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. Brooke, Lansing, MI

    Several responses have talked about the decreasing number of troops over the last several administrations. People don't want to go to war. It's as simple as that. Not for a stupid and fabricated reason like our current one. With the state of America's youth today, I don't think military service could even give them discipline and morals. They'd spend more time trying to find a way out than learning the proper fighting techniques, etc... which puts the rest of the servicemen in danger. Reinstating the draft would be a PR nightmare for anyone who does it.

    August 14, 2007 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  2. Roy, Belleville, MI

    Clinton is a politician's politician. Notice how she says that the administration failed to"...properly equip our men and women in uniform." She was against funding our troops. There is only one thing that Queen Hillary wants – power. She will lie (and she has – saying that her husband had no idea that Al Quieda had intentions of attacking the WTC even after they tried to demolish one of the towers by detonating explosives in the underground parking structure). She will victimize our troops by not funding them, then call them unfortunate victims. Beware of crooks, beware of Clinton.

    August 14, 2007 07:55 am at 7:55 am |
  3. Toby

    I find it hilarious that some of you on this board think that Slick Willie gutted the military. The cutbacks in the military started with Bush senior after the cold war ended and he was right at the time in doing so because we did not need a massive military without an enemy. I doubt anyone at the time would thought his party boy son, little dubya would have a war going on in two different countries a decade later. I mean really even the biggest warhawks would have thought that was a ridiculous proposition.

    I am a vet and I would only go along with the draft if we gave those opposed to military service the option to serve at home and out of harm's way. There is nothing wrong with having kids serve two years in a branch of service like the Peace Corps, Americorps, or some other peaceful institution that has nothing to do with the military if they so choose. There are many places in America our youth could serve that has nothing to do with the military.

    August 14, 2007 08:00 am at 8:00 am |
  4. WDRussell, East Liverpool, Ohio

    No draft, no way. Can you imagine how many more occupations we would have if El Loonie had an inexhaustible supply of victims.

    August 14, 2007 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  5. David, Elmhurst

    I listened to the NPR Program and the statement as CNN and Clinton are quoting is out of context. The statement was made in terms of maintaining numbers has always been available to a US president since 1973 and that it would represent a major policy shift.

    August 14, 2007 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  6. DE Columbus IN


    August 14, 2007 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  7. LTC L, (Ret), Los Angeles, CA

    You want a guaranteed way to make recruitment goals without a draft? Make every GI, past and present, income tax free for life. And those that did not serve will make up the slack by being levied a "war tax" for not stepping up when you were needed.

    August 14, 2007 08:47 am at 8:47 am |
  8. RJ

    Typical CNN bias. Again. It's always the Democrats that bring up "the draft" (last time it was Rangle who introduced the bill in congress and didn't even vote for it himself) and hammer on The President for something he never brought up. No wonder I don't get my news here.

    August 14, 2007 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  9. Wesner, Miami Beach, Fl

    Please people wake up!!! Hillary is a LIAR. There is no authencity about her. She think this is a game... All of our future is in stake here. How can she be a leader? She's forever flip flopping...P.S CNN and EVERYONE "LET'S OPEN OUR EYES AND SEE HILLARY FOR WHO SHE REALLY IS". A liar!!

    August 14, 2007 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  10. leefrand, Scottsdale, AZ.

    What would she do if the war escalated, say to an Iran, or to an Iran/Israel conflict or to Pakistan? Would she activate more Reservists and National Guardsmen or would she cut and run? We only have 3 options as I see it, 1) the draft, 2) activating our military at home, or 3) to cut and run.

    Oh, I left an option out: she could use “nukes,” God forbid, but Obama has already taken that option off the table.

    I will vote for a person who will provide us with a militia capable of keeping us safe and secure. That is not Hillary.

    August 14, 2007 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  11. KLHA, Kansas City

    I think HRC, along with many of you are missing the point. General Lute said that the option should be on the table, but that it was not likely needed. Should the draft be needed, it would take a major policy shift, meaning that it would have to pass through congress, and the President.

    Say you had a busted pipe in your house – you can try to fix it yourself with your knowledge and tools, but to say that you will never call a plumber no matter how bad it gets, or how bad you screw it up even more, is insane.

    Do I want the draft? NO. Do we need the draft? NO. 10 years in the future could we need the draft? MAYBE. To say no to something forever is not the answer, but to keep all options open is the only solution to making sure that we can fix the problem.

    August 14, 2007 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  12. Anonymous

    freak no no draft – let the neocons go and fight their alleged 'holy war'

    August 14, 2007 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  13. Diane, Nashville, TN.

    I think they SHOULD bring back the draft. It would stop some of this unnecessary crime on the streets. When they turn 18 or 20 and do not go to school or have a job, then they need to be in the military, instead of roaming the streets, stealing and shooting. At least the military would furnish them some pants that don't show their nasty underwear.

    August 14, 2007 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  14. Chris, Pasadena,CA

    So let me get this straight. A military offical (not Bush) has said that the draft is an option that is on the table so Clinton (married to a no good draft dodger) is asking Bush to clarify the fact that he has always said he doesn't plan on using the draft. ummmm...doesn't sound to me like Bush personally has changed what he is saying so why the heck is she trying to make a big deal out of things?

    August 14, 2007 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  15. Chris, Miami FL

    Whoever actually wants to vote for either of these two ignorant candidates should be ashamed. They are playing politics and spinning what was actually said. All males are registered for the Selective Service so obviously it is always an option. That doesn't mean they are actually going to do it. In his speech he said that President Bush does not want to reinstate the draft.

    I will admit President Bush has not been a great President, but voting in Clinton or Obama would just be more of the same. Just on the other side of the line. Vote for a true American! Vote Ron Paul.

    August 14, 2007 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  16. Robert Erickson Pelican Rapids MN.

    i feel that instead of the draft give
    the ilegall imigrents a chance to inlest and earn there citzenship thru
    the military if thay are willing to fight for this country they are ok to
    to stay in this country. if you remember our fore fathers fought for this country to be free to live here but if they are not willing to fight
    for it in the military then they should have to fight for it another way

    August 14, 2007 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  17. Chris, Miami FL

    Another thing...
    What did we protest in the Boston Tea Party? TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION

    Today, if you consider sales, income, property taxes we are all being taxed nearly 50% of our income. Not only that, but all national polls regarding Congressional and Presidential approcal have NOT been over 50% for a long time. It seems to me that we are yet again being taxed but not being represented. We elected politicians... That is why they aren't doing what needs to be done. They are following their own agendas.

    It's getting rediculous, our government needs an overhaul. The amount of taxes imposed on us citizens is unconstitutional.

    August 14, 2007 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  18. Liz, Enon, OH

    To Bubba and All,

    I am female who currently has 26 years in the military. My family can trace military service through the Civil War and the Revolution. My father raised us to be patriotic and serve our country – proudly.

    Let me give an update on what President Bush has done ... if you are not "a fighter" ready to go to Iraq – your job has been closed, no longer exists or is being phased out - all replaced with civilian contractors! So, a two year service committment wouldn't work right now. On stateside USAF bases, the contractors fix the meals, handle the transportation vehicles, the unit vans (GSA contract), cleaning services, civil engineering, services (housekeeping, lodging, base recreation), etc. Many of the secretarial and "vice" commander positions are also civilians.

    I realize some guard and reserve units are meeting quotas but overall are not. Yet, with FY07 & 08 President Bush eliminated approximately 15,000 USAF reserve positions, plus many others. Then this week I received a brochure from the USAF reserve asking me to contact them .... "I can still join up to age 48." Is there anyone in charge with a an overall master plan?

    As a military member, I honor my oath to support my Commander-in-Chief. I always support the troops! They also are honoring their oaths and performing their duties to the best of their abilities. However, as a citizen and mother of two – 18 and 14 years old, I don't support this war and am updating my children's passports. While I honor my committment, I don't want my children fighting in a war that I don't believe in and where the military members are underpaid, over worked and don't always have the proper equipment. Yet, these men and women continue to make me proud, honoring their committments and fighing to the best of their ablities.

    Does President Bush have a clue what he has done to this country and it's military? Once Bush has his people start hinting at a draft he will be sure to make it look like we just have to have it - "his military advisors say so." That way it will appear that it is someone else's idea and it will be implemented. I wonder how soon after the draft would be implemented that the Bush twins would be in full gear and over in Iraq? I tend to think Hell would freeze over first.

    At least Hillary is trying to provide adult supervision and raising the question.

    August 14, 2007 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  19. Rabbit One, Silver Spring, MD

    The draft is certainly not the answer as many Americans have been opposed to the Iraq War since 2003. The only time a draft would be acceptable is if a nation was attacking our soil and we needed to respond or perish. Bush let us all down when he never went after Osama hardcore. He instead jumped on Iraq which was a huge mistake.

    August 14, 2007 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  20. Brenda, Annapolis MD

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

    If you even bothered to read anything regarding the proposal made by Rangel, you would have known that while he was semi-serious, it was a known fact that it would not get passed. He wanted those who were in such favor of the war, increase in troops, etc. to realize that this war touches everyone–no matter what your status, sex, or race (even age: 18-26).

    "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."

    Joshua Davis–you are six years younger than me and it clearly shows. The American people DO care about this issue (have you ever even asked any?). You obviously don't know what a draft could mean if you aren't worried about it, and pulling out of Iraq is great, but to be naive enough to think that it can happen with the snap of a finger is ridiculous. Even after pulling out we won't be through in Iraq.

    I have often wondered if the draft will be reinstated. My biggest fear is that this isn't WWII–not many actually support this war. What will the morale be like? How can you fight in a war you didn't support from the onset? Will Canada become flooded with runners? Will Mexico? This is a serious issue that will be with us for a long time and will effect other countries as well. Clinton was right to ask for clarification.

    August 14, 2007 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  21. Korey M., Colorado Springs, CO

    From a completely objective standpoint, there is alot of precedent for obligatory military service. Most countries of Europe all at some point required all young men to serve, and some, such as Germany and Switzerland, still have this requirement - mandatory 2 yrs military service. Many other countries around the world have similar requirements, and taken on the whole, the U.S. is one of the few countries that is staunchly opposed to a short term of military service for it's country's youths.

    From the perspective of someone currently in the U.S. Armed Forces, I personally believe that military service (in most cases) is beneficial for those who serve. It enhances a person's personal pride and dignity, teaches respect, discipline, duty, leadership, and prepares a person to have a positive influence in society, even if he/she only stays in the military for a short period, like 3-4 years.

    August 14, 2007 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  22. edgery, Arlington VA

    Clinton and Obama question Bush on draft; John Edwards, on the other hand, issued a blistering denouncement of the Bush Administration saying "Enough is enough."

    This Administration is responsible for over-stretching our military and abandoning our men and women when they return home from war. John Edwards isn't interested in Bush's "clarifications" but in bringing this war to an end, truly honoring our returning soldiers, and restoring America's position in the world.

    August 14, 2007 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  23. Anonymous

    I wouldn't mind the draft if we were fighting for liberty and sanctity of life.

    Until someone can provide 100% evidence terrorism is not made up and we are not there for economic gain, then what is there to die for?

    August 14, 2007 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  24. JIm Blake, Spokane, WA

    Two posters have stated that other countries have the draft, and one specifically that the EU has it – not true. Most of the EU either DOES NOT (like the UK, France) have the draft (UK got rid of it, in (if memory serves me) 1960), while it is being phased out in those EU countries (except for Poland...for example) where it still exists. In Italy, you can esentially defer forever, etc. etc.

    Aside from a) drafting people who do not WANT to be there who'll hate everything and drag their feet, and b) massive public opposition that will arise to it, the US cannot afford it. The nation is in debt above its eyeballs; where in the world would we get the money for it? Learning to kill does not make you a better person or more..."disciplined."

    August 14, 2007 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  25. VanReuter NY NY

    So, now that Obama has joined Senator Clinton on this, I'll bet a lot of Obama Operatives wish there was a, "delete message" option on this board...:)

    August 14, 2007 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
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