Monday, September 15, 2008


World Socialist - In remarks that clearly pointed toward the restoration of the military draft under an Obama administration, the Democratic candidate said that his job as president would include demanding that the American people recognize an "obligation" for military service. "If we are going into war, then all of us go, not just some," Senator Barack Obama declared.

Obama's comments came as he and his Republican opponent, Senator John McCain, took part in a forum on national service at Columbia University in New York City. Earlier in the day, both candidates joined in a memorial service at the site of the World Trade Center, commemorating the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

While "national service" encompasses more than the military, including such government-run programs as the Peace Corps, Americorps and Teach for America, as well as private and religious programs, both McCain and Obama focused on expanding the US Armed Forces as a major goal of the next administration, whether Democratic or Republican.

In an indication of the bipartisan support for the increasing militarization of American society, McCain jokingly offered to name Obama his coordinator for national service if the Republican were to win the election, and Obama reciprocated.

The forum was co-hosted by Judy Woodruff of the Public Broadcasting Service and Richard Stengel, editor of Time magazine. Woodruff introduced Stengel as the man responsible for the magazine's 2007 cover story, "The Case for National Service," which Woodruff said had "ignited this movement.". . .

Obama [made] his most direct statement of the campaign about expanding military service, declaring: "But it's also important that a president speaks to military service as an obligation not just of some, but of many. You know, I traveled, obviously, a lot over the last 19 months. And if you go to small towns, throughout the Midwest or the Southwest or the South, every town has tons of young people who are serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. That's not always the case in other parts of the country, in more urban centers. And I think it's important for the president to say, this is an important obligation. If we are going into war, then all of us go, not just some.". . .

In political terms, Obama's appearance at Columbia was aimed at demonstrating to the American political establishment that he is prepared to reject any pressure from antiwar college students, who are a major component of his campaign's personnel and volunteers. To that end, Obama not only called for expanded military service, he directly attacked the exclusion of the Reserve Officers Training Corps from many college campuses.

Stengel noted that Columbia had invited President Ahmadinejad of Iran to speak on the campus, but "haven't invited ROTC to be on campus since 1969."

Obama replied, "Yes, I think we've made a mistake on that. I recognize that there are students here who have differences in terms of military policy. But the notion that young people here at Columbia or anywhere, in any university, aren't offered the choice, the option of participating in military service, I think is a mistake."

ROTC became a focus of hostility on hundreds of campuses during the Vietnam War era, and was in many cases banned as a student organization. These restrictions largely ended after 1975, but they were continued or reestablished on a handful of campuses after the Clinton administration established the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, reaffirming the longtime Pentagon ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military. Such a ban violates the non-discrimination rules imposed by many campuses on corporate recruiters.


At September 19, 2008 10:30 AM, Blogger dlfg13 said...

Honestly, I would support this move. I am hopeful, but not all that optimistic, that a return of the draft would also invoke a return of the strong anti-war movements of the '60s. If everyone, rich and poor, runs the same risk of losing their sons and daughters in war, perhaps the population would be less gleeful about going to war. In an ideal world, it could mark the beginning of the end of the military-industrial complex, but that is nothing more than wishful thinking. If nothing else, maybe Canada would once again provide refuge to soldiers who protest the war, as they did in Vietnam but have not done in the most current wars because we have a completely volunteer military.

At November 17, 2008 5:29 PM, Anonymous Anarcissie said...

Worse is better? I don't think that has worked out very well in the past.


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