Thursday, April 20, 2006

A Peaceful Call to Arms?

The New York Times today printed an opinion piece by , who is described as: "a Marine who served in Iraq and a fellow at the , [who] is writing a book about national service and sacrifice."  I found the article by following a link from the new blog, Manging the Atom: Iran News.
A Peaceful Call to Arms

Published: April 20, 2006

THE American public needs to be prepared for what is shaping up to be a clash of colossal proportions between the West and Iran.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt masterfully prepared Americans before the United States entered World War II by initiating a peacetime draft under the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940.

Now, President Bush and Congress should reinstitute selective service under a lottery without any deferments.

This single action will send a strong message to three constituencies in the crisis over Iran's nuclear intentions — Iran, outside powers like China and Russia and Americans at home — and perhaps lead to a peaceful resolution. [...]
Last year, when I first noticed the propaganda that seemed to be preparing the US public for war with , one of my first thoughts was 'There would have to be a draft.  The American Public would not stand for that.'  I suppose I was trying to reassure myself.

I also tried to reassure myself myself by remembering that Bush promised, I think during the third debate, that he would not institute a draft.  I knew, though, that such a promise is worth nothing.  In the current Administration, war seems to be an all-purpose excuse.  

Resurrecting the draft is a terrible idea.  The only way it could contribute to peace is if it so enraged the population that people would threaten an uprising or a general strike in response to the draft.  Kane is right about one thing.  The American public does need to be prepared for a clash of colossal proportions.  But the clash would be a clash between sensible persons, who see that Iran still does not have the capacity to threaten us, and a subset of sensless persons who fail to see that we cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war.

To add a little of that most unwelcome spice -- nuance -- I would add that there is a difference between maintaining a credible deterrence, and actually preparing for war.  The question is, where is the line between the two?