Menstuff® has compiled information on the issue of the draft.


Will there be a draft? (This was the spin before the invasion)

Not before an escalation in conflict that is barely imaginable at this point. The Army alone has over 1 million professional soldiers, and the U.S. Armed Forces already have the capability to fight a major war with an enemy the size of China or Russia. The enemy in this case is a small band of terrorists and possibly nations that support them; air strikes and small Special-Ops-type operations are the most likely options at this point.

A full-scale invasion and occupation of a country such as Afghanistan would likely result in the activation or reserves, certainly. But remember —drafted soldiers take 6 months to train properly, and at this point no one is imagining a protracted large-scale conflict on the order of WWII or even Vietnam. It’s just not that kind of enemy. But as we’ve learned this week, the unimaginable is always possible.

Will There Be A Draft? - # 2

With war looming, the White House says it is not planning to reinstitute the military draft, which was shelved in July 1973 in favor of an all-volunteer army. But the Selective Service System is prepared just in case. In fact, we recently obtained (via a Freedom of Information request) an official induction notice that was prepared--though, of course, never sent--during the Reagan years. The document is at: www.thesmokinggun.com

Are we at war?

No — not in the legal sense of the word, because war has not been declared. And not in the strict political-military sense of the word, because our "enemy" in this instance is not necessarily a rival state. Friday morning, however, President Bush received authorization from the U.S. Senate to use military force in the fight against terrorism. According to the Associated Press, the President plans to call up as many as 50,000 members of the National Guard and Reserves to help in the rescue and relief efforts.

If the latest outrage was perpetrated by Osama Bin Laden, then it is part of an ongoing low-intensity war. Bin Laden is waging a 'jihad' or 'holy war' whose aim is to terrorize the U.S. into withdrawing entirely from the Middle East and Gulf region. U.S. personnel have traditionally worked with allied intelligence agencies for years to thwart the Bin Laden threat and take down his networks. Now the U.S. will escalate its campaign, and punish any states that may have assisted Bin Laden. But this "war" is a complex combination of intelligence, security, diplomatic and military maneuvers that is unlikely to involve large-scale troop commitments or traditional military deployments.

What is being done about an anti-Arab backlash in the United States?

President Bush and local leaders around the country have appealed to Americans to refrain from directing their understandable outrage at their fellow countrymen and women who happen to be of Arab origin or of the Muslim faith. The leaders of America's Arab and Muslim communities have strongly and repeatedly condemned terrorism, and most Muslim clerics denounce such actions as an unforgivable distortion of Islam. The Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee on Wednesday stated: "Arab Americans, in addition to feeling the intense depths of pain and anger at this attack we share with all our fellow citizens, are feeling deep anxiety about becoming the targets of anger from other Americans. We appeal to all Americans to bear in mind that crimes are the responsibility of the individuals who committed them, not ethnic or religious groups." The ADC advised people to report any harassment or suspicious activities to local police. 

What is Congress doing to respond to the attacks?

Thursday morning, congressional leaders were drafting a bipartisan "resolution of resolve" expressing support for any anti-terrorist military strike ordered by President Bush. The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are expected to approve a $20 billion relief package by the end of the day. Paul Wolfowitz, deputy secretary of defense, spoke to reporters Thursday morning, saying he did not know exactly how the money would be distributed, but that military readiness and national security were top priorities. The administration has also pledged to provide assistance to the families of firefighters, police officers and other government workers killed in Tuesday's terrorist attacks.

Why are they not issuing death toll estimates?

Authorities and rescue workers at both attack sites, particularly in New York City, are extremely hesitant to estimate as to the number of lives lost simply because at this point any figures would be based on wild speculation. Early numbers out of the Pentagon indicated the death toll might be as high as 800; revised estimates put the figure closer to 200. In New York City, where as many as 10,000 people may be missing, the Mayor has ordered 11,000 body bags, but emphasizes his hope that many fewer will actually be needed.

Women Should Be Drafted

The prospect of war with Iraq has sparked a discussion of the possibility of bringing back military conscription. So far, such a move seems unlikely; the only calls for a reinstatement of the draft have come from war opponents such as Representative Charles Rangel, Democrat of New York, who argues that war requires ''shared sacrifice'' (and believes that if a draft were in place, our government would be more reluctant to go to war).

But the debate about the draft raises a long-overdue question: What about women? Several young people in Massachusetts have recently confronted this issue head-on. In January, 18-year-old Samuel Schwartz of Ipswich, aided by his father, civil rights attorney Harvey Schwartz, filed a lawsuit in a federal district court in Boston challenging all-male Selective Service registration as unconstitutional. He has been joined by his 17-year-old sister and two male friends.

All-male draft registration is an issue that has received little attention -- surprising since it is the only instance in which federal law explicitly treats men and women differently. In 1981, the year after mandatory selective service registration for males was reinstated, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law on the grounds that the purpose of the draft was to send soldiers into combat, from which women were barred.

In 2003, the legal and cultural landscape is very different. There are far more women in military ranks, doing a far wider variety of jobs -- including some combat-related ones. In the 1990 Gulf War, women were closer to the front lines than ever before, and were among the casualties of war. Today, women can pilot combat aircraft, serve on combat ships, and command battalions in combat areas. They are still barred, however, from direct engagement with enemy forces on the ground.

Curiously, the debate about women in combat has been framed primarily as a debate about women's rights. Feminists who champion women in the military generally talk about giving women the choice to serve in combat, and talk about career opportunities that servicewomen are denied because of the combat exclusion. Men -- those who volunteer for service under the present system, and possibly all military-age men if a draft is reinstated -- can be required to fight and risk their lives. A young man who does not register for Selective Service theoretically risks prosecution, and forgoes a chance for a student loan.

This paradox has led men's advocates such as author Warren Farrell to charge that feminism seems to give women options without obligations. Male-only draft registration, he argues, is a symbol of the longstanding attitude that men's lives are more ''disposable'' and that women must be protected from harm.

Indeed, some of the opposition to drafting women and putting them on the front lines is explicitly rooted in this chivalrous mentality. In the book ''The Kinder, Gentler Military,'' Stephanie Gutmann warns against trying to override the ''natural law'' that makes men want to protect women and makes societies reluctant to send women to die on the battlefield. Meanwhile, contemporary feminist dogma, fixated on male violence against women, largely avoids confronting the fact that especially in the West, patriarchy has involved not only women's oppression but women's protection.

Those feminists who have honestly confronted this issue have a point when they argue that chivalry is infantilizing. It's no accident that the claim for special protection lumps women with children. In a culture that has rejected the belief that ''natural law'' relegates women to subordination in marriage and exclusion from public life, public policy rooted in the notion that women's lives are more precious than men's is unconscionable.

But the combat exclusion is also rooted in practical considerations. Some leading proponents of women's full integration into the armed services, such as retired Air Force Major General Jeanne Holm, remain skeptical about putting women into physical combat -- primarily because it requires levels of physical prowess most women don't have. Even the weight of the equipment soldiers in ground combat must carry poses a problem for women.

Most military service, however, does not involve direct engagement with the enemy. In Israel, women are currently drafted but serve in noncombat positions. It should be up to the military, based on the needs of national defense, to decide in what capacity women can be best employed. In the meantime, the courts should reject male-only draft registration as incompatible with equal citizenship.
Source: Cathy Young, Boston Globe

California Bill Designed to Force Draft Registration

California's draft-age men, among the nation's worst at registering with the Selective Service, could be denied driver's licenses for failing to sign up under a bill moving through the Senate.

Despite objections that it would quash dissent to the draft and might be used to "flush out" illegal immigrants, the bill passed the Senate Governmental Organization Committee on Tuesday.

The little-noticed bill would have the effect of automatically registering California men ages 18 to 26 with the Selective Service System when they are issued their first driver's license or state identification card. Their names, addresses and Social Security numbers would be forwarded electronically to a federal databank, where they would be presumed to have registered. Those who fail to give their consent would be denied driver's licenses. Driver's license applicants ages 15 to 17, too young to register, would be presumed to have given their consent when they turn 18.

The draft was abolished in 1973, but since 1980, federal law has required men ages 18 to 26 to register in case the draft is reinstated. If they do not sign up, they can be prosecuted as felons, an unlikely possibility these days. More likely sanctions include loss of federal student loans, denial of federal job-training benefits and loss of ability to work for the federal government or in some state government jobs.

"Registration is the law. I think it should be made simple and seamless for our young men and not be punitive," said Sen. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough. It's interesting that the bill (SB1276) was sponsored by a woman wanting to make only our boys responsible for our countries security. I wonder why she is so intent on doing the Federal Government's job for them.
Source: Carl Ingram, Times Staff Writer, www.latimes.com/news/local/la-000018512mar13.story

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Courage is doing what you're afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you're scared. -- Eddie Rickenbacker

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