Like it or not, the economy dictates the demographics of our military.
In a down economy the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. During this same period we have had continuous war. The good thing for our government is that, thanks to our economy, we have a never-ending stream of recruits at recruiting stations across the country.
Also, during this period, the military industrial complex is making money hand over fist. There is a steady stream of ammunition, drone aircraft, rockets, missiles, Humvees and other military equipment and supplies coming off assembly lines. Profits are up for these companies during wartime and they all hope that the war NEVER ends.
There are a disproportionate number of kids (young men and women) from inner cities and farms that seek military service because in most cases this is the only employment available for them. In addition, thanks again to the poor economy, they do not have the funds to finance their own college education, so these kids also seek military service to take advantage of the G. I. Bill when their military service is over.
Unfortunately, some of these kids die in combat or comeback with serious physical injuries or mental problems that adversely affect them for the rest of their lives.
The great thing for the rich and the well off is that there is no draft. Their kids do not have to worry about things like dying in combat or having to enlist to take advantage of the G. I. Bill. These kids can skate for four to eight years in college while others are in harms way daily wondering if they will live to see tomorrow.
The rich and their kids do not have to worry about seeing the caskets coming back to Dover AFB because our government, no matter which party is in control, does not permit photos of the caskets draped with American flags as they are offloaded from cargo planes when returning to the United States.
Prior to the war commencing there is a patriotic fervor and recruiting goes way up because our country excels at public relations and kids line up to serve their country in any capacity to help defeat the enemy. At some point, when the U. S. death count grows recruitment goes down. The realities of war and the possibility of dying in combat sets in. This is usually when recruiting standards goes down. Our government relaxes the recruitment standards and allows individuals with tatoos or those with a G.E.D. or minor criminal records to sign up.
When the recruiting standards are high, the military shies away from anyone with prior convictions, tattoos, or without a high school diploma. No matter what the standards are, however, Gays and Lesbians are never wanted – no matter how patriotic they are.
On March 18, 2003, Barbara Bush, mother of then President George W. Bush, said this of the war in Iraq, “Why should we hear about body bags and deaths? It’s not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?”
Anyone doubting this quote can go to snopes.com and do a search regarding Barbara Bush quote body bags.
Also, Bob Woodward quotes Henry Kissinger as saying, “Military men are dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns for foreign policy.”
I personally do not believe that military men and women are dumb – on the other hand I think most of them are naïve. Unfortunately many believe some of the lies and misstatements that are said that get us into war in the first place.
In the past our country appeared to enter wars for retaliatory reasons – i.e. a friend was attacked and we had a treaty that we needed to uphold. Now, we go to war at the drop of a hat, any hat.
Many parents, siblings, and friends of those unfortunate enough to have died in combat really want to believe our country got into war for all the right reasons and their son or daughter did not die in vain. My wish is for that as well.
Some parents of deceased soldiers have spoken out against the wars. Cindy Sheehan, whose son, Specialist Casey Sheehan, was killed in combat in Iraq is an ardent opponent of the war in Iraq and she strongly questioned President Bush’s ever changing reasons for going to war. Some Americans believe she is only doing this because she cannot deal with her son’s death. I do not share that belief. Cindy Sheehan is also disappointed with President Obama’s handling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and remains a very vocal critic.
Mary Tillman, mother of Specialist Pat Tillman who was killed in combat in Afghanistan was deeply saddened and angered by the military cover-up of how her son actually died and how the government used his death to further its war agenda. I am not sure how she feels about our country starting the war but she surely is very critical of the lies and misinformation regarding Pat’s death. Many in the media and some in the military have said that Mary Tillman is unable to handle Pat’s death because she is not a Christian. Mary casts herself as spiritual and not a follower or any organized religion and I do not see anything wrong with that.
We have a State Department and an Administration that is supposed to make every effort to resolve differences between countries peacefully. Preparing for and executing war should not be our first choice. If we are continually going to initiate war offensively then we do not need to have a State Department. I hope the Tea Party read that last sentence. If we are going to continue initiating wars we should change the name of the Department of Defense to the Department of Offense. I know that probably sounds silly to some but lets call a spade a spade.
Another way to reduce the likelihood of war is to have mandatory military service obligation for ALL citizens – black, white, Hispanic, male and female, straights, gays and lesbians, and definitely rich and poor.
The country should grant absolutely NO deferments – not for college, flat feet, tattoos, minor criminal offenses, or sexual preferences. Make this mandatory service start at a specific age such as eighteen and be for a minimum of two years. After fulfilling the obligation, those wanting to reenlist can apply and if their record is clean and a slot is available they can remain.
I believe if all young adults were required to serve we probably would not use depleted uranium weapons in wartime – nor would we use unmanned drones that could potentially harm our troops. Also, our Administration and Congress might be less inclined to authorize offensive wars if their kids were in harms way like those who currently volunteer.
I am sure that a high percentage of executives working for Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Raytheon, KBR, Halliburton, United Technologies and others have not seen their kids go off to war.
We have 538 members of Congress, 100 Senators and the remaining 438 are Congressmen and Congresswomen. A small percentage of their kids have served in the military. Sure, we hear about Senator McCain’s son and Vice President Biden’s son but for the most part their kids go directly to college and never have to worry about military service. On a side note, many sitting members of Congress have never served in the military.
If anyone has statistics on the number of sitting members of Congress have kids currently serving in the military I would love to hear from you.
Do you think our country might think a little harder about initiating war if rich kids and kids of our government leaders had to serve in the military as well?
I sure do.