The most disappointing moment of Saturday night’s debate came when Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Marco Rubio each embraced the idea that women should register with the selective service, making it possible for America to draft women into ground combat. The argument for registration is based on the new Pentagon policy opening up all combat jobs to women. Women have served in non-combat roles for decades without any serious push for selective-service registration ensuing. In fact, the Supreme Court, in Rostker v. Goldberg (1981), has used the fact that men and women have different roles as justification for rejecting constitutional objections to the all-male draft.
We have repeatedly condemned the Obama administration’s decision to open all combat roles to women, and we have mainly done so by citing a combination of contemporary studies and historical experience to make the case that gender-integrated ground-combat units are less effective than their all-male counterparts.
But that is not the only argument. Indeed, there are other fundamental reasons to oppose not just the presence of women in the infantry but their forcible conscription into its ranks. Such a policy inverts natural law and the rules that have grounded our civilization for thousands of years.
Men should protect women. They should not shelter behind mothers and daughters. Indeed, we see this reality every time there is a mass shooting. Boyfriends throw themselves over girlfriends, and even strangers and acquaintances often give themselves up to save the woman closest to them. Who can forget the story of 45-year-old Shannon Johnson wrapping his arms around 27-year-old Denise Peraza and declaring “I got you” before falling to the San Bernardino shooters’ bullets?
Ground combat is barbaric. Even today, men grapple with men, killing each other with anything they can find. Returning veterans describe countless incidents of hand-to-hand combat with jihadists. In his book about the Battle of Ganjgal, Into the Fire, Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer describes just such an encounter with a Taliban fighter. The Taliban tried to capture Meyer, and they ended up wrestling in the dirt. Meyer describes what happened next:
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