By Patrick Martin
13 September 2008
National service forum at Columbia University
In remarks that clearly pointed toward the restoration of the military draft under an Obama administration, the Democratic candidate said Thursday night that his job as president would include demanding that the American people recognize an “obligation” for military service. “If we are going into war, then all of us go, not just some,” Senator Barack Obama declared.
Obama’s comments came as he and his Republican opponent, Senator John McCain, took part in a forum on national service at Columbia University in New York City. Earlier in the day, both candidates joined in a memorial service at the site of the World Trade Center, commemorating the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
While “national service” encompasses more than the military, including such government-run programs as the Peace Corps, Americorps and Teach for America, as well as private and religious programs, both McCain and Obama focused on expanding the US Armed Forces as a major goal of the next administration, whether Democratic or Republican.
In an indication of the bipartisan support for the increasing militarization of American society, McCain jokingly offered to name Obama his coordinator for national service if the Republican were to win the election, and Obama reciprocated.