Don’t Conscript Women (2022 Aug)

by Barry A. Liebling

Every year the United States congress can, and generally does, modify the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA specifies the legal policies of the Department of Defense. A vitally important feature concerns conscription. Men are required by law to register for the military draft. There is not much push-back because the draft has not been used since 1973 – close to a half century ago.

There are legislators among both Democrats and Republicans who are supporting a significant change – require both men and women to register.

Chip Roy, a representative from Texas, is adamantly opposed to having women register. In a column for Fox News he argues that the change will “force our daughters to the front lines.” He seems to have three main objections to the proposal. First, it will place young women in a dangerous, potentially deadly situation. Second, he believes that a military where conscripted women are assigned to fighting roles will be less effective than the military the United States has now (no conscripted women). Third, he sees the recommended change as capitulation to “political correctness” where differences between men and women are denied.

Note that Representative Roy explicitly states that he is not against women serving in combat. He asserts that his objection “is not, and has never been, a question of whether women can serve effectively in our armed forces; the answer is obviously yes. Thousands already do voluntarily, and they deserve the utmost commendation for their service and sacrifice.” It is the possibility of conscription that he regards as unacceptable.

Observe also that Representative Roy does not assert that he is opposed to the conscription of men. He explains that “The purpose of the Selective Service is to ensure the availability of combat replacements for casualties on the battlefield. When the United States is in peril, not pulling replacements from the strongest subsection of our population disadvantages all – including “subgroups.””

If you understand and appreciate the concepts of what is required in a free country and what it means to have free citizens you will see that Representative Roy is on the wrong track.

Let’s begin with the essential issue. All humans (referred to as “men” in the Declaration of Independence) have natural inalienable rights including life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If you take that seriously (you should) you know that involuntary servitude must be forbidden.

That strictly implies that conscription of any human is out of bounds. The only moral way to recruit military personnel is to respect each citizen’s liberty. The United States armed forces has been staffed by people who joined of their own volition since 1973. Having a draft was never an acceptable policy. And registering for a “potential, future draft” leaves the door open for tyrannical abuse.

Of course, the United States has a history of using conscription to feed its military. And that is a serious misstep which should never be repeated. An army of soldiers who are involuntarily conscripted is an army of slaves.

Fans of all-powerful government will object to this reasoning. They will say something like, “What if there is an emergency? What if the country really needs to increase its military? The draft is necessary to assure there are enough people to serve.”

That scenario is fatally flawed. There will always be citizens who are interested in participating in the armed services. And there will always be enough who volunteer willingly – unless the country is so corrupt, so spoiled, so decadent that mentally alert citizens have no sympathy for its survival. Good countries are cherished and defended by good citizens.

The topic of proscribing the military draft brings up related issues. What about insisting that citizens participate in other civic activities – that are not dangerous? Most states require people to do jury duty. Is that another instance of involuntary servitude? The short answer is yes. No person should be recruited for a jury who is not willing serve. It does not matter that the court system “really needs” citizens to serve.

Let’s return to Representative Roy and his objection to having young women register for the draft. He is correct that it should not be done, but his reasoning is essentially flawed. All Americans have a right to life and liberty, and no Americans should be forced to serve the military.

*** See other entries at in “Monthly Columns.” ***

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