Many Join Because They Have To

Manufacturing Conscription
By George Aleman III. Axis of Logic Exclusive
May 20, 2007, 16:17

“Supporting The Troops” And Suppressing A National Discussion

Of all the slogans that are used to stifle opposition to America’s aggressive foreign policy, the most infamous is “Support Our Troops.” At once after dispatching its massive force across the Atlantic, the American “public relations industry” threw this phrase into the public forum. [1] A scheme undoubtedly contrived for the effect it would have, the American public began probing itself for those who did not “support the troops.” The intended effect of suppression took root and all discussion about America’s fighting force was off the table. A national discussion about the composition, effectiveness, or readiness of America’s armed forces was, therefore, absent. It was a three-pronged plot to asphyxiate opposition, divert people’s attention, and drum up support for the war policy.

Accordingly, those who feared being accused of not “supporting the troops” became subservient to an empty slogan; a slogan that was supposedly a verbal display of admiration for those who volunteered to put their lives on the line so that others did not have to. [2] The population became immersed in a squabbling match, which continues today with no end in sight, about who “supported the troops” and who did not. Even more, Jingoists came out of the woodwork and slapped magnetic ribbons on their vehicles with the empty, suppressive slogan, “Support Our Troops,” to show their devotion to keeping their mouths shut about their nation going to war. It was a genius plan with impeccable timing. However, out of all the consequences—intended or unintended—to have come out from this ruse, one of the most disastrous has been the suppression of a national discussion about the reality of America’s “all-volunteer” fighting force.

Economic Forces Behind The “All Volunteer” Fighting Force

Undoubtedly there are many patriotic individuals who seek to genuinely defend the United States. Hence, they choose to join the armed services. However, not all of the men and women in the U.S. Armed Forces are enlisted by choice. In fact, a large portion is not. Though the media figure heads would have people believe otherwise, with their talking-points about the “all-volunteer” fighting force, many people do not join the armed services because they want to; they join because they have to.

The United States, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, stands as “the most unequal among advanced industrialized nations.” [3] The gap between the rich and poor in America is enormous with a “scale of poverty among the poorest… comparable to that [found] in parts of the Third World.” [4] The domestic economic system, which has been immensely restructured in the past seven years, is currently running at full capacity to benefit “a tiny minority,” while the general population is feeling the effects of “downward mobility.” [5] In March the Commerce Department reported that “the share of national income going to wages and salaries in 2006 was at its lowest level on record, with data going back to” the year of when the Great Depression began. [6] It also noted that the “share of national income captured by corporate profits, in contrast, was at its highest level on record.” [7] With massive corporate profits and huge tax cuts for the rich that have redistributed the country’s wealth in a way never before seen, working wages have steadily “stagnated or declined.” [8] The proliferation of “[l]ow-wage jobs, houses under foreclosure, and the inability to afford food and medical care” has led to experiences of plight across the spectrum. [9]

The priorities in the “New American Century” are obvious; the swelling poverty rate says it all. [10] The proportion of “Americans who are living in severe poverty has reached a 32-year high,” as “millions of working Americans are falling closer to the poverty line.” [11] Moreover, “the number of severely poor Americans” has grown more than “26 percent” since 2000; millions are living in severe poverty. [12] It is no wonder that the United States has the “second worst newborn death rate” in the developed world. [13] That is, equal to that of Malaysia. [14]

If all this was not enough, the Center for Disease Control recently released a report titled “Early Release of Estimates from the National Health Interview Survey, January – September 2006.” It concluded that at the time of the interview nearly 45 million people of all ages were uninsured, 31 million had been uninsured for more than a year, and 55 million had been uninsured for at least part of the year prior to. [15] Hence, not only is a steady amount of the population going without healthcare, there is also a steady fluctuation of individuals being able to acquire “partial coverage” part of the time.

Education And Enlistment

In February the New York Times reported that “the most recent test results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, commonly known as the national report card,” showed “that American 12th graders are… performing worse in reading” than they have in the past ten years. [16] Moreover, “performance in reading has been distressingly flat since 2002 and only about 35 percent of 12th graders are proficient in reading.” [17] Hence, “a majority of the country’s 12th graders have trouble understanding what they read fully enough to make inferences, draw conclusions and see connections between what they read and their own experiences.” [18]

According to the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, which is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, approximately “1 in 3 high school students in the Class of 2006 [did] not graduate.” [19] In California alone, the “graduation rate dropped to [a] 10-year low… as a third of the Class of 2006 left without a diploma,” according to Department of Education numbers. [20] If this was not enough, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology publication, National Review, recently reported that a study conducted by Michigan State University political scientist Jon D. Miller found that “216 Americans are scientifically illiterate.” [21] The report noted that this is a dangerous situation for a democratic society “that assumes a baseline of citizen knowledge,” where only “a cadre of elites knows and understands the essentials of the science that underpins [its] civilization. [22]

The No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law in 2002, emphasizes “testing rather than education.” [23] Inquiry and discovery, the heart of human progress, is greatly lacking in the classroom. Requirements for teaching the youth how to do, instead how to think, are abundant in the curriculum. Educators around the country have been persistent in pointing out that the act’s concentration on standardized assessment is part of the problem in the plight of the public school education system, the dumbing-down of new generations of Americans, and dwindling graduation rates. [24] Yet, the current administration claims it to be a policy for the improvement thereof.

All together, Americans are facing an economic downward spiral and an ever increasing struggle to survive and feed their families. Moreover, young, poorly educated Americans (by way of legislation), with or without a high school diploma, are facing an unforgiving, fast-paced, technology-based society and have very limited options and/or no direction. Hence, enlistment appears to be the only viable option. In other words, they are forced to volunteer for the “all-volunteer” fighting force, as it provides relief from the despair and uncertainty they face. The “modest but steady wages, the guaranteed housing allowance, the solid retirement plan and the health benefits of the armed forces” is appealing when the rest of society is moving “in the opposite direction.” [25]

The Power Differential And Recruitment

The armed forces is comprised of many individuals “who commonly join up to advance themselves” in light of the dismal alternatives presented to them. [26] These alternatives include: “difficult job searches, little or no job security, regular pilfering of retirement funds by company executives and their accountants, “privatized” medical care, bad public elementary education, and expensive higher education.” [27] Hence, there is eventual enrollment, attributable to miniscule prospects in the civilian world, by “those to whom other channels of advancement are often blocked.” [28]

Knowing this, divisions of recruiters are dispatched by every branch of the armed forces to scour the country in search of those looking to escape the depressing alternatives before them. Hence, this is where the funneling of those less fortunate, ignorant, and lost into the armed forces begins. At malls, sporting events, community gatherings, residences, and public school grounds recruiters disseminate their message of the “benefits” of “volunteering.” Additionally, millions are spent on a public relations campaign and creative ways to lure people, especially the youth, into signing up. [29] Pro-war films, commercials, decorated t-shirts, toys, video games, and Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps are used to make enlistment appealing and life in the armed forces a place where one can be all one can be in substitution for a world where one seems like one is nothing. [30]

Some have been keen to point out that “despair is the most powerful force driving” movements within American society that promise better alternatives. [31] Conscription is no different. Facing blocked avenues and having a “deep pessimism about the future,” individuals are forced to turn towards the offered benefits and “financial security” of the armed forces. [32] Hence the use of “creative ways” to draw in, even re-draw, recruits amid a war that is “stretching ranks to their limits” and pushing America towards imperial collapse. [33]

The surge of desperation, degradation, and economic hardship endemic in American society goes unreported in the media. In addition, the armed services’ desperate need of more recruits for a quagmire with no end in sight is cloaked through creative tactics of appeal. These factors combined allow for the façade of an “all-volunteer” fighting force. Politicians, jingoists, and media figures exploit this to, in the words of the President, “catapult the propaganda” that the American fighting force is saturated with nothing but genuine volunteers who had plenty of other choices in life; that they gave up their pursuit of the American Dream to protect the American Dream. The offensive, political, and fabricated use of the death of the professional football player turned soldier, Pat Tillman, was the most blatant case for the exploitation of this myth. [34]

Read all of it here.

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1 Response to Many Join Because They Have To

  1. Lynx217 says:

    I don’t think supporting our troops is an empty slogan. I think its our way of saying we’re waiting for you to come home as soon as they’ll let you and we promise we’ll treat you better than our parents did to the vets returning home after ‘Nam. I just HATE when people try to tell me I can’t support them without supporting their commander in chief. Bah! I cannot support the quagmire that Iraq has become.

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