(HOST) Americans are once again vigorously debating what to do about the war in Iraq. And commentator Bill Seamans wonders what consequences the outcome will have for the military.
(SEAMANS) All during the campaign we the people were repeatedly asked: HAD ENOUGH? Well, as we now know, the people answered with an emphatic YES!! Since then, the celebrity pundits have been trying to explain how the Democrats demolished the Bush regime with such shock and awe.
The bubble of denial in which President Bush enclosed the nation when he sent the army to war and the rest of us to the Mall has been burst, and the Democrats must now lead the people to a new unfamiliar and painful reality. The question is whether to call upon the nation to bear a fair share of the war instead of imposing the burden on what has become a small warrior class of volunteers from the lower economic and social components of our society.
The immediate issue, of course, is the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. This past weekend the Democrats flexed their new muscle on the Sunday talk shows. They called for a phased withdrawal of our troops from Iraq. Phased is one of those flexible political words that could mean as soon as possible or it could mean stretched out over an indefinite future as the situation dictates.
Then John McCain, who will not deny that he is a presidential candidate, took the opposite position – he said on Meet the Press that we need to send more troops to Iraq to control the worsening situation there and that he does not accept a gradual, or phased, withdrawal.
Meanwhile, as a card carrying member of the We the People Society I am somewhat confused by McCain’s call for more troops because he did not say where we would get them and Tim Russert did not press that question.
Last month the Pentagon told us that the army and other forces had all reached their current recruiting goals – a good sign. But then just the other day we heard another story – that our boots on the ground are so stretched out that the Pentagon is considering calling up National Guard troops that had already rotated through two years in Iraq. This would break the Pentagon promise not to again call up National Guard troops that had been deployed for twenty-four months.
And again, the reality of this situation brings up the word draft which the Republican and Democratic leaders fear to utter. The geopolitical situation for the U.S. is getting more complex and threatening around the world and it is said that the power of diplomacy comes out of the barrel of a gun. To support an effective diplomatic voice abroad without threatening a nuclear holocaust, the new Democratic controlled Congress might have to face a decision that President Bush avoided for obvious domestic political reasons – the need for a larger army than volunteerism can provide and the unavoidable realistic answer that could only be a military draft.
Bill Seamans is a former correspondent and bureau chief for ABC News in the Middle East.