Nobody wants their kids killed
. Not for a war without a purpose.
Two years into the war in Iraq, as the Army and Marines struggle to refill their ranks, parents have become boulders of opposition that recruiters cannot move.
Mothers and fathers around the country said they were terrified that their children would have to be killed - or kill - in a war that many see as unnecessary and without end.
Around the dinner table, many parents said, they are discouraging their children from serving.
At schools, they are insisting that recruiters be kept away, incensed at the access that they have to adolescents easily dazzled by incentive packages and flashy equipment.
A Department of Defense survey last November, the latest, shows that only 25 percent of parents would recommend military service to their children, down from 42 percent in August 2003.
Once upon a time, my wife and I sparred over military service for our son. Yeah yeah, he's 19 months old, but I fantasized about a military stint for him. I wouldn't be half the man I am today without my three years service. The Army gave me much of the self-confidence I carry to this day, that feeling that no matter how bad things may seem, I've been through worse and survived.
My wife and I no longer have that argument. The Army I served in is not the same Army we have today. Despite having Bush in office, there was a sense that we wouldn't be used and abused for dubious causes. We liberated Kuwait, sure, but Bush, Powell, and yes -- Cheney -- knew better than to push forward to Baghdad. They knew that in that path lay quagmire.
As I've written before, it breaks my heart that the military is no longer a viable option to many people who could benefit from its pluses. I owe the Army my education. Without it, I don't know how I would've been able to afford college. Many others from the lower rungs of the socio-economic ladder have used the military to escape their ghettos, trailer parks, or barrios.
But that was when we trusted our leaders to take the lives of our men and women in uniform seriously. That's clearly no longer the case.
And parents are fighitng back, taking military service off the table for their children.
So the Pentagon is now resorting to gimmicks to try and spur enlistments (like bullshit 15-month enlistments), all the while refusing to release the latest recruitment numbers until a week from tomorrow -- conveniently a Friday.
The Pentagon thinks that recruitment will surge in the summer months as highschoolers graduate. And the numbers will rise relatively, but not at levels they hope to see. Without the parents, the recruiter's job gets much, much tougher.
So what's left? The war cheerleaders won't enlist nor encourage others to enlist. They want their painless war, sans sacrifice. They can't even pay for the damn thing, deferring the bill to our grandchildren.
So it'll come down to getting the hell out, or instituting a draft.
The choice will have to be made eventually.
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