Something very disturbing is going on that fits perfectly the term "back-door draft," which we take to be one more step toward an actual front-door call-up:
In the recent past, when soldiers have enlisted, they've typically agreed to an eight-year commitment. But they've also typically been allowed to end their active duty obligations earlier by signing on with the Reserves or the National Guard. We all know how El Presidente and his Pentagon has relied heavily on those pools of soldiers to pursue his policy of preemption.
But there's another group we haven't heard so much about ... the "Individual Ready Reserve," "a pool of former soldiers seldom ordered back to work. Ordinarily, these former soldiers do not get military pay, nor do they train. They receive points toward a military retirement and an address form to update once a year."
In the past year, the Army has called back to active duty over 4,000 members of this Individual Ready Reserve, and there's another 110,000 of these poor schlimazels just waiting for the axe to fall.
Rick Howell from Tuscaloosa, Ala., is pretty typical of these ex-soldiers: "I consider myself a civilian," said Howell, who said he thought he had left the Army behind in 1997 after more than a decade flying helicopters. "I've done my time. I've got a brand new baby and a wife, and I haven't touched the controls of an aircraft in seven years. I'm 47 years old. How could they be calling me? How could they even want me?"
Come on, Rick, surely you know the answer to that question. El Presidente needs cannon fodder. He's promised he won't draft anybody. Technically, he isn't actually drafting you ... just following the small print in the agreement you signed when you got out.
But the Army is encountering uncomfortable resistance from guys exactly like Rick. According to this a.m.'s NYTimes, some 2,000 Individual Ready Reservists are saying in effect, "Hell no! We won't go!" Some are suing and winning. So far the Army has been unwilling apparently to aggressively oppose these law suits, since it's tiptoeing around bad publicity. Even worse, "of about 2,500 who were due to arrive on military bases for refresher training by Nov. 7th, some 733 had not shown up." That's another way to deal with a backdoor draft: Ignore it. "Come and get me, sucka!"
With the Army often caving when challenged on its right to call up these old guys, additional pressure will mount to call up more of those 110,000 other Individual Ready Reserves who haven't been called yet. And when the public actually becomes aware of what's going on, the resistance will mount, and well it should! The Times speculates that no one really knows how many recalled Individual Ready Reservists actually have already gone to Iraq, meekly accepting what they might well have challenged and got out of.
But everyone knows you can't continue to fight a ground war with aging reservists. It takes young guys to kick in doors day after day.
Frankly, we don't exactly understand why the Christian Right isn't volunteering its strong and clean-living young sons to get themselves on over there and win this holy battle against the evil-doers. We had thought that their "mandate" given to El Presidente on November 2nd might apply here to their personal service in the interests of spreading Christian "freedom" throughout the Moslem world.