'New World Order' BlowBack


U.S. Military and Credibility Stretched Far
'New World Order' BlowBack Looming

MIDDLEEAST.ORG http://www.middleeast.org/ - MER - Washington - 18 February:

The Americans are squandering their riches, their military power, and their credibility at an escalating and unsustainable pace. These geopolitical and economic realities may well become the real legacy cost of the mistaken imperial adventures in the Middle East in the crusading years of President George Bush II.

While the Americans are bogged down bleeding money, manpower, and believability the rest of the world is fast moving ahead. The Europeans may now be determined to establish their own military identity separate from NATO and the US to match their increasingly significant economic and political power. The Chinese are racing ahead to become the real superpower of the 21st century. The Russians are still playing the Great Power game and remain an unknown force in the years ahead. And what all the threatening and badgering about 'weapons of mass destruction' in Iran is really all about is a desperate U.S./Israeli attempt to prevent any further power centers from emerging, be they Arab, Muslim, or as may be beginning an alliance of historical Persia with Arab and Muslim States and regional forces.

This first article from Rolling Stone is about the state of the American military and the possibility of the dreaded return of the Draft. The second article, from the front page of today's Washington Post, highlights how the Americans already need help 'containing' the Chinese and are even pushing to change the pacifist Constitution imposed on Imperial Japan in the post-World War II days of General Douglas MacArthur before the Korean War...another conflict which remains smoldering and threatening.

The Return of the Draft

With the army desperate for recruits, should college students be packing their bags for Canada?


Uncle Sam wants you. He needs you. He'll bribe you to sign up. He'll strong-arm you to re-enlist. And if that's not enough, he's got a plan to draft you.

In the three decades since the Vietnam War, the "all-volunteer Army" has become a bedrock principle of the American military. "It's a magnificent force," Vice President Dick Cheney declared during the election campaign last fall, "because those serving are ones who signed up to serve." But with the Army and Marines perilously overextended by the war in Iraq, that volunteer foundation is starting to crack. The "weekend warriors" of the Army Reserve and the National Guard now make up almost half the fighting force on the front lines, and young officers in the Reserve are retiring in droves. The Pentagon, which can barely attract enough recruits to maintain current troop levels, has involuntarily extended the enlistments of as many as 100,000 soldiers. Desperate for troops, the Army has lowered its standards to let in twenty-five percent more high school dropouts, and the Marines are now offering as much as $30,000 to anyone who re-enlists. To understand the scope of the crisis, consider this: The United States is pouring nearly as much money into incentives for new recruits -- almost $300 million -- as it is into international tsunami relief.

"The Army's maxed out here," says retired Gen. Merrill McPeak, who served as Air Force chief of staff under the first President Bush. "The Defense Department and the president seem to be still operating off the rosy scenario that this will be over soon, that this pain is temporary and therefore we'll just grit our teeth, hunker down and get out on the other side of this. That's a bad assumption." The Bush administration has sworn up and down that it will never reinstate a draft. During the campaign last year, the president dismissed the idea as nothing more than "rumors on the Internets" and declared, "We're not going to have a draft -- period." Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, in an Op-Ed blaming "conspiracy mongers" for "attempting to scare and mislead young Americans," insisted that "the idea of reinstating the draft has never been debated, endorsed, discussed, theorized, pondered or even whispered by anyone in the Bush administration."

That assertion is demonstrably false. According to an internal Selective Service memo made public under the Freedom of Information Act, the agency's acting director met with two of Rumsfeld's undersecretaries in February 2003 precisely to debate, discuss and ponder a return to the draft. The memo duly notes the administration's aversion to a draft but adds, "Defense manpower officials concede there are critical shortages of military personnel with certain special skills, such as medical personnel, linguists, computer network engineers, etc." The potentially prohibitive cost of "attracting and retaining such personnel for military service," the memo adds, has led "some officials to conclude that, while a conventional draft may never be needed, a draft of men and women possessing these critical skills may be warranted in a future crisis." This new draft, it suggests, could be invoked to meet the needs of both the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security.

The memo then proposes, in detail, that the Selective Service be "re-engineered" to cover all Americans -- "men and (for the first time) women" -- ages eighteen to thirty-four. In addition to name, date of birth and Social Security number, young adults would have to provide the agency with details of their specialized skills on an ongoing basis until they passed out of draft jeopardy at age thirty-five. Testifying before Congress two weeks after the meeting, acting director of Selective Service Lewis Brodsky acknowledged that "consultations with senior Defense manpower officials" have spurred the agency to shift its preparations away from a full-scale, Vietnam-style draft of untrained men "to a draft of smaller numbers of critical-skills personnel."

Richard Flahavan, spokesman for Selective Service, tells Rolling Stone that preparing for a skills-based draft is "in fact what we have been doing." For starters, the agency has updated a plan to draft nurses and doctors. But that's not all. "Our thinking was that if we could run a health-care draft in the future," Flahavan says, "then with some very slight tinkering we could change that skill to plumbers or linguists or electrical engineers or whatever the military was short." In other words, if Uncle Sam decides he needs people with your skills, Selective Service has the means to draft you -- and quick.

But experts on military manpower say the focus on drafting personnel with special skills misses the larger point. The Army needs more soldiers, not just more doctors and linguists. "What you've got now is a real shortage of grunts -- guys who can actually carry bayonets," says McPeak. A wholesale draft may be necessary, he adds, "to deal with the situation we've got ourselves into. We've got to have a bigger Army."

Michael O'Hanlon, a military-manpower scholar at the Brookings Institute, believes a return to a full-blown draft will become "unavoidable" if the United States is forced into another war. "Let's say North Korea strikes a deal with Al Qaeda to sell them a nuclear weapon or something," he says. "I frankly don't see how you could fight two wars at the same time with the all-volunteer approach." If a second Korean War should break out, the United States has reportedly committed to deploying a force of nearly 700,000 to defend South Korea -- almost half of America's entire military.

The politics of the draft are radioactive: Polls show that less than twenty percent of Americans favor forced military service. But conscription has some unlikely champions, including veterans and critics of the administration who are opposed to Bush's war in Iraq. Reinstating the draft, they say, would force every level of society to participate in military service, rather than placing a disproportionate burden on minorities and the working class. African-Americans, who make up roughly thirteen percent of the civilian population, account for twenty-two percent of the armed forces. And the Defense Department acknowledges that recruits are drawn "primarily from families in the middle and lower-middle socioeconomic strata."

A societywide draft would also make it more difficult for politicians to commit troops to battle without popular approval. "The folks making the decisions are committing other people's lives to a war effort that they're not making any sacrifices for," says Charles Sheehan-Miles, who fought in the first Gulf War and now serves as director of Veterans for Common Sense. Under the current all-volunteer system, fewer than a dozen members of Congress have children in the military.

Charlie Moskos, a professor of military sociology at Northwestern University, says the volunteer system also limits the political fallout of unpopular wars. "Without a draft, there's really no antiwar movement," Moskos says. Nearly sixty percent of Americans believe the war in Iraq was a mistake, he notes, but they have no immediate self-interest in taking to the streets because "we're willing to pay people to die for us. It doesn't reflect very well on the character of our society."

Even military recruiters agree that the only way to persuade average Americans to make long-term sacrifices in war is for the children of the elite to put their lives on the line. In a recent meeting with military recruiters, Moskos discussed the crisis in enlistment. "I asked them would they prefer to have their advertising budget tripled or have Jenna Bush join the Army," he says. "They unanimously chose the Jenna option."

One of the few politicians willing to openly advocate a return to the draft is Rep. Charles Rangel, a Democrat from New York, who argues that the current system places an immoral burden on America's underprivileged. "It shouldn't be just the poor and the working poor who find their way into harm's way," he says. In the days leading up to the Iraq war, Rangel introduced a bill to reinstate the draft -- with absolutely no deferments. "If the kids and grandkids of the president and the Cabinet and the Pentagon were vulnerable to going to Iraq, we never would have gone -- no question in my mind," he says. "The closer this thing comes home to Americans, the quicker we'll be out of Iraq."

But instead of exploring how to share the burden more fairly, the military is cooking up new ways to take advantage of the economically disadvantaged. Rangel says military recruiters have confided in him that they're targeting inner cities and rural areas with high unemployment. In December, the National Guard nearly doubled its enlistment bonus to $10,000, and the Army is trying to attract urban youth with a marketing campaign called "Taking It to the Streets," which features a pimped-out yellow Hummer and a basketball exhibition replete with free throwback jerseys. President Bush has also signed an executive order allowing legal immigrants to apply for citizenship immediately -- rather than wait five years -- if they volunteer for active duty.

"It's so completely unethical and immoral to induce people that have limited education and limited job ability to have to put themselves in harm's way for ten, twenty or thirty thousand dollars," Rangel says. "Just how broke do you have to be to take advantage of these incentives?" Seducing soldiers with cold cash also unnerves military commanders. "We must consider the point at which we confuse 'volunteer to become an American soldier' with 'mercenary,' " Lt. Gen. James Helmly, the commander of the Army Reserve, wrote in a memo to senior Army leadership in December.

The Reserve, Helmly warns, "is rapidly degenerating into a broken force." The Army National Guard is also in trouble: It missed its recruitment goals of 56,000 by more than 5,000 in fiscal year 2004 and is already 2,000 soldiers short in fiscal 2005. To keep enough boots on the ground, the Pentagon has stopped asking volunteer soldiers to extend their service -- and started demanding it. Using a little-known provision called "stop loss," the military is forcing reservists and guardsmen to remain on active duty indefinitely. "This is an 'all-volunteer Army' with footnotes," says McPeak. "And it's the footnotes that are being held in Iraq against their wishes. If that's not a back-door draft, tell me what is."

David Qualls, who joined the Arkansas National Guard for a year, is one of 40,000 troops in Iraq who have been informed that their enlistment has been extended until December 24th, 2031. "I've served five months past my one-year obligation," says Qualls, the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the military with breach of contract. "It's time to let me go back to my life. It's a question of fairness, and not only for myself. This is for the thousands of other people that are involuntarily extended in Iraq. Let us go home."

The Army insists that most "stop-lossed" soldiers will be held on the front lines for no longer than eighteen months. But Jules Lobel, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights who is representing eight National Guardsmen in a lawsuit challenging the extensions, says the 2031 date is being used to strong-arm volunteers into re-enlisting. According to Lobel, the military is telling soldiers, "We're giving you a chance to voluntarily re-enlist -- and if you don't do it, we'll screw you. And the first way we'll screw you is to put you in until 2031."

But threatening volunteers, military experts warn, could be the quickest way to ensure a return to the draft. According to O'Hanlon at the Brookings Institute, such "callousness" may make it impossible to recruit new soldiers -- no matter how much money you throw at them. And if bigger sign-up bonuses and more aggressive recruitment tactics don't do the trick, says Helmly of the Army Reserve, it could "force the nation into an argument" about reinstating the draft.

In the end, it may simply come down to a matter of math. In January, Bush told America's soldiers that "much more will be asked of you" in his second term, even as he openly threatened Iran with military action. Another war, critics warn, would push the all-volunteer force to its breaking point. "This damn thing is just an explosion that's about to happen," says Rangel. Bush officials "can say all they want that they don't want the draft, but there's not going to be that many more buttons to push Rolling Stone, 27 January 2005

Japan to Join U.S. Policy on Taiwan
Growth of China Seen Behind Shift

By Anthony Faiola
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, February 18, 2005; Page A01

TOKYO, Feb. 17 -- The United States and Japan will declare Saturday for the first time in a joint agreement that Taiwan is a mutual security concern, according to a draft of the document. Analysts called the move a demonstration of Japan's willingness to confront the rapidly growing might of China.

The United States has long focused attention on the Chinese government's threat to use military force against Taiwan if the island, which China views as a renegade province, moves toward independence. Until now, Japan has been content to let the United States bear the brunt of Beijing's displeasure.

But in the most significant alteration since 1996 to the U.S.-Japan Security Alliance, which remains the cornerstone of U.S. interests in East Asia, Japan will join the Bush administration in identifying security in the Taiwan Strait as a "common strategic objective." Set for release after a meeting of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and their Japanese counterparts in Washington on Saturday, the revisions will also call for Japan to take a greater role in conjunction with U.S. forces both in Asia and beyond, according to a draft copy obtained by The Washington Post.

Although it is likely to anger China, the move is being welcomed by Taiwan, which, despite having been occupied by Japan from 1895 to 1945, maintains an empathy for the Japanese that is rare in Asia. Elderly Taiwanese, for instance, still show delight in Japanese language and culture. Last month, Taiwan inaugurated its $3 billion, Japanese-built bullet train, which can reach speeds of almost 200 miles per hour. And in December, Japan angered China by granting a tourist visa to former Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui, who was educated in Japan and had an emotional reunion here with a former professor.

"This is the first time that Japan has made its stance clear; in the past, Japan has been very indirect on the Taiwan issue," said Koh Se-kai, Taiwan's special representative to Japan, which since 1972 has had formal relations with China but not with Taiwan. "We're relieved that Japan has become more assertive."

Japan's constitution, drafted by the United States at the end of World War II, prohibits the country from going to war. But there is strong pressure to revise the constitution so that Japan's Self-Defense Forces can act as a real military.

Along with the threat of North Korea, which declared itself a nuclear-armed nation last week, the rise of China has become the primary concern fueling Japan's shift away from nearly six decades of pacifism.

Japan has generally been inclined to sidestep conflict with China. But in recent years, China has dramatically modernized its military while expanding its sphere of influence in Asia on the strength of its booming economy. The effort to extend its reach has included exploring for natural gas near Japanese-claimed waters only 110 miles north of Taiwan and countering Japan's claims to exclusive economic zones in the Pacific.

In response, Japan has also shifted course in the past year, moving to defend its territorial claims in the East China Sea. Last November, Japan dispatched aircraft on a two-day hunt for a Han-class Chinese submarine that briefly intruded into Japan's far southern waters in what many here saw as a test of Japanese resolve in the event of Chinese aggression against Taiwan.

"It would be wrong for us to send a signal to China that the United States and Japan will watch and tolerate China's military invasion of Taiwan," said Shinzo Abe, the acting secretary general of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party who is widely considered a likely successor to Junichiro Koizumi as prime minister. "If the situation surrounding Japan threatens our security, Japan can provide U.S. forces with support."

Such talk reflects what diplomats and scholars call the defining drama of East Asia for the 21st century -- the competition for economic and political dominance in the region between Japan, the world's second-largest economy, and China, the world's most populous nation and a fast-developing economic and military power.

"I think the biggest challenge to Japan is going to be how it arranges its relationship with China," the U.S. ambassador to Japan, Howard H. Baker Jr., said on Wednesday. "But how they do that is going to say a lot about stability in this region for years to come. . . . Japan is a superpower; China is on its way to being a superpower. They are both rich, they both have a history and tradition in this region, and they don't much like each other, I think."

Analysts note that both China and Japan have substantial reasons for restraint. Last year, China surpassed the United States as Japan's number one trading partner, while massive investments by Japanese companies in search of cheaper labor and larger markets have become a driving factor behind China's blistering 9.5-percent annual growth rate.

But if their economic relations are hot, politically the two nations are cool. The Chinese complain about Koizumi's visits to Tokyo's Yasukuni Shrine commemorating fallen warriors -- including World War II war criminals. The two governments have also battled over the route of a trans-Siberian pipeline for Russian oil and territorial rights in an East China Sea island chain known as the Senkaku in Japanese and the Diaoyu in Chinese.

The Chinese government granted rights two years ago for domestic and foreign oil companies to explore and drill an area only three miles from Japanese-claimed territory -- a region rich in natural gas and oil. This month, Japan pushed back, boosting its claims to the area by officially taking over ownership of a 15-foot lighthouse built on the island chain by Japanese nationalist activists in 1978.

"It is time Japan began protecting what is ours," said Makoto Yamazaki, director of the Japan Youth Association, which built the lighthouse and freely handed it over to the government this month. "If our sovereignty is being threatened, we have a right to defend ourselves."

But the idea of Japanese military cooperation with the United States in the sea lanes north of Taiwan has particularly rankled Chinese diplomatic and military planners because it goes to the heart of their Taiwan strategy.

On the one hand, diplomats and other specialists say, the Chinese military has embarked on a buildup of short-range missiles, naval vessels and electronics-aided aircraft to enable it to threaten the island militarily if President Chen Shui-bian should take what China considers an unacceptably decisive step toward independence. On the other hand, they added, China has set out to improve and extend its maritime and airborne might in the sea lanes north of Taiwan, with the goal of forcing the United States to think twice about military intervention. Within the next five years, according to U.S. estimates, the Chinese navy is expected to have more than 20 modern attack submarines, including half a dozen nuclear-powered vessels.

Japanese officials said that the official position advocating a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue has not changed. They said the constitution limits the level of assistance that Japan could offer in the event of a U.S. confrontation with China over Taiwan. But the joint statement on Saturday could help lay the groundwork for the Japanese to extend as much cooperation as they legally can, including logistical support such as transportation and medical rescue operations behind the lines of combat, officials said.

"We consider China a friendly country, but it is also unpredictable," a senior Japanese government official said. "If it takes aggressive action, Japan cannot just stand by and watch."

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