Nothing says “freedom and liberty” like being forced to maybe die, right?
If that sentence makes total sense to you, you should become best friends with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, who told Congress this week he thinks every freshly minted 18-year-old, regardless of gender, should sign up for the Selective Service — known also as the draft. I remember turning 18, going down to the post office, and filling out the little card because my mom had told me that even though it was 1998, and the draft had been dead a long time, that we still had boys sign up for it, “Just in case.”
Just in case of what? World War III breaking out and running out of all the people who actually want to be in the armed forces and voluntarily sign up for it? Because that “just in case” line never sounded right to me then and it sounds fucking horrible to me now as a father of two boys.
But why in the shit is General Milley suggesting that we also tell girls as they become adults that they too have to register for a defunct draft that will only be reinstated, we’re told, under the most dire of circumstances? I’m not a libertarian, not in the modern, Facebook sense where you’re actually just a conservative who doesn’t want to be called a Republican, but there is something really important to be said for not conscripting young men and women to die for you. It feels barbaric.
As reported by The Washington Post, let’s see what Gen. Robert B. Neller — who was at the same hearing Milley was and agreed with him — had to say about it, shall we?
“Now that the restrictions that exempted women from [combat jobs] don’t exist, then you’re a citizen of a United States,” Neller said. “It doesn’t mean you’re going to serve, but you go register.” (source)
An equality issue, is it?
By that reasoning, the Generals are right — it is silly to think that a man should have to register for the draft and not a woman because a man is just more naturally suited for war. But really, why are we not talking about how stupid it is that in a country built on “freedom” we might one day force someone to die for it?
We haven’t had an active draft in this country since 1973. How is it that in the 43 years that have since past no one in D.C. has had the guts to say, “If we’re we haven’t had to use it yet, and very likely will never have to use it in the future, maybe it’s time to end the draft for both genders”?
Gender equality doesn’t mean “both genders’ lives being forfeit to the state equally.” That’s all kinds of illogical.
The reason we don’t have a draft in this country is that it doesn’t make the burden of war equal. What ends up happening is that the wealthy can afford to buy their children deferments and college enrollment and internships or apprenticeships in other countries. They find ways that those without a lot of money don’t have access to.
The working class will fight every war imaginable in this country, which is why it makes sense to subsidize our all volunteer armed forces with our tax dollars.
A military based on voluntarism makes sense. The kids we want out on the front lines “protecting our free dumbs” are the ones that actually want to be there. I don’t know about you, but when I was in a class I didn’t want to be, I wasn’t a very good student. Soldiers and sailors and pilots who don’t want to be there, will probably be shittier soldiers, sailors and pilots than the ones who have fucks to give for the job, I’d think.
It’s also a pretty shitty thing to do to parents who just spent eighteen years nurturing and keeping their kids alive to up and treat them all like human capital, completely dispensable in the name of national security (and profits).
Maybe if we’d had a better track record in the years after World War II. Maybe if Dick Cheney and his friend hadn’t just robbed us all blind. Maybe if the economics of war weren’t so glaringly apparent. Then, perhaps, the idea of conscription wouldn’t be so bad because we’d trust the people sending our kids off to die to only do so when there was truly no other choice between that and our own collective demise. That trust doesn’t exist.
No, it’s not time for women to sign up for the draft; it’s time to seal up the draft once and for all.