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. Pedro, Coralville IA

    Wait, did president Hillary just take something off the table? I thought only the naive did that. More hypocrisy, more grandstanding, more snake oil. I had Clinton fatigue 7 years ago...it's back and nobody has even elected her (though don't ask her that - she wears that Karl Rove cologne, "aura of inevitablity").

    If Democrats nominate her, all her baggage will come to the surface in the general election. The election of George W Bush was a reaction to Bill Clinton's willingness to put politics ahead of principle. Just think how bad Hillary backlash would be four years from now.

    August 13, 2007 07:12 pm at 7:12 pm |
  2. Ben, Tampa and Florida

    I think reinstating the draft would be the best thing this country has done for itself in years. It would instill better discipline into our youth as well as give them future opportunities because of the skills they would learn (not to mention giving them a sense of worth.) In addition, it would hold a bigger fire under the current administration to produce results. Isn't that what we all want, lefty or righty?

    August 13, 2007 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  3. Jack, Puyallup, WA

    Hillary Clinton is irrelevant. Who really gives a flying hoot what she says to Bush?

    August 13, 2007 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  4. Mstessyrue, Seattle, Washington

    I support in Candidate Clinton’s stand on the war in Iraq and believe in her capabilities for restoring America’s stand in the world. I think America needs to prove itself and to the world that we are better than investing $340 billion dollars into a fruitless war. According to the Borgen Project, whose goal is to fight and reduce global poverty, it only takes $19 billion dollars annually to eliminate poverty across the globe. However, our government is spending an average of $2 billion dollars a week in Iraq creating more poverty and hunger. As Americans, we definitely need to support organizations such as the Borgen Project as well as candidates that recognize the importance of the issue of global poverty.

    August 13, 2007 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  5. Tony Cross, Southern Pines, NC

    Maybe she needs to look at her husband's administration, those two gutted the armed services, I know, I lived it.

    Posted By Bob, Rock Hill,SC : August 13, 2007 6:06 pm

    Couldn't have said it better myself.

    August 13, 2007 07:23 pm at 7:23 pm |
  6. Mike G., Louisville, KY

    The problem is not the Iraqi conflict in particular but rather it is due to the drastic drawdown of troop strength over the past couple of administrations. I have heard from many family members, who are also career military folks, that you can't fight any conflict (popular or not), especially on multiple fronts, using the current troop levels. That being said, I would oppose using a draft to increase them but wouldn't mind seeing increased defense spending and pay our current forces better.

    August 13, 2007 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  7. Loretta Hall Marshville, N.C.

    Mrs. Clinton has more sense than Bush, Cheney, and half the crew in the White House. I don't doubt one thing Bush will try to keep bringing the middle class down. Wake up America, can't you see its The Bush Way or no way. Another thing why are all comments bad about Mrs. Clinton?

    August 13, 2007 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  8. Brad; Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

    How does a draft make the United States of America a free and Democratic country that others can try and emulate? All young people have to stand up and fight using their minds instead of doing what this current government wants...which is to support and feed the (Big Business) military complex agenda.

    August 13, 2007 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  9. Mr. Capitalistic Republican

    A military draft is nonsense even to consider. First, it would expose privileged kids to warfare. Second, we can maintain and even expand the current economic draft by outsourcing more jobs and importing workers for the jobs that remain. Where’s the problem?

    August 13, 2007 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  10. Ron, Atlanta Georgia

    Posted By pat "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." HELLLLLLOOOOO... OVER 80% OF OUR FIGHTING FORCE IS REPUBLICAN AND THEY VOLUNTEERED.....BUSH DIDN'T DODGE/HE SERVED IN NATIONAL GUARD / CLINTON WENT TO CANADA / TYPICAL LIBERAL RANT WITH DISTORTED FACTS...

    Posted By Jon, Sacramento: "Fascinating that the vast majority of Clinton bashers are males! What a shock. Can't handle a strong female guys? PUT YOUR DRESS BACK ON JON AND STAY IN THE CLOSET....

    Georgia Veteran

    August 13, 2007 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  11. Fritz, San Francisco, CA

    I don't care that Mrs. Clinton asked the question. The fact that the media reported it on the same day as it was sent smacks of politics. I think that as has been pointed out, it is an option just like conventional or nuclear, using Air Force or Navy, etc., for any Administration, left or right. I have a 22 year old son and a 21 year old daughter. As an honorably discharged Air Force veteran, I'm not interested in watching them get drafted with the possibility of getting killed but I would expect them to go if called. But then, I would expect the sons and daughters of the Red and Blue Beltway Insiders to serve when they are called. The only deferment should be to allow a college student to complete the current year of study at their college of choice.

    August 13, 2007 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  12. Greg, Phoenix, AZ

    How about the photo of Hillary accompanying this story?

    Doesn't she look just like Nurse Ratched from ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEXT?

    SCARY!!!

    August 13, 2007 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  13. Steve Kaye, Austin Colorado

    A Draft,how inane & stupid can you be. The only ones who would go would be patriotic flyoverland people & some coastal kids who are idealistic. We Americans are too fat,dumb & happy, spoiled,lazy, self indulgent to go & serve our country. Anyone who would go into the military is looked on as doofuses NOW...by many Americans who are the antithesis of WW2 Americans, who volunteered to go into the military in droves after Pearl Harbor. When our next Pearl Harbor or 911 takes place, we'll just go about our business,& be outraged until the next Britney or Paris story comes up & distracts us. Thats all the majority of the youth are good for, T & A, drugs, sex & rock & roll. America is a sad shadow of its former self.

    August 13, 2007 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  14. TR, Lincoln, NE

    I'm quite sure we could find Chelsea a job – as well as every child belonging to a political family. I wonder how fast the OPTEMPO would be then. Hmmmm...

    August 13, 2007 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  15. Luke, Princeton, NJ

    Sen. Clinton says: "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." - Once again, she has only critique and negativity, with no attempt to propose what "the answer" actually IS.

    August 13, 2007 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  16. Pam,Lakeland,Fl

    If Bill Clinton had not cut the defense budget when he was President, we would not be considering the draft today. I guess Hillary has short term memory loss..

    August 13, 2007 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  17. Cumberland,Maryland

    Clinton's just grandstanding.

    August 13, 2007 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  18. Ken Brown Altus, Oklahoma

    Where was Hillary when Congressman Rangle of New York was going to introduce legislation to re-install the draft a few months back? We didn't hear one peep out of her then. I guess she is against it when a Republican mentions it and for it qwhen a Democrat brings it up.

    August 13, 2007 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  19. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    "Another thing why are all comments bad about Mrs. Clinton?"

    – – – – – – – – –

    Ummm – I don't know why so many people don't like Hillary???

    Perhaps a few of us don't generally approve of a woman who defends a philandering abusive husband so she can gain political mileage. Defects to NY for a senate seat, votes FOR the Iraq war, votes FOR funding – and then when voters disapprove acts as though she were against the War all along.

    Or maybe it was her dealings in the Rose Law Firm.

    Or maybe her involvement in White water?

    Or just maybe how she casually found the FBI files of political rivals in her private office?

    Or maybe her firing of the White House travel staff so she could hire her cronies.

    Or maybe the way her and Bill rented out the Lincoln Bedroom for political contributions.

    I'm not quite sure WHY some people just can't get over all those things!

    August 13, 2007 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  20. nishimoto, Osaka, Japan

    The biggest problem faced by the USA, and the root of a great many of its problems, is that its citizenry has an average IQ of 85.

    August 13, 2007 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  21. I love Bush, Chenney, and other draft dodgers

    A military draft is nonsense even to consider. First, it would expose privileged kids to warfare. Second, we can maintain and even expand the current economic draft by outsourcing more jobs and importing workers for the jobs that remain. Where’s the problem?

    August 13, 2007 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  22. C. Reynolds

    I'm reading comments made on this story, and I can't help but notice: a lot of panty-waist males are writing comments, nearing "hatred", against Hillary Clinton, and personally attacking her, calling her names like "Shillary". Exactly what are you males (and some females, even) scared of and threatened by when it comes to Hillary Clinton? Are you scared other females will start pushing you around and telling you what to do? Get used to a draft idea-–Bush is the president who WOULD institute it-–he's threatening Iran with "consequences" if they don't stop meddling in Iraq. He IS the 1st president in history to START a war without provocation--in an instant he would start a war with Iran if he could, and we would need troops there, too. So a draft would be needed.

    C.R., Peoria, IL

    August 13, 2007 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  23. Chip Celina OH

    Loretta from NC write: "Another thing why are all comments bad about Mrs. Clinton?"

    Well, Loretta, not ALL of the comments are bad, but a majority of them are. My feeling for this is the following, most of those posting in this blog are more informed than the average citizen and see beyond the 30 second sound bite and politically correct canned answers that most candidates offer. The majority here are looking for a candidate that can think for themselves and process information that they receive. Simply being able to quote the party line chapter and verse will not cut it now or at any time in the future. Simply whining about the current administration does not constitute having the ability to lead. Making excuses that things can't be done because of the vast right-wing conspiracy shows weakness, not strength.

    I know that you could probably go to a middle school anywhere in the country and find several 13 year-olds that could parrot the mantras of health-care, war for oil, global warming bad, amnesty for 'guest workers good, ad nauseum.

    Folks that post here (generally) have had enough of politics as usual. As one poster said earlier, "the men you see here posting are SMARTER than allowing a candidate win us over just because she has cleavage ". If that were the case, Nancy Pelosi would have already wrapped up the nomination.

    Have a good day,

    Chip

    August 13, 2007 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  24. Scott, Winston-Salem, NC

    It seems the issue here is not whether Clinton is questioning the justification of reinstating the draft, but more so of where is this administration taking us? Historically, every intention Bush has stated to the public has been the opposite of what he winds up doing. We are dealing with a highly dishonest administration therefore it is absolutely necessary for all citizens to question this administration's policies and intentions. I believe the General's comments were well timed and well intended as a "trial balloon" and should serve as a red flag that there is a great deal more to these comments. My personal concern about a draft is that presently we cannot recruit enough men/women to fight the Bush wars only to be treated inadequately while on the front lines as well as upon returning home. I think those who are focusing on Clinton's willingness to question the administration's position on this are completely missing what is really going on. This administration is comprised of some of the greatest illusionists we have ever seen.

    August 13, 2007 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  25. Rita - Oklahoma City

    Hillary is solely a "trouble maker" parading as a candidate and propped up by an uncritical media with no cognitive skills to expose her "fatal flaws". Come on, general election, turn the voters loose to outflank the media. Hillary will not quite make it, even with all the "gimme's" factored in.

    August 13, 2007 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
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