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Conscience, feminism, and the draft [Updated}

The national news is filled with the breathless word that Leon Panetta has declared that all combat roles are to be "opened" to women. Such an opportunity! Silly me, I'd missed the fact that back in the 1990's the official (though oft-flouted) ban on women in combat roles had been lifted at the Congressional level and the whole issue turned over to the Department of Defense.

All of which means, in case you didn't know, that it is now not at all implausible that young women between the ages of 18 and 25, like young men in the same age range, will be required by law to register for the draft.

Oh, not instantaneously. The Selective Service law is still law, not bureaucrat pseudo-law that can be changed overnight. So Congress will have to catch up with the program, and there may be a period, however brief, in which citizens can lobby Congress not to change the law. But there is an independent entity here: The courts. In Rostker v. Goldberg the Supreme Court ruled that the reason the Selective Service law doesn't violate men's rights to "equal protection" is because women can't serve in combat. With that response officially out of the way, it is as sure as can be that, if Congress doesn't capitulate, someone will file a lawsuit again, and the court will not have that rationale anymore to bolster the unequal treatment of men and women in registering for the draft.

Which leads to a very real question: What should those of us who have or will have women we love in the relevant age range and who regard women in our androgynized military as an obscenity counsel them to do if and when the law says that they are required to register for the draft? There is an obvious sense in which just going along with it is acquiescing in the vision of women as warriors and of men and women as fungible, which we utterly reject and are teaching them to reject.

On the other hand, the penalties of refusal to register are heavy. Men who do not register for the draft are technically subject to federal prosecution which can lead to up to five years' prison time and a fine of $250,000. This aspect of the law has not been enforced since the 1980's but could be once again. Most states have laws that link the ability of a man within the relevant age range to get a driver's license to his registration for the draft. Without a driver's license one cannot drive, and without official ID, one may not be able to vote. Then there are the "incidental" penalties, like being unable (ever) to get federal student aid or loans if one does not register within the relevant time period. Some states (I am told, though haven't verified) will not allow men even to attend their colleges if they have not registered for the draft. Side note: My own state of Michigan says here, contrary to the statement at the SSS site, that a man can get a driver's license in the state within the relevant age range while refusing to register for the draft. However, it ominously warns that in that case you are in violation of federal law (and after checking "no" on the form you would of course be in knowing violation) and possibly subject to federal prosecution.

In short, it would be no small matter for our young women to be asked to engage in immediate civil disobedience if required to register for the draft.

Are there any other options?

I believe it is imperative for Christian complementarians and other traditionalists to have this discussion now. A line in the sand needs to be drawn, and we need to find a way to help and know how to counsel our daughters and female friends when this happens, as I now think it inevitable that it will. There may be some delay if Congress drags its heels and the matter has to go through the courts, but my prediction is that within ten years young women will be officially required to register for the draft. Maybe a good deal sooner.

What do we do?

The registration for the draft is itself highly symbolic. Being brought about precisely by the extreme move to open all combat roles to women, the registration itself would represent a sort of stamp the government would put on the young woman saying, "It is the official position of the United States that men and women are no different as regards military service."

Moreover, there is in the nature of the case no precedent for granting conscientious objector status to women who are not pacifists, solely on the grounds that they have sincere conscientious or religious objections to military service for themselves as women. The official definition, from the SSS page, is

A conscientious objector is one who is opposed to serving in the armed forces and/or bearing arms on the grounds of moral or religious principles.

Obviously, this has always applied in the past to pacifists. The question then is whether it is at all plausible that it would be allowed to apply to a non-pacifist woman (perhaps even a woman who owned a gun for self-defense, for example) who objected on grounds of moral or religious principles to serving in the armed forces because she considered such service as a warrior/soldier inappropriate for herself qua woman.

The fact is that it is fairly unlikely that an actual draft will be called, and as there is no precedent on this question yet, there would not be for years to come after women were required to register, leading to even less sympathy for the claim if the matter ever arose.

We should understand this: It is not possible to make a claim to be exempted from registering for the draft on conscientious grounds. The law is quite clear that those (currently only men) who would apply for CO status should they be called up must nonetheless register. The issue of whether their request for exemption would be granted is thus deferred indefinitely, and they would simply have to be ready to mobilize their arguments for a conscientious exemption within a matter of ten days (!) if a draft should be called and their name should be chosen.

To bring this home a bit, consider the fact that in the current all-volunteer force women have been sent away from their small children. In some cases women have their young children with them overseas in government-run daycare. In Brian Mitchell's invaluable book he even describes one pilot who did her pilot runs in between breast-feeding an infant. So you, if you are the relevant age, or your daughters, or your wife, could be given the choice of taking a baby to a foreign country to be mostly cared for by the government or of leaving the baby behind without its mother. If the father were also unlucky enough to be called up, the children could be left in effect orphaned. My recollection is that we have had cases like this, with both parents sent abroad leaving the children behind, in the all-volunteer force.

Women who object to serving in the military for gender-traditionalist reasons would also therefore have to make it clear that they object to "alternative service" that, if they had children, would require them to leave their children. This, too, arises from the unique nature of the objection--an objection not to war but to feminism.

Even sincere pacifists do not all (or most) consider themselves obligated to defy the law to register for the draft. Rather, they usually register but write on their card something like, "I am a conscientious objector" (a notification that the government ignores, noting the registration in the computer and destroying the card), then keeping a photocopy and putting together other documentation of the sincerity of their objections in case it is needed for future reference. On the other hand, given that pacifists are a known part of American culture and that exemptions for them are precedented, they have reason to believe that this will work, which traditionalist women would lack. Plus, a male pacifist doesn't have the same objection that a traditionalist woman would have to being taken away from home and family to do alternative service, provided it was non-military in nature.

So, if you share my concerns here, I'd like to know what you think:

1) If a woman truly considers it to be wrong for women to be drafted into the military and to serve as soldiers/warriors, is she obligated by conscience to refuse even to register for the draft if that should be required by law, thus subjecting herself to possible (but unlikely) prosecution and to the major life disabilities caused by not being able to drive, etc.?

2) If not, what are the probabilities that such a woman, if she registered and were subsequently called up in an actual draft, would be granted conscientious objector status for her sincere or even religious anti-feminism?

3) What practical steps can we as moral traditionalists take to help young women who may be coerced to register for the draft to document the sincerity and nature of their objections for possible future reference? Might it, for example, be a good idea to form some sort of organization opposed to women in the military which women could join, providing further evidence that their objections are sincere and long-standing? How about if pastors step forward and offer their services to interview or correspond with young women and document their objections? And so forth.

I do not believe that it is jumping the gun (no pun intended) to talk about such things. If we wait indefinitely, it could be too late. And if we are going to counsel young women that, if that is the law, they should register for the draft while holding out hope of not actually being forced into the military, it becomes imperative that their sincere objections to being in the military as women be recorded over as long a period of time and in as many ways as possible.

If anyone happens to know a friendly draft lawyer who could give an opinion on whether a non-pacifist woman with anti-feminist objections to serving in the military would ever be granted CO status, feel free to ask him.

The conservative pundit-o-sphere will be largely talking about a lot of correct and important things like the horrors of combat and the utter bone-headedness and evil of putting women into those situations. They will be telling us more about how bad this all is for the military. That is all quite true, and I don't mean to downplay it at all. But I hope here to issue a kind of call to arms (this time the pun is intended) to traditionalists to start thinking how we might protect ourselves and the women we love from being forced into such horrors against their will. Let's not just go tamely along in every respect and vaguely hope for the best. We ought to be able to do better than that, and the time to start thinking about how to do better is now.

P.S. Comments by nasty misogynists expressing nasty misogyny will be summarily deleted without excuse or apology. Any such commentators who are stalking this site, please take warning and just go away.

Update: 4/13/2013 In doing some research for a post on women in the military intended to be published in another venue, I have had occasion to try to find the page number in Mitchell's book for the story about the pilot breastfeeding between flights. I have been unable to find it, and searches using Amazon's "look inside" function appear to indicate that I did not read it there. Nor has googling so far turned up the source of my memory, which is quite clear and has been for some years. So I must withdraw the claim that this anecdote is in Mitchell's book. However, some evidence that I didn't imagine it: Here is an entire site expressly dedicated to women breastfeeding in the armed forces. It confirms here that breastfeeding women can be deployed in the Air Force. Here is a post by a female pilot in the Air Force who did not breastfeed between flights but was indeed feverishly pumping and storing breast milk between (non-combat) flights and even having "another crew" deliver her breast milk to her husband.

Comments (102)

I'm glad you are finally against selective service. It is a good thing to see a conservative finally realize the state is in a perpetual, expansive war, and you need to protect your boys and girls from this grisly mill...

The p.s. is funny though I am sure some of the comments weren't. Boys do start noticing ya'll don't play fair, and some of them get really angry.

If memory serves, the Israeli's stopped using women in forward combat units after the war of 1948 - not because women fought less effectively than men, but because the capture of a woman had a horrendous effect on the morale of her male colleagues.

An article on the Isael Ministry of Foreign Affairs site says...
http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Facts+About+Israel/State/The+Israel+Defense+Forces.htm

Soon after the establishment of the IDF and, within it, the Chen (acronym for cheil nashim and meaning "grace" in Hebrew), the removal of all women from front-line positions was decreed. Decisive for this decision was the very real possibility of falling into enemy hands as prisoners of war. It was fair and equitable, it was argued, to demand from women equal sacrifice and risk; but the risk for women prisoners of rape and sexual molestation was infinitely greater than the same risk for men.

The IDF has a higher proportion of women serving compared to the US Armed Forces, but still keeps women from the front line. And this is a nation that exists in a state of siege.

I don't know if any of this helps.

Graham

The thing is, though, Graham, that presumably women in the Israeli military are still taken away from their children. I don't see any way around that if they have to serve. I'm a little curious about what the Haredi women do about this. My impression, which I don't have time to look up, is that the mandatory military service is only for men. This is why the Haredi (who consider the army to be insufficiently Orthodox) have developed a very strange system in which, despite their social traditionalism, the women support the families (along with welfare) while the men take advantage of an exception from mandatory service by remaining studying in a yeshiva until some extremely late age like 42.

In short, I don't think the Israelis draft women, or at least not married women with children, into the military at all, but I could be wrong. If we get the draft for women in America, count on it--we will do so.

Excellent article, Lydia! I do share your concerns, so...

I don't see how registering for the draft is of itself a violation of complementarian principles. If registration led to a call to service, I think the practical steps you propose in #3 are wise, and as a pastor, I would be willing to counsel parents and women and document their concerns.

Perhaps an existing organization, such as Concerned Women for America, could register and represent the concerns of women who object to military service.

It seems to me that the official definition of a CO you quote would include women with "moral or religious principles" against serving in the military.

Dean

Thanks, Dean. Concerned Women for America would be an excellent idea for a venue. I wonder if they would be interested in taking this on as another aspect of their mission. Someone should contact them and ask. I also thought of Eagle Forum but was disappointed on their site to see that they don't even have a post up about Panetta's decision yet.

One possible concern is that some organizations might not be willing to make a very strong statement. Suppose, for example, that a given organization merely stated that it's wrong to place women in combat roles. We all know that "combat" has been continuously redefined over the last few decades, so if a woman signed onto such an objection only, she could still be required to live in co-ed quarters or in otherwise seriously immodest proximity to males, to go through co-ed basic training, to be conscripted and sent away even if she were a married mother, and in general to be thought of and treated as a soldier/warrior. I don't mean to sound bitter, because now is the time to pull together not to pull apart, but I'm afraid too many Christian groups have already acquiesced in the general notion of an androgynous, gender-integrated military and of women as soldiers. Perhaps some are under the extremely naive impression that what they are acquiescing in is merely something "just like the WACS and WAVES in WWII," which is by no means true.

The conservative punditosphere hasn't forgotten the issue of draft registration. Joe Carter has raised that very point:

http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2013/01/battles-are-ugly-when-women-fight/joe-carter

And, given the extremely broad definitions of "support role" up until now, a woman whose conscientious objections were documented merely for "combat roles" could be sent into the situations women have already been sent into even before Panetta's announcement, which amount to combat roles in practice and subject them to a very serious possibility of capture and torture, death in combat, etc.

Thanks, Masked Elephant. I tried to look for a Joe Carter post on this earlier but only thought to check the Gospel Coalition blog site instead of FT!

Well, I think that just to be consistent the next logical step HAS to be getting rid of men's vs. women's sports. We can't act as if women can't compete with men on the football field or soccer field or baseball field; how sexist is that?

This article by Ryan Smith offers a view of some of the things women ought to rationally not wish to endure: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323539804578260132111473150.html?mod=WSJ_hp_mostpop_read

I should point out that the case Gillette v. United States, during the Vietnam War, involved the SCOTUS upholding a law passed by Congress that would only allow CO status to those who objected to all war. SCOTUS held that Congress was within its rights not to allow conscientious objection only to a _particular_ war. This does not mean that SCOTUS ruled that no other grounds could _ever_ be permitted for CO status but merely that it was not unconstitutional for Congress to require a broadly pacifist position to obtain CO status. This is often taken to mean that one must be a pacifist to obtain CO status in the U.S. Technically it doesn't mean that, but it does set a precedent that leans against non-pacifists who want to be exempted from military service.

Moreover, many CO's in World War II were in fact inducted into the army and assigned to non-combatant jobs. Some were sent to isolated pacifist work-camps in the U.S. As mentioned above, these sorts of compromises could be a problem in the present military set-up for anti-feminists who wanted a) to maintain female physical privacy and b) not to be taken away from their God-given job as child nurturers if they were mothers.

This link is relevant and depressing:

http://nlgmltf.org/pdfs/CO_case_outline_6_30_06.pdf

It appears that there is a long-standing precedent of the government's denying a CO application if the applicant does not claim that he is opposed to "war in any form." Elsewhere the statement is that the applicant is opposed to "participation in war in any form," which is of course somewhat different. Obviously, none of these cases are addressed to the present issue, in which an applicant for CO status might say that she (specifically, she) believes that it is wrong for people such as herself, namely, women, to be warriors, though it isn't wrong for men. (Though not wrong to engage in self-defense or defense of their homes--a belief in self-defense is not generally considered grounds for denial anyway.) Nonetheless, this wouldn't fall into the classic category of believing that all war is immoral. The closest similar case would be Chapin v. Webb, in which CO status was denied in part on the grounds that the applicant said that some wars are justified.

http://www.leagle.com/xmlResult.aspx?page=7&xmldoc=19881671701FSupp970_11501.xml&docbase=CSLWAR2-1986-2006&SizeDisp=7

The argument there was that, since he held that it might be okay for other people to engage in war, this meant that he didn't have a well-worked-out moral objection to his own engagement in war and did not clearly believe that his own involvement in a war would be morally wrong. I suppose that an anti-feminist applicant could argue that she was indeed convinced that it would be wrong for her to be a warrior but that it would not be wrong for men to be warriors, thus showing a more principled and consistent position than the applicant had in Chapin v. Webb.

Still, the signs are not terribly encouraging.

And who would tell us if this is a legitimate exercise of State authority or a tyrannical imposition?.

As far as what we should do if this happens, I think we should refuse to cooperate. If it means that Christian women are a little closer to Saudi Muslim women in the sense that they can’t drive, go to college, etc. then I’d say that while this is less than ideal it is better than the alternative.

What bothers me is that many conservative Christians probably won’t oppose this. I been to many different conservative Churches and they often celebrate their members’ daughters gaining entry into the armed forces, the service academies, etc. It’s often in their bulletins. How can they raise a prinicipled objection to this?

Bruce, it would be considerably worse than "less than ideal" if Christian women had to live under such disadvantages. In fact, I used to be of your opinion that this would be the only ethical thing to do, though, in order not to acquiesce in the idea of women as warriors.

However, as I've investigated what really committed pacifists do, I've realized that preparing to apply for CO status (which begins by making a note, which the government ignores, on a draft registration card) may be a way of maintaining one's clear position that this is an unjust usurpation and that one does not acquiesce while not actually breaking the law.

Since an *actual* draft would be very unpopular, both for men and women, and is fairly unlikely in our lifetimes, the question of how we can maintain a witness against the women-as-warrior culture and what this means for young women if they are required to register is in some ways more urgent than the question of what we would do in the event of a draft.

I have to admit that the precedents are not good (see my comments above) for a non-pacifist of any kind getting CO status. But a woman objecting on principled anti-feminist grounds could try, and generally the way to try is to go ahead and register but create a portfolio documenting the history and sincerity of one's views and the ways in which they affect one's life. For example, an anti-feminist woman could document that she belongs only to churches that do not ordain women, that she does not cut her hair short to the point of a masculine appearance, and the like.

One can, of course, imagine an entirely different type of society in which most people do not need to drive or to go to college and in which women are regularly taken care of by male relatives. The advantages and disadvantages of such a society are something that can be debated. Suffice it to say, however, that introducing such severe limitations even to personal movement for young women into our present society would not be a good thing for them. It might even tempt some of them to marry unwisely. And traveling on public transportation is in most parts of the country at least somewhat personally unsafe because of criminal elements in the populace; hence, if one recognizes that women are "the weaker vessel," one shouldn't be terribly eager to have them deprived of the ability to drive themselves. Being a complementarian or a traditionalist on gender roles does not mean cheering every time women are uniquely disadvantaged or unable to do something. Indeed, if one has a daughter whom one loves this comes across very clearly: One realizes that one has a responsibility to prepare her actually to care for herself in the event that God does not send her a good husband, and that even if she does marry, there will be plenty of occasions for her to be a good helpmeet to her husband in caring for the children, etc., by being able to drive (for goodness' sake) and to have had a college education. There is nothing particularly virtuous about the Saudi approach to womanhood, and that's an understatement. There is no reason for us to welcome a return to it for our young women simply because "we aren't feminists."

Lydia, my “less than ideal” was an understatement, yes. I think you read too much into my comment. I don’t welcome the return of the Saudi approach. Come to think of it, is it accurate to refer to our past as the Saudi approach?
Still, if I had to choose, I’d choose not to have my daughter sent to war. That’s horrible beyond belief. A loving father should rather die than see that happen.
I want my daughter to be able to drive. I do not want her to go to college except maybe under a very specific set of circumstances (a trusted, seriously orthodox Christian college). I definitely don’t want her to go to a state college – demonic things go on there and the objective is largely careerism anyway. I assume the loss of the right to attend college because you don’t register would apply to state colleges and not to Christian colleges but who knows.

It is my job to take care of my daughter until she marries a Christian man or (if she doesn’t and doesn’t enter a convent) until I die. When my wife and I die, if she has no means to support herself then she get all my money and her brothers will have the responsibility to take care of her. That’s how it should be. One doesn’t need to go to college to take care of oneself at a basic level, anyway.

I don’t cheer every time a women is disadvantaged. In principle, I have no issue with women going to college. It would be a blessing I’m sure to have a wife that is deeply learned. I am not trying to be “more reactionary than thou.”

Come to think of it, is it accurate to refer to our past as the Saudi approach?

I don't think women, qua women, were ever made unable to drive in our country's past, or in the past of any Western country.

One doesn’t need to go to college to take care of oneself at a basic level, anyway.

In today's world, that's unclear. Probably employers _shouldn't_ require a college degree, but they would want some sort of experience in any event if not a college degree. There are many situations in which a young woman will not be able to be supported by some male relative, and it's understandable that her sisters-in-law might not want a spinster sister living with them or that she would not desire to be under the authority of a brother, which would be effectively the case if she had no way of providing for herself and weren't married. And widows are much less helpless if they are able to drive and have some marketable skills. Home schooling mothers are in a stronger position to resist state accusations of being unqualified if they have at least a BA degree. There are all sorts of reasons for women to go to college, though in general I think too many people, both male and female, go to college in our country. Changing that, however, is a societal issue rather than a gender issue.

Of course if it were actually a stark choice between "My daughter doesn't drive or my daughter is sent to war," I think you and I would be in agreement. But remember: If women are required to register for the draft, the currently unenforced laws could at any time be enforced, and it could be a question of your daughter's going to federal prison! It's also possible that a given woman will be found physically unable to pass the military fitness test even if drafted, so we can posit another dichotomy: "My daughter doesn't register for the draft and goes to federal prison or my daughter registers, is denied CO status, and is unable to pass the fitness test and sent back into civilian life anyway."

All kinds of possibilities arise. In general, the more I have thought about this, the less clear it is that the best course of action for conservatives is to advise their daughters to break the law in the event of a change requiring them to register.

I don’t know Lydia. At what point do we just “go Amish” or as close as we can. I think we are in agreement that these are not good choices to have to make.
We may have different backgrounds – I am from a mostly blue collar family. A single person can take care of oneself without a college degree. It is possible to eat and have a roof over your head without a high school diploma and living simply can be a good thing for a Christian. My mother-in-law does it with a ninth grade education and the janitors around here drive nicer cars than I do. I realize this is beside the point though.

I don’t know Lydia. At what point do we just “go Amish” or as close as we can. I think we are in agreement that these are not good choices to have to make.
We may have different backgrounds – I am from a mostly blue collar family. A single person can take care of oneself without a college degree. It is possible to eat and have a roof over your head without a high school diploma and living simply can be a good thing for a Christian. My mother-in-law does it with a ninth grade education and the janitors around here drive nicer cars than I do. I realize this is beside the point though.

The Amish have an advantage over us here, Bruce: They really _are_ pacifists. Not that I would advocate pretending to be a pacifist for one's own advantage, of course.

Actually, I'm the only member of my family to graduate from college, so I'm definitely from a blue-collar background. However, the sort of job with which my father supported us seems to be increasingly unavailable. I would, indeed, like to see more and more blue collar jobs and less and less necessity to have a college degree to support oneself. I'm afraid our society is going in the opposite direction. For my own daughters, I will certainly be keeping my ear to the ground for all manner of possibilities. I'm no advocate of everyone's reflexively getting a 4-year degree, that's for sure. A lot of it is time and money wasted. In general, though, I don't think that we traditionalists can make a really sustainable and desirable subculture in which our girls and women are, all, even when unmarried, unable to support themselves and, even when single, are dependent lifelong on male relatives such as fathers and brothers, have no health insurance benefits after a certain age, usually never go to college, and (especially) don't get driver's licenses. I think there would be a lot of negative consequences to trying to set that up across the board, just one of which would be an increase in undesirable marriages.

I would probably sign my daughter up for the draft. However, if it actually came to it and she were called to fight in whatever absurd war we've started, I would send her out of the country and probably leave with her. Some things are just too much, you know?

Well, it will be interesting to see whether we conservatives can wrap our heads around the idea that it may be bad and dishonorable to be a draft dodger if you're a man but not if you're a woman. If we take seriously the idea that men and women are not interchangeable, this should not be a big stretch, but I'm not sure all or even most of us are ready to come out and say that, especially given that most conservatives have been scathing about male draft dodgers in the wars of the 1970's, etc. I would guess, Matt, that the attempted CO option (which might well not work in any event) I've been suggesting would be unavailable for a daughter influenced by you because your objections are not systematic in the way I've been describing--e.g., a systematic, ideological/ethical objection to women in the military.

The implications could be horrifying, like so much else.

Have any Catholic or just war thinkers reflected on women in combat? This issue seems very minimally considered among Catholics.

We're fighting so much on so many fronts. Perhaps this is a deliberate "swarm attack" meant to demoralize and pacify.

Have any Catholic or just war thinkers reflected on women in combat? This issue seems very minimally considered among Catholics.

Catholic here. That's actually a good question. Of course, we all know about Saint Joan of Arc. While it's debatable whether or not she actually fought in any battles the fact is she led a large army of men on military campaigns.

I'm against this measure, though. If we recognize that the disparity between male and female physical fitness is great enough that we need a separation between men and women's sports it makes absolutely no sense to act as if this disparity doesn't exist when it comes to actual live combat.

A little more specific about my question: have any contemporary prominent Catholic thinkers reflected on this issue? There's a story here I think the Catholic press needs to cover, but I'm not sure who could be interviewed.

I would, indeed, like to see more and more blue collar jobs and less and less necessity to have a college degree to support oneself.

Amen! I'm really worried about the effect our economy has on families and their children. We keep pounding square pegs into round holes and wondering why they get hurt in the process. The financial burden is enormous. Furthermore, different people have different passions - and quiet, reflective study is not high on many people's list. Whereas many people take pride in what they physically create.
(It would be nice to have an economy that produced as much as it purchased too...)


Anyway, I think the Israeli army uses women to run the sort of day care centres you describe in your article. This article might be relevant

http://www.idfblog.com/2010/08/25/statistics-womens-service-in-the-idf-for-2010-25-aug-2010/

Graham

I agree that this debate is important. We need to do our best to resist these kinds of developments, and part of that will be isolating our families and communities from acceptance of these kinds of things. Willingness to use conscientious objection is obvious, as is Matt's simple option of leaving the country. That however, is an option that not all will be able to afford, especially for as economic opportunity decreases.

They could interview this woman.

This wouldn't be as big an issue if we weren't a society of perpetual warfare.

This wouldn't be as big an issue if we weren't a society of perpetual warfare.
Maybe, but in this context that's hardly the point is it? I'd be against women in combat either way.

If combat was rare and overseas deployments rarer, the issue wouldn't be one of women having to abandon children and spouses for long periods of time. So it is relevant - at least a little bit.

To be sure, the Catholic Church prohibits priests from being combat soldiers. Or having been combat soldiers. (or, for that matter, a whole slew of things, many of which are normally licit but involve death. Heck, a doctor whose medical practice has resulted in a death needs special permission to be ordained.)

One wonders how that is reflected in draft law.

No, Daniel, because even in a just war it _could_ happen that people had to leave their children for extended periods of time. Plus, combat is combat. It's not like combat is any more suitable for women in wars that are rare and justified than in wars that are frequent and unjustified. The whole thing simply should be a non-issue. Actually, our current situation with a pretty large, standing, all-volunteer force makes a draft pretty unlikely for anyone, despite the fact that many of our wars are questionably justifiable on just-war criteria. Whereas WWII was justified (no, I'm not going to debate that on this thread), yet many men were indeed drafted and were away from their families for long periods of time, got killed or maimed, etc. So there is no clear sociological function that makes a draft less likely when wars are justified and/or infrequent.

I haven't researched priests and the draft. I _believe_ that priests and rabbis were drafted as chaplains in Korea, but I'm not certain. In other words, drafted to non-combat positions, but still dangerous and still, of course, living with the other men as men.

I didn't say "just war" I said "rare". My point wasn't about justification - but rather about the push for perpetual warfare.

But I've answered that as well. Look, it's a natural thing to think that insofar as we have fewer wars, the draft will be less likely. Natural, but it turns out, not true. We've had more and more wars during the very time period that the draft, though still in principle possible, has become almost unthinkable as a political reality! There are lots of reasons for this, but one big reason is that the military has been pretty successful at marketing itself as a career or as a career-booster, via paying for education. Moreover, we don't need huge gazillions of people in one war as far as manpower for these wars we're fighting, unlike WWI and WWII. The truth is that a person in America was in far more danger of being drafted in the late 1930's, when we _weren't_ engaging in perpetual warfare, than now, when we are. So the two issues of war frequency and likelihood of a draft, including likelihood of a draft for females, are separable not only logically and ideologically but also in practice. Rather radically separable.

The thing is, Daniel, that there is *no escape* from bringing beliefs about the true nature of things into government policy. It's a kind of dream that some people have: Let's just have the government doing less overall and then the government won't have to incorporate any particular worldview into what it does do. I'm afraid I detect a whiff of that in your response here: "Hey, let's not bother thinking about all this male/female difference stuff and opposing feminist ideology. Let's just have fewer wars and the whole issue will go away."

To which I say, no, it won't. Right here and now, where an _actual_ draft is unlikely, it is _highly_ likely that our government will require women to register for the draft as an ideological symbolic move, because it's "unfair" that men should have to register and women not register. This has very little to do with how much warfare we're waging or with any actual need for manpower. It has everything to do with worldview. Governments govern by worldviews, and you can't get away from that just by downsizing.

In school we had an older Priest (still alive) who gave homilies. He was a paratrooper from WWII, wounded on D-Day. He once told us this story, paraphrased, in a homily (by far the best, or at least the most interesting, homily I've ever heard!):

"One day after the Vietnam War ended me and a Priest friend were taking a taxi through town when we spotted a veteran getting mugged for his suitcase. My Priest friend and I looked at each other, stopped the cab, got out, and we beat the CRAP out of that mugger. The whole thing happened next to a bar, so when the police came calling the bar owner hid us in the kitchen. Then he offered us free beers and I haven't turned down a free beer yet!"

That wasn't the whole homily (it included another interesting story about how he pretended to poison the water supply in France, and it did indeed lead to a very relevant religious point, if you were wondering, but I'll never forget that story.

I figured this was relevant since we've gotten around to discussing if Prists are/were combat soldiers.

First, for the sake of this discussion, take it as a given that basic complementarianism is valid: men and women are different physically, emotionally and psychologically. Either practically (from the standpoint of de facto growth of societies) or by design (from the standpoint of God intending a certain kind of outcome for humanity), men and women are FIT for different kinds of roles in life. I think it is given, then, that men are vastly more fit for fighting than women, whereas women are vastly more fit for nurturing roles like nursing and teaching young children than men – on the average, that is. Which doesn’t preclude the possibility that some men are well enough suited for nursing or teaching to make a good go of it, and vice versa some women can be good enough at fighting in war to make good soldiers (if other social dynamics were not at issue, that is).

By and large, though, we need laws that permit men and women to reflect these normative capacities in the tasks we expect our citizens to take on. Let’s take an analogy: there are a few men who are capable of lifting 150 lbs over their heads, and carrying it through an obstacle course. But not many. If we made a law requiring men to do exactly that, the law would be stupid and harmful for society because it will legally penalize ordinary, normal levels of capacity. Making a law to REGISTER for doing so at some future moment is likewise harmful to society, though the harm is one of threat for the future: it will warp society by reason of that threat.

I think that a pretty good argument can be made that it is not wrong to have a woman register for the draft if society makes it a legal requirement that they do so. A woman may follow such a law without her offending good morals. But it is more problematic as to whether every woman morally must follow such a law, given how her actually following the law into future intended outcome of a draft for military (potentially combat) service is unacceptable. I think, on the whole, that the moral and philosophic position is very similar to that of a Quaker: we held that someone who objects in conscience to fighting should STILL register, and such registering is not tantamount to a promise to fight or even a promise to consider it. Given that it is not obligatory for a person who registers to actually fight or be willing to fight, following the law by registering would seem to be moral.

I think there are likely to be various avenues a woman might be able to pursue to prevent actually having to enter the military to be trained to fight against her will, including legal/moral objection as well as other options such as malicious compliance. First, I think there is probably enough room within the CO law as it stands for a woman to claim CO status merely on the position that she objects to women fighting in war, across the board. I don’t feel confident that she would win in court, but I feel confident that such cases would run a long, long way in the courts before being resolved finally. Secondly, it would do our drill sergeants a world of good to be faced with hordes of women (interspersed with various amazons) who cry when they are yelled at, who refuse to get their nails dirty, who fall over backwards (with a loaded rifle) when their rifle goes off, to say nothing of women who stay in bed for 3 days per month with cramps. Malicious compliance would be a worthwhile and legally unassailable alternative. Let's see how many men want to fight next to a woman who simply cannot learn to reload a gun in the dark. In any case, the current CO law is just that, a law, and it could be changed to allow CO status for women without immense political difficulty right now.

To prevent having to find out how these would all play out, it seems to me we might engage in a kind of pre-emptive alternative proposal. From time to time there are proposals that every young person, after high school or maybe after college, should serve our country for 2 years, either in the military or in a civilian capacity (cf. the Peace Corps and the America Corps). I don’t know if overall that is a good idea, but it is a far, far better thing that a young woman choose to serve as a civilian, perhaps teaching or nursing or in another non-combative position, than that she should be required to choose either combat service or being a criminal and/or a second class citizen. If it looks like there will be a requirement for women to register for the draft, maybe it would be good to propose this as an alternative to pull the rug out from underneath the problem. If all women who want to avoid combat have an alternative while still being “in service”, I think that socially we could never later on retract the legal space created for women who object to combat in conscience. This is not ideal, but such a service requirement isn't inherently disordered the way women serving in combat is.

Generally such alternatives were in fact offered to conscientious objectors, and it's actually one of the promised roles of one CO pacifist web site out there (don't remember which one) to suggest and place pacifist CO's with such alternative roles in the event of a draft.

One problem with it is that of children. Since the pacifist's objection is simply to fighting as such rather than being based on a complementarian view of the family, pacifists in a war or two (I think Vietnam was one) were sent to alternative positions away from their families, sometimes even to work camps where they did make-work projects. Part of _our_ objection, or mine, at least, would be to the idea that the state has a right to take a mother--specifically, a mother--away from her children, that the mother-child bond ought to have a more untouchable character, as in fact it did in older wars. I haven't checked this out, but I've read a novel set in WWII according to which young British women could be called up and forced to do various forms of service such as working in munitions factories, but _not_ if they were married with a child. Maybe not even if they were married at all.

Moreover, the whole proposal of civilian service for all young people has always had a creepily totalitarian and collectivist character to me that I think we conservatives should be _very_ hesitant to embrace. Such programs would, I predict, be like the Peace Corp or Americorps on steroids--ideological bootcamps that would resemble or exceed the excesses of freshmen orientation and mandatory dorm meetings and sensitivity training in our colleges today. Not to mention issues of morals and the like.

I don't think that we should be proposing as an alternative something that essentially cedes the government's right to order around all our young people for two years out of their lives.

Now, statutorily, what I wish we could propose with some hope of getting it passed would be a law _expressly_ allowing for CO status on anti-feminist grounds.

Or Congress could take back the whole issue altogether by re-passing a law which I gather was allowed to lapse that prohibited women in combat!

What is sad is that it seems so hopeless even to try such a thing. Are there no congressmen whom we could lobby to introduce such laws?

But it is more problematic as to whether every woman morally must follow such a law, given how her actually following the law into future intended outcome of a draft for military (potentially combat) service is unacceptable.

Yes, good distinction, Tony. I would say that any law requiring all women to register for the draft into the military is an unjust law on its face and that therefore no one is _required_ to follow it. It's simply that I'm not sure everyone is obligated _not_ to follow it and to take the fairly drastic consequences. It's a little bit like saying that it's not immoral to lie down in front of the door of an abortion clinic and get hauled off to federal prison under the FACE bill, because the FACE bill is an unjust law, but that doesn't mean we are all called to get arrested by blocking the entrance to an abortion clinic.

Part of _our_ objection, or mine, at least, would be to the idea that the state has a right to take a mother--specifically, a mother--away from her children, that the mother-child bond ought to have a more untouchable character, as in fact it did in older wars.

While that is certainly a possibility, I think that at least at the moment the American people would rise up against such a notion. The cases where it is happening now are cases in the all-volunteer army. It is still a terrible situation that the army accepts the services of such women and then sends them away, still more is it despicable that the army sends BOTH parents away on missions - that ought to be out of bounds even for volunteer army people. The army ought not be accepting the services of one of those parents for overseas deployments. Be that as it may, I don't think even our degenerate country is ready to draft a woman who has a one-year old child into the army and then send her overseas into combat. Not yet, anyway.

I would say that any law requiring all women to register for the draft into the military is an unjust law on its face and that therefore no one is _required_ to follow it.

Well, I certainly think it would be a horribly imprudent law, and would move heaven and earth to prevent such a thing, but I am having trouble finding a way to establish that it is unjust in such a way as to invalidate it even in principle. Would the law be unjust if women remained off limits for combat positions, so that although they might be inducted they only served office staff positions or nursing in US posts of duty? Would the law be unjust if the registration were for a universal corps where 1 in 20 unmarried persons age 18 would be drafted by lottery, but the women went into Americorps type positions, and only men went into the army? Yes, I take with advisement your comment about the totalitarian nature of a "all-personnel" requirement to serve 2 years, but - as with the British example you give - exigent circumstances can be imagined where the country's need rises to the level of a legit mandate, and if they limit it to unmarried women and still keep those women at home in non-combat positions it is difficult to set out a principle that invalidates such a law right from the get-go. Which, to my mind, means that while a woman obeys the law to register, she (and like-minded people) have time changes laws to limit the anticipated impact of a future potential call-up, which seems to take the steam out of saying the law is unjust on its face.

But I will admit that these kinds of possible unfoldings have always stymied good people in terms of where to draw the line between (a) unwise but legitimate law that should be obeyed, (b) unjust law that may be obeyed but may be disobeyed depending on your circumstances, and (c) unjust and immoral law that should be rejected and uniformly disobeyed. I tend to be a bit of a legalist, so I tend to say that if the specific evils (from obedience) to be dreaded are dependent on future uncertainties that may or may not come to pass, then you probably have not yet got a situation that has crossed over from (a) to (b) yet. I tend to believe strongly in the rule of law and following principles. Others are more pragmatic than me, which leads to different conclusions about how much emphasis to give probable but still uncertain outcomes.

Note, however, my comments are all on the assumption that we don't draft women with young children. If we tried that, I would say that not only is a woman morally allowed to disobey, she should do much in her power to either flee or render the law impossible to effectuate against her and her family. It is one thing for a single person to submit to unfair demands upon them, quite another for the law to disrupt a family by such unjust demands.

To be clear, I was thinking of a law requiring women to register for the draft *in the current context* legally. That would be ipso facto a law requiring them to register *because* they are now eligible for combat. Hence, it would _not_ be a law that excluded them from combat but rather a law passed precisely because of the acceptance of women in combat and hence, tacitly, making them available for combat. It would be passed in the current "gender equality" atmosphere as a move to recognize and reify that alleged equality; hence, it wouldn't include exemptions for mothers. And so forth. It was to such a registration law that I was referring as unjust and therefore licit to disobey, though not everyone is called to the martyrdom of disobeying it if there were also a way to register in good conscience.

Here is a practical question: Who would be a good Congressman to make contact with who might introduce a law once again that women cannot be sent into combat?

Lydia:

It has everything to do with worldview. Governments govern by worldviews, and you can't get away from that just by downsizing.

My point is tangential to this subject - I acknowledge that. I fully agree with your arguments against women in combat - so I'm not arguing that point at all. (Perhaps the draft could be fought using anti-slavery laws?)

Nonetheless my point IS about worldview - not downsizing. If the US changed its worldview to one of non-aggression and war as last resort, this whole issue - though still valid - would not feel like such an immanent threat to women. Would this issue cause as much consternation in Switzerland? The US military has been in a state of perpetual war since Korea. For this reason allowing women in combat is direct and urgent. If we only put our troops in harms way when there is a clear objective and a Congressionally declared war, the subject wouldn't require the immediate action it does now.

In short, women in combat coupled with the long combat tours that are currently the norm in military life makes this issue all to real.

If women were drafted the answer to #2 is likely "absolutely not" and the answer to #3 is to form an organization akin to the Oath Keepers wherein two things happen:

1. Women register to make their opposition known in advance.
2. Male service members register in advance that they won't obey an order to further the actions in question.

Obviously, this would lead to both categories getting at least a few members brutally treated by federal prosecutors. The only non-legislative solution for this would be for more male service members to be willing to stymie and obstruct the prosecution. Again, more examples will be made.

But really, I think you ought to be red-lining the engine now so people see the grim reality now with an all volunteer force instead of say WW3 between us and China where millions of hapless women might be sacrificed against their will. Create an all-female brigade and send them with minimal air support to the frontier in Afghanistan. Make it international headlines when they deploy so the Taliban will have no excuse to not lay out the red carpet when they show up.

When most of them end up dead, dying and mutilated and the POWs are returned in various stages of heinous rape and forced pregnancy that will ensure that even a "liberal's liberal" will have a hard time with the idea of forcing millions of young women to serve anywhere near a combat zone. And really, since we have an all volunteer military, you have no excuse not to support this. Only women who are stupid enough to want to be GI Janes would even be in such an outfit.

BTW, I believe you missed one of the other penalties from not registering. Those who don't register for Selective Service typically cannot hold any sort of cleared federal position (civil service or contractor). That basically means these women would be denied most white collar jobs with any real pay and benefits at DoJ, DHS, DoD and even State.

Well, no, if they were saying that they were going to put women in combat, and if they required (as I'm afraid will happen) women to register from the draft within that legal context, then this _would_ require immediate action as it does now, because women would have to decide whether to register for the draft or not. If they were going to do so while trying to document a conscientious objection to being actually drafted into the military, they would have to begin to keep that documentation now. So it really wouldn't make that much difference if we adopted a more non-aggressive stance, because the feminist dogma and the registration would still be the same, as would the conscience issues raised by them.

I suppose one can write an entirely alternative history in which Panetta wouldn't be in charge now or wouldn't have made this decision or in which the congressional ban on women in combat would have been left in place if we hadn't been doing all these experimental wars and putting women in near-combat situations in the meanwhile, thus giving feminism this spurious air of having "proved itself." But that's a pretty extreme alternative history with a lot of ifs. Looking forward from where we actually are, I would say that even if beginning _today_ we downsized our military and took a much more dove-ish stance and entered far fewer wars, just as you advise, this issue would not be going away now that it has been raised.

Sorry, previous comment was directed to Daniel, not to Mike T. Mike T and I were posting at the same time. More to Mike T later.

The reality of it Lydia is that you will never get people to understand it on a visceral level without actually seeing why this policy is stupid. As they saying goes "let reason be silent when experience gainsays it." That is our only appeal against this liberal advance.

Mike, as long as you _do_ register, I don't think federal prosecutors much care what you say about what you would do if called up. That is, assuming you aren't uttering threats of violence or something like that. As far as I know, saying you wouldn't cooperate, etc., is not a federally indictable offense, as long as you filled out the little registration card. In fact, pacifist web sites expressly note that if you fill out a registration card and write something extra on it like, "I am a conscientious objector," the government will take no note of this and will also destroy the card after entering your name into the computer system. If you want to use it as part of a paper trail, you have to make your own photocopy before mailing it. So there would seem to be no actual risk involved in the kind of organization you describe.

As you can imagine, I'm not going to endorse your idea of deliberately getting a lot of women killed, maimed, raped right now to try to wake people up. There are many reasons why I won't endorse this.

First, even stupid feminists don't "deserve" to have that stuff happen to them. No doubt you disagree. Oh, well. Second, plenty of the women currently in there probably believed the nonsense that women aren't sent into combat, so a bait and switch has been pulled on them. Third, deliberately trying to get units of our own military killed and maimed to make a political or ideological point has a name, and it isn't pretty: The name for that is treason. And fourth, it wouldn't be allowed to serve as a wakeup call, because the powers that be would make sure that it didn't. (These include the media.)

What I really do wish, however, is that we could find a congressman to lead a movement here to get women in combat taken off the table.

As far as I know, saying you wouldn't cooperate, etc., is not a federally indictable offense, as long as you filled out the little registration card.

And it'll go down something like this.

1. Draft them.
2. Send them to the front lines.
3. Court marshal them for dereliction of duty when they won't fight.

As you can imagine, I'm not going to endorse your idea of deliberately getting a lot of women killed, maimed, raped right now to try to wake people up. There are many reasons why I won't endorse this.

I'm not personally in favor of it, but not personally opposed to it. I merely propose it as a way of actually forcing change.

Third, deliberately trying to get units of our own military killed and maimed to make a political or ideological point has a name, and it isn't pretty: The name for that is treason

You are basing that on the assumption that that is the motive rather than the understood almost intrinsic result of going that route. What I am proposing is no more than, say, if society started to truly believe that drunk driving didn't increase the risk of death that a few thousand people who earnestly believe that fiction should be given a lot of alcohol and put on a challenging road away from the main population where they can test that theory.

What I really do wish, however, is that we could find a congressman to lead a movement here to get women in combat taken off the table.

I assume you mean in combat arms occupations because women have been in combat since the Civil War as support personnel. Even so, if women do not serve in combat arms, they will never make the highest echelons of leadership without direct political intervention. That is one reason why many will never support you on this. Defend common sense here and you defend the glass ceiling as well because traditionally the highest echelons of leadership are reserved for officers who have put their butts on the line.

Lydia, you already know the answers to many of these questions. You have an idea of how brutal and political federal law enforcement has become. It takes little imagination to imagine the ruthlessness that will be unleashed on the "examples." These are the same people who, for example, nonchalantly were going to give Aaron Swartz 35 years in federal prison for a minor act of hacking which the victim asked be left alone by the DoJ.

And with that I'll resume my lurking since chances are we can only go down hill (further?) from here.

I guess I'd leave the country even if my son were drafted. I give the government enough of my paycheck every week, it's not getting my children too. My son or daughter isn't dying for a Bush or Obama or any of their pet projects. The point is, I realize, rather moot since reinstatement of the draft is about as likely as repeal of Roe v Wade. I'm admittedly not very nationalistic though, having come of age after the cold war was a memory. For those conservatives who still have that nationalistic hangover, maybe this will convince them that America ain't what she used to be.

I don't think a CO angle would work...those are usually given out for religious objections to war as a whole rather than specific objections to this or that group participating. But who knows, might as well go for it. I don't think it would be granted for conservative Christians for simple who-whom reasons, but if you got a nice Muslim or Buddhist it might have a chance, then Christians could piggyback off of that.

The whole story has gotten surprisingly little fanfare. Maybe because feminists don't really care that much. Feminism is more about seeing women on the board of directors or in Congress, not bleeding to death in some godforsaken third-world hellhole. It's the same reason why the huge gender disparity among plumbers has thus far escaped the notice of our egalitarian friends.

Looking forward from where we actually are, I would say that even if beginning _today_ we downsized our military and took a much more dove-ish stance and entered far fewer wars, just as you advise, this issue would not be going away now that it has been raised.

Agreed. The issue is real. All I was saying is that the effects on women would not be so severe. Far less combat = far less women in combat.
I know it's completely tangential and I'll just drop it.

My other point though was about fighting conscription altogether.

My favorite politician (his name rhymes with "Don Tall") said this:

It is time to abolish the Selective Service System and consign military conscription to the dustbin of American history. ...

Ronald Reagan said it best: "The most fundamental objection to draft registration is moral." He understood that conscription assumes our nation's young people belong to the state. Yet America was founded on the opposite principle, that the state exists to serve the individual. The notion of involuntary servitude, in whatever form, is simply incompatible with a free society.


I assume you mean in combat arms occupations because women have been in combat since the Civil War as support personnel.

Sure, Mike, I realize that "combat" has been drastically redefined. I wouldn't date it quite as far back as the Civil War, that I know of, but Jimmy Carter was a big mover on this, because at that time (at least so I recall researching quite some time ago), there _was_ an official congressional ban on "women in combat." Somebody dropped the ball on that legislative ban, and that's how we ended up here. If Congress reinstates that on the books, then, note, even if it's gutted in practice by the DoD, its presence in law will almost certainly continue to prevent women from having to register for the draft.

Matt points out,


I don't think a CO angle would work...those are usually given out for religious objections to war as a whole rather than specific objections to this or that group participating. But who knows, might as well go for it.

What you say is completely true, and is definitely a problem with the CO angle. However, as far as I know (please tell me if there is a precedent to the contrary), no one has ever tried and been denied a CO status for a well-worked-out and principled objection to his participating in the military altogether as a member of a group. The distinction hasn't been between this group and that but rather between this war and that. The intent of Congress in naming an exception (I believe this was in the 1948 act) for those who were opposed to "all war" was to rule out people's claiming CO status on the basis of their being opposed to specific wars. Now, an anti-feminist could claim that she is opposed to _women's_ being warriors in _all_ wars. I agree that it is a long shot given the precedents to date. This issue simply has never been addressed because it never had to be, and I don't think it was anticipated in 1948.

Is it a reasonable enough thing to try, however, that a woman required to register for the draft, but actually opposed to serving in the military, could in good conscience register while planning to try for CO status if actually called up? Given, as you mention, the improbability of an actual draft, but given what I consider to be the fairly high probability that women will be required to register within the next decade or less, that's by far the more practically urgent question.

Daniel, I understand that some people have a moral antipathy to conscription as involuntary servitude, but I fail to see how that successfully translates into conscription being morally defective as a national law. It is perfectly possible to argue that the above theory is wrong, or at least wrong about America (and this is yet one more reason why people like Don Tall are not believable candidates for high office.)

Consider, for a moment, the parallel with taxation: some people believe that being forced to pay 25% of their income in taxes amounts to involuntary servitude, and is immoral. 'Government should be limited to voluntary contributions.' But most people dismiss such ravings as nonsense, of course. Civilized society means the government having the capacity to make you do things against your will, even repugnant to some of your deep desires. If paying taxes is repugnant to your very morals, your morals are deformed, and the state should have no problem saying so. Similar considerations can be applied to conscription.

Yet America was founded on the opposite principle, that the state exists to serve the individual.

Well, the government is based on the principle that it serves the common good, which good subsists in many individuals but the common good is not identical to their personal and private good multiplied many times over. Just as it can be for the common good that everyone be required to pay taxes and service to build a wall to protect the city, so also can it be for the common good that every able-bodied male be required to serve in combat for defense of the common good. There may be some situations were conscription over a long period does not ultimately serve the common good, but it is impossible to prove that there are never any possible cases where short term conscription can serve the common good. And that's sufficient reason for the state to resort to it at need.

The underlying problem is this: the government is not just a rule-maker, it is also a teacher and a guide for public need. If the state publishes a proclamation that "we are taking all volunteers for military service because we need them", that is not capable of effectively showing each person whether the state needs their service. Individual persons are not in a position to be able to discern for their own part whether their need to accomplish their normal day-to-day duties outweighs the state's need for military service, they don't have the knowledge of how their role fits into the larger need sufficiently to make a wise and informed decision. In unusual times of grave public danger (danger of state annihilation or subjugation in slavery, for example), people should not expect to trust their own private perspective on whether their standard contribution to the general welfare is immediately important enough to justify continuing in their civil affairs, or when those goods are not urgent enough and they should set them aside for military service. Hence the government is set above them to decide in cases where the individual cannot discern. Just as no person is a good judge on his own case in trial (which is why we use judges and juries), so also few persons are a good judge in their own cases of whether their personal pursuits are more urgent to the common good than service.

Somebody dropped the ball on that legislative ban, and that's how we ended up here. If Congress reinstates that on the books, then, note, even if it's gutted in practice by the DoD, its presence in law will almost certainly continue to prevent women from having to register for the draft.

A coworker of mine made a very interesting observation about those who speak of women in the military at all and think they won't be in combat. What is the real mission of Delta and the SEALS? It's not fighting terrorism. It's going deep behind enemy lines and crippling the enemy's rear echelon forces. Our opponents have their own answer to Delta and the SEALS and wouldn't hesitate to send them against us in such a conflict. As he pointed out, the women "in support" will not be facing the worst but the very best troops our enemy can throw at them.

One can make a stand against putting women in combat arms, but being in or near combat is inherently a part of being deployed to a war zone. Until this ban was lifted, one could argue that the current approach was actually a recognition of that reality. Furthermore, one could also argue that if women want political equality with respect to rights they must assume equal duties at least insofar as being forced to perform military duty in some capacity when the nation demands it. Women should not be allowed to run for office, vote, serve in the judiciary, etc. or hold any nominal position of political authority if they are not going to be forced to defend the nation and the state when need demands it.

Furthermore, one could also argue that if women want political equality with respect to rights they must assume equal duties at least insofar as being forced to perform military duty in some capacity when the nation demands it.

But Mike, that theory runs against the principle of complementarity. Equal rights (of a block of citizens) to vote should be coordinate with capacity (as a block) to vote in a way that enhances the common good, not on capacity to serve in combat - because those are different roles requiring different capacities and qualifications. If women's particular perfections and consequent limitations make the block of women less capable of voting to enhance the common good than men, then there is the basis of an argument that they should not vote. But I have never heard a realistic argument to that effect. Mostly, what I have heard is a baseless theory that women shouldn't receive the education of a free, responsible, complete citizen and thus cannot be expected to be qualified to vote. I wish we could restrict the vote to limit it to people who really have received the education and/or development of character of a free, responsible, complete citizen, but that wouldn't exclude women.

Mike, I really don't see any reason to make a big deal about the phrase "in combat" in the way that you are doing. You and I and everyone knows that the phrase means what you mean by "in combat arms." Moreover, you know as well as I do that in WWI and WWII women, with the exception of nurses, were much farther away even physically from combat than they were in even Gulf War I. I have an inimitable comment about women in the military from a late veteran of WWII whom my daughter interviewed nearly ten years ago now. He said, "There were no girls in the army then. Oh, there were WACS and WAVES, but they just Wacked and Waved." The idea of women *as warriors* is a much more recent one. Their uniforms and arms have come to reflect it, and "support roles" have come to be much more strenuous physically in the name of "equality," much more integrated with the male troops, and armed like them as well as going through boot camp like them. It would have been possible for "support roles" to mean something much different, and they used to, but they haven't recently. Nonetheless, the bright line of not putting women into _all_ combat roles has had a legal importance, and that line is now being removed.

Tony:

Well, the government is based on the principle that it serves the common good, which good subsists in many individuals but the common good is not identical to their personal and private good multiplied many times over. Just as it can be for the common good that everyone be required to pay taxes and service to build a wall to protect the city, so also can it be for the common good that every able-bodied male be required to serve in combat for defense of the common good.

Ah, the common good. Where do we draw the line when it comes to the common good?

Do we - with Plato - censor all speech that may corrupt virtue? Do we outlaw poetry, plays, films, etc. that are not 100% truth/reality based? Do we only allow harmonious music? Do we consign our children to the state at birth (so we parents don't inadvertently steer them astray from the common good)? Outlaw marriage (so familial ties don't corrupt the workings of the state towards the common good)?

Why not pay 100% in taxes and let the government dole out provisions according to the common good? After all - they decide what is and isn't good so...

Or do we have a say? Can we argue that taxes and conscription are involuntary servitude? Are we allowed to argue that? Or must we keep silent because "most people dismiss such ravings as nonsense"?

Their uniforms and arms have come to reflect it, and "support roles" have come to be much more strenuous physically in the name of "equality," much more integrated with the male troops, and armed like them as well as going through boot camp like them. It would have been possible for "support roles" to mean something much different, and they used to, but they haven't recently.

Most support roles are masculine by nature and ought to be partially or wholly integrated with combat arms occupational skill sets because they will operate on deployment like that. If a woman takes on any sort of role as a technician, mechanic, construction worker, engineer (ex nuclear engineer on a ship), medic, intelligence officer or supply officer she will be exposed to combat more likely than not. Those are just the MOSes that come to mind. Even physically undemanding roles like being a translator will very likely expose her to combat situations.

As I understand them, the WACS and WAVES were rather limited in what occupations they could choose. The vast majority of support roles were simply not open to them.

Nonetheless, the bright line of not putting women into _all_ combat roles has had a legal importance, and that line is now being removed.

It certainly did, but we never examined the larger implication of integrating women into the military proper. Women in the military simply cannot escape the threat of being caught up in a real combat zone if they are on deployment in a hostile area. A female technician driving from one FOB to another in a relatively calm province can easily find her convoy under attack and having to join in with the other support personnel and anyone from the infantry with her. Our traditional policy was to wholesale exclude women from the general military so that this scenario would not happen.

I don't think you can articulate a clear vision to the common man of why women should not be in combat arms without also articulating why they should generally be restricted from support roles that place them anywhere near such operations. If you don't, you will have a really hard time of explaining why a woman who is willing to take the risk of getting blown up or shot up in the field as a technician supporting infantry should not be able to try out for the infantry if she can meet the physical requirements (a very tall order for most women) since the dangers of the former can be different in degree than kind to the latter.

If women's particular perfections and consequent limitations make the block of women less capable of voting to enhance the common good than men, then there is the basis of an argument that they should not vote. But I have never heard a realistic argument to that effect.

Start with this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Lott#Women.27s_suffrage_and_government_growth

If you've never heard of him, John Lott is the man who enraged the left by statistically showing that higher gun ownership actually tends to make society substantially safer.

As I understand them, the WACS and WAVES were rather limited in what occupations they could choose.

Right, exactly. But I fear there are still people out there who think that those limited occupations are what "support roles" means. They find it convenient to think that.

Look, I'm a huge fan of the book by Brian Mitchell that argues that women should _not_ be in what were known, euphemistically, as "support roles," for _precisely_ the reasons you are giving, Mike. So you and I agree there. I'm very proud of the fact that I got my copy of that book autographed by none other than Phyllis Schlafly, who wrote, "Brian Mitchell is a great American" by her signature. Mitchell's only exception was medical roles, simply because he believed that the need for skilled manpower there was too great and that therefore medically qualified women were, objectively, needed to fill the spots if they desired to do so.

In any event, this is a case of our country's taking the logic in the wrong direction. Putting women into full-bore combat positions, complete with all the absolute loss of privacy and the horrors thereof, may bear some sort of logical connection to putting them into the integrated "support roles" they've been in for the last couple of decades, but that's an argument for taking them _back out_ of those "support roles." It's a little like abortion and infanticide. It's not like we actually _want_ our country to legalize infanticide just so it can be more consistent! So here. This is where we should stand up and be shouting, "Wrong way! Wrong way!"

What would the Catholic position really be, though? I look again to St. Joan of Arc as an example. Again, although it is questionable whether or not she actually fought she did indeed lead male troops into battle as their leader.

What does this really mean for the Church's view? Does this mean that the *norm* is that women can't serve in combat, but certain women in certain situations can? Because St. Joan was not in a "life or death" scenario. She was not jumped and then forced to defend herself or others. She believed that God had called her to lead the French army, and she made the conscious decision to join it as the leader.

I'm not sure what that means for the Catholic decision.

Start with this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Lott#Women.27s_suffrage_and_government_growth

That's just a bald statement of fact, not an argument.

Rights and obligations are inseparably paired. One of the longstanding obligations of a citizen is to serve the State in arms when that's considered necessary, and of course if the citizen in question is qualified to do so -- the military never drafted men who were 4ft6inches. Women were traditionally not subject to military service partly because they were considered incapable of meeting the qualifications, but more fundamentally because they weren't considered citizens -- they were rather like permanent children that way.

If women are citizens, able to vote and own property and hold office (and they now are) then they're not dependents and not analogous to children as a protected class. They're citizens, and hence the degree of their service in time of war is limited only by their capacities. Once women gained civic equality, this was bound to filter through to the culture in general eventually.

All citizens are not obliged to make the same sacrifices in war; they are, however, required to make equal sacrifices -relative to their capacities-. This is why allowing some to purchase exemptions to the draft (as was common in the Civil War) came to be regarded as abominable oppression.

Granting exemptions (usually coupled with alternative service) to religious and other pacifists is a combination of pragmatism and concession-by-grace.

It is exceedingly unlikely to be extended to some who -aren't- pacifists for what most people regard as irrelevant reasons. In the unlikely (but possible) eventuality that the draft is reinstated (and if that's so, it will indeed almost certainly be extended to women), it's unlikely to the point of being laughable that the public would allow such a gross imbalance in sacrifice. "You daughter can get her legs blown off, but mine shouldn't be required to travel away from home."

Frankly, anyone trying to make such a demand in a national emergency would be lucky not to be lynched, and would almost certainly be harshly and savagely punished. Quite rightly so, in my opinion. Taking rights and evading obligations is theft and, in this context, treason.

This is a matter of policy, decided by the citizen body in its -collective- capacity, through its representative institutions. The decisions of the duly elected authorities bind the whole citizen body, not simply those who happen to agree with a specific action. You don't get to chose whether you pay taxes, or withhold a portion because you don't approve of some particular policy.

Specifically religious arguments to the contrary are protected as a matter of -belief- by the Constitution, but not as a matter of -action-.

You can believe women shouldn't have the vote, and say so: you can't try to prevent any woman from voting. Including your relatives. You don't get to exempt yourself (or your relatives) from civic obligations, either.

What I really do wish, however, is that we could find a congressman to lead a movement here to get women in combat taken off the table.

I'm afraid that you are trying to close the barn door after the horse has bolted. A veto-proof majority in Congress in favor of such a law is unlikely to coalesce over at least the next four years. That gives the policy at least four years of practical implementation. What's worse, it also gives our black-robed masters and mistresses at least four years to constitutionalize the policy when a man files suit against having to register with Selective Service (e.g., after being denied federal student loans/grants for failing to register) on equal protection grounds (much like Craig v. Boren, which struck down different beer drinking ages for men and women).

Daniel Smith,
Tyranny reflects insanity or irrationality in the State. Either the sovereign Will is disordered (so that it does not follow intellect i.e. is arbitrary) or the intellect i.e. the deliberations of the State are disordered e.g. by arguing from wrong premises.

Do you not assume that man is a rational being?. That we can recognize irrationality and tyranny when we see it?. Is it not possible to distinguish between the valid operations of the Sovereign and invalid ones?

Then why give absurd examples of disordered Sovereign to discredit the idea of rational Sovereign?.

Oops. I read too fast and didn't pay close enough attention to the third paragraph of the original post. I'd just add that I don't think that different treatment of men and women with respect to the requirement to register with Selective Service has any real chance of satisfying "intermediate scrutiny" considering how high the bar has been set under the supposedly less stringent "rational basis" standard.

That's just a bald statement of fact, not an argument.

So when someone asks you to name a few reasonS why Hitler, Stalin and Mao were evil, we can assume you will not cite the Holocaust, Gulags, purges and Cultural Revolution. Got it.

It has not been regarded as an _obligation_ for women to be drafted into the army ever, in the entire history of our country. Anyone who argues that it _is_ an obligation, and that people "deserve to be lynched" if they think their daughters should not be drafted is, in my opinion, part of the lunatic fringe, and doesn't deserve an answer.

Mike T, speaking for myself, I'd rather give up voting than driving. As far as practicality goes, the latter is a lot more important. I imagine that a lot of our daughters would think the same. The option isn't being offered us, however. I would add however, that along with Tony I don't agree that there is some sort of logical argument from "Women can vote" and "women should be drafted into the military." For one thing, there is the fact that women who have children can serve the common good best by taking care of them anyway, though our present messed-up country may not recognize that.

Marc Anthony, I leave it to the Catholics to worry about that; fortunately, I don't have to endorse Joan of Arc's actually having been commanded by God to lead men into battle. But, yes, I think a Catholic would have to argue that that was a very unusual exception and that, not having received voices in one's head ordering one to fight, as a woman one was obligated to respect the natural gender differences God has inscribed in the human body.

For another thing, Mike, you and I both agree that, for many reasons, including unit cohesion, privacy, psychological differences between males and females, possibility of pregnancy, possibility of rape, morale, etc., etc., as well as typical physical ability and need differences, women should have been used all along only in very limited positions at most in the military. This means that a rational military will have little need of women, which makes it perfectly sensible not to require women to register for the draft. "Women can vote" does not change these facts about what a rational military should do. Our present military is, and has been for quite some time, drastically irrational on this subject, and military quality has suffered because of it. Putting women into full combat arms only increases that irrationality.

Lydia,

The problem comes in the fact that women literally have no hypothetical legal duties complimentary to what men hypothetically face in our system, yet have the same legal rights including political rights. Women face nothing comparable to the draft in terms of emergency duties to the state when the republic is in crisis or at war. I think this poses a real problem when letting them run for positions in or near the Presidency or Congress for a variety of reasons.

In general, I actually have no principled opposition to women serving in combat support roles provided a few criteria are met. First, all standards must be defined relative to the male members of that MOS and women judged accordingly. Second, women must be strongly counseled on the realities of becoming a female POW including gang rape, forced pregnancy, etc. Third if a woman becomes pregnant while deployed except by forcible rape, she and the father of the child should be dumped in Leavenworth the moment she delivers. Fourth, if a woman in such a role tries to pull a "single mom card" she should be immediately dishonorably discharged (this can actually happen; a coworker of mine actually did this to several women who tried to get out of deployment to Iraq).

If a woman can do the job, and is held to the same standards as a man, I see no reason to allow women to freely volunteer. Their lives, their loss if they make a mistake. The problem as I see it is that this opens the door to a collapsing of standards, the draft, etc. That is a fundamentally different beast than what we had until Panetta decided to drop this on us.

I also think you could solve a good 3/4 of what upsets you with a one line executive order directing the Department of Defense to hold women to the same standards as men or face reassignment to a "less strenuous" MOS.

Lydia,

This article from Christianity Today should serve as an example of why Game, MRA, etc. are drawing a lot of men away from the conservative movement. The author begins with quoting from a woman who wrote into the Marine Corps Gazette to describe the permanent injury she suffered from trying to keep up with the infantry, segues into several biblical references about patriarchy then ends with this:

If men will not own this responsibility, then women will be forced to take it on as did biblical women such as Deborah and Jael (and the extrabiblical figure Judith). Many modern men fail to mirror Christ in leading, providing, and protecting. In the cries of fatherless children, the strained voice of working mothers desperately seeking "work-life balance," and the Marine Corps Gazette, we hear echoes of the Bible's first question, addressed to a self-crippled man: "Where are you?"

If I were not already a Christian, coming from a broken family, seeing most of the families in my extend family destroyed by rebellious divorce-initiating wives and seeing how many of my qualified peers simply cannot get jobs that let them have a stay at home wife even if they wanted one, this would be enough to make me say "why would I ever want to associate with these sanctimonious fools?!" We are to believe from this prominent Christian voice that this woman was forced to keep up with the infantry because a man wouldn't stop her though you and I both know that he'd have no legal right to do so (as a husband, commanding officer, etc.) if she qualified on paper for the position.

I don't want to threadjack, I just saw this and found it a particularly good example of the sort of conservative mentality that is causing the likes of Roissy and company to easy peel young men away in droves. An actual masculine man would be appalled by this man's argument.

Yeah, Mike, that is a threadjack, and I'm not going to go down that road. There is no excuse for warping one's mind and soul just because other people are saying silly things. Period, end of discussion.

As for your previous comments, I could not disagree more. It is criminally stupid to integrate women into these situations for many reasons that go beyond "whether she can do the job." Just one is that such statements are like saying that we should allow all religious groups equally into the U.S. "so long as they are prepared to assimilate." Since we _know_ all religious groups aren't equally prepared to assimilate, we _know_ that such statements are window dressing and that standards of assimilation _will_ simply be lowered. But there are many other reasons besides, including the warping of male-female relationships, the lowering of morale and male cohesion in units, attrition, the lack of fungibility, personal privacy and hygiene (even amazonian women have different personal hygiene needs from men and ought to be separated from them for personal hygienic care, elimination of body wastes, sleeping, etc.). I could go on and on and on with the reasons. It is irrational to integrate women in the way that we have done, bad for them, bad for the men, bad for the military, bad policy, irrational from so many different perspectives that simply adding a "keep the standards the same" memo wouldn't make it rational.

Therefore: It is _even more_ irrational to put women into full-bore combat roles. If it is irrational to put a group of people qua group into the vast majority of roles in the military, it is unjust to force them to register *as if* they could be put into those roles, and all the more so when it is widely known that the military is already behaving irrationally by _pretending_ that they are well-suited to those roles.

This is why 75-year-old men are not required to register for the draft, even though they can vote. And note: If a man comes to the U.S. and becomes a citizen at the age of 70, he has _never_ had to register for the draft, but he suffers no negative consequences for that.

Like it or not, the issues are logically separable. Making up an irrational duty for women to register for the military draft just to satisfy some abstract notion of "fairness" ("It's not fair that they can vote but don't have _some_ draft duty") is as stupid as many of the made-up equalizations that we hear from feminists.

Blind adherence to ideology, divorced from facts of nature, makes you stupid. Better not to get wedded to ideology.

There is no excuse for warping one's mind and soul just because other people are saying silly things.

I think you missed my point. If a young man from a background similar to mine, but not a Christian were to see voices in one of American Christianity's more prominent publications blaming men for why a woman chose to put herself in an a position to be badly injured in the military it would not be silly. It would be a basis of asking "why are Christians giving these men a voice to preach such anti-male nonsense if they don't agree with it."

I also noted it to bring to your attention that the ostensibly conservative Christian (more mainstream than W4) response is in some areas decidedly contrary to some of the things I think you would espouse. For example, I don't think you would agree that any of these women are there because men qua men didn't man up and deny them a position they couldn't lawfully deny them.

How Christians respond to this irrationality is actually very important to how the world sees us.

I could go on and on and on with the reasons. It is irrational to integrate women in the way that we have done, bad for them, bad for the men, bad for the military, bad policy, irrational from so many different perspectives that simply adding a "keep the standards the same" memo wouldn't make it rational.

I didn't say it would make it rational, I said it would end most of the debate since it would require removing a very high percentage of women from active duty service. There certainly wouldn't be enough slots in our current system to give them all "traditionally female" positions. Most would be discharged.

Making up an irrational duty for women to register for the military draft just to satisfy some abstract notion of "fairness" ("It's not fair that they can vote but don't have _some_ draft duty") is as stupid as many of the made-up equalizations that we hear from feminists.

As you know by now, I am not willing to let women have their cake and eat it too. American women as a group will never agree to reopen the debate on the sexual revolution until the consequences are rammed down their collective throat. Until then, they are enjoying a privilege that exists only by fusing the old order with the new at a point which maximally benefits them, maximally harms ordinary men and gives them no incentive to pick one to the exclusion of the other.

Furthermore, I'd suggest you consider how the momentum of constitutional law and precedence is completely against conservatives on this. There are no realistic, concrete steps that can be taken within the status quo to achieve what you want. The current Supreme Court might give you some of it, but if Kennedy ends up getting replaced by Obama or his successor it's a foregone conclusion. We have worked long and hard to achieve an increasingly radical structure of egalitarianism and finally it has reached so deep into our system that there is no politically viable method to extricate it.

As you know by now, I am not willing to let women have their cake and eat it too. American women as a group will never agree to reopen the debate on the sexual revolution until the consequences are rammed down their collective throat.

Blah, blah. Which means it's all about punishing the feminists and maximal destruction to prove a point, as usual with you, Mike, even if that means that my non-feminist daughters have to register for the draft and maybe actually be drafted. They and other women like them are just collateral damage in the war of the sexes. To which my response is: You can take your destructive, ideologically blinkered bitterness and go to hell. In charity, I hope you don't go to hell, but I've tried to stop you, and I'm tired of wasting time on it. I could be blogging about more interesting things.

As for realistic, concrete steps: It's unlikely that we will turn around the insanity in the military *up to* the point of women in full-bore combat arms. I still think there is hope of getting some congressman to sponsor a bill against that last step, and I think it's a goal worth pursuing.

But if we're talking about justice, I don't have to talk about realistic steps. I can, and will, talk about what is just. And taking the insanity of the last few decades in the military and ramming it home to its final conclusion in forcing women to register for the draft and sending them into full combat roles is not just. Saying that it isn't realistic to reverse course altogether doesn't make any difference to that. And as a matter of reason, policy, and logic, it simply isn't the case that I have to assume something or other (either way) about the women's vote in order to argue that these policies are unjust.

These insane feminist policies in the military have also harmed plenty of men and will harm many more, in a whole variety of ways, as well as America as a country, as they are expanded into more and more areas. Anyone who cares about either women _or_ men, any man of good will, should therefore oppose these policies and oppose their expansion. To say, "Let it all come crashing down. Let it get much worse and hurt many more people, because that will show Them," is neither conservative nor Christian. It is merely nihilistic.

As you know by now, I am not willing to let women have their cake and eat it too. American women as a group will never agree to reopen the debate on the sexual revolution until the consequences are rammed down their collective throat. Until then, they are enjoying a privilege that exists only by fusing the old order with the new at a point which maximally benefits them, maximally harms ordinary men and gives them no incentive to pick one to the exclusion of the other.

What makes you think that men are any less "willing to let women have their cake and eat it too"? If it came to an actual draft (rather than registering for it), there would likely be an ad hoc policy which exempts most women de facto (while satisfying the judiciary's likely mandate of formal equality). And if it were to happen, I agree with Lydia. Taking an argument to its logical conclusion is good philosophy (I've used that method of argumentation with students on precisely this issue and it frequently causes them to become flustered), but it's lousy political practice in this instance.

Blah, blah. Which means it's all about punishing the feminists and maximal destruction to prove a point, as usual with you, Mike, even if that means that my non-feminist daughters have to register for the draft and maybe actually be drafted. They and other women like them are just collateral damage in the war of the sexes. To which my response is: You can take your destructive, ideologically blinkered bitterness and go to hell. In charity, I hope you don't go to hell, but I've tried to stop you, and I'm tired of wasting time on it. I could be blogging about more interesting things.

I don't believe it's about punishing anyone. First, it is important to recognize that the culture, media, education, and law are in full drive liberalism/equal outcome mode. Women in combat positions is just the latest result of that drive. As such, let's recognize that we have few secular allies in fighting this. Those allies we do have aren't going to take the complimentarian approach to the sexes either. Men and women are exactly the same is dogma and anyone saying otherwise is going to get obliterated by the powers that be.

What approach then are we going to take? The debate over this has been off and on since the late 80's. Everyone knows the studies and the arguments. It hasn't stopped the establishment from moving women into the battlefield. They are already there now and this just finalizes it by taking the last step. Screaming about the injustice of women getting drafted is nice, but the logic of the machine at this point is unstoppable. Women are going to have to register for the draft. That's not considered unjust in a society that says women and men are the same and teaches young girls that from the time they are born. You may think so, but this society doesn't and the levers of power are all in the liberals hands. Yell from the rooftop all you want and watch things continue to slip away.

On the other hand, Mike is at least offering a idea. I disagree about making a big deal over the standards. Let them jigger the standards however they want. Their goal is equal outcomes so let them have it. Lydia, did you ever think that maybe Christians might be a better witness if we let this go through, let them require registration for the draft by women, and then Christian women en masse refuse? Then we can make our appeal to the complimentary nature of men and women. Show that God intended for men and women to be equal but to have they own unique talents and spheres. Those actions would speak louder than any number of blog posts or screams of injustice.

One additional benefit is that the liberals are busy wrecking the military. In some ways that will make us all a lot safer.

The Christianity Today article just highlights that a lot of Christians have thrown out what God has laid out for men and women.

On the other hand, Mike is at least offering a idea.

Mike is, as often, suggesting destruction, harm for everyone, men included. That is not an option for people who are interested in something other than destruction. This is not a policy idea. This is sheer spite translated into policy which is known to be bad policy for _everyone_. This isn't just giving "them" what they want. There isn't some "them" out there that is totally separate from "us." There are plenty of good men in the military who will be harmed by these policies. There are good women who will be forced to register and who _might_ be drafted because of this. There are men whose careers will be harmed because they don't get on-board with this. There are women who will have to worry over the decision of whether to register for the draft and will have to wonder what would happen if there were a real draft. And, yes, there are ditzy feminists or women who were tempted into joining the military because they didn't know what they were getting into, who will also be severely harmed, and some of us think it's wrong to be completely unconcerned about that, too.

We don't solve anything by *going along with* what the feminists want. We solve nothing. If what they want is bad, then we're just saying, "Hey, yeah, let's have what's bad, because that'll show 'em." This is not the politics of conservatism. This is the politics of destruction and nihilism, and we will drag ourselves down with it.

In fact, it's such a crazy and stupid perspective, and fortunately shared by such a relatively small fringe of alleged anti-feminists (who here, ironically, end up calling for what the feminists are also calling for!) that it isn't even worth answering.

I wrote my post for sane fellow conservatives who wanted to share practical suggestions, not for nutjobs who want to tear it all down.

You all are wasting my time. I have people writing to me asking me to blog about other things. Why should I waste my time with kooky, manosphere types (don't think I don't know who you guys are) just because they happen not to be as utterly nasty or depraved in tone as some of their other brethren? I'm not going to keep doing it.

As for this,

Lydia, did you ever think that maybe Christians might be a better witness if we let this go through, let them require registration for the draft by women, and then Christian women en masse refuse? Then we can make our appeal to the complimentary nature of men and women. Show that God intended for men and women to be equal but to have they own unique talents and spheres. Those actions would speak louder than any number of blog posts or screams of injustice.

Did you read my post? I mean, why do I bother? Aside from the "let them" part--because it would be *better for all concerned* if this didn't go through--the rest of it (about Christian women registering and then being conscientious objectors if called up and appealing to complementarianism) is basically what I'm thinking of suggesting!! Hence, all the suggestions about women documenting their opposition on anti-feminist grounds and making a paper trail. For goodness' sake, you don't even listen. And if you want to talk about "who at least has an idea," that's exactly what I'm trying to be: Someone who "at least has an idea," and an idea that isn't, "Let the women who join the military now get killed and raped, let the standards be lowered even further, let our military be further ruined. Let the men be put at further risk. Let morals and morale be slaughtered even more than they have been. Let all the men who want a career in the military be severely punished if they won't toe the feminist line. *That'll* show all those goddamn feminists! Give them what they want. Let it all come down, folks."

I want an idea for _our_ people, _our_ daughters, _our_ young wives and mothers, the women that people in your little woman-hating fever swamp region of the blogosphere typically leave out of consideration, because y'all are too busy chatting among yourselves about how all women (or all American women, or most American women, or whatever) are _____s and ______s.

If Perseus, who is a sane participant in this particular conversation, hasn't encountered this phenomenon in the blogosphere and doesn't know what I'm talking about, he can count himself lucky.

As for all your stuff, Chris, about "screams" of injustice, I used the term "injustice" because I am interested in getting the truth clear here and was answering a tacit argument that if women can vote it is _legitimate_ for the government to draft them into specifically military roles. Some of us care about the clarity and accuracy of ideas, and justice happens to be one of those ideas.

Let them jigger the standards however they want. Their goal is equal outcomes so let them have it.

Lydia: Does a variation of your MAP rule apply here? The commenter is talking about acquiescing without a peep to lowering standards in a way that has an even greater probability of getting people killed in order to make a point about the complementarity of the sexes.

It should, shouldn't it?

Believe me, however, such people are not *at all* open to a MAP consideration. They're too busy being "edgy on the right."

By the way, if it's a matter of practical ideas: I'm still waiting for an idea of a congressman who might introduce a bill against women in full-bore combat. There's an idea.

Or how about an idea for getting in touch with women likely to have conscientious objections (on anti-feminist grounds) to being drafted into our "integrated" military? How about some ideas for what organization (not just an individual like me but an organization that would continue for decades) that could put up a statement against women serving in most soldier/warrior roles, which women could copy or could get a certification that they signed on to at a particular point in time, to make a paper trail?

There are practical things that could be done here if conservatives wouldn't either a) sit in stunned silence, b) be resigned, or c) wallow in malicious schadenfreude.

So far the only person who has had any such ideas in this thread was Dean Cathcart, way back at the beginning, bless his heart.

Such paper-trail making would assist conservative young women in feeling confident that they are not going against their consciences if they should be required to register for the draft.

Gian:

Then why give absurd examples of disordered Sovereign to discredit the idea of rational Sovereign?

All the examples in my first paragraph were lifted straight out of Plato's Republic. Your beef is with his 'absurdity'.

Lydia,

Take comfort in the fact that our country will soon be bankrupt and will no longer be able to afford a military anywhere near the size of our current one.

This is what's so frustrating to me - "conservatives" wring their hands and wonder what to do about another government overreach and NO ONE suggests cutting the government back to its Constitutional roots as an option! NO ONE is willing to seriously question the role of a limited, Constitutional government. Arguing that the government has the "right" to take your money and force you into servitude for "the common good"? Come on!

If conservatives would get ideological about this they'd realize that we've been asleep at the wheel for over a century now while the government has systematically expanded to the point where no one even questions its right to do what it does! We've sat idly by while our rights have been flushed down the toilet. I feel no sympathy for anyone not willing to even consider radical alternatives to the present status quo.

Well, you should feel sympathy, Daniel. I feel sympathy for lots of people I disagree with. An "all or nothing" mentality is the road to narrow-mindedness, bitterness, and unconcern about real harms.

I wanted to say, about "making a point about complementarity" by "letting the feminists have their way." I really scarcely know what this means. One wonders who would be making the point and to whom it would be made. The over-use of women in positions in the military for which they are ill-suited over the past several decades _has_ "made a point" about the complementarity of the sexes, for those who have ears to hear. Brian Mitchell talks about much of this in his book. Most have not had ears to hear. The social engineers in power continue on their merry way and are poised to go yet farther with their experiment. Hence, no good has come of the fact that this "point has been made"--made, in the purely abstract sense that it has turned out empirically to be bad for the military to try to treat women as interchangeable with men. It is the height of insanity to _want_ the liberals' policies to succeed because this will in some extremely abstract sense "make a point" by bringing on all the evil consequences against which conservatives have warned or could have warned. We conservatives have to live in this world and in this country too. We should not want it to be ruined just so we can say, "I told you so." And if that's the sort of thing one perversely enjoys, there's plenty of fodder for schadenfreude in the follies our military has already committed. No one should hanker for still more.

A law exempting women from being required to serve in front-line combat units (unlike registering for the draft or being forced to serve in some other military capacity) seems quite possible. The rationale put forth would be key, and one that is most likely to satisfy the courts is the special vulnerability of female soldiers to rape (which figured prominently in the change in Israeli policy). That's an issue which resonates with feminists, so there's a good chance that even feminist judges will be willing to countenance it as a constitutional matter.

BTW, I'll take it as a compliment that Lydia thinks that I hold at least one sane viewpoint. :o)

Ah, here's the devious idea, Perseus: If they passed that law, then they could (probably) continue to leave women out of the requirement to register for the draft. In fact, that was pretty much how it went with Rostker v. Goldberg.

Now, Congress could require women to register for the draft if they chose to, but if Congress decided to leave things as-is as far as draft registration, and if in the meanwhile they passed such a law as you envisage, then, the Court would have Rostker v. Goldberg as a precedent for not _requiring_ women (as a constitutional matter of fairness to men) to register for the draft. We both know (sigh) that SCOTUS is rather selective in its application of stare decisis, but in this case I think stare decisis might work. In fact, if a law were passed exempting women from front-line service, a suit over the draft might not even be filed. If no such law is passed, and Congress doesn't change the draft law, it is _certain_ that such a suit will be filed and, given the rationale in Rostker, pretty darned near certain what SCOTUS will rule.

Do we - with Plato - censor all speech that may corrupt virtue? Do we outlaw poetry, plays, films, etc. that are not 100% truth/reality based? Do we only allow harmonious music? Do we consign our children to the state at birth (so we parents don't inadvertently steer them astray from the common good)? Outlaw marriage (so familial ties don't corrupt the workings of the state towards the common good)?

Why not pay 100% in taxes and let the government dole out provisions according to the common good? After all - they decide what is and isn't good so...

Or do we have a say? Can we argue that taxes and conscription are involuntary servitude? Are we allowed to argue that? Or must we keep silent because "most people dismiss such ravings as nonsense"?

Daniel, you're not making much sense here. Nothing I said leads to the conclusion that the government can or should take over all decision making, as you seem to think it does. For one thing, I specifically stated "unsual" times of "grave danger", which nobody can honestly think implies "all the time everywhere" except as a perversion. Secondly, I have repeatedly made clear in other posts that included in the good that the government has a care for is protecting individuals making their own choices in their own natural spheres of competence, for THAT TOO is part of the human good that contributes to the common good. And so, at the very same time that "WE" have a say in such important things, WE Americans have always allotted to the state the possibility of drafting men to military service at grave need. That is, precisely, our having a say, by collective concerted action.

You can argue that taxes are as such involuntary servitude, but you cannot do so AND expect people will take you seriously.

Daniel Smith,
The reality is unpalatable to the libertarian. As a family is formed by the complementarity of the male and female, the State is formed by the complementarity of the ruling and the ruled element (Aristotle’s Politics)
Now the ruling element is Mind and the ruled element is Brute force. Thus, every state has some whose thinking counts, the Eminent Men that order a state. All the others, the non-elite, the ordinaries, belong in the ruled element. And it cannot be otherwise.

If you're wondering, Daniel: I think Tony is pretty sensible here, though I am not myself sympathetic to the draft in general.

I think Gian talks like a pompous windbag, with all this stuff about the "natural elites" and the "ruled element." And in America, we know who the present "elites" and the "ruled element" are, and we don't need to think merely hypothetically about what _would_ happen if people who think like we do were treated as the "ruled element" by "elites" with a radically different agenda. That hypothetical scenario is actual. Moreover, Gian's authoritarian posturing has lost a lot of its appearance moral authority given his talk in other threads about how pro-lifers shouldn't even talk too loudly about protecting unborn children conceived in rape, because such laws wouldn't be acceptable to the populace at large even if they could be passed. If "the elite" don't even have as an openly stated goal protecting children from being murdered, what good are they? So Gian's overall approach is a combination of pompous, anti-democratic talk when he wants to do that with, on the other hand, pompous lectures to pro-lifers against even using the means of democracy for legitimate government purposes when that's what he wants. In other words, he just likes to be pompous one way or another. Yawn.

However, I'd prefer that the thread not become an entirely _general_ discussion of the proper scope and limits of government authority.

Tony,

I was merely following your argument out to its logical conclusion. If the government can force men (and women) into military service in a "crisis" for "the common good", what can't it do? (Never let a crisis go to waste - remember?)

Once you grant something as vague as "the common good" as justification for a government's use of force against its citizens, there's no end to what can be interpreted as "necessary for the common good". We're seeing that in action before our very eyes today! Abortion, gay rights, government sponsored health care, retirement, education, welfare... all of these things somebody somewhere argued were for the "common good". And these are just the tip of the iceberg. Then we get into "security": Homeland Security, the TSA, the NDAA, the 'kill or capture' list, the Patriot Act, and all manner of "security" measures that violate basic principles of freedom - just to maintain security (i.e. the common good). We can see all this happening right in front of us, yet we still fail to realize that it is precisely the role of government that is the issue!

I feel like the voice crying in the wilderness here!

As a political scientist, I'm quite receptive to devious ideas, and even though the chances of your idea succeeding are probably lower, it's not beyond the realm of possibility. Ilya Somin at the Volokh Conspiracy suggests that Rostker still might not be overturned even with the change in policy (allowing women to serve in front-line combat positions) unless a case makes it all the way to the Supreme Court. As a libertarian, Somin supports eliminating the draft entirely, which, of course, would eliminate both the registration requirement and the possibility of forcing women to serve in combat.

Here's the link to VC post:

http://www.volokh.com/2013/01/31/women-in-combat-and-the-constitutionality-of-male-only-draft-registration/

Thanks for the link, Perseus. I find it very confusing to hear the hypothetical ruling referred to as "overturning" or "overruling" Rostker, because one could argue that, given the importance of women's not being in combat to the Rostker conclusion, ruling that it is _now_ unconstitutional for women not to register for the draft would be (in a sense) affirming Rostker rather than overturning it. But I suppose that's a terminological quibble.

I find it exceeding strange that Somin thinks the reasoning in Rostker--affirming Congress's right at that time to limit draft registration to women--is constitutionally questionable but that the draft is unconstitutional uberhaupt on 13th amendment grounds. That seems backwards. It is only quite recently in our country's history that women's equality has been written into the constitution. Hence the need for a constitutional amendment to give women the vote. If the sort of equality Somin has in mind were really "there" in the 14th amendment, the 19th amendment was otiose. By contrast, the 13th amendment was _never_ understood from its inception to rule out conscription. But then, I'm an originalist, and I know nothing of Somin's overall constitutional philosophy.

I find it interesting that Somin is a libertarian, but I can't shake the feeling in that post that he would rather everyone were drafted in the name of equality even if his thirteenth amendment arguments were rejected (as he knows they would be) rather than that there should be, God forbid, inequality in the application of the draft. But perhaps I'm misjudging him.

In any event, the additional information about the additional "deference" mentioned in Rostker is useful. I agree with Somin, though, that if the case went to SCOTUS, as it surely would, women would be required to register for the draft in the current circs.

Hence the need for Congress to act to once more restrict women's full use in combat positions.

The rationale put forth would be key, and one that is most likely to satisfy the courts is the special vulnerability of female soldiers to rape

IIRC, one of the biggest bugaboos about wholesale rape was the enemy using the subjugated women population to create a generation of their own children in the subject nation's midst, something horrifically disturbing to a coherent nation (cf, "natus", birth). For a country that minimizes the significance of birth and blood in its ethos, and that maximizes abortion in its endemic palaver about unwanted pregnancy, I have trouble seeing that particular worry as something that will hold sway over the minds and hearts of lawmakers and their voters.

Aside from the women bearing children to the enemy, and taken one by one rather than wholesale, although rape is certainly terrible to any and every victim, I am not sure that it is gravely more horrible to women than to men taken prisoner. If the enemy wants to use the captured soldiers badly, and aren't deterred by Geneva Conventions or ordinary morality, they can readily come up with rape or rape-like equivalents for the men, and apparently they do.

About Joan of Arc: special case by direct Divine mandate. The Author of nature is capable of setting aside rules determined by reason of the ordinary, usual, normal course of men and women's natural capacities, even as He is capable of making men and women who individually greatly exceed the norm for their gender. If God in His Wisdom can mandate in the ordinary course humans are generated by male and female coming together, but in a special case He wills that one Man is generated without a male, so also He is capable of setting aside the normal rule that men are fit for the army and women are not, for a special case. Setting aside a rule in one case AS a special case clearly does not invalidate the rule.

Be that as it may, apparently Joan was told specifically to don male attire in order to minimize the moral dangers of having a woman be in the midst of soldiers in camp and combat. In addition, I understand that Joan was attended by a woman servant as a guard for her modesty and purity. That is, even granting a special mandate, additional consideration was given to the concrete problems Joan made by being with the army, such problems were not ignored entirely as being mere imaginings.

I was merely following your argument out to its logical conclusion. If the government can force men (and women) into military service in a "crisis" for "the common good", what can't it do? (Never let a crisis go to waste - remember?)

Daniel, it isn't the "logical conclusion" when you disregard EXPLICITLY STATED limits to a stated thesis, as you tried here.

In any case: do you believe in anything that answers to the term "common good"? If so, then you believe that there is something the government can rightly impose that is beyond the right of individual men to impose on another - for the "common good" - and then it's just a difference of opinion as to how far that mandate runs. If you don't believe in anything that can be called the common good, then THAT's the place you should be centering your argument, not all the peripheral stuff that hangs on the common good. Most libertarians don't realize that their core tenets make hash of the notion of common good. The few who do realize usually deny the common good whole and entire and end up as anarchists one way or another (sometimes explicit, sometimes implicit or hidden). But either way, you should be having that discussion in a thread about the common good, or about the social nature of man, or about private vs public good, not in a thousand threads on other things that pretty much assume that there is such a thing as the common good and that the government is designated to its care in a manner that individuals are not.

Lydia,
Again I say I never asked pro-lifers not to talk loudly. I merely noted that they would split the nation if they do so.

Daniel Smith,
Solzhenitsyn had given a beautiful simile for the state as the Roof of the People. The roof is necessary (but not a necessary evil) but we want it to be far enough so we can stand naturally and it should not fall in and crush us.

Tony:

Daniel, it isn't the "logical conclusion" when you disregard EXPLICITLY STATED limits to a stated thesis, as you tried here.

That's my point: there are no limits to what can be justified via "the common good". It's a blank check. If you don't believe me - LOOK AT OUR GOVERNMENT. We currently have laws on the books that allow for indefinite detention and/or assassination of American citizens without due process. Those are LAWS ON THE BOOKS right now - in this country - for the "common good". Where does it stop?

Gian, this is OT for this thread, but just to show that I don't make these things up, you said, Emphasis added.


I favor fetal pain type of laws without reservation but laws that seek to ban all abortions *or even the talk of such laws would split the nation*.

http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2013/01/sanctity_of_human_life_sunday.html#comment-188381

Elsewhere you officiously, and showing ignorance (which I called out) of the political circumstances to which you were alluding, lectured pro-lifers as follows:

The pro-lifers should choose winnable battles, like European style limits or fetal pain laws. Not get entangled with rape or contraception and lose vital elections.
http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2012/11/some_thoughts_on_the_depressin_1.html#comment-176251

You were evidently alluding to Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin, who were not "getting entangled" with rape but rather answering questions put to them during their campaigns by a hostile media. You preferred to buy into the narrative that they should have just shut up and not expressed the truth that children conceived under these circumstances also have a right to life. As I also pointed out, there are indeed practical points to this, because earlier Akin and Ryan were involved in trying to limit federal _funding_ for abortion in cases of rape (limiting it only to forcible rape) which is an entirely legitimate thing to try to do.

I don't make stuff up. You are a continual nuisance, trying to lecture and snip and snark at pro-lifers because, let's face it, you aren't really pro-life, you don't really share our goals, much less our passion for those goals, of the protection of the unborn. What annoys me is that you don't want to admit that. You're a fake "friend" of the pro-life movement. That's a very time-wasting form of behavior by a blog commentator, and it's one for which I have no patience.

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