Hillary’s No-Fly Zones and Resurrecting the Draft

When presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently called for no-fly zones above the Syria to deter Russia’s aerial attacks on ISIS strongholds, even though ISIS is supposedly targeted also by the U.S. The contradiction seems to be that Hillary wanted it to be an American “show.” It was a mindless, knee=jerk repeat of what she said as secretary of state urging president Obama in 2011 to establish a no-fly zone in Libya and in 2012, one in Syria.

She knows a no-fly zone is code not only for being able to shoot down Russian and Syrian planes, but a violation of international law. Worse, it could require American boots-on-the-ground to destroy ISIS and occupy Syria, as the U.S. Central Command’s general attested in mid-month to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

How many boots? About 100,000, according to former CIA deputy director Michael Morrell. As one pundit commented:

Unless Clinton somehow imagines the Russians will stop flying, and will also persuade their Syrian ally to stop flying, how does [she] expect to enforce a no-fly zone without US planes and missiles shooting down Russian and Syrian warplanes? A no-fly zone sounds bland enough, but on reflection it is clearly a stupid ill-defined unachievable tactic designed to give the impression of sophisticated toughness where there is none.

Ignoring the cost in lives and taxpayer dollars— $604,204,800,000 for FY 2016—is par for Hillary’s brand of pro-war responses to foreign crises. Real diplomacy is equated with traitors or fools and fear of international disrespect for U.S. power. It’s paradoxical that the chief purpose of the State Department is supposed to rest on diplomacy, but Secretary Clinton, like predecessor Henry Kissinger, too often rested it on the military. Her low opinion of diplomacy was amply demonstrated when she opened the U.S. embassy as a CIA outpost in Benghazi in midst of a civil war. Such contempt for her own “nest” killed an ambassador and three staffers.

Lining up with the Powerful

Add to this a lifelong practice of lining up with the powerful, whether politicians, bankers, or generals. In 2012, she and Gen. David Petraeus demanded Obama spend $500,000,000 to train and arm 5,000 anti-Assad rebels despite a baleful history of mercenaries selling the weapons, taking payoffs—and vanishing. As usual in Iraq and Afghanistan, the 5,000 dwindled to none, followed a few weeks ago in the program’s cancellation. The only beneficiaries beyond enemies in such deals have always been contractors resupplying weapons, uniforms, and equipage to the Pentagon.

Using beguiling smiles and well-rehearsed poise and wit in the  Democratic presidential debates, was a steely-eyed Machiavellian trying to outdo Britain’s iron-ladies Margaret Thatcher and Elizabeth I or Germany’s Angela Merkel. But in campaigning, she comes off’s more like a grandmotherly Ma Barker. Obviously, she’s not abandoned the outdated belief that a woman must be many times more “balls-y” than a man to be a world leader. It’s no coincidence that her book Hard Choices was published in plenty of time for the 2016 election season.

The need to prove she is presidential timber is shown in tough military talk matching the Senate’s chief warhawk John McCain or even legendary generals Douglas MacArthur and George Patton. It may endear her to superpatriotic colleagues and constituents, munitions profiteers, and construction contractors. But it won’t endear her to Americans angry about causing unwinnable foreign wars to control oil and gas resources and markets, particularly in the Mideast where religious wars are still as ferocious as those during the Crusades.

Meanwhile at the Pentagon, the response to Hillary’s demand had to be dread of a draft because it’s running out of volunteer troops. Oldtimers probably shuddered, remembering the public’s massive revulsions about the Vietnam draft call-ups, especially the two-day 1967 encirclement of the Pentagon by more than 100,000 anti-war marchers from around the country.

Even more shocking to them were 1,000 Vietnam returnees—including today’s Secretary of State John Kerry—throwing combat ribbons on the Capitol steps in 1971, eligibles burning draft cards, 571,000 draft dodgers of whom 50,000 fled to Canada, Britain, and Sweden.

The Volunteer Army Is Significantly Shorthanded

It will be much worse if a no-fly collision over Syria results in a draft. Yet conscription of 18 to 25 year-old men—and these days possibly women—will be vital to the impossible mission of trying to rid the Mideast of the proliferation of ISIS fighters. That’s because next year, the Army will have only 199,428 serving below the rank of sergeant. The chief recruitment officer, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Snow, just complained he needs 60,000 soldiers to refill this fast-diminishing pool of volunteers and those refusing to re-enlist for more deployments.

Evidently recruiters’ past prey—the jobless, the near-illiterate, and gullible—have wised up about the seductive pitch of “three-hots-and-a-cot,” $18,000 per year, free health/dental care, and college—plus a handsome dress uniform and guns. Post-service benefits somehow don’t seem to resonate anymore: student loans, perpetual health care, federal jobs, job training, and, for immigrants, a fast track to U.S. citizenship.

What’s happened?

For one thing, perhaps watching ISIS beheading videos terrified youths. Secondly, they are now aware of post-deployment unemployment. They know they probably were not qualified to use the proffered college benefits, and probably fear becoming lifetime physical or mental casualties prone to addiction or suicide and, certainly, heavily dependent on Veterans Administration services.

Now a draft is called by any president declaring a national emergency such as a war they’ve planned, usually for annexation, seizing resources, or a global business monopoly. President James Polk’s Mexican war comes to mind in annexing the Southwest. So does William McKinley’s Spanish-American war to colonize the Philippines.

Bush’s conquest and occupation of Iraq was to seize its vast oil reserves, as in Obama’s demonization of Iran for its even vaster oil reserves, and the encirclement of Russia and China to block oil/gas deliveries to the global marketplaces.

Achieving such goals would have taken thousands of draftees’ then and now. The draft ended in 1973 and the Pentagon turned to volunteers because such recruits were unlikely to mutiny as in Vietnam when the real mission seemed unworthy to die for. Then some sort of “false-flag” operation to justify a “call-up”—followed by stirring appeals to “macho-patriotism” and threats of prison—unless those boots are filled.

True, conscription supposedly ended in 1973, chiefly because Vietnam draftees were becoming mutinous—some killing officers—upon discovering it was just another unwinnable “rich-man’s war.” That if it were to prevent the spread of Chinese Communism in Southeast Asia, why was president Richard Nixon visiting China to re-establish diplomatic relations?

By law, the Selective Service System can’t shut down. Currently, it has 124 employees, thousands of volunteers around the country, and a budget of $22,900,000 in 2014. Though its most recent report to Congress constantly declares that no draft is likely, red-flag words such as “emergency” and “conscription” each appear 11 times in 27 pages. The Executive branch’s Selective Service agency, in short, is always ready to start drafting its 18-25 year old registrants. Federal law forces youths to register at 18 and reregister regularly until age 26 if addresses change.

Draft-Dodgers Face 5 Years in Federal Prison

The defiant still face five-year prison sentences and/or a $250,000 fine. And the agency still captures registration “dodgers,” thanks to the Internet and drivers’ license applications—and other kinds of “efficient” methods of sleuthing. In 1965-75 alone, some 4,000 draft-dodgers wound up in federal prisons .

Curiously, the report’s emphasis on Latino recruits has been greatly intensified, raising the suspicion that playing on deportation fears or ignorance of the law will plow fertile fields for cannon fodder. Those seeking “conscientious-objector” classification face greater scrutiny and interrogation than before. If it’s granted, a CO must do two years of servitude to private industry on jobs unlikely to enhance a post-duty résumé.

It’s delusional to believe a woman president any more than a man in the White House wouldn’t rigorously enforce a draft after declaring a national emergency and, then, vigorously cheer them on. As secretary of state, Hillary stopped off at many of the 800 U.S. bases around the world enroute to diplomatic visits to dictators and premiers .

What’s telling, however, are her rare visits to military hospitals to look at war talk’s consequences. She did visit Walter Reed Army hospital once in 2003, then blamed patients’ fate on President George Bush’s “arrogant foreign policy”—as if her Libyan and Syrian deeds and today’s saber rattling at Putin are any different.

It’s doubtful her words and actions will change policies even if she made regular trips to VA hospital waiting rooms to hear tales about bureaucratic screw-ups or long waits for critical care. Or ever attended a Winter Soldier’s convention. She just told Rachel Maddow’s TV audience that it was Republicans who made the VA-care scandal far more “widespread” than it actually was.

She particularly seems blind to the blood-drenched results of no-fly zones and their aftermath in Libya by demanding one be imposed over Syria. Or she is indifferent to widening the conflict so that it requires a draft to fight a full-scale war with ISIS—something most Americans probably would strongly oppose. She also refuses to recognize that most people are unhappy and increasingly impoverished saying “enough is enough” about disdain for the public’s basic needs. They’re sick of the U.S. baiting Putin, never trusting Iran, or toppling yet another defiant, mustached satrap blocking deliveries for the West’s global oil barons.

She certainly has had to notice the electrifying positive response by millions of voters last summer to the possible presidential candidacy of the unhawkish and genuine Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Enthusiasm for her domestic positions has yet to be quelled, judging from unending calls that she become the Democrats’ vice-presidential nominee.

Warren’s fervor for addressing America’s crushing domestic problems has fired up the huge, passionate crowds now packing Bernie Sanders campaign trail. They want a president who backs words with actions to solve long-festering, monumental homeland needs. Not endless wars that will be fought by draftees for the duration to bend and bully the world into bowing the knee to any White House commandment.

Judging from the standing-room-only crowds attending any Sanders’ event at which he emphasizes domestic needs over foreign spending—almost 30,000 were at the one I attended in Portland, OR—most Americans want much of the billions allocated to the Pentagon to be spent on infrastructure, jobs creation, health care, transportation, education, housing, veterans, battling both climate-change disasters and discrimination, reforming Wall Street and campaign financing. Guns no longer have priority over butter, a precept that Hillary doesn’t seem to share.

With the exception of thousands of anti-war protesters, most Americans have stood by passively for years as the military started brush fires all over the globe, particularly in the Mideast and Afghanistan. They won’t stand by if tough talk turns into the need to resurrect the draft. Lack of interest in faraway wars always changes when a draft puts such conflicts on kitchen tables. The uproar will never be contained by patriotic propaganda—or a militarized police force attempting to quell uprisings. Indeed, the police and veterans probably will join protestors on the barricades in an explosion that has been gathering steam for years all across America.

In other words, Hillary would do well to stop the tough foreign talk and knee-jerk militaristic responses that could bring on a draft. And, instead, force herself to put her energies into promoting domestic tranquility here at home. That’s what Americans are demanding, and that’s what they’ll be looking for in a president next year.

Barbara G. Ellis, Ph.D., is the principal of a Portland (OR) writing/pr firm and a professional writer. A long-time journalist, she was a journalism professor at (Oregon State University/Louisiana’s McNeese State University). She’s written dozens of articles for magazines, several books, was a nominee for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in history (The Moving Appeal). A 350.org member and life-long political activist, she has been involved in geography and hydrology courses at Portland State University. Read other articles by Barbara.