Tuesday, 19 November 2019

Anti-war activists meet with members of the National Commission on Military Service

On Wednesday, 13 November 2019, I was one of six representatives of anti-war and anti-draft organizations who were invited to participate in an hour-long conference call with three of the eleven members of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service (NCMNPS).

The NCMNPS was created almost three years ago, and has been meeting for more than two years, but according to the minutes of NCMNPS meetings released in response to my FOIA requests, this was the first time, other than the hearing at which I testified in April 2019, that members of the NCMNPS have met with or invited submissions from anti-war organizations.

As I said in my written opening statement for the conference call:

It should be obvious that one of the main reasons for opposition to military conscription is opposition to war, and that many Americans oppose military conscription and Selective Service registration not because they think the draft “unnecessary” for waging war, but because they oppose some or all of the wars that Americans might be conscripted to fight.

It should be equally obvious that whether continuation, enforcement, or expansion to women of Selective Service registration, a draft, or compulsory national service would be “feasible” would depend not only on whether those subject to such a requirement would submit, or how and in what numbers they would resist, but on the response of a larger anti-war and anti-draft movement of women and men of all ages who would support, assist, and join them in acts of resistance — individual and collective, legal and illegal — to conscription and war. Understanding of anti-war and anti-draft sentiment and likely resistance to any draft is therefore essential to your task of assessing the feasibility of these policy options.

My testimony focused on an issue that wasn’t part of the terms of reference for any of the Commisison’s hearings: why Federal legislation recommended by the Commission or enacted by Congress to end draft registration should include provisions not only to repeal all Federal criminal, administrative, and naturalization sanctions for nonregistration, but also to preempt all state sanctions for nonregistration or other violations of the Military Selective Service Act.

The members of the NCMNPS who participated in the call were Commissioners Debra Wada (Vice-Chair of the NCMNPS for Selective Service System issues), Edward Allard III, and Shawn Skelly.

The Commissioners’ questions during the conference call were similar to some of those they had asked during the formal public hearing in April:

In conjunction with the conference call, the NCMNPS also invited, and has posted, written submissions from participants and from other anti-war organizations:

  1. Written statements from participants in the conference call on 13 November 2019:
  2. Statements submitted to the NCMNPS by other anti-war organizations:

All of the participants in the call agreed, and told the NCMNPS, that:

  1. Draft registration should be ended for everyone, not extended to women;
  2. All criminal, civil, federal and state penalties for failure to register must be ended and overturned for those currently living under these penalties; and
  3. National service should remain voluntary. Compulsory service, whether civilian or military, is in conflict with the principles of a democratic and free society.

Following the call, the participating organizations and several others issued a joint last call for people and organizations who oppose the draft, draft registration, expansion of draft registration to women, continued punishment of draft registration resisters, and compulsory national service to submit comments to the NCMNPS by 31 December 2019.

Link | Posted by Edward on Tuesday, 19 November 2019, 09:17 ( 9:17 AM)
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