James Baker Backs Reinstating the Draft

The former secretary of state says it's unpopular but it would raise the stakes.


By Paul Bedard, Washington Whispers

Rep. Charlie Rangel, Congress's lone champion of reinstating the military draft, can count on another Korean War-era vet for support: Republican James Baker, a soldier in the Reagan and Bush administrations. Baker, secretary of state during the first Gulf War, visited a private girls' school in Virginia, where he was asked how to attract kids into some kind of service that gives them a stake in the country's future. "This is a very unpopular thing that I am about to say," he warned. "But one thing that makes it harder to go to war is to have a draft, because when you have a draft, then everybody's got a stake in it, and the costs of war are brought home much more vividly and vigorously to the American people. I think national service is a wonderful idea." But unlikely, he conceded: "You get killed if you support a draft, politically, but it sure would raise the stakes. Everybody would understand a lot better what we have at stake when we go to war."

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