John Kerry muttered something about President Bush bringing about a backdoor draft through the use of National Guardsmen in Iraq.

I’ve got news for you.

If you want to see the draft reinstated, vote for John Kerry.

“Why do you say that?” you ask.

Because if John Kerry is elected president, there is going to be a mass exodus from the U.S. military services.

Anyone who can get out will get out.

Re-enlistment levels will reach all-time lows – at least since the Clinton administration.

Why?

Nothing would be more demoralizing to U.S. servicemen than a Kerry victory. After all, this is the man who tells them they are fighting “the wrong war at the wrong time.” This is the man who has opposed nearly every defense expenditure that has come before him in the last 20 years he has served in the U.S. Senate. This is the man who made a national name for himself by condemning troops on the battlefield in Vietnam as war criminals.

Yet Kerry will not be free to cut and run from Iraq as many of his supporters hope. He will have to play tough – at least for awhile.

You tell me how he’s going to do that with military men leaving the first chance they get?

That’s right. He will be forced to push for conscription.

It’s ironic that Kerry’s campaign has maliciously floated rumors about Bush’s plans to bring back the draft. Even if he wanted to do it, Bush probably couldn’t do it politically. Kerry could. Kerry would. He would have no choice. His only alternative would be cutting and running – and that wouldn’t help him build the kind of legacy he would need for re-election.

So what would Kerry do? Could he afford to surrender in the face of massive defections by the troops? Would he forbid soldiers from leaving when their time was up? Would he force troops to stay on against their will?

God forbid there should be another attack on the country during his presidency. God forbid there should be another foreign policy crisis – in Korea or in Taiwan, for instance. God forbid the situation in Iraq could worsen requiring even more U.S. troops.

What would be Kerry’s options?

There is only one: Bring back the draft.

It’s funny how throughout history the people who seem to most covet peace never achieve it.

It’s funny how politicians are often forced to grapple with their worst fears.

It’s funny how things never go quite like you expect in politics and world affairs.

But there’s nothing funny about the prospect of a Kerry victory – not for our armed forces.

I will bet you that better than 90 percent of U.S. troops oppose Kerry. I will bet you they tell jokes about him during quiet times in the barracks in Iraq. I will bet you that he is disliked by soldiers in the field as much as he was by those still on the field in Vietnam in 1971.

They will be leaving as soon as they can in the event of a Kerry victory. There will be no stopping them. It will create something of a national emergency – a crisis.

And John Kerry, with the support of his party in Congress, will do the only thing he can do – reinstitute the draft.

In fact, it’s worth noting that members of his party – and only his party – already have introduced legislation to do just that.

So, once again, the political conventional wisdom is all wrong. There is little or no threat of the draft being reinstituted in a second Bush administration. But I would give you better than even odds on it if Kerry wins.

Remember where you heard it.

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