I grew up in a nation where the draft was normal. Came back from college for Thanksgiving break, drove into town and registered for the draft on Friday. A while later, I got my first message from the draft board, granting me a II-S student deferment. Many of my classmates had graduated high school holding a I-S deferment, but they were older than I and had a head start.
Now I’m looking at a proposal that women register for the draft. I suppose it is just, and that equity demands it – but I wonder. After a couple years of II-S, I wound up with a physical exam in Spokane, and wound up with a I-Y classification “Registrant qualified for military service only in time of war or national emergency.” Frankly, I thought I was in decent shape – not nearly so bad as Biden’s juvenile asthma, or Trump’s bone spurs. Still it was a medical judgement, confirmed by my draft board, and obviously a credential to be respected.
If memory serves, both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis started the draft in the US. I think that qualifies as a net gain of zero. I’ve seen some numbers that go back to 1864 – when North Carolina drafted my confederate great-grandfather, the Union had more North Carolinians serving than the Confederacy. My great-grandfather was sent into a unit with home guard duties – along with patrolling for “outliers, deserters, runaways and draft dodgers.” Something seems a bit strange about assigning drafted soldiers to hunt draft dodgers and deserters. The first peace-time draft started with Franklin Roosevelt – so both parties had a role.
I’ve seen stats that suggest 75% of our draft-eligible males can’t qualify – low intelligence, low education, felonies, overweight – the list is long.
I can’t disagree that equal treatment under the law would call for registering women as well as men for the draft. Still, there is something about the draft that can be accurately described as “involuntary servitude.” Even if Lincoln started it.
If three out of four young draft-age men can’t qualify for military service, what in the world makes us think that drafting young women will provide a more fit pool for our military?