Oom Sam Wants You!

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Seventy percent of Americans disagree with George Bush’s plan to send  21,500 more troops to Iraq. Troops the US Army doesn’t really have.

Utne Magazine recently ran an article called Where Will the Soldiers Come From? that discusses just a few of the ways Uncle Sam hopes to boost his forces:

  • Fishing in less desirable pools — that is, hiring more recruits with a history of “aggravated assault, robbery, vehicular manslaughter, receiving stolen property, and making terrorist threats …” I thought we were supposed to be fighting terrorism.
  • Inviting college students to paid summer leadership (read: recruitment) camps. How ’bout a little “Oo-rah!” around the campus bonfire?
  • And, my favorite, a possible new foreign recruitment initiative. Writer Elizabeth Oliver identifies proponents of this plan, quoted here in a Washington Post article (October, 2006):

Despite growing anti-Americanism, U.S. citizenship is still one of the world’s most precious commodities, so there should be no shortage of volunteers. Since proficiency in English would presumably be important for those joining the armed forces, we might focus on South Asia, anglophone Africa, and parts of Latin America, Europe and East Asia (the Philippines would be a natural recruiting ground) where English is common as a second language. These regions have more than 2 billion people, tens of millions of whom reach military age each year.

Anglophone Africa. For young Southern Africans facing unemployment, crime, HIV infection and possible affirmative action, playing Iraqi Roulette with their lives might not sound like a bad trade off.

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