Thursday, July 25, 2024

Abolish The Draft

The U.S. Congress is in the process of passing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is the legislation that funds the military every two years. As a part of the legislation, both houses of Congress are making changes to the Selective Service, which is the registry the federal government uses in the event of a draft.

Currently, it is already the law for all men between the ages of 18 to 25 to register for the Selective Service or face a felony charge. The version of the NDAA that passed the U.S. House would automatically register men between those ages. Proponents of the bill say that automatic registration would cut down on bureaucratic red tape and free up resources used to prosecute non registrants. It should be noted that this proposal passed the House Armed Services Committee as an amendment with the overwhelming vote of 57-1.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee passed an amendment to their version of the NDAA which would require women to register for the Selective Service. The amendment passed pretty overwhelmingly through the committee as well on a 22-3 vote. Supporters of the amendment claim it is fair to require women to register for the draft. Others, such as U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), oppose the expansion of the draft for women.

Instead of arguing about automatically registering people for the draft or whether we should be drafting women, we should just abolish the draft. The draft, especially in peacetime, is incompatible with a free society. 

For the record, let me state that I don’t think we’re going to fight a World War II-style war anytime soon. The Russians will not invade the Baltic States or Poland anytime soon because they’re currently stuck in a quagmire in Ukraine. The U.S. is not going to directly engage the Russians in Ukraine because we’re broke and we (rightly) fear the consequences of engaging a nuclear power in combat. A likely war with China will also not involve a draft because it will mostly be an air and sea war around Taiwan or the Philippines. A draft would not be helpful for either the Navy or the Air Force in the short-term for that type of conflict.

Now what if we do get ourselves involved in a World War II-style war, what would happen without the draft? In the early days of America’s entry in World War I, the U.S. Army set a recruiting goal of one million men that was not met. As a result, Congress voted for a wartime draft and it could do so again in the event of a war.

In the meantime, a peacetime draft has no place in a free society. Instead of arguing over expanding it and finding ways to automatically register people for it, Congress should instead end the draft.