The Draft Cassandras are wearing the smell of desperation like a pre-teen bathing in bad-knockoff perfume. No shred of evidence, no matter how unworthy, seems too little to confirm the fears that a draft is coming. A case in point:
(Since it's another post on the draft-related hysteria of Brian "Any readers of draft age. . . . need to begin making plans before it is too late" Leiter and friends, I've put this one below the fold.)
On the 28th, while I was working on my note, the Project for the New American Century released an open letter to Congress that--if you read Brian Leiter--calls for a new draft. Indeed, according to Leiter you should start hiding your children:
The normalization of the idea of a military draft now begins in earnest. All that will be needed is a precipitating event, manufactured through provocation or simply invented (like the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964). Any readers of draft age, or any readers with children of draft age, need to begin making plans before it is too late.
Now, the NACP boasts Robert Kagan as one of its members, and I've followed his writing ever since he wrote Of Paradise and Power
. If Kagan were calling for a draft, I'd be quickly revising my opinions and backtracking on my position.
But the Devil, as we are well aware here at Three Years of Hell, is always in the details, and in this case the detail is Leiter's characterization:
The right-wing Project for a New American Century--which includes various folks with close ties to Bush & his bestiary of madmen--on Friday called for reinstatement of a military draft, without, of course, using the word.
(emphasis mine) And I shouldn't just pick on Prof. Leiter, although his draft hysteria makes it fun. This idea that PNAC called for the draft in code is all around the
blogosphere. (Ain't Technorati
Now the trouble is, PNAC did no such thing. They called for an increase in of active-duty Army and Marine troop strength of 25,000 troops per year, each year, for the next several years. Even assuming that's a five year plan, the increase in troop strength is only 125,000 troops. To hear the bloggers above (left-wingers with an axe to grind all) talk, you'd think such increases in troop strength are a new idea. They aren't. See PNAC, Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces, and Resources for a New Century 23 (2000) (calling for an immediate increase in the size of active duty forces by 50,000 troops, and a reduction in reliance on National Guard and Reserve troops). The present PNAC letter calls for what PNAC has been calling for over the last few years: increased military spending, reduced reliance upon reserve forces, and an increase in the size of the standing army.
There's a serious debate here: do we want Rumsfeld's new model army, adapted to respond quickly and readily to threats throughout the globe, but focused upon asymmetrical advantages in technology and intelligence? Or do we believe that a world superpower still needs a vast array of full-time active-duty soldiers, with the budgetary costs that entails? It's a worthy debate, and both sides are worth a listen.
However, it's not a debate on the draft. What the Draft Cassandras have each implicitly assumed--giving scant and dubious evidence--is that the only way to raise 25,000 troops per year would be through the imposition of a draft. They then point out that we're having trouble recruiting--for the National Guard and the Reserves. (Quick though experiment: given the various advantages that regular Army and Marine troops have over their reserve counterparts, why might one have trouble recruiting them during a period in which the latter are being called much like the former? ) On the other hand, they point to no problems meeting recruiting needs for active duty military staff, though there's the occasional mention that we're increasing incentives to join.
Again, is that surprising? That one would increase recruitment incentives during a period of large-scale deployment? Anyone with an ounce of economic intuition would say no. Does that mean we're going to fail to reach recruitment targets? Certainly not. There's all sorts of means one could use to expand military participation--relaxing standards on recruits that might be too strict, increasing pay, or heck, even getting rid of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"--that we could employ to increase recruitment before a draft.
Here's a challenge for the bilefest linked above: write a brief showing that it would be easier, less-expensive, and more effective to raise the size of the active duty military by 25,000 per year through a draft than through increased pay, broadening recruitment standards, or any other available means. Show that the supply of troops does not exist.
Look, folks: Kagan and his crew are smart guys. (OK, Leiter believes they're close to a "bestiary of madmen," but that probably tells you more about him than Kagan.) If they want to call for a draft, they will. It's a sign of intellectual bankruptcy to "imply" an argument to an opponent, particularly if the only way you can do so is to hold that they agree with an assumption you've made. Even if you believed that you could not recruit 25,000 regular troops without a draft--and this is a contested statement for which you bloody well ought to show some evidence--it would not suggest that PNAC "called" for one.
: Or for another example of problems with Guard recruiting, consider this:
“We used to get half our guys from ‘prior service,’” said Mark Allen, a retired Air Force colonel who now is the chief of external affairs for the National Guard Bureau in Arlington, Va. He said soldiers leaving the service and joining the Guard kept their experience and skills in the military but had a lower tempo and more time with families and a chance to carve out careers. “Now, if you’re in the Army and thinking of getting out, and you don’t want a high tempo, would you want to go in the Guard now?”
: By the way, did "bestiary of madmen" strike anyone else as strange? It seems to evoke a collection of actual creatures, as opposed to ones in a book. But a bestiary isn't a zoo. It's a book of stories involving animals and the moral lessons one learns from them. Why would Bush have a bestiary of madmen? And why would one care if a group of neocons were close to Bush and a book about madmen? Or is the idea that he's part of the bestiary of madmen? But if so, why use the term if you're not talking about someone who wrote the book?
It just seems like a piece of rhetorical confusion, as if meant to evoke with beastial->bestiary the same thing as avian->aviary.
Ah well. I'm certainly not in a position to talk about bizarre locutions.