Sunday, March 28, 2004

Another Exercise in Connecting the Otherwise Unconnected

A modest amount of blogbuzz was generated by the article in The New Republic, The Web Won't Topple Tyranny.  I was poking around to see what people had to say about it.  For reasons not entirely clear, I ended up seeing this post  on Rodger Payne's blog. 

Saturday, March 27, 2004

Some time ago, I referenced the basic "military math" that slows further implementation of the Bush Doctrine. Put simply, the US doesn't have a sufficiently large armed force to carry out additional Iraq-like invasions and occupations. Most of the force is already deployed somewhere important, and the rest is either training to deploy or resting from a recent deployment

Additionally, anecdotal evidence suggests that re-enlistment rates may be down as well, which will further limit the President's apparent aspirations.

Conscription, of course, could alter this equation -- though it would take awhile to draft and then train new (likely much less motivated) soldiers.

In any event, I recently read an interesting piece on AlterNet by Conner Freff Cochran suggesting that a draft is coming.   Don't expect to hear the Republicans talking about this before the election.

Dr. Payne also provided information from the Selective Service Annual Performance Plan 2004.  Part of this involves getting volunteer registrars in most if not all high schools, and to increase staffing at local draft boards.  The Dept. of Defense went so far as to post a notice asking people to sign up to be board members for the Selective Service. 

Curiously, the notice has been removed.  Some foresighted people saved copies, such as this one  at the Memory Hole:

Defense Department Deletes Notice About Draft Boards

>>> On 23 Sept 2003, the Defense Department Website called "Defend America" posted a notice for people to join local draft boards. "If a military draft becomes necessary," the notice explained, "approximately 2,000 Local and Appeal Boards throughout America would decide which young men, who submit a claim, receive deferments, postponements or exemptions from military service, based on Federal guidelines."

In early November, that notice started to receive media attention, with articles from the Associated Press, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer , the Oregonian, the Toronto Star, the BBC, and London Guardian (unsurprisingly, none of the major papers or networks in the US covered it).

In a familiar turn of events, the notice suddenly disappeared from the Website. (Thanks to LG for pointing this out.) We've mirrored the page and posted the text below.

Serve Your Community and the Nation
Become a Selective Service System Local Board Member

The Selective Service System wants to hear from men and women in the community who might be willing to serve as members of a local draft board.

Prospective Board Members must be citizens of the United States, at least 18 years old, and registered with the Selective Service (if male). Prospective Board Members may not be an employee of any law enforcement occupation, not be an active or retired member of the Armed Forces, and not have been convicted of any criminal offense.

Once identified as qualified candidates for appointment, prospective Board Members are recommended by the Governor and appointed by the Director of Selective Service, who acts on behalf of the President in making appointments. Each new member receives 12 hours of initial training after appointment, followed by 4 hours of annual training for as long as he or she remains in the position. They may serve as Board Members for up to 20 years, if desired.
Local Board Members are uncompensated volunteers who play an important community role closely connected with our Nation's defense. If a military draft becomes necessary, approximately 2,000 Local and Appeal Boards throughout America would decide which young men, who submit a claim, receive deferments, postponements or exemptions from military service, based on Federal guidelines.

Positions are available in many communities across the Nation. If you believe you meet the standards for Selective Service Board Membership, and wish to be considered for appointment please visit our web site at: http://www.sss.gov/fslocal.htm

Regarding the posting and subsequent removal of the notice, a spokesperson for the Selective Service System was quoted  as saying:

"This not even remotely resembles efforts to kick it up a notch," said Dan Amon, a public affairs specialist for the Selective Service System.

He said the Selective Service routinely sought applicants to fill 11,000 slots on local draft boards nationwide to be ready if the draft ever were reinstated. The terms on these voluntary boards are for 20 years, and many are now expiring, he said.

"We're just going through a cycle," he said. He said when the information was posted on the Defense Department Web site, it raised some alarms. "We're not even quite sure how it got there," he said.

"We're not even quite sure how it got there."  Right. 

More information on the Selective Service program can be seen in the Vancouver paper here.  This refers to two pieces of legislation, S 89 and HR 163, AKA the 'Universal National Service Act of 2003'.  Thomas.loc.gov lists the currents status of the legislation as follows:

Title: To provide for the common defense by requiring that all young persons in the United States, including women, perform a period of military service or a period of civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Rangel, Charles B. [NY-15] (introduced 1/7/2003)      Cosponsors: 13
Related Bills: S.89
Latest Major Action: 2/3/2003 House committee/subcommittee actions. Status: Executive Comment Requested from DOD.

According to an article  on AlterNet.Org, the Selective Service's current plan calls for a final report to be submitted to the President on March 31, 2005.  If that happens, an actual draft lottery could be up and running by June 15,2005.  That happens to be a little over a month after my son's 18th birthday.  (In case you were wondering why I took the trouble to write this, which is a little off my usual subject matter.)

Blog commentary on this is universally negative, as far as I could tell.  Conservative blogs such as the Evangelical Outpost  and conservative sites such as CATO express concern that reinstating the draft could lower the quality of the military services.  Hear the CATO commentary here  (Realaudio link).  Francis has a website named BushDraft.com that includes a collection of links  about the draft.  Another  can be found at the Information Clearinghouse.  Lisa Bralts-Kelly at Handbasket? meet Hell expresses a negative opinion here.  Likewise, Tom at Livejournal/user/yesthattom  is opposed to the draft.  Kevin Brennan at Tilting at Windmills opines  that the notion of reinstating the draft is an urban legend.  This is based upon Rivka's post at Respectful of Otters.  She raises some good points that would seem to suggest that the draft is not coming back anytime soon.  She adds,

[...] it seems to me that we have enough to worry about with what Bush is actually doing. We can't afford to spare any outrage for things he's not doing."

This leaves us not knowing what the government is really up to.  Perhaps they do not know themselves what they are up to.  All this brings me back to where I started, which was the article called The Web Won't Topple Tyranny.  It may not topple tyranny, but it will sure help us keep track of what is going on.