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. Nancy, Bow, NH

    Dan in Maryland wrote: "A military draft would be terrible news for the Democratic party. All of their supporters would leave the United States for Canada."

    Dan, I am an independent voter who tends to vote Democrat. At this point, I don't know who I am supporting for president. That said, I'm glad Hillary Clinton has asked for clarification.

    I have an 11-year-old daughter and a 9-year-old son, both of whom would be eligible for draft in a few short years.

    The fact that the "D word" is being floated is, in my opinion, a way for the Bush administration to test the PR waters without taking direct responsibility for doing so. Frankly, it scares me very much, and I don't appreciate your glib approach to a serious issue.

    However, lest you think all the Democratic supporters will turn tail and run to Canada, let me assure you. I for one would stand up, organize my community, and draw a mother's line in the sand against the draft.

    Iraq: Not my war. Not my kids.

    August 13, 2007 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  2. Anon.

    Didnt Bill go to Canada to dodge the draft?

    August 13, 2007 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  3. bkrane Pittsburgh PA

    Does that mean that Carl Rove would now be available to be drafted and put in harms way, or would he still claim executive privilege?

    Don't worry about the draft being re-born as Bush and company will continue to provide fodder for the slaughter by reducing standards even futher for US military service.

    Why don't some of you chicken hawks sign-up?????

    FYI-You've probably heard the last from the military spokesman – he'll disappear like the rest of the military leaders who didn't follow the Bush manifesto.

    August 13, 2007 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  4. JV, Boston, MA

    To respond to the ridiculous claim that republicans would never send their children to war...2 things.

    1) Are you assuming that no soldier is a child of Republicans.

    2) Name one solider in the US Navy, Army, Air Force, or National Guard that is not a volunteer. No one send their child off to war...so give that one a rest.

    Go Red Sox.

    August 13, 2007 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  5. armin baur, litchfield ct

    I suggest that we use the NAtional Guard only in the USA. We should cut the pay of Bush, Cheney, the Senate and Congress and give the money to the men and women fighting this lost war in Iraq. Following the Clinton logic, it depends what you mean by the word "Draft" . She is a real fox in sheep skin. Watch out America!!

    August 13, 2007 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  6. Dave Meccariello Tampa Florida

    Personally I say re-instate the draft. Compulsary military service is common around the world (usually 2 years worth)

    It would get some kids off the street and teach them values, discipline and other much needed life skills. Our country has gone to hell since the end of the draft... why? Think about it

    August 13, 2007 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  7. Bubba, Swainsboro GA

    Aw, everyone knows Bush will start the draft the week he leaves office.

    August 13, 2007 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  8. Nick, Eagle Mountain, UT

    Pure politics in an election year: say it isn't so!

    Let's wade through this rhetoric and trust that only that which is necessary will be done, shall we?

    August 13, 2007 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  9. Andrew, Washington DC

    Hmm.. this coming from the woman who staunchly supported the war in iraq until it became politcally dangerous to sustain? Hypocrite.

    August 13, 2007 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  10. Henry Doe

    To Kevin, Orlando;
    Are you dreaming? If so wake up.

    August 13, 2007 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  11. Bubba, Swainsboro GA

    Here's how it works, folks: in the old days, a local draft board passed on each person whose number came up. That way, the mayor's son didn't have to fight in VietNam, and those negro boys from the wrong side of town went even if they had polio. Since the Supreme Court did away with draft boards, there's no way to prevent Republican boys from being drafted along with liberals and minorities. When the draft board is reinstated, there will be a draft right away.

    August 13, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  12. Steven in Charleston, SC

    When the Deputy National Security Advisor says "I think we need to certainly consider the draft" and that directly contradicts what his Commander in Chief has previously stated, it is CERTAINLY correct for a sitting U.S. Senator to ask for clarification on behalf of this nation's citizens. The appropriate question isn't "why did Hillary ask for clarification?" it's "why DIDN'T the other 99 Senators ask for clarification?" Once again Senator Clinton demonstrates that she has the strength and intelligence to take on complex and difficult situations.

    August 13, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  13. HAWK, TEXAS

    AS A 69 YEAR OLD, AND A VETERAN (I WAS IN WHEN WE HAD A DRAFT) I CAN NOT UNDER STAND SOME OF THE PEOPLE ON THIS BLOG. IF YOU PEOPLE ARE STILL SO GUNG HO. FOR THIS PERSON THAT THINKS HE IS A PRESIDENT WHY DON'T YOU GATHER AROUND HIM AN VOLENTEER TO HELP FIGHT HIS WAR.

    August 13, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  14. USA

    I am confused, why do we try to give the perception that America is bringing back our troops or that we are cutting down on troop involvement. What is really happening in Iraq is we are replacing active duty soldiers with the nation’s national guards units through out the United States.

    August 13, 2007 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  15. Bubba, Swainsboro GA

    . . and before I leave this, one of my friends who fought in Nam and has fairly conservative views thinks it's a mistake to teach military skills to draftees and other short-timers. Discipline, yes; hand-to-hand, no. If you aren't planning a career in the military you should peel spuds and dig ditches. Trained killers who go back home to be mechanics or fry cooks are ticking bombs. Military service is NOT for everyone; Michelle in Portland could probably tell you why.

    August 13, 2007 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  16. Rob

    I have served in OEF 02-03 ... I think that Senator Clinton is correct. Please explain the comments of your administration official Mr President or is this answer protected under executive priveledge as well. We would like to know what your Ideas and intentions are for sure. If your guys are just blurting things out, then you should squash the rumors and muzzle the leakers.

    August 13, 2007 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  17. Joshua Davis

    There the politicians go, making noise about issues Americans aren't to concerned with. I'm 17, and aware of what a draft could mean, but if we focus on pulling out of Iraq, then we won't have to worry about a draft. Seems like a smokescreen due to her voting for Iraq.

    August 13, 2007 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  18. Jim K, Hackensack, NJ

    It is amazing to hear Mrs. Clinton critize this administration for not preparing the troops. It takes years if not decades to build a military. Perhaps Mrs. Clinton needs to be reminded that many in the military refer to her husband's 8 year term as the "Clinton Procurement Holiday". They clearly made a decision to underfund many things. Compare the 1991 Navy to the Navy in 2001. Lets see how long it takes her to put the draft back in. She who is the inevitable president.

    August 13, 2007 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  19. rick tummer, pgh pa

    sure, bring back the draft! but this time they had better draft women as well. equal rights and all...

    August 13, 2007 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  20. REM, Detroit, Michigan

    I second Johan's comment to David, (who supports the draft). David, my son turns 18 in a few months, and I don't want to see him dead. I don't want him dead at all, let alone for something as useless as a war that means nothing and only exists because of our incredibly, obscenely, insanely stupid president and his idiotic supporters. Anyone who says they support a draft is saying that they support my child being killed for them–and I don't want my son being killed for you or for anyone else. I would give my life for my child, but you want him to go to Iraq to die for YOU? Or worse yet, to die for an ideal? To die for "our country"? For our country's "freedoms"? Guess what–because of the hyperparanoia of this ridiculous administration after 9/11, we have seen our freedoms slowly and steadily slip away, and it's not the fault of the Iraqis. It's the fault of our own leaders, who continually impose more and more restrictions on our freedoms. Our young men and women have more important things to do than go to Iraq and slaughter people in an unjust war. They need to stay home and get THIS country back on track!

    And another thing–I raised my son to be a caring, kind person. I've always taught him that violence was wrong. Now there are people who want to turn him into a murderer? That's sick.

    August 13, 2007 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  21. Bubba

    A draft would be useless, my friends son who is a Marine is serving his second tour in Iraq and they can't send people out on patrol because of a lack of equipment. This administration is totally unprepared to lead our military why should we send them more kids? As a 63 year old I joined the Army when the rich kids were hiding in collage or the national guard.

    August 13, 2007 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  22. Michael James -- Illinois

    Hillary seems to be very good at writing letters. Why she gets credit for being a leader for doing so is beyond me. If she really wanted an answer quickly, why didn't she just e-mail the guy or pick up the phone?

    Also, I'm afraid the letter may have been incorrectly addressed since it seems to have been received by CNN instead of the President. I hope they can forward it so Hillary isn't left waiting indefinitely for an answer.

    August 13, 2007 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  23. Jayson, Beale AFB, CA

    If Democrats bring up the idea it is well received by the media.

    If anyone else brings it up it is a terrible idea.

    Personally as military member I would only say it has one possible side effect. That being that more liberals would die since the majority of the military leans to the right.

    August 13, 2007 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  24. Right Winger

    I would love a draft. All these right wingers will now have a real chance to help the war, – Hapy N. Texas,

    As of today, the military IS mostly from the right. Mainly because it takes strength and conviction to fulfill a military commitment. Something you armchair leftists do not understand. Preferring to attack our own. To the delight of their constituents and our enemies.

    Hey Hapy, I would love a draft too.., love to see all those libs running to Canada..

    August 13, 2007 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  25. Sandy, Easthampton, MA

    To Dan in Maryland –

    Name me one person in this REPUBLICAN administration who has served during wartime. And don't give me the awol Mr. Bush from his stateside National Guard unit. If a draft is instituted, it's the chickenhawk republicans who will be heading for Canada.

    August 13, 2007 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
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