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. Anonymous

    "Fascinating that the vast majority of Clinton bashers are males! What a shock. Can't handle a strong female guys? SUCK IT UP!"

    I imagine, Erika, to someone with such narrow vision as yourself that sees things in male v. female – it might appear this way. Men and women get to choose which candidate they want or do not wish to support (GASP).

    You wish to castigate all men who oppose Hillary as though we're afraid of a "strong" woman (Does "strong" mean sticking with an abusive husband?). Perhaps, Erika, the men you see here posting are SMARTER than allowing a candidate win us over just because she has cleavage – as you have done."

    I despise all the Clintons–does that make me afraid of females only Erika?
    Jon, you took the words right out of my mouth..

    August 14, 2007 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  2. MarcusH Dallas, TX

    Man. When will it ever stop. We are at war. When the war is over then we won't need to add any more soldiers. If the draft is required, although sad, so be it. This goes to show that neither of these candidates will make a strong president.

    August 14, 2007 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  3. Anon

    Clinton's first lady records locked up: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton cites her experience as a compelling reason voters should make her president, but nearly 2 million pages of documents covering her White House years are locked up in a building here, obscuring a large swath of her record as first lady. Clinton's calendars, appointment logs and memos are stored at her husband's presidential library, in the custody of federal archivists who do not expect them to be released until after the 2008 presidential election.

    What could she be hiding?

    August 14, 2007 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  4. Rick

    Why do we put up with this crap? Taxpayer money should go to paying for things we need here in the United States of America. This war and our foreign policy of intervention and spending are absurd. We need to bring every military service person back to this country and quit spending on foreigners. They are in the service to protect us. Not police another nation. The money we pay in taxes should be going to education, technology and growth right her in this great country. Let the iraq's fight there stupid civil war because frankly I don't give a damn about them.

    August 14, 2007 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  5. Jeremy, Fligglenorton Ar

    I think a military draft would be a good way to end the war. Just not the same draft from Vietnam. There should be no restrictions on service such as family status or school status. After a few GOP (the ones in power) lose their children, the lust to send other's children into harms way might curve. It could end the war.

    August 14, 2007 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  6. Barabas, Hot City, TX

    The thoughts inside Clinton's head......"Alright! They made some back-handed mention of possibly thinking about the draft. All those kids who don't want to be drafted will definately vote for me if I make it seem like I am against the draft. More votes, more votes......hmmmm more votes. I think I would sell my soul for more votes. Oh wait, I sold that a long time ago."

    August 14, 2007 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  7. Mike, PA

    It's Charlie Rangel and the Democrats who started up the draft talk. But of course, I don't expect CNN to mention that in their usual pro-Democrat article.

    August 14, 2007 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  8. RA The Framing Wizard

    Sounds like the Clinton’s have a hornets nest from their past behind locked doors. What exactly is in them 2,000,000 pages that will stay uncover until end of 2008? Can America afford to have Clinton fawn with our trust?

    August 14, 2007 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  9. Michelle, LaCrosse, WI

    As the recent comments by administration officials were a large departure from previous statements, I believe Hillary was quite justified in requesting clarification as to whether or not there has been a change in the Administration’s opposition to reinstituting a draft.
    I think that she showed initiative, integrity and responsibility by openly following up on the matter.
    Obama voiced similar concern, only a day after Hillary Clinton first brought the matter to light.
    It has been proven time and time again that the Bush administration operates in a consistently deceptive, 'above the law' manner. Why is it so hard to believe that they would lie again, or that they don’t in fact, already have plans in place to revise the draft policy to meet their needs?
    Really, is it that far fetched to believe? Remember Guantomono Bay?
    This isn't a game. It is time to end the denial, to quit playing sides, to stop pointing fingers and spinning facts. That is exactly the attitude and behaviour that brought our nation here in the first place.

    August 14, 2007 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  10. Pat Putignano, Huntington Station, NY

    Apparently this is NOT a big issue, as it's only being covered [and blown out of proportion] on this blog.

    As for those saying that Bill Clinton stripped down the military as if that was a bad thing [and then demonizing Hillary for it], you protest too much! First, Cold War was over. Second, we weren't at war. Third, he modernized the military to make it leaner and meaner! And, lest we not forget, he wouldn't have been able to do it without the approval of the then Republican controlled congress!

    August 14, 2007 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  11. Greg, Phoenix, AZ


    I think you just described Hillary's campaign strategy better than anyone, including myself, could ever hope to.

    Every time an issue comes up, big or small, she puts together a statement geared 100% towards hitting what she believes to be the most popular slant.

    We have also seen the perils associated with this type of strategy, because it often leads to contradictions (nukes, etc.).

    I think a psychologist would describe her behavior as pathological.

    August 14, 2007 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  12. Erik, Philadelphia

    Of course, in context it was just a military guy basically saying "it's always worth considering militarily, but it's ultimately a political question." The only polititians supporting the draft are Democrats in Congress.

    August 14, 2007 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  13. Frank, Marblehead MA

    What this country needs is Hillary.

    1. She has strong beliefs (in herself)
    2. Strong convictions (that she is smarter than everyone else)
    3.Resolve (that she will win at any cost)
    4. Faith (that she is going to be the next President)
    5. Confidence (that she can fool the public)
    6. Pro Military (as long as they are safe "redeployed" back in the USA)

    August 14, 2007 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  14. Lady J

    What does she need clarification on this issue? General Lute very clearly said that the option is there, but that the President does NOT think it is necessary. That seems pretty clear to me, but then again I am not the typical kool-aid drinking Democrat/Republican, I have the ability to think for myself. ...To close off all options means to close off all chances of bringing home the troops safely.

    Posted By KLHA, Kansas City : August 13, 2007 3:16 pm

    One question, if the draft is reinstated, doesn't that mean more "draft troops" going to fill in for our current deployed troops? If you aren't on of those "kool-aid" drinkers who can't think, then respond to that.
    Futher more, Bush didn't think that we needed more troops at the beginning. ...He was wrong. He thought that he had "quota" and that he was going to pass a lot of things. Once again, wrong. The only thing is that this president has going for him is that he can make a lot of wrong choices. He does need to restate the fact that he will not start up the draft or come and say that the military is streached out way to thin and we need more troops. All of the nomimiees need to think about that question and then stick to that same answer.

    August 14, 2007 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  15. Justin, Lexington Ky

    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.

    Posted By Mstessyrue, Seattle, Washington : August 13, 2007 7:21 pm

    Are you kidding me? Look at the billions upon billions that this nation spends on its OWN citizens, and we still have 37.0 million living in poverty. You can't get rid of poverty by paying people to not be poor. You offer incentives and opportunities, not food stamps and welfare. $19 billion. lol.

    August 14, 2007 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  16. S. Sandlin, Sylacauga, AL

    Kerry must be laughing his head off with "I told you so!" to the Bush electors.

    August 14, 2007 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  17. Sarah, South Bend, WA

    I actually wouldn't mind a draft, as long as both men and women were included. Now that women are a major part of the military, it would be extremely sexist to draft only men. However, because of families and children, I believe that if one half of a married couple is serving in the military (Reserves, National Guard, Enlisted, Draft, etc.) the other half should be immune from the draft.

    August 14, 2007 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  18. Will, Little Rock, AR

    Nice wind blown look there Hillary! yikes. what grandstanding by this neo-con globalist (yes, just like Bush, imagine that).

    August 14, 2007 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  19. Dan, Columbia MD

    To Kim in Midland MI:

    Would you support Hillary if she was a conservative or is your decision to support her based completely on gender?

    Keep one more thing in mind. It will be mostly MEN that will fight and die protecting America (and Europe) from islamic fascists that want to oppress western women and put them all in burkas.

    August 14, 2007 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  20. Bill, NY NY

    Too bad there can't be a serious debate on the actual issue of reinstating the draft. Republicans apparently are incapable of serious debate and have to resort to childish name calling against Hillary.

    August 14, 2007 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  21. Josh

    A couple points:

    1) The draft would make the war in Iraq worse. I cite the following evidence: Since the war began, this administration has lost about 30% of the weapons intended for "coalition forces". The man in charge of distributing those weapons? David Petraus. Since he did such a good job, Bush promoted him. If the draft is instituted and more soliers are sent over, theoretically that means more weapons. And we know now that about 30% of those will go to insurgents. Not a good idea.

    2.) This thing with Clinton questioning Bush is clearly political grandstanding. Don't you think she could ask him without sending a letter to the media? She just wants political points for asking a question that she already has an answer to. And she did this because about 90% of Americans will only hear about her question and not about Lute's full statement, which is crystal clear.

    August 14, 2007 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  22. Ivan, Chicago, Illinois

    I support a draft, but only if there are no deferments, none, nada.
    There is a job in the military for everyone just as there is in civilian life.

    August 14, 2007 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  23. DC phila pa

    I am a USMC vietnam veteran who enlisted. My platoon was the last platoon to go to vietnam. However, i had an aviation guarantee and i went to cryogenics school. USMC mos 6075. I was offered 2400.00 to sell my guarantee but i told them i couldn't kill anybody but i wanted to serve. I wanted to help in some way or the other. I made nixons LOX. I was not a 9th grade graduate at the time but because of an inate ability to understand spatial relationships i scored 100% in that test which gave me a 121 GCT/GTC (I forget that scoring listing). You needed a 120 to be an officer. My recruiter lied and said i was a high school graduate.

    If you want to drive a big car / suv then send "your" kid to war to fight for the fuel.

    If you really care then stop wasting fuel.

    When i got out i opened a recycling center in 76. I started building energy efficient homes and ever since i have driven only when needed. I hate people who go on senic tours while others are dying for them to waste and abuse fuel.

    I hate nascar. I hate boat enthusiast. I hate 4 wheelers. I hate all those who waste fuel and don't think about where the fuel comes from.

    Today i don't even own a car. I share a hybrid with an elder friend. We only use it to go shopping for food and even then we buy bulk.

    Americans are abusers of energy. It would take 3 earths if the rest of the world used and abused fuel like we do.

    Either support a draft for those who want to waste fuel (send their kids to war) or support a system that controls how much fuel everyone can use.

    This statement below is the only one that i agree makes any sense.

    >>>>if you want to stop the war, stop buying so much gas.

    The draft should be implemented, a good amount of the EU has compulsory service and so should we, might help with some of the other problems (obesity being a big one).

    Complainging that you don't agree with the war, that you oppose the draft because "it's not my war" then driving your 12 mi/gal suv home solo to your air conditioned house is the height of hypocrisy…

    as far as what clinton has said, I think it would have been more acceptable if she had requested this information in a more private manner then published a statement/report regarding all information, seems she has kinda put the cart before the horse.

    It all ends up being economics, thats how our system runs imo, strictly economical, we are at war over economics, our foreign policy(borders etc) revolve around economics and there will be a draft if it is what is economically correct. I believe it would benefit the United States as a whole if Mrs. Clinton could show what the economic impact etc would be of starting the draft system. Because as cold as it sounds, people dying violently is not something that this country considers a big deal anymore, thousands of killings annually…whatever

    Posted By brendan fremont, ca : August 13, 2007 7:02 pm <<<<

    August 14, 2007 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  24. KLHA, Kansas City

    One question, if the draft is reinstated, doesn't that mean more "draft troops" going to fill in for our current deployed troops? If you aren't on of those "kool-aid" drinkers who can't think, then respond to that.

    Posted By Lady J : August 14, 2007 12:39 pm

    While I respect your question, and applaud your clever edit of my comment, the answer was in my original comment. How do you propose we build troop levels, IF NEEDED, without a draft? We have a volunteer armed force, but what should happen if 80% were killed in a massive attack, god forbid (purely hypothetical)? Where would we get troops? Are we to hope that we could fill the needs soley by volunteers? I would like to think there are enough patriotic individuals such as myself to fill the needs, but I dont really see that happening, and I respect the choice to not join the armed services. But when the need is great, so will be the sacrifice.

    August 14, 2007 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
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