This week on Talk World Radio we’re talking about refusing military “service.” Our guest Charles Lenchner is a veteran peace activist, organizer, and political campaigner. Born in the United States, he grew up in Israel where he became an anti-occupation activist at a young age. In 1987, he was drafted into the Israeli Army and subsequently refused orders and spent time in military prison. More recently he was a co-founder of People for Bernie Sanders and today is part of the RootsAction team that publishes ProgressiveHub. I also work for RootsAction.
Most U.S. states still have excuses when asked to make voter registration automatic, but in various states — including here in Virginia — draft registration is automatic even for 15-year-olds who want a learner’s permit to drive a car. (This is still only for males, as Congress did not, in the end, extend draft registration to females, at least until next year — once in a while Democrats’ obeisance to Republicans works out well.) The application for the learner’s permit in Virginia, for which you must be 15-and-a-half-years-old, says:
In some future lovely little war, perhaps with China or some other demonized target, some percentage of the U.S. public may suddenly exclaim: “Hey, since when does a draft include young women as well as men?!” Old tunes will be revised and sung in protest with lyrics about being the first one on your block to have your daughter come home in a box. The tragedies will be played out in tears and screams and flag-covered propaganda-regurgitating rationalizations. Dead women and men will be thanked for the service of stirring up World War III before being dumped in the ground to rot, as some of the living begin to envy them and wonder about the merits of the service they’ve provided.
This week on Talk World Radio: draft registration. Is it unfair to young women not to force them to kill and die for weapons profits? Our guest Rivera Sun is the Editor of Nonviolence News, a nationwide trainer in strategy for nonviolent movements, and the author of many books and novels, including The Dandelion Insurrection and The Way Between. She serves on the Advisory Boards of World BEYOND War and the Backbone Campaign. Her essays on nonviolence are syndicated by Peace Voice and published in hundreds of journals.
It’s outdated. It’s dysfunctional. It’s hated by most of the populace. No, we’re not talking about the line at the DMV. We’re talking about the Selective Service and the military draft. For decades, young men have had to register. Now, congress is considering expanding draft registration to women.
We don’t know what the long-term damage is of coronavirus in those who recover. We don’t know who will die among those who catch it. We do know that we each have a responsibility to avoid catching it and avoid spreading it. Here are some ways to do that.
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.
When the imperialists carry out reckless actions like the recent assassination of a top Iranian military official, aren’t they at least partly conscious of the ways this endangers their power structure? Don’t they see that the more resources the American war machine consumes and the worse proletarian living conditions become as a result, the greater the likelihood becomes that a revolution will happen? Don’t they see the obvious and growing signs of the U.S. empire’s collapse? Don’t they see that the more the neoliberal order exacerbates climate change and destabilizes the economy, the more the bourgeois power structure comes under threat?
C.J. Hinke has produced probably the best collection I’ve read of writings by and about conscientious objectors and war refusers behind bars. It’s called Free Radicals: War Resisters in Prison.
For too long, the women of this nation have been complacent while our brothers, sons, husbands, and fathers are sent to kill, maim, brutalize, destroy and even die in defense of our alleged liberty.