Senate Votes to Include Women in Selective Service
The Senate Tuesday voted to require women to register with the Selective Service System, which would make them eligible for a future military draft. The measure comes in the form of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 and passed the Senate with a vote of 85 to 13. Under the Act, women who turn 18 on or after January 1, 2018, would be required to register with Selective Services.
The media and political establishment are representing this historic development as a matter of “fairness,” playing up the idea of inclusiveness and casting this new role for women as a form of progress. It is not.
“The fact is,” said Republican Senator John McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, “every single leader in this country, both men and women, members of the military leadership, believe that it’s fair since we opened up all aspects of the military to women that they would also be registering for Selective Services.” McCain was referring to the decision in December 2015 by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to include women in frontline combat units.
Writing about the House version of the amendment, Nicholas Clairmont of The Atlantic called the inclusion of women in the draft “Progress toward gender integration in the military” and “a progressive cause.”
This use of the language of progressive politics, hinting as it does at a feminist victory for women, is a particularly insidious misdirection. There is nothing progressive, for women or humanity, in doubling the pool of cannon fodder for the American war machine. When looked at in the context of current U.S. aggression vis a vis both Russia and China, this development takes on ominous significance.
The U.S. has not had a draft for military service since it was ended in 1973 as the Vietnam War was drawing to a close. Since then, U.S. wars of aggression—from Grenada and Panama to Iraq and Syria—have been carried out by a combination of an all “volunteer” military, heavily recruited from the working class, and, increasingly, private “security” firms such as CACI and Xe, formerly Blackwater. In recent years, however, Washington has made clear its strategy to encircle Russia politically and militarily. Among the most provocative of its actions toward Russia have been the backing of the 2014 right-wing coup in Ukraine and this month’s military exercise in Eastern Europe, the largest since the cold war. At the same time, the U.S.’s reckless provocations of China in the South China Sea create a situation in which a single miscalculation on either side could escalate into world war. Judging solely by its actions, it seems the U.S. is intent on initiating war with at least one nuclear power, and in any war with either Russia or China, Washington would have to re-institute the draft. It makes sense that the Pentagon would want to maximize its forces in that instance.
The promotion of women’s inclusion in the draft as some sort of feminist milestone dovetails well with the emerging narrative of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Clinton, we are now told endlessly, is a symbol of all women, and her run for the presidency represents a victory for women everywhere. Hogwash. Clinton, the sock puppet of Wall Street, would as president advance the interests of women no more than the election Barack Obama advanced the interests of African Americans. But the story of Hillary the feminist serves the elites’ purpose of keeping the issues of class and the economy out of the news. Rather than allow the followers of Bernie Sanders to determine the subject of national conversation, the political and media establishment will try to keep the public distracted with the divisive rhetoric of identity politics. Be prepared for a summer of race and gender issues at the top of the news hour until the election.
But do not be fooled. Drafting women into the military is not a gender issue. It is a war issue. And the preparation for war bodes ill for all but those who seek to profit from war.