Draft a new solution

Registration's problems go beyond inequality

Jun 6, 2016 by

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On May 17, the U.S. House of Representatives Rules Committee stripped a proposal from a defense policy bill that would have required women to register with the Selective Service, just like men already do.

Committee chair Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas said he is “adamantly opposed to coercing America’s daughters to sign up for the Selective Service at 18 years of age,” though Democrats and some of his Republican colleagues see it as a positive move toward gender equality.

Sessions is right that women should not have to register for the draft. In fact, neither should men. Draft registration — which President Carter reinstated in 1980 as an act of Cold War posturing against the Soviet Union — is a wasteful scarecrow whose crows have gone extinct.

Ironically, there’s an antiwar argument for drafting women: An expanded pool of hypothetical draftees would further sour citizens’ appetite for military intervention overseas. Giving women an equal chance of becoming casualties of war is not the kind of equality anyone is getting excited about. The prospect of female draftees coming home in coffins would deter hawkish pursuits.

The solution to unpopular battles has thus far been to increase the use of drones (“Drone War’s Human Cost,” May 23). The nature of war has changed since World War II and Vietnam. It is difficult to imagine a scenario in which a bunch of average Joes (or Janes) on the ground would be preferable to an armada of Hellfire missile carriers piloted from afar.

But beyond logistics that say a draft is obsolete, nobody wants one.

Politicians don’t like the draft because it’s unpopular and forces unwilling people into war zones. The military doesn’t like conscription because it is better off without people opposed to its practices.

Conscientious objector discharges exist in today’s volunteer force because the Pentagon doesn’t want pacifist evangelists spreading their contagion to other service members. A draft would compound the problem many times over because registration today has no CO option.

If nobody wants a draft, and expanding Selective Service to include women is abhorrent, why even have registration?

The program costs $23 million annually and doesn’t deter enemies. ISIS and other terrorist groups are not frightened by the display of registration cards at the post office.

A system that the military doesn’t need and that punishes men whose consciences it violates is the definition of government waste and overreach. Social conservatives could avoid an ugly gender fight, and fiscal conservatives could save millions of dollars, by doing away with Selective Service. The U.S. is plenty prepared for war without it.

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