Tell the Feds: End Draft Registration
This morning, in a small community college classroom in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a newly formed federal commission scheduled its first public hearing on the future of draft registration in the United States. “The bipartisan, 11-member Commission was created by Congress to review the military selective service process,” notes their press release. “The Commission hopes to ignite a national conversation about the importance of service as it develops recommendations for Congress, the President, and the American people by March 2020.”
In addition to eight more (yet to be scheduled) public hearings across the United States over the next two years, the commission has invited feedback via a webform at http://www.inspire2serve.gov/content/share-your-thoughts
Why is the government soliciting comments on what we think about the draft now?
We had draft registration resister Edward Hasbrouck on the Courage to Resist podcast this week to explain what’s going on. Also, here’s how he summarized the situation on his blog post at Resisters.info:
In late 2015, Commander-In-Chief Obama ordered all military assignments opened to women. That order undercut, and probably eliminated, the legal argument that had been used since 1980 to justify requiring only men, but not women, to register for the draft.
That gave members of Congress three options, none of which most of them wanted to take responsibility for, in the run-up to the 2016 elections:
- Do nothing and wait for courts to invalidate the requirement for men to register for the draft;
- Repeal the requirement for men to register, and abolish the Selective Service System (and risk being attacked as peaceniks); or
- Extend the requirement to register for the draft to women as well as men (and risk being attacked by both feminists and sexists).
After elaborate bi-partisan machinations, Congress chose Door Number One (“Do Nothing”). Perhaps members of Congress thought that would allow them to point the finger of “blame” at the courts, and away from themselves, if draft registration was ended. More likely they just wanted to punt this political hot potato past the 2016 elections into the Clinton or Trump Administration.
To provide further political cover for delaying its decision, Congress voted in late 2016 to establish a National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service “to conduct a review of the military selective service process (commonly referred to as ‘the draft’).” The Commission is required to solicit and consider public comments, and to report back to the President and Congress with its recommendations by March 2020 (at which time its recommendations can either be ignored, used, or abused to score points in 2020 election campaigns).
“Despite some problems, this is by far your best and most open opportunity in decades to tell the Federal government to end draft registration,” explains Edward.
I have a serious problem with ending the draft and relying on a “volunteer” force. Most “volunteers” are actually disadvantaged youth who are given few (or no) other choices for what they are told are opportunities for upward mobility (ie: college, job training etc.) This is just more slavery, and of a deadly kind. There should be an opportunity for alternative service that offers those same opportunities. (Even though we know that those promises are frequently unfulfilled.)
Mary Ellen, as a low socio-economic volunteer for Vietnam, who made the military a career, I must commend and agree with you about “I have a serious problem with ending the draft and relying on a “volunteer” force.” However, although I may share and agree with your views on the composition of the so-called All Volunteer (Military) Force the composition of said force is more complex than what you describe. When you say, ” Most “volunteers” are actually disadvantaged youth who are given few (or no) other choices for what they are told are opportunities for upward mobility (i.e.: college, job training etc.)” please understand (just look around you) that even young people from slightly higher socio-economic today have more restrictive opportunities for upward mobility. Just talk to any high school kid (regardless of socio-economic status) and you will see that simply applying for scholarships to attend college tends to be a slight advantage for those with few economic advantages, because most scholarships are needs based (based on the lowest economic means). That said, there’s a disadvantage for those of us from the lower socio-economic ladder when most college financial aid is also scholastic achievement based. To the point, yes children of the poor, middle, and working class may qualify with an advantage for needs-based opportunities for upward mobility, but such advantage is diminished by scenarios that lead kids to drop out of high school, not score high on aptitude and academic tests. To get a true picture of who joins (volunteers) and for what reasons is what this commission if supposed to do. Those of us on the left of center, spiritually, politically, ideology, need to put aside our bias and ignorance of how the military really works (meaning learn more about the reality of military service, and less about assumptions or demonizing that which we do not understand. Don’t get me wrong, despite my background I’m not defending the draft or voluntary service one way or the other. But to me, any statements we make about military service being slavery or such not only highlights our bias and ignorance toward those who serve for whatever reason they do. You said, ” This is just more slavery, and of a deadly kind. There should be an opportunity for alternative service that offers those same opportunities.” That to me, and yes, I’m a liberal, is an anti-military service attitude that serve only to demean those who volunteer to serve. Mark my words, despite various attitudes among us on the left that taint those who volunteer as slaves and dummies, the collective us BETTER begin to believe that those who choose to serve are the brightest and smartest around us in terms of street smarts. Think closely on this aspect also. Our armed forces have tended to be well “the left of center” standard bearer for every social acceptance experiment far ahead of the citizenry it so-called protects.
One only need look at the American civil war acceptance of black troops to save the Union, the full integration of minority troops once segregated in military units (WW2), civil rights, and yes even anti-war within the active duty and veterans returning from or serving during Vietnam (Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Iraq Veterans Against the War), and most recently as mentioned here the full integration of women in combat units. Of course, of all these let ask you and other readers this:
If not for the Vietnam War Era draft, would there have been any cries for social change or anti-war protest to include refusal to deploy or fight an unjust war viewed by even the government who sent us as doomed to failure even given Peace With Honor.
— Instead of getting rid of draft registration I think it should be expanded to state if Congress sends armed troops into another country a drat statement has to be included in that decision. If one American has to go fight in an unconstitutional war then all Americans should be subject to going male and female. I think we would have a lot fewer illegal wars.
Unless there is a threat directly to our freedom, not like wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Korea, Panama, Syria, Laos, and every conflict in between, then I vote no draft. Military service should remain voluntary and I think the age of enlistment should be increased to 21. Just to make sure that, if you’re old enough to buy pistols and alcohol, you might be able to kill another human being and for your government, and not be confused if you’re 18, come home from war and a mercenary and be denied the privilege of sitting at the bar! Come back when you’re old enough to drink!!!!!!
I’m a veteran and we shouldn’t violate people’s rights and feelings about war and killing!
Unless there is a guarantee that the U.S. will never ever engage in any military activities in the future, then the ending of draft registration, and any possibility of the draft, only benefits the privileged. The military will continue to be filled with the poor and disadvantaged who can make a living no other way.
Unfortunately, it is already easy for the rich and powerful to buy their children out of mandatory service, so the draft does not protect ordinary people from exploitation by the military.
Members of Congress: As a victim of the draft during an unjust war I demand that you end draft registration!
I have opposed draft registration at least as early as the spring of 1978 when the House of Representatives had passed H.R. 4040 that would have required then President Carter (who still opposed draft registration at that time) against his will to require male 18-26 yearolds to register for a possible draft. I supported moved by then Congresswoman Pat Schroeder on the House Armed Services Committee to replace it with a gender-neutral registration provision and to require Congress to allow Carter several months to decide on whether or not to have registration.
When Carter changed his mind early in 1980 to push for either a coed or male-only draft sign-up, I tried to get students in the Knoxville, Tennessee, area aware of this issue. I received help from Committee Against Registration and the Draft (C.A.R.D.) (now Committee Opposed to Military Draft Registration (C.O.M.D.) in trying to organize East Tennesseans over this issue. I especially oppose singling out one gender (in this case, the male gender) for forced registration but also oppose it for either gender. Please keep me informed as I want to still continue to do my part.
Pick up draft registration forms at your post office and deliver them to your local paper recycler.
DRAFT REGISTRATION WAS RE-INSTITUTED SOMETIME DURING THE CARTER ADMINISTRATION. IT WAS PROBABLY PART OF A MILITARY BUILD UP LATE IN THAT ADMINISTRATION. DRAFT REGISTRATION WAS PROBABLY AN ADMISSION THAT THE ALL VOLUNTEER MILITARY MAY NOT BE BIG BIG ENOUGH. THERE ARE NOW ADMISSIONS THAT THE ALL VOLUNTEER FORCE WOULD NOT BE LARGE ENOUGH TO CARRY OUT SOME MILITARY GOALS.
LET’S STOP THE MONSTER BEFORE IT GETS TOO BIG END DRAFT REGISTRATION
As a long-time Scoutmaster, I have seen the value of service and the satisfaction that comes from both the beneficial work and the freely chosen commitment to be of service. As an admirer of our nation’s founding principles, I reject any kind of involuntary servitude.
Young people must be encouraged to volunteer in service to our communities and be accorded trust and respect that they are responsible for making good choices. Rather than maintain an undemocratic Selective Service System, we must develop service opportunities that attract volunteers. This will succeed if the programs are
1) useful, productive, and of obvious benefit
2) challenging, making participants stretch beyond their “comfort zones”
3) educational, offering training that opens vistas of possibilities for one’s life-work.
To the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service in response to request for public comment on the state of the draft in the USA –
To Whom It May Concern –
I was born in California. I am writing you regarding your review of the military selective service process. Please bear with my response as I offer this background for my suggestions.
I am opposed to all forms of violence. First, I feel society should endeavor to prevent violence by being honest about its past and current values, incentives and actions. We should be willing to see and acknowledge the effects of both direct and indirect violence our society has perpetuated for hundreds of years. Secondly, in recognition of our violent past and present, I support the creation of new social values, incentives and actions that extol and exemplify nonviolence, kindness, goodness, caring and sharing.
I do support public service that supports the well-being of everyone, and feel it is best accomplished by personal initiatives of our citizenry. I would support public effort to actualize such real ends that does not mandate through conscription, bur encourages others over time through truth, example, and public discourse. I believe that altruism, idealism and honesty are effective ways to create better world that is universal and sustainable.
History has shown us again and again that domination is eventually doomed to failure. Military invasion, destabilization and puppet regimes are oppressive and destructive, causing unimaginable pain and suffering that endure through generations. If we engage in such practices they and their effects will be our legacy to our children and others around the world.
Despite what almost all countries do in terms of glorifying the military through pronouncements and speeches, movies, medals, honors, uniforms, anthems & parades, and so on, the reality is that the military teaches people to kill others, threaten to kill others, and destroy their countries infrastructure and communities, implementing these skills and ends as authorities desire. This is morally wrong and unacceptable. Instead, we should be working with each other to diminish our reliance on militarism and work towards real world well-being, harmony and love. To equate invasion and military occupation with kindness, good will and doing right has never been true and is not true now. We are living falsehoods to endeavor otherwise. Such realization has led to many veterans to turn against past and current national policies.
I grew up in a military family. I have family members and close family friends in law enforcement and the military. I respect the need for defense, but 1) empirical study has determined that violence/punishment is the least effective method of changing human behavior, and 2) defense is often used as an excuse for engaging in offensive violence when in fact we engage in violence primarily because elements of our society gain at the expense of the suffering of others. This condition is not good and it is not right. If the committee is willing to be honest, you will realize with study that these are accurate perceptions.
I am telling you all of this because the draft is used to perpetuate our use and reliance on violence in order to advance our interests. This is immoral. We should end the draft completely, downsize our military, stop invading and militarily occupying other countries, and apply our resources and capacities to loving for and caring for others in need here at home and all over the world. In this way we can better establish and protect our security in true fashion, remaking the world into one of beauty, generosity and caring – the way we were meant to live. This is both human choice and capacity.
Thank you for reading and considering my comments. Respectfully,