During a recent Democratic debate, both Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama indicated that all female U.S. citizens should register for the Selective Service. Neither candidate was as ridiculous as former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel, who said, when it comes to men and women being drafted, "What's the difference?" But the radical and dangerous implications of the front-runners' policies are not that far from Gravel's query.
The attitude the Democrats have on this issue has already caused harm to the military. Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, has been watching the feminization of military-personnel policy for decades. In an article for The Duke Journal of Gender Law & Policy, she explains that "gender-integrated basic training is based on the unrealistic assumption that men and women are interchangeable in all military roles. The concept tries to circumvent or disguise physical differences with gender-normed training standards that reward equal effort rather than equal results."
Yes, there are differences between genders, Mr. Gravel. According to one of Donnelly's many examples of the different scoring of supposed equals: The Navy has male trainees do a minimum of 42 push-ups for a minimum score; women must do 17. Men (ages 20 to 24) must swim 500 yards in 12 minutes, 15 seconds; women (ages 20 to 24) get 14 minutes to accomplish the same.
The radicalism of the Democrats' desire to have women in the military can be seen with a look to the legal system. In 1981, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the male-only requirement for Selective Service registration, reasoning that the whole point "was to prepare for a draft of combat troops."
Women are currently banned from combat. If we needed to draft Americans, would Clinton require women to sign up for the Selective Service in preparation for mandatory combat duty? Would you conscript America's daughters? That's the sad direction we've been heading in.
Under the Clinton administration, a Pentagon "risk rule" was eliminated, opening 80 percent of all American military jobs to women. That risk rule, prior to its repeal, prevented women from being assigned to units that posed a risk of attack or capture -- a rule that would have spared the life of supply clerk Lori Piestewa, a 24-year-old single mother of two (now 5 and 6). Piestewa's brother told a reporter that Lori felt that "she wasn't going to be anywhere near any type of dangerous situation."
But according to Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma L. Vaught, it was some kind of feminist victory that she was. "There's been an acceptance of the fact that women ... are in harm's way and they are being killed," she says. "That is defining to me," said Vaught. Well, it isn't defining to me and shouldn't be to any rational-thinking human.
Sen. James Webb, D-Va., would be doing his nation a service if he made his rational view of women's role in the military his pet cause. I don't agree with Webb on everything, but the senator has written at length about the fundamental flaws with the military treating men and women the same. If he called Donnelly to the Senate and had her suggest recommendations for treating men and women differently in the interest of the safety of our troops, maybe we would realize that we shouldn't be drafting women: We should be drafting a realistic vision of women's role in the armed forces -- one acknowledging real and natural differences.