In 1952, the U.S. government began making efforts to get the young men of the American diaspora to register for conscription, as a front-page article in the October 1952 edition of the Selective Service newsletter discussed:
S.S. Registrants Are Listed In Eighty Nations
Registration of draft liable Americans in foreign countries passed the 4000 mark in September, National Headquarters has announced, and estimates were that when all returns are in[,] the total would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 5000 …
Eighty countries have eligible young United States citizens within their borders. These registrants generally are in the process of classification by either a local board representing the home addresses they gave, or by Local Board 100 — Foreign, which has jurisdiction in those instances in which a registrant has given no United States address as his home. There has also been a sprinkling, totaling so far less than half a dozen registrants, from the trust territories.
Here’s a tabulation of the statistics presented in that article. Two countries — Canada and Japan — were mentioned in the article as having large numbers of dual nationals, and so I placed an asterisk (*) in the table for those countries.
|All countries with 100+ registrants
|Selected countries with fewer than 100 registrants
|Remaining 59 countries
In the Homeland there were more than 13 million total registrants by November 1952, or roughly 1/12th of the U.S. population at the time. A few years later, the Senate estimated that there were 600,000 U.S. citizens living outside of the United States. So unless the diaspora had a wildly different age or gender profile than the Homelanders, there should have been at least 50,000 U.S. citizen males of draft age residing in other countries, not just 5,000.
Furthermore, the U.S. government apparently estimated that 50,000 children were being born to U.S. citizens in other countries each year, suggesting that the total population estimate of 600,000 might have been far too low. So the diaspora’s Selective Service non-compliance rate was at least 90%, and probably even greater — similar to what we’ve seen in recent years with FBAR.
“Duties of citizenship”?
Although the United States is not a signatory to the 1930 Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws, it did that same year sign the closely-related Protocol Relating to Military Obligations in Certain Cases of Double Nationality, which states in its first article:
A person possessing two or more nationalities who habitually resides in one of the countries whose nationality he possesses, and who is in fact most closely connected with that country, shall be exempt from all military obligations in the other country or countries.
This exemption may involve the loss of the nationality of the other country or countries.
Due to Trop v. Dulles, after 1958 the U.S. government could no longer avail itself of its right under Article 1, Paragraph 2 to strip citizenship from those who did not fulfill military service obligations; regardless, that issue of municipal law did not excuse Washington from its obligation under Article 1, Paragraph 1: to refrain from attempting to draft dual nationals ordinarily resident in & most closely connected to their other country of nationality. The U.S. certainly could have denounced the treaty, as was its right under Article 14, but never did so.
Under the nationality law back them — specifically, § 350 of the Immigration & Nationality Act of 1952 — a dual national would lose U.S. citizenship after residing in his other country for three years. (A similar provision in the Nationality Act of 1940 kicked in after just six months). However, this three-year period only started running once the dual citizen turned 22, whereas the obligation to register for Selective Service began at the age of 18. I have my doubts that this was a mere oversight or coincidence, especially given that the INA was passed nearly at the same time as the executive branch began requiring citizens outside of the U.S. to register for Selective Service.
Why denounce a treaty when you can just ignore it?
The Selective Service Act of 1948 demonstrated Congress’ typical disregard for the U.S.’ treaty obligations, by requiring in its Section 4 that:
Except as otherwise provided in this title, every male citizen of the United States, and every other male person residing in the United States, who is between the ages of nineteen and twenty-six, at the time fixed for his registration, or who attains the age of nineteen after haying been required to register pursuant to section 3 of this title, shall be liable for training and service in the armed forces of the United States.
However, in Executive Order 9979 Harry Truman didn’t seem to create any obligation for citizens abroad to register:
§ 611.1 Duty to be registered.
(c) On the day or days and between the hours fixed for registration by Presidential proclamation, every man required to do so under the foregoing provisions shall present himself for and submit to registration before a duly designated registration official or the local board having jurisdiction in the area in which he has his permanent home or in which he may happen to be on that day or any of those days.
EO 9979 did not create any local board having jurisdiction over foreign countries, and in any case another section of the same Executive Order also implied that people (including citizens) outside of the United States could defer their registration until they entered the country:
§ 611.4 Registration of certain persons entering the United States.
(a) Every male person who would have been required to register on any day or days fixed for registration by Presidential proclamation had he been within the United States and who thereafter enters the United States shall present himself for and submit to registration before a local board within the period of five days following the date on which he enters the United States.
(b) Every male person, other than a person referred to in paragraph (a) of this section and a person exempted from registration by section 6(a) of title I of the Selective Service Act of 1948, who enters the United States subsequent to the day or days fixed by Presidential proclamation for the registration of persons of his age, shall present himself for and submit to registration before a local board within the period of 90 days following the date on which he enters the United States.
The 1948 Act also provided that:
Any citizen of a foreign country, who is not deferrable or exempt from training and service under the provisions of this title (other than this subsection), shall be relieved from liability for training and service under this title if, prior to his induction into the armed forces, he has made application to be relieved from such liability in the manner prescribed by and in accordance with rules and regulations prescribed by the President; but any person who makes such application shall thereafter be debarred from becoming a citizen of the United States.
It might have been possible to read “citizen of a foreign country” to include dual citizens, but this was probably unlikely, and in any case the executive branch apparently did not interpret it that way. Under the present regulations (32 CFR 1630.42) there is a draft-exempt classification 4-C for aliens and dual citizens, but back in the 1940s and 1950s the 4-C classification applied solely to aliens (see for example Executive Order 9988 of 1948 and Executive Order 10420 of 1952).
In any case, in 1951 amendments (P.L. 51-144, 65 Stat. 75) Congress changed “citizen of a foreign country” to “alien”, making it impossible for dual citizens to rely on the statute for exemption. Then in April 1952, President Truman signed Executive Order 10344; among other things, that created Local Board No. 100 in Washington, D.C., which claimed jurisdiction over Americans abroad:
§ 1655.5 District of Columbia Local Board No. 100 (Foreign).
(a) There is hereby created and established a local board designated as District of Columbia Local Board No. 100 (Foreign) which shall consist of three or more members and which shall have all the rights powers, duties, and responsibilities of a local board.
(b) District of Columbia Local Board No. 100 (Foreign) shall have jurisdiction for all purposes under the selective service law over any person who at the time of his registration under the provisions of the regulations of this part does not designate for entry on line 2 of his Registration Questionnaire-Foreign (SSS Form No. 50) an address of a place within any of the several States of the United States, the District of Columbia, the Territory of Alaska, the Territory of Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, or the Canal Zone.
I’m not sure exactly when 4-C was changed to encompass dual citizens as well, but at least as late as 1967 (see LBJ’s Executive Order 11360) it still only applied to aliens. In other words, more than three-and-a-half decades after the Hoover administration had signed an international treaty exempting dual citizens abroad from military service, there was still no system to ensure that the U.S. actually adhered to its obligations under that treaty. (I hope all the countries which signed sole executive agreements with Treasury about FATCA “reciprocity” are paying attention.)
It apparently took the Homeland media quite some time to notice Board 100, but when they finally did, they repeated all the usual ignorant stereotypes of the diaspora. In 1966, The New York Times wrote an article about Board 100, which was reprinted all over the country; here I quote from the version which appeared in the San Antonio Express on 10 March that year:
The young men registered with Selective Service Board No. 100 are special: all reside outside the United States, and could easily avoid being drafted if they wanted to. But few of them deliberately to dodge conscription, and most of them who become eligible enlist first, according to the board’s chairman, James D. Hayes, a semi-retired lawyer. Local Board 100 is the board with which young men who turn 38 while their permanent residences are outside the U.S. must register under Selective Service regulations. Most of them are sons of diplomats, Foreign Service officers or military personnel. These youths do not become liable for the top 1-A classification, or for induction into the military, until after they set foot in the U.S. or one of its’ possessions.
Theoretically, it would be possible for a youth overseas to avoid military service, simply by maintaining residence abroad from his 18th to his 26th birthday, after which he would not be called for induction, in normal circumstances. But both Hayes and Sylvan Reichgut, the director of Selective Service for the District of Columbia, under whose jurisdiction the board falls, says that there are probably fewer draft-dodgers and fewer problems in Local Board 100 than in any other.
“These are children of responsible people,” Reichgut says, “who are brought up to assume their own responsibilities.” Until the Korean War, when the Army’s manpower needs became more pressing than they had been before, boys who became 18 while residing outside the U.S. were not required to register under the Selective Service Act of 1948. But in October, 1952, President Truman issued n proclamation requiring them to do so, at the embassy or consular office in the countries where they lived.
Another 1969 article was far more negative:
In the semiannual reports of the Selective Service fliers is a little note attached to the figures for the District of Columbia: “Includes Local Board No. 100 (Foreign) Washington, B.C.” And that is all there is about Local Board 100. But for the 23,000 men who are registered with Board 100, it could mean the perfect draft dodge. The trick is to be living abroad when they turn 18. That means they register for the draft in a U.S. embassy or consulate and get put into Board 100.
The board exists largely for the sons of U.S. government personnel living abroad or American citizens who have made their homes in other countries. If a boy registers abroad and stays out of the United States from his 18lh birthday until his 27th, he is not draftable. Although be will be classified, receive his annual notice of classification and even put into I be 1-A prime draft category, he will not be called. But from the moment he sets foot in the United Slates, even for five minutes, he becomes eligible for the draft.
Even then the game is not over. Local Board 100 cannot touch him if he goes back overseas. Because he has been in the States, the board can go as far as ordering him to report to a U.S. military base abroad for a pre-induction physical.
For instance, one college graduate living in Greece was ordered to report to Washington for a physical. The order said that if coming to Washington was inconvenient, please write. He did, and the next letter ordered him to Italy, at his own expense. Thus, although it may seem as if Board 100 is in hot pursuit, there is no cause for panic. A person classified 1-A and examined will be put on the list, but that is all.
If an expatriate wished, he could spend four years in the United Stales attending college under the protection of his college deferment. He could even stay until after he graduated and was ordered for a physical. But then, if he really does not want to live the army life, he could go back abroad for a few years. He probably would be able to duck back into the United States for visits, short enough not to give the board time to send an induction order. And when that magic 26th birthday came, he could come back a free man, facing neither a jail sentence nor stigma.
According to Gaillard T. Hunt, a lawyer who represented draft resisters back in those years, articles like these set the stage for an attack on Board 100 and its registrants the following year, when Tricky Dick appointed a new Selective Service System director:
General Hershey, with his characteristic pragmatism, had created Local Board 100 in the District of Columbia. This local board never got a call for men. Its only function was to hold overseas registrants’ files until they moved to the United States and took on a residence with a real local board. This device worked well until Hershey’s successor, Dr. Curtis Tarr, heard about it. Dr. Tarr got the notion that these registrants were all the sons of diplomats and international business moguls and, with his continuing fantasy about social leveling, started issuing calls on Local Board 100. Hunt talked to several people about this problem, but none of them wanted to retain him. Eventually the State Department intervened and got many of these induction orders withdrawn. Hunt never knew how many nationals of other sovereignties, if any, were actually inducted; he knew of at least one who was indicted for failure to show up.
Unfortunately, publicly-available reports (e.g. the Semiannual report of the Director of Selective Service) only included state-level conscription statistics and not local board-level statistics, so if you want to know the exact extent of this issue you’ll probably have to file an FOIA request with the Selective Service System and see if they have any records.
Tarr was a Republican, demonstrating the fact that it’s not just the Democrats who hate the diaspora because of the xenophobic Homelander myth that we’re all rich shirkers & wreckers. Incidentally, he died two years ago, just as the newest assault on the diaspora, motivated by that same old myth, was really starting to pick up steam.