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. gary,ga

    hillary you voted for this war so i guess now your against the draft !! you make me want to become a independent

    August 13, 2007 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  2. M. Miller, Norfolk, VA

    Really Bush and his cohorts don't want to institute a draft because thy realize that it would inflame the whole country, much worse than the draft did during the 60's, because the war in Iraq is TOTALLY UNJUST and most Americans are smart enough to see that.

    August 13, 2007 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  3. Maude D. Gainesville, FL

    To Phil D: Please do tell us all about Hillary`s character and integrity.....can`t wait!!!!

    August 13, 2007 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  4. Patrick Peavy Plano, TX

    I fail to see how forcing someone into military service gives them a sense of "responsibility". I feel that the problems with us kids today is that our parents were the kids of yesterday.

    August 13, 2007 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  5. J Parker, Keyser, WV

    An alternative to the draft... since the very well to do have little interest in supporting America on the front line (not to say 100%), I propose a life long credit tax credit for those who have put their lives on the line that our homeland be free. For example, a $2000/year tax credit for as long as that veteran (or the veteran's spouse in the case of the ultimate price being paid) lives. There could be breakouts of the credit... $/yr of service, bonus $/yr in combat... but ultimately, a draft seeks to ensure that an even distribution of Americans support us militarily, not just blue collar or those with a strong military heritage in their families... those who choose not to serve in the armed forces, I argue, can sacrifice a little more financially to make this a reality for those who are investing in this country's future with their own blood. Or, the draft is fair too. One or the other would seem fair, but to let a volunteer force consist of a disproportionate landscape is unfair. My prayers for the families of the fallen. Their loss and yours is forever etched in my heart and my mind. Please take no offense to my feelings, but if a certain class can afford to prevent this pain in their lives, then they can afford to pay a little more towards our end goals.

    August 13, 2007 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  6. Patrick, Irvine CA

    More hot air from Hillary.

    August 13, 2007 09:26 pm at 9:26 pm |
  7. Jerry from Schenectady, NY

    Sen. Clinton should remember that only one political party has moved to re-instate the draft. It was Charles Rangel (D-NY) that has proposed a bill. Congressman Rangel is a HUGE Clinton supporter and Democratic leader.

    August 13, 2007 09:27 pm at 9:27 pm |
  8. Grant, Portland OR

    I find it interesting that we have a president in office, unfortunatly one that our country did vote into office, that the majority of our country now seems to not agree with, but we as a country seem helpless to do anything about getting him out of office. Even our congress, the house of representaives and senate, has showed its dislike of some of the president's decisions (like our involvement in the war in Iraq), but because of the presidents ability to veto any bill that comes through congress (other people that our country has also voted into office to represent us) that it becomes apparently obvious that our vote as the people does't seem to count as much as we are lead to believe. How dishearting.

    August 13, 2007 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  9. Rick, Sikta, Alaska

    Just remember that Hillary's husband didn't serve at all and there was a draft...he just left the country... If you Bush haters think he had it easy in his military service you should check out Teddy's service...yeah he served...during Nam in Germany at at desk...wonder who arranged that?

    August 13, 2007 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  10. Mr. Coffey, Raleigh, NC

    What a card shark. Other than sound bites, I really have no idea of "HOW" Clinton will DO anything. All of a sudden she has amazing wisdom with her amazing letter writing skills. Most people missed it. You write a letter bashing Bush on "reinstating" the draft (an emotional topic) and get everyone frothing at the mouth by saying "Bush", "draft", "could happen" in any order. Now you look strong. And who would even think about saying anything negative against someone who just stood up for you. Read this from the Politico about her "Bush-like" strategies.

    ""*CREATE A STRAW MAN. Build up an issue in order to tear it down. See the fight Clinton picked with the Pentagon after an undersecretary of defense slammed as “offensive and totally inappropriate” her request for information about plans for redeploying US troops from Iraq, and accused her of echoing enemy propaganda. "I sent a serious letter on a matter of national security to the Secretary of Defense and, in return, received a political response," Clinton complained. Defense Secretary Robert Gates had to step in to defuse the situation.

    Remember the Bush campaign’s quickly conjured uproar over the “global test?” Coming out of a fall 2004 debate that even Bush’s own advisers privately agreed was a weak performance for him, they introduced a straw man by pouncing on Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry’s comment during the debate that the president’s decision to go to war should pass a “global test” of legitimacy. (It was an exchange that bears some similarity to the recent Clinton-Obama exchange over whether it makes sense for a president to promise to meet with the dictators of U.S. adversaries.) ""

    I really can't stand Bush or anyone like him (Hillary). I'm really ready for a woman pres. Just not this one. READ and REMEMBER...

    August 13, 2007 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  11. shoe, Atlanta Georgia

    Geez, did someone actually suggest the majority of the war is being prosecuted by mercenaries? Wow, problem over!

    Draft is a bad idea. Blooding noobs just to spread it around might have political advantages but is lunacy from any military perspective.

    Guys whose profession is to hone the technical and management skills to efficiently kill enemy combatants- as directed by their civilian clients- do not need unwilling civilian lottery dopes with a skill set of cannon fodder rotated through the ranks.

    That said. You have a very good Army. They are: bright,engaging,professional,committed, brave and result oriented.

    Send some love to your soldiers.


    August 13, 2007 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  12. Tom, Texas, USA

    Clinton issues a press release and CNN dutifully regurgitates said press release. Yawn. By the way, is there a single person from the thinking community who cares what a military hating leftist like Clinton "thinks" about a draft?

    August 13, 2007 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  13. Fed up, Denver, CO

    I love the last-ditch rhetoric that it's completely the Clinton administration's fault that forces are now strained. Let me explain something. The Penagon analysts, SAMs planners, and staff chiefs have been lying to presidents for decades that plans exist to fight a war on multiple fronts if necessary. Countless generals have earned their 3rd and 4th stars perpetuating that lie; defense contractors have made billions on skewed promises that, if we paid for their "cutting-edge" systems, we could minimize the number of trained soldiers it would take to fight our nations wars. I've served on both sides – as both an Army Intelligence Officer and as a defense contractor – and can now speak with an informed voice and utter clarity. Neither the Clinton-era reductions, nor the recent, ill-conceived idea to start operation 1003v (Iraq) while Afghanistan was still hot should come as a shock to anyone. The only difference with this administration is that events and poor decisions came to a head that forced the big-wigs to put their money where their mouths were... and they're all now being shown for the liars that they are.

    Of course, the complete lack of competency and experience in counter-terrorism and medium-intensity conflict doesn't help either. We have our own public, who voted for Bush (twice), to thank for that.

    August 13, 2007 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  14. Dan, Maryland

    To Sandy in Easthampton, MA and Nancy in Bow, NH:

    Sandy, I can't think of anyone other than Colin Powell who proudly served his country. You have me pegged wrong if you think I'm a supporter of Bush – he's no Reagan Republican. Let's face facts though, and I say this as a military vet and the husband of a retired Naval Officer, the military is made up mostly of conservative Republicans. The men and women who served with me that were "liberals" were few and far between.

    You know who will enter the military if a draft is reinstated? Those who put the needs of their country before their own. Yeah, I sound like a neocon and another brain washed patriot. So what? I never really cared for what others thought. All that matters is doing what I think is right.

    Nancy, you should draw a line in the sand against the draft. It's a bad idea and nothing but political jockeying by the left and the right.

    August 13, 2007 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  15. Chip Marietta, GA

    To Michelle, Portland Oregon- Who cares what your family does and what you support? You keep walking your walk, okay?

    August 13, 2007 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  16. Ralph, San Deigo, CA

    Mrs. Bill is at it again, making an issue where there isn’t one. She hasn’t done anything of substance and is only trying to deflect our attention away from her own poor performance in the Senate. I am not fooled! If elected president she would have the same stance saying “the military draft is always an option on the table.”

    To Hapy N. Texas who said “I believe this time we should draft the richest first since they receive more from the USA.”

    What are you talking about? Did it ever occur to you that some people have made money through their own hard work? As a proud Puerto Rican and proud Republican, I got where I am through my own hard work, thank you!

    And to Pat from NY… I am proud Puerto Rican, proud Republican and proud former Naval Officer! So pull your head out of your @#$. Republicans are serving this country, voluntarily.

    August 13, 2007 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  17. Mason, Niceville, FL

    Dear Nancy from NH.,
    It can't always be someone else's kid. If you think that this is not your war, you may want to look up what our enemies think would be great. "Death to America" is the usual idea. NH is in America, so your kids are already involved.

    REM from Detroit, sleep easy, rough men stand ready to do violence on your behalf. As a Marine, I can't say I appreciate being called a murderer.

    August 13, 2007 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  18. Abe, Los Angeles, CA

    DId she forget that Charlie Rangel ( D NW) was the one who suggested we institute a new draft? My how this woman is selective in her so-called visions.

    August 13, 2007 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  19. Dan. Roc NY

    Nice thry Hillary, you are only fooling those who would vote for you. The "fraft" requires legislation passed in both the House and senate befoe the President can signed it. per the Constitiution.

    August 13, 2007 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  20. Dan. Roc NY

    Nice try Hillary, you are only fooling those who would vote for you. The "draft" requires legislation passed in both the House and senate before the President can signed it, per the Constitution.

    August 13, 2007 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  21. Bud the fly guy, Crystal Lake

    "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."----more evidence of a liberal weakness, counting. The economic policies brought about by this administration have created the greatest boon to spendable income for the middle class (those households making less that $125,000 per year) while reducing those below the poverty line by almost 50% AND raising the standard of living for virtually all those below the poverty line. Imagine what they could of done if the democrats hadn't had a consistant policy of obstruction rather than a policy of good government. Why not look at the Clinton co-presidency that institued the greatest tax rip off of the middle class as well as the rest of the working public while taking the air out of the econimic growth begun by Regan-Bush policies of 1980-1992, policies that worked so well that it took seven years to take the momentum out of it and let George W inherit an ecomomy that had been loosing steam for over a year and Hillary is not nearly as pragmatic as Bill, she'll tax us into an economic colapse unprecidented in history.

    August 13, 2007 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  22. Bud the fly guy, Crystal Lake

    oh, and by the way, our military has no use for draftees. Our modern military is too high tech and well trained. Inexperienced and lightly trained ground pounders and cannon fodder would just get in the way. Just more smoke and mirrors from the illusion masters of bill and hillary

    August 13, 2007 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  23. Chris, Savannah GA

    I believe that most people on here are missing the point. If the draft was "always an option" when it has been stated that it was never an option it gets back to the fact that is "president" has double talked, mislead and lied on so many issues that this seems to be just one more to add to the list.

    August 13, 2007 10:31 pm at 10:31 pm |
  24. AC, Walnut Creek, CA

    More grandstanding by the smug senator "from" New York. Good timing that the letter arrived at CNN's door the same time as the Whitehouse.

    Once again, we see that she has no compunction to do anything to get elected. A letter to the executive branch...yeah right. They don't even answer to Congress-issued subpoenas. You think they'd waste time engaging HER?!

    Why don't the American people write her a letter requesting clarification about Vince Foster or Whitewater? Or about voraciously supporting the war until the winds shifted?

    I'm a dem-leaning independant, and the prospect of a two-faced Clinton presidency scares me almost as much as the current republican candidates.

    Time for a change of the guard. Forget the Bushies, forget the Clintons...Go Obama and/or Edwards (at least he had the guts to call his vote a "mistake").

    August 13, 2007 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  25. Julie Rogers, Tallahassee, Florida

    The draft is the only way Americans are going to wake up. When all American children's lives are on the line, then we'll see who supports the war.

    August 13, 2007 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
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