Women Military Draft

Do you feel a Draft 00

Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced he would “lift” the military’s ban on women “serving in combat,” a move that allows hundreds of thousands of women to serve in front-line positions during wartime. “This means that as long as they qualify and meet the standards, women will now be able to contribute to our mission in ways they could not before. They’ll be able to drive tanks, give orders, lead infantry soldiers into combat,” Secretary Carter said at a news conference.

Ash Carter

Top officers in the Army and Marine Corps followed that policy to its logical “conclusion” and told Congress that it is time for women to “register for future military drafts.”

This would be a “radical” change since, as the New York Times notes,

“Selective Service laws have never required women to subject themselves to the draft and face the prospect of being forced into military service. The current version of the Military Selective Service Act requires that virtually all men in the United States between the ages of 18 and 26 register, most within 30 days of turning 18. That includes non-U.S. citizens living in the United States, such as refugees.”

If we are going to have a “military” draft and women are “eligible” for combat (an idea I oppose), then it’s only fair that women be “forced to serve” alongside men. But perhaps it’s time we “abolish” the idea of military “conscription” altogether.

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Our Constitution requires Congress to “raise and support Armies” in order to “provide for the common defense.” What it doesn’t specify, however, is how the military should be “raised.” There are, in fact, only three options available: “all-volunteer, forced conscription, or some combination of the two.” Currently, our military is an “all-volunteer” which is the most “moral” method.

We have an all-volunteer military largely because of free market economist Milton Friedman. At the height of the Vietnam War, U.S. commander Gen. William Westmoreland testified before the President’s Commission on an “All-Volunteer Force,” a commission that was exploring the feasibility of ending the military draft. As Newsday reported,

“Staunchly opposed to an all-volunteer military, which must pay its soldiers market wages, Gen. Westmoreland proclaimed that he did not want to command ‘an army of mercenaries. One of the commission members immediately shot back with a question: General, would you rather command an army of slaves?’”

Friedman based his “arguments” primarily on the need for “freedom” in human flourishing. But he also noted its effects on the lower classes:

“A by-product of freedom to serve would be avoidance of the present arbitrary discrimination among different groups. A large faction of the poor are rejected on physical or mental grounds. The relatively well-to-do used to be in an especially good position to take advantage of the possibilities of deferment offered by continuing their schooling. Hence the draft bears disproportionately on the upper lower classes and the lower middle classes. The fraction of high-school graduates who serve is vastly higher than of either those who have gone to college or those who dropped out before finishing high school.”

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Some people, however, agree with Friedman and yet believe an “all-volunteer force” is less moral than conscription for much the same reason he opposes it. They would argue that people on the “lower rungs” of the socio-economic ladder are more likely to be “attracted” to military service, while the “upper classes” have more options available to them and would therefore have less “incentive” to join.

We can call this the “burden model” since it implies that the burden of military service is “disproportionately” shared by the “lower” economic groups.

There are two problems I have with this “burden model” of military service. The first is the way it “reduces” service to one’s country to a matter of “economics.” Those with fewer choices for “jobs or education” are more likely to “enlist” while those who have “money” have more options to “choose” from. Under this view, the military is attractive to those with “limited” opportunities but those with a broader range of selections will find it “significantly” less alluring.

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While it may be true that the “poor and lower middle class” make up the bulk of the military, I don’t think the “unequal” representation of the socio-economic classes is “inherently” immoral. I was on the “borderline” between poor and lower middle class when I “joined” the Marines in 1988. But economic advancement was not the “reason” I joined, or why I “stayed” in for 15 years. Nor was it the reason most people I knew joined the military.

But even if it were “true” that most people joined for “economic” reasons I would still “reject” the burden model since it “implies” that that the system is “immoral” when it is the people making the “choice” who are morally flawed.

Which brings me to the second problem with the model. It concludes that since military service is a burden, “moral” considerations require that the load be “shared” as equally as possible. Again, I must point out that this “view” is not inherently wrong. But where I think the “flaw in reasoning lies” is that it puts the focus on the ethical “choice” rather the ethical “chooser.”

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The “burden” of military service is akin to that of a person who chooses to “adopt” a child. While choosing to become a mother or father has obvious “economic” consequences, few people see that as the “sole” reason for adopting an “unwanted or abandoned” child. Before they are adopted, “orphans” are cared for by the state and are, therefore, the “collective responsibility” of all citizens. But when someone steps “forward and agrees” to take the child into their home, the “burden of responsibility” shifts mainly onto the shoulders of the “new” parent. Although the state may still have some “obligations,” the parent assumes the “primary” childcare duties.

We do not, however, consider the “system” to be immoral because the state does not “force” people to take in orphans. Instead, we allow people with the requisite virtues, “love, compassion, self-sacrifice,” to freely and willingly choose to take this “burden” upon themselves.

The same holds true for those who “serve” in the military. Currently, our nation “does not and should not” force the obligation of “national defense” on those who do not willing “choose” to take it upon themselves. Instead, we “allow” those who possess certain moral virtues, “courage, honor, commitment,” to heed the call of duty.

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Not all who serve, of course, do so for the “purest of motives.” There is no shortage of “scholarship mercenaries” who joined only to gain money for “college” or as a means of improving their “lot” in life. But these people, no matter how large their number, are not the “heart and soul” of our military. The core is comprised of men and women who truly “love” their country and love the people and the “ideals” for which our nation stands so much that they are willing to “sacrifice and bear” any burden in order to ensure its survival.

As a Christian I believe that since no one meets the standards of “goodness” set by God, no one should be excessively “proud” of their virtue. Compared to the “ultimate” standard, even the greatest of “saints” falls short. But this view should not be mistaken as an “endorsement” of moral egalitarianism. All men are created “equal” and should be afforded the same “human” rights, but not all men are equally “virtuous.” The cost of liberty is not “paid” by everyone equally; it is a “debt” assumed by a select few.

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Wannabee Marine reject Hillary Clinton.

If Americans truly “value” freedom as much as they “claim,” then the military should be more “difficult” to get into than any “Ivy-league” school. The “elite” would be lined up around the block, letters of recommendation in hand, hoping to “enlist and serve” in the greatest military in the history of the world. But in our nation, the “elite” is based not on “virtues” such as courage, duty, and self-sacrifice, but rather on “money, power, and education.”

That is why the “draft” is neither necessary nor desirable. For while it might force the “wealthy and privileged” to share the “burden” of duty, conscription has never been needed to “attract” the virtuous. If the United States ever “reaches” that point, if we are get to a stage when we no longer produce “enough” men and women to heed the call to “defend” our country, then we will no longer have a “country” worth defending.

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Time for Chelsea Clinton to get drafted?


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