Sunday, June 26, 2005

Recruiting Teenagers to Fight & Die in a Failing War

The Iraq War rages on, with no end in sight and no US exit plan. Almost 1,750 US soldiers have been killed and thousands seriously injured in Iraq, and yet the uncontrolled violence surges ahead after over two years of brutal combat. All for a war not supported by the vast majority of Americans. In fact, most Americans don't understand either the purpose or goal of this war.

Many US troops have served two and three gut-wrenching tours of duty, and more than 25% of troops are National Guard reservists. Soldiers are commonly retained, against their will, long after their enlistment terms end.

It's no surprise, then, that the Army failed to meet its minimum recruiting quotas in
February by 27%, March by 31%, April by 42% and May by over 25%. All branches of the US armed forces have missed their recruiting goals for most of 2005, and they've become desperate for young men and women to replenish their ranks.

So where is the Bush Administration looking for qualified soldiers? College campuses? Conservative communities supportive of the Iraq War? The unemployment lines? US police and fire departments? The Bush-friendly business community?

Guess again. And think less qualified. Less experienced. Younger and more naive, more easily fooled. And cheaper. Many have never before held a job.

High school teenagers, age 16 to 18. Seems that buried in President Bush's much-touted "educational reform" legislation, No Child Left Behind, was a fine-print section requiring every US high school to "provide access to students' names, addresses and phone humbers" to millitary recruiters.

And that's not all. If a school allows college recruiters or prospective employers on campus (which all do), it must also grant campus access to military recruiters.

So military recruiters now commonly hang around on campus, schmoozing our children. Attending and officiating football and basketball games. Eating in the school cafeteria. Bringing free donuts and coffee to the faculty. Handing out t-shirts, mouse pads and cool trinkets.Being visible at Black History month and Hispanic Heritage month activities.

And calling your home and knocking on your front door. Repeatedly. In fact, in Fall 2004, the Army published a
School Recruiting Program Handbook. designed to give recruiters tips on infiltrating high school campuses and ingratiating themselves to 16 to 18 year olds.

But the Bush Administration's dogged pursuit of our teenagers doesn't stop there. Word came out this week that the Defense Department is developing a database of personal information about every 16 to 25 year...their Social Security number, ethnicity and racial data, birth date, grade point average, subjects being studied in school and known personal habits.

Be sure to read my article, Uncle Sam Guns for High School Students as Army Enlistees.

Meanwhile the Bush Administration fails miserably in Iraq.

From the
Center for American Progress.....

1,382 days after 9/11, Osama bin Laden is still at large and al Qaeda is regrouping. More than three-and-a-half years ago Bush vowed to capture terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden “dead or alive.” He’s failed. The administration wants you to think it is hot on his tracks, however. CIA director Porter Goss said he had “an excellent idea” where Bin Laden is hiding. Vice President Cheney said he had “a pretty good idea of a general area that he's in.” With all the bluster, you’d think they could close the deal.

1,382 days after 9/11, terrorist attacks are at an all time high. By quantitative measures, the Bush administration’s approach to combating terrorism is an abject failure. Last year “[t]he number of serious international terrorist incidents more than tripled,” according to the Washington Post. State Department data shows that “attacks grew to about 655 last year, up from the record of around 175 in 2003.” How did the administration respond? By halting the publication of the State Department report.

1,382 days after 9/11, the Iraq war—a complete diversion from the fight against al Qaeda—has produced more terrorism not less. According to the CIA, “[t]he war in Iraq is creating a training and recruitment ground for a new generation of "professionalized" Islamic terrorists.” An in-house CIA think tank concluded that in the poorly planned aftermath of the invasion, “hundreds of foreign terrorists flooded into Iraq across its unguarded borders.” There is a serious risk that Iraq is now “creating newly radicalized and experienced jihadis who return home to cause trouble in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and elsewhere.”

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