creative commons image via Flickr, credit Si Longworth Photography


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.

But the answer to how this happened will be straightforward. The knuckle-dragging sexist Republicans for their own inscrutable reasons refused to add women to draft registration. So, the good liberals of the United States put the Democrats in power. They didn’t get any value restored to the minimum wage or any billionaires taxed. Military spending went up instead of down — as did student debt. The gestures made in the direction of halting climate destruction we’re grotesquely insufficient. But — by God! — women did get the respect of being signed up to be forced against their will to kill and die for the profits of General Dynamics.

Of course, that’s IF we let it happen.

The notion that you have to commit this atrocity against young women in order to respect them is obviously as insane as bombing houses in Afghanistan to spread women’s rights. Draft registration in its entirety can be eliminated for men as well as women. (Things that no longer exist don’t discriminate on the basis of sex.) But that’s not an option a warmongering corporate media system will allow consideration of, any more than it will consider the possibility of nonviolent foreign relations in general.

That doesn’t mean we can’t act without the media, if only to be able to tell our young women and men that we tried. In the words of Edward Hasbrouk,

“In the most important Congressional vote on compulsory military service since 1980, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) will vote this Wednesday, 1 September 2021, on rival proposals either to *suspend draft registration and put the Selective Service System into “standby”* or to expand draft registration in its present form to young women as well as young men. The new ‘Selective Service Standby Amendment’ to the NDAA doesn’t completely repeal the Military Selective Service Act or abolish the Selective Service System, but it would suspend draft registration and eliminate all non-criminal state and Federal sanctions for past, present, or future nonregistration. The Selective Service Standby Amendment is our best chance to avoid having Congress expand draft registration to women.”

Here’s a page set up by World BEYOND War and where you can email your Representative and Senators to end draft registration rather than expand it.

And here’s why many well-meaning people won’t help out with this: They believe that a military draft is an anti-war measure. (The data is not yet in on whether they also favor fucking for virginity.)

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, killing far more people than any U.S. war since.

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.”


14 Points Against Draft Registration by Leah Bolger

David Swanson: HR 6415: The Dumbest Idea in Congress

World BEYOND War: Statement to the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service

Edward Hasbrouck: Bill Introduced to End Draft Registration H.R. 2509 S. 1139

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,, 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

Video of David Swanon (at 1:06:40) and Dan Ellsberg (at 1:25:40) on Why to End Draft Registration


David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is executive director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

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