Senator Chuck Hagel told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday all US citizens knew exactly what was at stake in the occupied country.

"Why shouldn't we ask all of our citizens to bear some responsibility and pay some price?" Hagel said, even if that price meant death.

The senator also argued that restoring compulsory military service would force "our citizens to understand the intensity and depth of challenges we face".
Social engineering?

The Nebraska Republican added that a draft, which was ended in the early 1970s, would spread the burden of military service in Iraq more equitably among various social strata.

"Those who are serving today and dying today are the middle class and lower middle class."

"Why shouldn't we ask all of our citizens to bear some responsibility and pay some price?"

Chuck Hagel,
US senator

The call to consider imposing a draft comes just days after the Pentagon moved to extend the missions of about 20,000 of the 135,000 US troops in Iraq.

Some critics of the US-led occupation complain that military planners used too few troops to subdue Iraq, and insist that more military muscle will be needed to restore order.

Creaking 'coalition'

The US-led occupation forces were put under further strain by the announcement by Spain, Honduras and the Dominican Republic that they would withdraw their military contingents from Iraq.

Even staunch supporters of US occupation, such as Australia, have less than 500 troops stationed in Iraq and rule out the possibility of sending any more.

Moreover, opposition parties in Australia have vowed to pull troops out of Iraq should they win the general election this year.

Meanwhile, witnesses at the hearing, including academics and former US officials, expressed concern about increasing resistance in Iraq this month - the bloodiest yet for US troops.
"I think it's clear that pressures in Iraq have reached the boiling point," said Samuel Berger, national security adviser during the Bill Clinton administration, who called for an increase in troops there.