The D-Word

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Things have gotten so grim in the defense world that advocates of maintaining current levels of military spending have started rolling out the heavy artillery. “Do we want to reinstitute the draft?” Rep. Howard McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, asked Wednesday on Fox News. “Some of the cuts we’re talking about would take over 200,000 [service members] out.”

One might think that mustering out so many troops would reduce — not increase — the need for conscription. But McKeon’s taking a double-bank shot here: deep spending cuts could translate into poor pay and benefits for the troops. That might make the draft — which McKeon opposes — the only option left to defend the nation. Sure, it’s tactical-nuclear rhetoric, but it’s good to see the real cost of sustaining a large standing army at least mentioned.