Thursday, January 19, 2006

All That You Can Be 

Former U.N. inspector Scott Ritter explains to a puzzled general why the armed forces are failing to meet their recruiting goals (hint -- it ain't Jack Murtha's fault):

"This recruiting problem is not just an Army problem, this is America's problem," Cody is quoted as saying. "And what we have to really do is talk about service to this nation -- and a sense of duty to this nation."

Fair enough. I'd like to take Gen. Cody up on the challenge and talk about this so-called inability or unwillingness on the part of America to live up to any sense of duty to the nation by turning its collective back on joining the U.S. military. Some observers of the recruitment crisis, including the recruiters themselves, have noted that a main reason for the drop off in numbers of new enlistees is the war in Iraq and the growing casualty figures attributed to the fighting in Iraq. This line of argument seems to draw a direct correlation between the costs associated with being a soldier and the decision to enlist.

I frankly couldn't think of a greater insult to the American people than to put forward an argument along those lines. When one examines the employment picture in America today, firefighting is listed as one of the most dangerous vocations. And yet America's youth are lining up to compete for firefighting jobs, despite the dangers. The reason for this is that danger aside, firefighting is seen as an honorable profession, one worthy of the sacrifice entailed.

Americans aren't afraid to put their lives on the line for a worthy cause. It is not military service that is being rejected, but rather military service in support of a cause not deemed worthy of the sacrifice expected. The military today has degenerated into an entity that is viewed by many in the American public as no longer serving the larger interests of the American people, but rather the play toy of a political elite who use the U.S. military as a tool to impose their ideology on others around the world, as opposed to "upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States," the mission assumed when one is sworn into military service . . . .

The very fact that the War in Iraq does NOT threaten the American way of life is the main reason why Americans, by and large, are refusing to walk away from the comforts afforded by the American way of life to join a military system comparatively Spartan in nature. While economic incentives have always played a role in rounding out the numbers in the all-volunteer force of the post-Vietnam War era, the fact is that military service was for many (including myself) a calling, a reflection of a desire to serve a higher cause than simple economic self-interest. In many ways, military service was (and is) inherently un-American, since it embraces core values that place the collective over the individual. These inconsistencies were accepted, however, since those serving in the military understood that the team they were joining represented that which guaranteed to all others the wherewithal to enjoy the freedoms associated with being an American. We knew when we joined the military that we had a social contract with our fellow Americans. We who served would forego the comforts and freedoms of civilian life so that we could guarantee that those very same civilians could live as Americans. We also knew that, when the time came, America would support us by not only providing us with the wherewithal to wage war, but also ensure that before asking us to make the ultimate sacrifice in defense of a cause, that it was a cause worthy of that sacrifice.

Today, that contract lays broken and violated. America went to war in Iraq on the basis of false premises. Our troops fight and die for a cause most Americans cannot identify with. And the U.S. military is engaged in domestic spying operations against the very citizens it is sworn to defend.

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