I strongly disagree with the position expressed in Peter Johnston’s opinion piece (“Love our country? Don’t draft women,” 10/17/08) concerning the military draft. His conclusion rests solely on flawed arguments concerning purity, and it neglects many important points.
While Johnston is correct that the killing that is inherently part of war is “a stain on the soul,” it is for this reason that war ought to be a last resort, something to be avoided whenever there is a realistic alternative and not rushed into carelessly as George W. Bush ’68 did five years ago. It is similarly true that the Selective Service System is perhaps the most extreme institution in our society, having the potential to enslave citizens in the name of preserving their freedom. It is a system that should be activated only in the case of an existential threat where no other choice exists — not Vietnam and not Iraq.
While it is true that drafting women would be a stain on our nation’s soul, the same is no less true of drafting men. Innocence derives not from birth but from the actions we take and the choices we make. It is lost whenever one person takes the life of another, regardless of the killer’s gender.
If we were to be faced with a situation that justified a draft, it would be such that an external threat made it impossible for us to uphold everything that we believe in. We would have no choice but to compromise some of those ideals in the short term in order that we might be able to preserve them in the long term for our children and grandchildren.
Of course, to compromise does not mean to surrender. As such, we should do so in the way that stays true to our values to the greatest extent possible. We are a nation that believes in equality. When freedom must be compromised, all citizens should have equal probability of being called to serve their country. It is a failing to do so, surrendering equality when it could be preserved, that is truly un-American.
The writer is a junior in Ezra Stiles College.