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. billybubba nashville, tennessee

    Oh Hilly, please fix the health care system and the draft. Ask Bill about the draft honey. And, as I recall, you really fixed it like you said you would when you and Bill were in office! Or do you not remember that failure??

    August 13, 2007 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  2. Laura Nason Niles Michigan

    If any of you believes that Rove leaving the White House means anything at all, I feel sorry for you. This is just a ploy to continue to try to get out of testifying before Congress. The fsx will still be there. The e-mail will still be there. The telephone will still be there and Rove will use these to continue to do his job. Better keep a close eye on his earnings for the next two years or so. Make sure you know who pays him.
    The very first thing the next president needs to do is de-classify each and every scrap of paper that's been classified over the last 6 years. And make it an act of treason to destroy those kinds of records forever in the future. Then prosecute all of the Bushies at the same time.

    August 13, 2007 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  3. Mark, Houston Texas

    all you have to do is say you are gay and you are automatically excused from serving in the military.

    August 13, 2007 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  4. SP

    This is the first that made me take note. Thank you, Hillary. You just got a second chance for my vote.

    August 13, 2007 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  5. terrik, norfolk, va

    Hillary voted FOR the war and recently said the troop drawdown would take time. Wake up people! She doesn't care about the troops.

    We need to support someone who will get us the hell out of Iraq, someone with principles, such as Ron Paul or Mike Gravel. Forget these other flip-floppers.

    August 13, 2007 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  6. trent porter, tx

    so this is next – being forced to fight a war based on lies, a war that is in no way connected to 9/11. when will this madness stop?

    August 13, 2007 11:56 pm at 11:56 pm |
  7. Jacob, Charleston, IL

    To Michele in Portland, I don't know Johan or Hapy, but I'm a moderate and proud of it. I don't know what you mean by "walk the walk and talk the talk," because my walking and talking involves not supporting any war. And I don't hate the troops. I love our troops. But there's a big difference between supporting what they DO and supporting what they're DOING, and I don't think you realize that. If every troop in harm's way came home right now, I would thank God. But I don't think anyone left of center is supposed to believe in God. After graduating college, I plan on going into counseling, to help people with problems, such as PTSD, often suffered by soldiers returning home. That has nothing to do with not supporting a war, but I'd say I'll be doing my part. You didn't mention your own service, though. Where did you do your part at?

    August 14, 2007 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  8. Henry Hull, NYC, NY

    George Bush must keep his word. There is absolutely no precedent for an outgoing president to go back on his word concerning a matter so sensitive as the draft. The Republicans started this war, now it is up to them to allow the people of these United States to decide whether this war should be continued or not. The next president, whoever it may be, will have the option, and the mandate of the people concerning the ultimate course of our involvement in these wars. As it should be.

    August 14, 2007 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  9. A. Chico-Juarbe, Arecibo, Puerto Rico

    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 and answer HOW she would end the war in Irak if elected President. Everybody is eager to criticize when you do not make the decisions. It's not easy being the clown, when you have to run the circus.

    August 14, 2007 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  10. Micky in MO

    I don't really care what Hillary says....I don't care what Lute says....I don't care what Bush says. A military draft is WRONG. You can't say 'we are fighting for freedom' while taking away a persons right to choose. That is an oxymoron. I was opposed in the 60's, an unlike a lot of hypocrites who are no longer opposed because they are too old to have to worry....I will still support a person's right to choose. If you can't get enough people to agree it is worth fighting probably isn't!

    August 14, 2007 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  11. Dorothy B., Eugene, Oregon

    IF we had the draft again,it would improve the situation;why?Everyone's kids would be in the war,including political,rich,middle-and-upper class,instead of just the poor & working-class who join the army.Past histories say that when there IS a draft,the govt.and the nation do NOT go to war as often.All the politicians do not want their kids to get drafted,nor do the other leaders and upper-class.Great idea,huh?When EVERYONE'S kids get drafted,rather than just the poor and working-class?Good motivation,I'd say.Also,right now,the army reserve is getting very abused in the war,which is not democratic.The war is riding on their backs.

    August 14, 2007 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  12. Mike, Coarsegold, cal

    To Brad From Canada:

    We have been, and will continue to be, a free and Democratic country others will try to emulate. Feeding the big business military complex agenda of this administration? What 'agenda' are you speaking of? It is so easy to to find fault and blame this country for your shortcomings. Take care of your problems at home (which you have many) before you critique this Country.

    August 14, 2007 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  13. halhiker, La Quinta, CA

    If a draft were ever reinstated we need to add women to the list of those available for the draft. It's the one area where you never hear women clamoring for equality and it's high time we offer it to them. There is no reason why women cannot be expected to serve their country in the same manner as their male counterparts. None.

    In fact, why don't we have the ladies start signing up for selective service as soon as possible. Men, between the ages of 18 and 25 are required by law to sign up for selective service and I believe it is sexist discrimination, pure and simple, that prohibits women from serving their country in this manner and that's wrong.

    Put an end to discrimination. Make women sign up for selective service.

    August 14, 2007 02:11 am at 2:11 am |
  14. San Francisco, CA

    Pentagon responded on Drudge Report

    August 14, 2007 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  15. John H., St Louis MO

    I think the draft should be reinstated in order to reinforce to Americans why we live in the land of the free. There are too many people who ignore the war because it doesn't affect their families. There are too many people who don't care about the troops but instead. We take our freedoms for granted and say we love America without understanding how we reached our current state–through sacrifice, through blood, through sweat and tears. After Vietnam, America can't stand the sight of blood...we lost 58,000 people in Vietnam, we've lost 3,000 during the current conflict. The United States of America is in a conflict on a large scale every 20 years or so...this wont' change any time soon. If we want to protect our country, our way of life–our ability to vote or not vote–then we need to re-instill a passion for the ideals America was based on–ideals we have fought and died for for over 200 years. Military service through a draft, or even compulsory service for a year like the Israelis have, would help do this.

    August 14, 2007 04:20 am at 4:20 am |
  16. Angelique, Merriam KS

    I do not know if a draft would help in Iraq at this point or not. Seems to me that at some point the Iraqis have to decide for themselves to quit killing each other. Our military can not do that for them.

    I cried for three days after my son joined the Army this year. He had his future all planned out and the military wasn't in those plans. He joined because he couldn't sit back and ask the same guys to keep going back to Iraq over and over again while he was at home going to school with no real worries. He can finish school when he gets out. While very proud, of course I'm worried.

    That all said, I'm not so sure national service at between 18 and 20 isn't such a bad idea. We have three generations now that do not seem to understand that the protection of this country is the only thing that allows for them to have their video games, ipods and all of the other nicities of being a young American. Right now the Army and Marines are stretched so thinly and are so exhausted from repeat deployments that if a real military power got an idea...we wouldn't be able to respond. That is not a position that I like to see our country in any more than I like this war.

    August 14, 2007 04:44 am at 4:44 am |
  17. Thomas Batt, Heidelberg Germany

    The draft again! I am a retired soldier from the Army and I was drafted during the Vietnam War and what happened, we lost and this is what we will do with this war with the same end results as Nam. More young Americans will die. If we had left Vietnam when the French decided to leave we would have saved thousands of lives. We did'nt and now go to the Vietnam Memorial and see some of the 50,000 plus names. I have, many of my friends are listed there. Well, they will one day down the road have a Irag War memorial and I wonder how many names will be listed there. Our president is useless and wasting our human resources on a useless war. If we want America protected then keep it home and bring the Armed Forces back.

    August 14, 2007 05:01 am at 5:01 am |
  18. Richard Ward, (Expat) Paris, France

    As someone who was part of the U.S. draft in 1965 I have long felt that removing the draft has had an adverse impact on the way that young people feel about their country. Without having to take part in your country's defense, without necessarilly standing on the front lines if your moral conscience precludes this, or supporting those who chose to do so, people become detached from what being a good citizen actually means. Americans in particular seem to believe that the individual is above all else and have lost a valuable connection to the rest of society. Reinstituting the draft may seem like political suicide, and indeed in might be, but I firmly believe that doing so would make the U.S. a better place and make it much more unlikely that we would have another Iraq war, started by someone who hid from combat and supported by people who do not know what it means to watch friends and innocent people die.

    August 14, 2007 05:48 am at 5:48 am |
  19. mk in PA

    Of course there will be no draft. Hillary's daughter might have to serve and thousands of children of the rich and mighty. Let the poor fight and die. If we had the draft, the war would have been over after one month when the first body bags of politician's kids would have arrived in Dover.

    August 14, 2007 05:52 am at 5:52 am |
  20. N.P. Nick, Irving, TX

    Is she serious? Do I really want to believe this ia a presidential candidate?
    How clear can the General be?
    All options are always on the table since we don't really know what's coming next in this crazy world!

    August 14, 2007 05:57 am at 5:57 am |
  21. Glenda, New Bern, NC

    You are so readily to criticize this administration, what would you have done if you were President during 9/11? Surrender to Islam? That's OK. They didn't mean it. I know they are sorry. Tell that to those families who are left after 9/11. Most of you running off at the mouth did not have a loved one in the Twin Towers. Surely, they will understand your point of view (you).

    August 14, 2007 07:07 am at 7:07 am |
  22. Larry Johnson

    Wow I cant believe some of you people. "But Bush said it wasnt an option". You actually still believe the traitor that wipes his butt with constitution at every opportunity? You are whats wrong with America today, Wake up and smell the BS you've been eating for years now. Realize he is a traitor and a coward, nothing more and so are those that choose to listen to his excuses and lies without demanding to see the proof. And no im certainly not a Clinton supporter. Shes just another side of the same corrupt coin. Vote none of the above!!!!!!

    August 14, 2007 07:16 am at 7:16 am |
  23. MyBadSide, Chicago, IL

    I think the draft should be reinstated, so that every American family would have some skin in the game. I'm too old for the draft but, I have children and grandchildren who would be eligible.

    August 14, 2007 07:35 am at 7:35 am |
  24. Joe Shepard, Spring Lake North Carolina

    "The option of a draft has always been on the table". True, up to a point.
    The framework and legal basis for a draft has, and continues, to exist. It would only take a reactivation order to get it moving again. In the sense that it is a current option under consideration, I doubt it. I'm surprised that US Senator Hi-Larry Clinton is not more familiar with the draft and its current status. Just more double speak from her on something she apparently knows precious little about.

    August 14, 2007 07:40 am at 7:40 am |
  25. Kup DuPage, IL

    Nick of Eagle Mountain, UT says: "Let's ... trust that only that which is necessary will be done, shall we?"

    Tragically, the blind trust too many Americans had in the Bush/Cheney/Rove administration is what has allowed us to sink into the treacherous fiasco we are in today.

    Many Americans trusted the administration when it claimed Saddam had WMD's, that Iraq was involved in 9/11 and that an invasion of Iraq was vital to protecting us from the threat of terror.

    Many Members of Congress trusted the administration when it asked for the Patriot Act, when it sought authorization for war against Iraq, or when it insisted secret wiretapping and other methods were of little or no concern to the rest of us.

    Nearly five years later, a few Americans unfortunately still cling to the notion that Bush is a great president and that the administration has brought honor and integrity to the White House as promised. These few believers are the ones who trust we have turned the corner, the surge is a success and that things are going well in Iraq.

    These few are the ones who trust the administration when it hints action against Iran might be necessary and looming.

    Even today, there are still some Americans, both in and outside of Washington, who trust that the CIA identity leak, the federal prosecutor firings, and the mantra of "executive privilege" are just business as normal and nothing for us commoners to be concerned about.

    The Framers of the Constitution created a system of checks and balances specifically because they knew that individuals and groups could not be trusted to take only as much power as is necessary. They envisioned that the other branches of the government - and the people - would keep the president from becoming the kind of monarch they had only recently rid themselves of. Even impeachment was seen as an appropriate and essential method of limiting the power of the president and the courts. (How important was the concept of impeachment in the minds of the Framers? The word "impeachment" appears six times in the Constitution. In comparison, the concept of the people's right to vote was not included at all in the original document and wouldn't become part of the Constitution until the 14th and 15th Amendments were added more than eight decades later.)

    The Framers of the Constitution feared an overzealous president who would overreach for power - but who would be kept in check by Congress and the Courts.

    They were accurate in their prediction on the Presidency; sadly they had too much trust that Congress and the Courts would fulfill their constitutional obligations.

    August 14, 2007 07:49 am at 7:49 am |
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