Get rid of conscription, the draft in the U.S.

Jackie Keating

On Tuesday, Feb. 2, a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee was held, at which “for the first time, top Army and Marine Corps leaders […] testified that they think women should register for the draft,” according to NPR.

Conscription in the United States has existed since the Civil War. There is no draft currently, but all American men ages 18-25 must register for the draft in the case it would need to be reinstated. However, this is the first time in American history in which the military is thinking very seriously about opening the draft to include women.

The comments made at the hearing Tuesday were sparked because of “Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s recent decision to open up all military positions to women, including front-line combat roles,” according to NPR. These roles being offered to women is an unprecedented step, as well as the proposal to have women be registering for the draft.

Overall, I think the proposal makes sense. If women are allowed to take on the highest-intensity military roles that they previously were barred from, they should be required to register for the draft like their male counterparts. That’s fair. But honestly, it would also be fair not to make either sex register and get rid of conscription altogether, except in times of imminent threat to the United States.

There is only one instance in American history in which I think the use of the draft was acceptable, and that was World War II since a foreign power directly attacked us. World War I does not count, by my definition, as a war that was imminently dangerous to the country. Yes, the Germans torpedoed a British ship with American passengers on board, but those passengers knew that they were sailing through a war zone during wartime, and the ship was carrying British weapons and ammunition.

It made no sense to draft during the Korean and Vietnam wars. Young men of eighteen were being drafted into these wars and carried home in coffins before they could register to vote (the voting age was lowered to 18 in 1971), all for a number of ambiguous conflicts that we shouldn’t have been a part of in the first place.

There’s also the question of the constitutionality of the draft. The Supreme Court upheld that the draft was constitutional in 1918, but I am still hazy on whether a draft still maintains civil liberty. The government is supposed to be for the people, not the other way around.

Here’s my solution: don’t make anyone register for the vote during peacetime. If Congress and the President feel that the country is in immediate danger, then they should be able to convince the people that they are in danger with evidence and let them sign up voluntarily. If the government simply wants a list of Americans aged 18-25, they can just subpoena records of tax filings, driver’s licenses, credit cards, high school graduation records, social security cards or many other documents. It’s not as if the government needs another layer of bureaucracy to add to the other million ways they can track us.

In any case, fewer troops are necessary anyway in this day and age thanks to unmanned drones and the American Military’s other top-notch air and missile weaponry. The draft is an outdated, anti-liberty system that the U.S. no longer needs. If men and women want to join the military as volunteers and enlist or enroll in ROTC or a military school, that’s an honorable career path that teaches valuable skills including leadership and teamwork, and they should be admired for their hard work.

Our country, which holds freedom and liberty in the highest esteem, should not be forcing its citizens to fight in wars—especially if they don’t believe in them.

The opinions expressed in Keating’s column do not necessarily reflect those of The Daily Barometer Staff.

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