Anti-Recruitment or Anti-Draft? (was Re: [Marxism] Re: Does anybodyfeel a draft? I don't)

David McDonald dbmcdonald at
Tue May 31 21:08:34 MDT 2005

I have posted three or four times about the counter-recruitment movement
emerging among the youth right now. Carlos, you have never to my knowledge
commented on any aspect of this until your last post, where the points you
made had to do with retention, your credentials (which I have never
challenged) and some ancient history. I assumed that you weren't interested.

Sorry about that. I should have said that I recall nothing in what you wrote
that displays interest in the emerging counter-recruitment movement.


Lets wait until FY 2004-2005 closes and then we will know if Gen. Rochelle
was full of hot air or he was actually creating the space for the draft.


OK, Carlos, check that out in October. Meanwhile, the youth are up in arms
about counter-recruitment and doing something about it, and that's what
interests me. In Seattle these young people are multi-tendency, which is to
say that they have friends among various groups, but they seem
overwhelmingly independent-minded to me.


Now, even in peacetime and with high recruitment, senior military personnel
will bitch and whine about their lack of manpower, their needs for more
divisions and brigades, their need for more exposure to high schoolers, and
the re-installation of the draft.


But it's NOT peacetime, it's war time. I have not seen ANY whining about
"their lack of manpower" until the recent comments by various officers to
the effect that the war is likely to go on indefinitely, i.e. they no longer
predict a draw-down of troops (this is a change in position). See, for

By John F. Burns and Eric Schmitt

New York Times
May 19, 2005  (The article is no longer available
for free from the NYTimes.)

It is one thing to say that you need, theoretically, x number of divisions
to fight y anticipated conflicts, and quite another to say, as one general
officer did recently, that current troops shortages would mean that any
future conflict would have to be "fought dirty," i.e. with more civilian
casualties. I personally thought that remark was pretty classic chutzpah:
give us more troops or we'll REALLY start slaughtering the population.

The only general officer who contradicted the civilian leadership on
manpower needs in Iraq, Erik Shinseki (sp?) was retired before the war
started reportedly for making that remark. Moreover, Bush has avoided
commenting on the level of forces in Iraq relative to the tasks by saying
publicly that force levels in Iraq are up to the military to determine,
while he and the other civilians have the job of providing the military
whatever they need. He is therefore, in my opinion, somewhat vulnerable if
the military steps up (from my point of view) or initiates (from Carlos') a
discussion of inadequate force levels or the inability to maintain current

What will absolutely galvanize the military leadership is any sense that
they are going to "lose" the army in Iraq for whatever reasons, as they
began to in Vietnam, when some soldiers just flat began disobeying orders to
engage the enemy and a few tossed grenades into the tents of officers who
didn't get the point. From this point of view, force cohesion, trouble with
retention is, as Carlos points out, potentially very bad news. Just giving
up on the army as a career and getting out is one thing, but going into
opposition to the war publicly is quite another.

Here's a fact bearing on retention that may interest Marxmailers: Michael
Hoffman, a founder of Iraq Veterans Against the War, stated in a public
meeting in Seattle that IVAW has about 200 members, including some in Iraq.
That seems to me to be a relatively high number for a recently organized
group swimming against a pretty strong current. Michael Hoffman explained in
very down-to-earth terms how difficult it was -- and is -- to publicly come
out against and organize against the war, because of his lingering sense of
letting his buddies down who are still in Iraq and facing danger.

IVAW is a pretty big deal, in my estimation. Like the young people fighting
against the recruiters, they are a new phenomenon borne out of the current
struggle against the war in Iraq, unlike, fortunately, many of us who harken
way way back. They are not part of the warmed-over stew left from the 60's,
70's, 80's and 90's, but authentic forces brought into motion by this
struggle. That is my point.

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