I know it’s stiff competition, but hear me out.
The threat of nuclear apocalypse is higher than ever. The threat of irreversible climate collapse is higher than ever and massively contributed to by militarism. The trillions of dollars being dumped into militarism are desperately needed for actual defense against these dangers including spin-off catastrophes like coronavirus. But military jobs and weapons production jobs (producing weapons for dictatorships and so-called democracies around the world; the U.S. handles 80% of the globe’s foreign weapons sales) are being deemed “essential” and actually being boosted with more funding.
Meanwhile, the damage already done and still ongoing from wars and sanctions around the world has rendered the damaged areas at much greater risk of deaths from coronavirus. At the same time, militaries are concentrating their members much as prisons are doing, and are raising the risks for everyone, just as prisons and churches and Florida’s beaches are doing. And the U.S. military is stepping up — I kid you not — it’s face-to-face recruitment efforts in order to concentrate more young people.
What would be the dumbest thing Congress could do in this moment? I mean, other than allowing Trump to remain in office? Surely it would be HR 6415, a bill to force young women to register for a military draft that would force them against their will to kill and die in any war desired by oil corporations or reality-TV dictators, as well as to further expand military recruitment, and further expand JROTC.
Sticking with the theme of honesty and openness, this murderous bill is wrapped in a coating of civic spirit and public service with non-military options that help sell the bill while also helping to normalize mass-murder as just one (albeit the best paid and most heavily marketed) option on a list of humanitarian services that young people can “give back” to the generations that have just about completely fucked them out of a decent world.
Fortunately, there is also a good bill in Congress that does one small piece of what’s needed. HR 5492 would repeal the Selective Service Act.
Barring extremely unlikely actions by courts, Congress has to either abolish draft registration — and isn’t this the moment for such a fit of sanity? — or expand it to women. It’s actually been ruled — and, again, I kid you not — an unconstitutional violation of women’s rights not to force them to sign up to be forced against their will to kill and die. And don’t go imagining for a moment that your good liberal heroes in Congress won’t eagerly give young women that right. Yet — for some reason that I can’t understand — the eight sponsors of HR 6415 seem to include no one who has ever been a leader for women’s rights, only one person who is a woman, yet a whole bunch of promoters of militarism, a number of them heavily funded by weapons dealers.
There is also, just to complicate things, a crowd of aging peaceniks that wants to expand draft registration to women and immediately launch a draft, due to the highly questionable belief that such a step would reduce rather than increase war-making.
A number of tools and resources to help sort through this embarrassing mess are at https://worldbeyondwar.org/repeal/.
If you are from the United States, you can click here to quickly email your Representative and your two Senators to urge them to co-sponsor HR 5492, and not HR 6415.
HR 5492 would:
- Repeal the Military Selective Service Act (thereby eliminating Presidential authority to order men to register with the Selective Service System for a possible military draft and eliminating criminal penalties for failure or refusal to register);
- Abolish the Selective Service System (thereby ending contingency planning by the SSS for the Health Care Personnel Delivery System or any other form of special-skills draft);
- Prohibit all other Federal agencies from imposing civil sanctions (denial of federal student financial aid, federally-funded jobs, etc.) for nonregistration or using nonregistration as a basis for other adverse determinations (denial of naturalization as a U.S. citizen, etc.);
- “Preempt” (and thereby override and prohibit) all state sanctions for nonregistration (denial of drivers’ licenses, state financial aid, state jobs, etc.); and
- Preserve the rights of conscientious objectors under other laws and regulations (such as applicants for reassignment to noncombatant duties or discharge from the military on the basis of conscientious objection).
The United States had an active draft from 1940 to 1973 (except for one year between 1947 and 1948). It also had numerous wars including in Korea and Vietnam. The Vietnam War persisted for many years during the draft, which made the war possible — killing far more people than any U.S. war since. The only reason the war could continue was because the military had a steady stream of draftees.
Wars have usually been facilitated by a draft, not prevented. The drafts in the U.S. civil war (both sides), the two world wars, and the war on Korea did not end those wars, despite being much larger and in some cases fairer than the draft during the U.S. war on Vietnam.
On April 24, 2019, the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service heard testimony from Major General John R. Evans, Jr., Commanding General, U.S. Army Cadet Command; Mr. James Stewart, Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel & Readiness); and Rear Admiral John Polowczyk, Vice Director of Logistics for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. They all testified that the Selective Service System was important for insuring and enabling their war-making plans. Stewart said that enacting a draft would show national resolve in support of war-making efforts. John Polowczyk said, “I think that gives us some ability to plan.”
The recommendations of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service, which went through a lengthy process of pretending to listen to people that in reality was more of an exercise in push-polling, recently issued recommendations that are mirrored by HR 6415.
Here’s some background:
Edward Hasbrouck: Bill Introduced to End Draft Registration
Center on Conscience & War, Code Pink, Committee on Militarism and the Draft, Courage to Resist, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild, Resisters.info, Veterans For Peace, War Resisters League, World BEYOND War: It’s Time to End U.S. Draft Registration Once and for All
Bill Galvin and Maria Santelli, Center on Conscience & War: It is time to abolish draft registration and restore full rights to people of conscience
David Swanson: Draft Registration Will Be Either Ended or Imposed on Women
David Swanson: How to Oppose the Draft for Women and Not Be Sexist
David Swanson: 10 Reasons Why Ending the Draft Helps End War
C.J. Hinke: The Last Draft Dodger: We Still Won’t Go
Rivera Sun: It’s Time. End the Draft Once and for All
Rivera Sun: Women’s Draft? Sign Me Up To Abolish War
Now Do You See How Evil They Are?
The Lieutenant Governor of Texas is happy to sacrifice the lives of old people for “the economy.” A Congressman from Indiana doesn’t discriminate; he’s willing to let anybody lose their life to maintain what he calls their “way of life.” How they can have a way of life without a life becomes clear when he explains that by “way of life” he means the economy. The President of the United States is afraid that the cure of isolating ourselves is worse than the disease, even though the latter is deadly for some who get it. Trump also tries claiming, though nobody believes him, that protecting ourselves from a deadly disease will result in more deaths, not fewer.
This is how U.S. politicians have talked from the very beginning of the United States and prior to it about human beings outside the United States, about Native Americans, about enslaved people, about minority groups and immigrants. Yet, many have been able to avoid recognizing the evil. Now do you get it?
Trump openly says he wants troops in Syria for oil, Bolton openly says he wants a coup in Venezuela for oil, Pompeo openly says he wants to conquer the arctic for oil (with which to melt more of the arctic into a conquerable state). But the general rule, prior to these fits of honesty, has been to claim that wars were meant to spread democracy and happiness. Pointing out that every war is based on lies runs into great resistance from people who know governments lie but who don’t want to believe governments are quite that evil.
Believe it. When Pompeo talks about crushing Iran (or Venezuela or Syria or Cuba or North Korea, etc.) with sanctions, he’s talking about imposing death on numerous people. When Obama and Trump target people around the world with drone murders, and then target some U.S. citizens too, they’re valuing non-U.S. lives at their usual nonexistent level and devaluing U.S. lives to the same. When Trump and Biden compete for who can hate China the most, they’re talking about a significant percentage of the world’s population.
Locking immigrants up in cages is just as evil as locking U.S.-born children up in cages. People who will do the former are unlikely to draw the line at the latter. Don’t you get it? Evil sadistic politicians will be cruel to the People Who Matter just as they’ve always been cruel to everyone else. Truth be told, they were never nice to the majority of U.S. workers, but their cruelty was often too slow to be recognized as murderous.
What we need is not a little tweaking. We need the revolution of values that many tried to find an approximation of in Bernie Sanders. We need a society that empowers and rewards kindness instead of viciousness, decency instead of outrageous evil.
Right now we have a sick parody. The U.S. is badgering Mexico to reopen factories, cramming workers in together to produce parts for U.S. weapons that can be sold to the world. Mexicans must die like U.S. “essential” weapons builders must die so that the weapons can be shipped off to the world’s worst governments so that people everywhere can die. We’re all in this together!
We could all be in something else together. We could all be in a world utterly transformed. We could quite easily end all human suffering with absolutely zero new scientific developments. But we have to want to do it. And we have to start by refusing to stop being outraged by evil.
David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include Curing Exceptionalism: What’s wrong with how we think about the United States? What can we do about it? (2018) and War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee. Support David’s work.
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