Hearing on the Draft and Draft Registration, Thursday, April 19th in Denver

Poster by James Groleau, 1981.

From Resisters.info

The “National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service” has announced that the second of its “open-mike public hearings" throughout the US on whether registration for a military draft should be ended or extended will be in Denver, Colorado, on Thursday, April 19th, from 3-5 p.m.:

Open-Mike Public Hearing
National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service
Thursday, April 19, 2018, 3-5 p.m. (doors open at 2:30)

Denver Museum of Science and Industry
Schlessman Lobby, Entrance 5 (Evening Entrance)
2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO

Matt Nicodemus (phone 720-979-9967) of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center in Boulder is organizing local folks to attend the Denver hearing. Please let Matt know at if you plan to attend or can help with local activities. Some readers of this blog will remember Matt’s public refusal to register for the draft in 1980, and his work as an organizer with the National Resistance Committee and as co-editor of Resistance News.

At the Commission’s first hearing, in Harrisburg, PA, on February 23rd, each witness was allowed 2 minutes to speak. Time limits weren’t strictly enforced, but might be reduced depending on how many people show up.

If you want to say more, or you can’t make it to Denver on April 19th, you can submit written comments to the Commission through April 19th, or possibly later. (The Commission is conducting its proceedings quite informally, and late comments are likely to be accepted. But acceptable and consideration of late comments will be at the Commission’s discretion.)

The Commission has said it plans to hold more hearings including at least one in in each of the nine US Census regions, but hasn’t yet announced any of the other dates or locations. Look for announcements of future hearings here on the Commission’s Web site.

Longer written submissions can be sent to national.commission.on.service.info@mail.mil, mentioning “Docket No. 05-2018-0” in the subject line of the e-mail message.

This is your chance to tell the commission what you think about the draft, draft registration, and/or compulsory national “service”.

I think the most important thing for the Commission to hear is that people subject to draft registration, and people who would be subject to a draft (including older health care workers and people with other specialized skills who might be subject to an expanded draft) would refuse to go, and that other people would support them in their registration.

Whether or not the Commission agrees with the reasons people don’t and won’t comply with registration or a draft, the Commission needs to be brought to realize that a draft is not “feasible” because so many people would not comply, and because noncompliance would render it unenforceable.

That’s the lesson of the last 38 years of failure of draft registration. We need to teach that lesson to the National Commission on Service.

The Commission needs to hear from men who didn’t register for the draft when they were supposed to do so, men who registered but have moved without telling the Selective Service System their new address, men who are registered but would refuse to go if they were drafted, parents who would tear up any induction order that came for their son or daughter (shifting the risk of prosecution from their children to themselves), and women who would refuse to sign up if draft registration is extended to women.

The Commission is also supposed to report on, “the feasibility… of modifying the military selective service process in order to obtain for military, national, and public service individuals with skills (such as medical, dental, and nursing skills, language skills, cyber skills, and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills) for which the Nation has a critical need, without regard to age or sex.” So the Commission needs to hear from people in all of these occupational categories who would refuse to be drafted.

The inquiring minds of the Commission also want to know what the government could do to encourage “service”. Here are some talking points about that:

  • “Compulsory service” is, by definition, slavery. If you want to encourage any positive definition of service, it must be voluntary, and completely separate from any system of conscription. You cannot have a system that serves both conscription and positive “service”.
  • “Military service” is service to the cause of war. If you want to encourage any positive notion of “service”, you need to separate it completely from military recruiting or incentives for military enlistment.
  • People can best “serve” by making their own choices. “Service” should not be limited to options approved by the government for nonprofit status.
  • The greatest limitation on the ability to “serve” is student debt that forces people to seek higher-paying jobs. This is the new form of the “channeling” of young people’s choices by the Selective Service System. The best way to enable more people to “serve” is to free them from student and vocational-training debt by recognizing education as a human right and shifting funding for education and job training from loans to grants.

Poster by James Groleau, 1981. More draft resistance graphics.

Edward Hasbrouck works with Resisters.info.