Why it’s time to repeal Selective Service

Happy Halloween! Here’s a regularly scheduled article that’s not spooky or pumpkiny in any way. Well, it spooked me in high school at least. Today’s message from old me is about “the draft”, which, admittedly, I don’t think about as much anymore. Ideally it’d be fixed, but Congress is better at procrastination than even I am. As last time, I stand by my opinions, but don’t judge my current writing based on this.

Mandatory registration has no place in our future

Apologies in advance that I’m not very well researched on the details of this system and the laws around it. I’m just venting my opinion.

Currently, on their 18th birthday, all male US citizens are required to register their information with the Selective Service System, otherwise known as the draft. During times of war, Congress can authorize a draft lottery to compel young male Americans to report for military service. It’s bullshit.

I know that I shouldn’t complain. South Korea and Israel, among others, have mandatory military time for everyone, because they are under constant threat of war by the countries that surround them. The US already has one of the largest military forces in the world, even with an all-volunteer force since the 1970s. So the idea that all able-bodies male citizens must always be ready and willing to fight for their country is preposterous.

It’s not that I think the military and national defense is unimportant. I just disagree with many of the recent wars that the US has participated in. The Cold War’s fervent anti-Communist rhetoric propelled many a conflict, as did the desire to protect US interests abroad such as oil in the Middle East. And the deplorable attacks of September 11, 2001 launched a new era of war, not against a single enemy but a method of attack: the “War on Terror”.

The chances of there actually being another draft are basically zero. We live in an age of drone strikes and cyber warfare, not boots on the ground combat in trenches. And the last time a draft was used in Vietnam, indignant protesters and draft card burnings became commonplace. So why must this practice of registering continue? I believe there are two possibilities. First is abolishing the draft for everyone. The second is requiring all citizens to register at 18, regardless of sex. Since women can serve in combat roles, it’s simply sexist to require only males to register. It also completely ignores the existence of transgender people, which the current administration evidently doesn’t want to serve anyway.

I don’t believe that this will be done right away, especially in the current Congress. Several bills have been proposed over the years to do just this, only to die. I want to believe it can be done. I have never blamed anyone for dodging the draft. I don’t believe everyone is cut out for the horrors of war, myself included. Which makes those that do choose to serve that much more valuable.


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