The U.S. Is Soliciting Feedback on the Military Draft. Here’s Why It Should Be Abolished
Is it moral to force people to go to war? Most Americans say no.
In fact, over 25,000 of them have signed the Care2 petition I started, urging Congress to drop their debate over whether to extend the draft to women, and, instead, dump the draft entirely.
Currently, the federal government is soliciting public comments on whether the military draft is still a necessary component of U.S. national security. The request comes after Congress seriously considered requiring women to sign up for the draft back in 2016.
But the answer Congress is looking for is already clear. A 2016 Rasmussen Reports poll found that not only do 52 percent of women oppose requiring women to register, but also that 67 percent of Americans believe we should end forced military conscription entirely – a steady trend of opposition ongoing since 1981.
The controversial measure to draft women, which was folded into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), passed the Senate before finally being dropped. Instead, Congress required a review of the entire draft registration system.
On its feedback form, the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service asks Americans seven questions, including whether or not mandatory military service is “necessary, valuable, and feasible.”
The U.S. hasn’t implemented a draft since the Vietnam War, but men ages 18 to 26 still have to register with the Selective Service System. If they don’t, they face penalties, such as denial of federal student loans.
I became passionate about the issue of draft registration after my grandfather spoke of watching his neighbors and family members get drafted, one by one, into the Army during World War II. He ended up fighting overseas at just 18 years old.
During the long, cold winter nights abroad, my grandfather would write letters to his mother, making sure they were always positive in nature “so she wouldn’t worry.” He would cry every time he heard the song “White Christmas,” which reminded him of the snowy hills back home in Pennsylvania.
My heart breaks to think of men so young being drafted into war. The draft is contrary to the ideals of a free society, which should hold bodily autonomy paramount. Bodies are not communal property, and people should never be compelled to fight in a war they may disagree with.
Military service should be based on choice. If Americans think a war is justified, they will fight voluntarily.
When Congress considered drafting women two years ago, liberals were split on the issue. Representatives Peter DeFazio (D – OR) and Barbara Lee (D – CA) said they are against the draft entirely. But Reps. Steny Hoyer (D – MD) and Jackie Speier (D – CA) said drafting women is necessary in the interest of “equality.”
But equality should not be held up as a higher virtue than individual ownership over one’s body. It is ironic to hear representatives like Speier support a woman’s right to her body in the case of reproduction, but not in the case of military service.
Military service is inherently important for protecting our values, institutions and freedoms. But if the U.S. were invaded or attacked, many men and women would voluntarily fight to protect the nation.
Yet the U.S. has a knack for getting itself wrapped up in wars of aggression that many Americans wind up not supporting. And even when the majority of Americans do support war, it runs counter to American values — namely, individual liberty — to force the service of those who are opposed: it is tyranny by the majority.
Military service should be encouraged via incentives and sound reasoning, not through use of force.
If Congress wanted to increase the propensity for Americans to serve, it could do so by offering financial incentives and better communicating the skills military enlistees will learn. If young people believe enlisting will help them to protect the values America was built on, there should be no reason to force them to fight.
The government’s request for feedback on this issue is a key opportunity for Americans to provide input on important policy — policy that might affect whether or not their daughters and sons wind up at war against their will in the future.
When young people enlist, they should do so because it gives them honor, not because their hand is forced. The military draft is an antiquated and misguided policy that runs counter to American values, and it’s time we put an end to mandatory conscription.
Sign the Care2 petition here to tell Congress: Don’t Force Women to Register for the Draft, Dump the Draft Entirely
Julie Mastrine is Care2’s Senior Manager of Brand PR and Marketing