Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Preemptive Attack on the Draft

As reinstating the draft is impossible until the November elections are over, the Pentagon is busy coming up with various stop-gap measures. It decided to move "3,600 U.S. troops [the 2nd Brigade of the Army's 2nd Infantry Division] from South Korea to Iraq this summer, a shift that highlights the stress on the U.S. Army and promises a significant change in the way the United States helps defend the Korean peninsula. . . .The move will deplete U.S. forces in South Korea by nearly 10 percent, the first major shift of resources out of the country in decades" (Josh White, "U.S. Troops Moving From S. Korea to Iraq: 3,600 to Leave in Shift of Defense Plan," Washington Post, May 18, 2004, p. A15). At the same time, it made a proposal to make use of IRS data to track down veterans in the Individual Ready Reserve:
The Defense Department, strapped for troops for missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, has proposed to Congress that it tap the Internal Revenue Service to locate out-of-touch reservists.

The unusual measure, which the Pentagon said has been examined by lawyers, would allow the IRS to pass on addresses for tens of thousands of former military members who still face recall into the active duty. . . .

Part or all of nine of the Army's 10 active-duty divisions are deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan, and 167,000 members of the reserves or National Guard are on active duty, with thousands more on alert for mobilization.

Unknown to most Americans, though, is the existence of the Individual Ready Reserve, which has more than 280,000 members.

The IRR is a distinctly different animal than the drilling reserves or National Guard.

Those in the IRR are people who have completed their active-duty tours but are subject to involuntary recall for a certain number of years. For example, a soldier who serves four years on active duty remains in the IRR for another four years.

During that time, however, they receive no pay, do not drill with a unit and are otherwise completely civilian.

The problem for the Pentagon is that the whereabouts of 50,200 of those veterans are unknown to the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force. The largest number -- 40,700 -- are former Army GIs. . . .

"While the military today is comprised of an all-volunteer force, every individual who volunteers for service in the armed forces voluntarily accepts an eight-year military service obligation," [Lt. Col. Bob] Stone [a spokesman for the assistant defense secretary for reserve affairs] said.

The troops are required to keep the services' updated on their residences, but many do not. Thirty-four percent of former Army soldiers cannot be tracked. The unknowns in the other services are in the single digit percentages.

"One of the difficulties that the military services confront is keeping addresses current," Stone said.

The Defense Department has called on members of the IRR before. About 7,000 people have been recalled since 9-11, Stone said. Approximately 30,000 were recalled for service during the buildup for the Persian Gulf War in 1990 and 1991, he said. ("IRS May Help DOD Find Reservists," Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 18, 2004)
From the new U.S.-British drafted Security Council resolution, it is clear that Washington is in no hurry to bring its occupation of Iraq to an end; far from it, Washington wants to have, if possible, the cover of a UN resolution that gives it a mandate to continue the occupation indefinitely:
As some media accounts openly acknowledge, "the force's mandate is open-ended unless the council adopts another resolution to withdraw the foreign troops."

Let that sink for a moment. The Security Council cannot end the mandate of the occupation forces without a new resolution -- which would be subject to a U.S. veto.

Here’s the key passage:
“6. Reaffirms the authorization for the multinational force under unified command established under resolution 1511 (2003) . . . and decides further that the mandate for the multinational force shall be reviewed 12 months from the date of this resolution or at the request of the Transitional Government of Iraq;”
As Rahul Mahajan of Empire Notes points out, this overturns the key decision of the only previous resolution that refers to the status of occupation of forces, UNSCR 1511, passed in September 2003. Resolution 1511 has automatic expiration of the mandate built in. Here’s the relevant part:
“15. Decides that the Council shall review the requirements and mission of the multinational force referred to in paragraph 13 above not later than one year from the date of this resolution, and that in any case the mandate of the force shall expire upon the completion of the political process as described in paragraphs 4 through 7 and 10 above, and expresses readiness to consider on that occasion any future need for the continuation of the multinational force, taking into account the views of an internationally recognized, representative government of Iraq.”
In other words, the mandate for the occupation would end the latest upon the "completion of the political process" which is defined basically as a constitutional conference and democratic elections.

Previously, the mandate of the occupation would end unless the U.N. Security Council *affirmatively* authorized its continuation. Now, it will continue unless the United States refrains from vetoing a new resolution ending the mandate. Effectively, all that a future "sovereign" government of Iraq could do would be to ask for the United States to review its own occupation, please.

It's not like the U.S. is denying this state of affairs as Reuters reports, "Deputy U.S. Ambassador James Cunningham acknowledged there was no authority for Iraq to ask foreign troops to leave."

In the meantime, the U.S.-led occupation force "shall have authority to take all necessary measures to contribute to the maintenance of security."

(Zeynep Toufe, "The New Draft U.N. Resolution Allows for Perpetual Occupation," CounterPunch, May 26, 2004)
Once the Pentagon has exhausted all the stop-gap measures, what will it do? A major change in US policy toward China and North Korea, which will allow for a larger-scale shift of US troops from Japan and South Korea to Iraq than the aforementioned move of 3,600 troops? Not very likely -- John Kerry is no Richard Nixon. Having done the math, some activists, therefore, have launched a preemptive attack on the draft: e.g., People Against the Draft.

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