My Facebook Newsfeed blew up Saturday night when three GOP presidential candidates–Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, and Chris Christie–agreed young women should be required to sign up for Selective Service as young men currently are.
Well, Jeb Bush sort of agreed. I’m still not convinced he knew what he was agreeing with.
top Army and Marine Corps generals told senators Tuesday that it will take up to three years to fully integrate women into all combat jobs, adding that women also should have to register for the draft.
Army Gen. Mark Milley and Marine Gen. Robert Neller both flatly said that women should be included in the requirement to register for the selective service at age 18.
Most Facebook responses I saw were along the line of “No one is drafting my daughter,” or “Nobody is sending my little girl to war.” As if the nation’s top generals suggested sending one’s 4-year-old to Syria armed with a 50-cal and her Polly Pockets.
One post asserted: We Will Never Let Our Daughters Die for Us.
Yet, it seems somebody’s daughters already are.
The very idea of 18-year old young women being compelled to fight “for the country” is off-putting to me, both as a man and as a father. Although Israel requires all Israeli women to serve in the IDF, including expanding combat roles, I remain unconvinced.
The conversation should be leading to a deeper question: Short of a military invasion of the homeland, why would we ever need to draft anyone, male or female?
The first military draft was instituted by Napoleon who had little problem expending human capital.
“When the statement was made to Napoleon, the founder of the conscription system, that a planned operation would cost too many men, he replied: ‘That is nothing. The women produce more of them than I can use.’”
The last United States draft was stopped by President Richard Nixon in 1973 at least partially due to the severe unpopularity of the Vietnam War. Nixon had also become convinced adequate military strength could be maintained without the draft. Leon Panetta noted in 2013 the conscription of females was likely in our future, this when combat positions were opened to women.
Saturday night’s GOP debate clarified the pro-life party remains willing to use our sons as cannon fodder, and at least one front-runner (Rubio) has no problem using our daughters. No wonder for many Democratic Socialism doesn’t look half bad. Each side is more than supportive of death: Democrats in the womb, Republicans on the battlefield. (After the debate Cruz came out against it.)
Having been too young for the last draft, and having had no children who held draft lottery numbers, I have never given conscription much thought. Now that selective service registration for women has entered the presidential campaign dialogue, and been introduced to the legislative process via the House, I have questions about compulsory service. Here are three.
While it may be argued conscription protects liberty, does it violate liberty?
Our country was established as a home for those seeking “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Little imagination is needed to conclude compelled military service could disallow all three. If liberty means “the government cannot compel,” a draft is anti-liberty on its face.
There is a substantial difference between 15-year-olds lying to willingly join the military after Pearl Harbor was bombed, and 20-year-olds being drafted to fight in Southeast Asian conflict gone sideways.
Can the draft–as compulsory service for low pay–be interpreted as unconstitutional forced labor?
In addition to its inefficiency conscription is also objectionable because it is a form of forced labor that severely undermines personal freedom. There are few more severe violations of human rights than forcing a person to do work he doesn’t want at below-market rates for years at a time. In addition, conscripts’ lives are often tightly regulated even when they are not actively carrying out their duties. And, of course, they are sometimes forced to risk their lives.
Many people resist the comparison between conscription and other forms of forced labor because they see military service as providing a great good that is essential to our society. But military service is far from unique in that regard. Historically, slaves and forced laborers often performed work that was vital to the social order. The entire economy of the antebellum South depended on crops produced by slaves. So too with ancient Rome, Russia in the era of serfdom, and so on. The key point to realize is that this work, however noble and necessary, can be performed by free laborers. Thus, the use of forced labor to carry it out is still unjust. The same goes for military service. Both the United States and other liberal democracies can field more than adequate military forces without conscription. Indeed, they can create better armies without it than with it.
The Supreme Court was not persuaded by the argument in 1918, but they might be persuaded if challenged again. If conscription is instituted I expect it to be challenged on 13th Amendment grounds. (Much is made about the low pay of our military men and women, but, as volunteers, they are not forced labor.)
Is compulsory service is economically efficient?
The NYT: Economists think not.
[The] market for soldiers should work like any other labor market. Let the government decide how many people it needs, and let it pay for their labor.
A draft, by contrast, captures people who would prefer to be doing something else and forces them to bear the cost of national defense disproportionately by working for a submarket wage. That impact would be even greater today with so many more women in the work force.
Volunteer soldiers are more expensive because they need to be paid market rates. But volunteer armies require fewer soldiers, so taxpayers don’t save much money with a draft. Studies show that volunteers tend to work harder and serve longer, reducing training costs, and that performance improves with experience.
For Christ followers
Some already argue women should not be drafted due to gender roles: only men should be warriors. That is a discussion to be had, but I feel it falls short of the bigger issue: war in the modern context.
Why are so many Christians willing, even proud, for their sons to lose their lives in battles for earthly kingdoms or questionable political/corporate ends, but unwilling for their daughters to do so? Are our daughters more valuable? Are they less capable? Less heroic?
Or, does the prospect of our daughters taking one in the head from a pro-Assad warrior while some fortunate son completes his MBA finally force the carpet bombers among us to face this reality: it matters why we go to war in the first place. The bottom line of the Military Industrial Complex is not sufficient.
If earthly battles are not places for our daughters–even potentially–why not ask why we allow any president, Republican or Democrat, to send our sons to possible death for reasons less than clear. Crystal. It’s shallow to cry foul on female Selective Service registration while being uncritical of warmongering in the main.
Conscription into military service, even in wartime, is not the end result of a society that values women, but that devalues them. The war machine is just that, a machine that chews up and spits out those on all sides. Young ladies, don’t let anyone convince you that compelling you to war makes you equal to men. Any man who’s been awake half his life already knows women are superior to men in a multitude of ways. It is one of the reasons we are compelled to die to protect you.
Thankfully, we have not yet heard the call. Our daughters are not being compelled to register, and the draft has been clocked-out for 45 years. Here’s hoping.
If our misguided leaders soon decide to institute Selective Service for women twenty-four and under, I suppose my youngest daughter will register. If they ever call her number, and she chooses to serve, that will be her decision.
But, if my daughter chooses not to be forced into the military, I will report in her place. Because if the U.S. Federal Government ever tries to compel my daughter into war while even one general remains away from a foxhole at the front, the Pentagon will be relieved I have but one life to lose for this country.