. We walk the walk and talk the talk. What about you??

    August 13, 2007 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
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