Should There Be a Draft? Should Women Register For It?

Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 03:39 pm
From time to time there is a cordial (usually) national debate on whether it would benefit young people to be required to contribute to the general welfare whether that be in the military, Peace Corps, or other national service. And included in that is whether women should be exempt from any or all such mandatory service. The attached article provides the basics of the national debate of women submitting to mandatory registration and serving in combat. But the discussion does not necessarily need to be limited to just that.


Candidates differ on female draft
Monday, October 13, 2008
By Jerome L. Sherman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Even as the U.S. confronts two long wars, neither Sen. John McCain nor Sen. Barack Obama believes the country should take the politically perilous step of reviving the military draft.

But the two presidential candidates disagree on a key foundation of any future draft: Mr. Obama supports a requirement for both men and women to register with the Selective Service, while Mr. McCain doesn't think women should have to register.

Also, Mr. Obama would consider officially opening combat positions to women. Mr. McCain would not.

"Women are already serving in combat [in Iraq and Afghanistan] and the current policy should be updated to reflect realities on the ground," said Wendy Morigi, Mr. Obama's national security spokeswoman. "Barack Obama would consult with military commanders to review the constraints that remain."

According to his campaign, Mr. McCain supports the current Department of Defense restrictions on women in combat units, including armor, field artillery and special forces.

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter revived the Selective Service system, which compiles a list of nearly all men in the U.S. between 18 and 25 in case a crisis forces the government to undertake a massive expansion of the military.

Both Congress and the Supreme Court have exempted women from registration because of the combat rules.

For years, that position has rankled some women's rights groups and men who face penalties for not registering -- including loss of employment with the federal government -- at a time when female soldiers regularly find themselves in dangerous situations in Iraq and Afghanistan, both conflicts without defined battlefields.

Mr. McCain, a decorated former Navy pilot who spent five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, speaks often of how his military service has helped prepare him for the role of commander in chief and how his time as a captive in Hanoi reinforced his love of country.

Yet he doesn't want to see a return to mandatory service, for men or women, according to his presidential campaign.

"Sen. McCain strongly believes that an all-volunteer force is preferable to a conscripted force," said Paul Lindsay, a spokesman for the campaign. "The tools available to recruiters have historically enabled the all-volunteer force to attract sufficient numbers of qualified recruits."

His views are echoed by many high-ranking officers in the military, who prefer a force of motivated volunteers. But some of the same officers have also expressed concerns about the strains of more than six years of sustained combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, especially if the U.S. commitment in both countries doesn't end in the near future.

Mr. Obama has said repeatedly that he will draw down the U.S. military presence in Iraq if he becomes president, but he has also said he would increase the number of troops in Afghanistan, where Taliban forces have seen a resurgence in recent years.

During a CNN/YouTube debate for Democratic presidential candidates last year, he said he doesn't "agree" with the draft.

But he did say women should be expected to register with the Selective Service, comparing the role of women to black soldiers and airmen who served during World War II, when the armed forces were still segregated.

"There was a time when African-Americans weren't allowed to serve in combat," Mr. Obama said. "And yet, when they did, not only did they perform brilliantly, but what also happened is they helped to change America, and they helped to underscore that we're equal.

"And I think that if women are registered for service -- not necessarily in combat roles, and I don't agree with the draft -- I think it will help to send a message to my two daughters that they've got obligations to this great country as well as boys do."

Elaine Donnelly, a former member of President Bill Clinton's Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces, dismissed Mr. Obama's comparison of the roles of women and black soldiers, arguing that males and females, in general, aren't equal on the battlefield.

"There are differences between men and women where physical strength is an issue," said Ms. Donnelly, who heads the nonpartisan Center for Military Readiness. "There are a lot of civilian feminists who are making unreasonable demands on the military."

Nancy Duff Campbell, co-president of the National Women's Law Center, argues that women should have a chance to compete for any position in the armed forces.

"I hope a new president will revisit the restrictions," she said.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 25 • Views: 11,408 • Replies: 126
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cicerone imposter
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 04:05 pm
Yes, all youngsters should serve our country in one form or another - including women.
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 04:16 pm
No. And no.
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 04:34 pm
Yes. And yes.

Time to leave the professional (mercenary) military behind.
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 04:37 pm
I think I think yes as well.

Currently the military is predominantly poor people, which leads me to wonder about other philosophies...

(and service should not only mean Military, but civil and skill developing as well)
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 04:40 pm
If yes, then yes.

0 Replies
Bi-Polar Bear
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 04:44 pm
And please make sure those rabid for war are drafted first...and that draft begins at age 40..... give our young people a chance to live.... and then draft palin, bush, cheney, rumsfeld, coulter...cleanse the planet and purge the earth of these scumbags and their like....
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 04:45 pm
@Bi-Polar Bear,
No forced servitude.
cicerone imposter
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 04:51 pm
Sounds good, but not realistic in today's world.
Bi-Polar Bear
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 04:53 pm
I don't want them to serve.... I would like to see them utilized as cannon fodder...
0 Replies
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 04:53 pm
@cicerone imposter,
Sounds good in any world, as far as I am concerned.
0 Replies
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 04:54 pm
I reckon I will vote "No" on mandatory military service for men or for women.
I could vote "Yes" on a year of community service, if meaningful programs could be developed that would be useful to the provider and the providee.
0 Replies
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 05:01 pm
If I have to register then I insist the gals do to. I ain't joining no gay boys army.
0 Replies
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 05:06 pm
Foxfyre wrote:
From time to time there is a cordial (usually) national debate on whether it would benefit young people to be required to contribute to the general welfare whether that be in the military, Peace Corps, or other national service.

Judging from my personal experience, I think that's nonsense. Yes, I know, one person is an awfully small sample for judging things like this. But for what it's worth, I used to be a draftee in the German army, and the only benefit I can think of is that I learned to stitch buttons onto clothes. None of the people who have served with me think being drafted was a good thing for them. So if a nation has to forcibly conscript people into national service -- which I prefer it wouldn't do in the first place -- at least it should say honestly that that's what it's doing. The authoritarian parent's line -- "one day you will thank me for spanking you now" -- is tired and disingenuous.

If there should be a draft -- and again, I don't think there should be -- I see no reason in principle to exclude women from it. Depending on their effect on troup morale, they might be excluded from some units for pragmaticreasons -- but that doesn't raise to an objection to the principle that men and women should be equal in their misery.

But I don't think there should be a draft in the first place -- in case that isn't clear.
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 05:39 pm
If it is so important to some of you that everyone should serve, I would endorse something similar to the Peace Corps, but would not endorse manditory service in even it.
0 Replies
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 05:41 pm
I'd like to think that if there was a draft we'd be less inclined to get involved in strategically and ethically questionable wars run by profiteers and money-grubbers, and that young people would vote in droves to ensure it.

But we had a draft during the Vietnam War, er, Conflict, so I guess that's not the case...
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 08:44 pm
Charlie Rangel wrote an op/ed piece on the draft on December 31, 2002, in the New York Times. It was reprinted in today's paper.

I have given the draft a lot of thought since the Vietnam "Conflict." When each of my two sons turned eighteen, I breathed a sigh of relief that they didn't have to worry about being drafted. Rangel's comments gave me another perspective on the draft.

If, as he suggests, everyone had to serve in some way, the Peace Corps for example, it would raise awareness of the seriousness of war, especially if the child of a wealthy family had the same obligation as the poorest kid in the poorest neighborhood.

And yes, I believe that women should be included. They have the same smarts as men, many have more endurance than men and if their skills (those of women and men) were used optimally, the result, I think, would prove effective. Women cops and firefighters and those who have served in Iraq, have gained the respect of the men with whom they served.

If you have time read the entire piece, it is well worth it.

Here are a couple of excerpts, plus the link:

I believe that if those calling for war knew that their children were likely to be required to serve -- and to be placed in harm's way -- there would be more caution and a greater willingness to work with the international community in dealing with Iraq. A renewed draft will help bring a greater appreciation of the consequences of decisions to go to war.

We need to return to the tradition of the citizen soldier -- with alternative national service required for those who cannot serve because of physical limitations or reasons of conscience.


Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 08:56 pm
When GWB heard renewed talk about a draft, he immediately tried to get into the Alabama Air Guard.
0 Replies
Merry Andrew
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 09:00 pm
Yes, yes.
(I've given my views on this subject on A2K so many times, I ain't gonna elaborate again.)
Reply Mon 13 Oct, 2008 09:35 pm
@Merry Andrew,
S'okay. I think I stole my ideas from you and already posted for you.

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