Doug Bandow: Recruiting Problems Should Create Cause for Reflection


As most everyone knows, the Army and Marine Corps and Army National Guard and Reserves have been running into recruiting problems. The cause isn’t difficult to understand. Indeed, you’d have to worry about someone who was enthusiastic about joining the armed services in order to fight in a war that: was based on completely false claims; has been badly bungled by officials who foresaw no opposition and didn’t bother to acquire the necessary equipment (such as body armor and armored vehicles); has spawned a “democratic” process in Iraq that risks becoming distinctly illiberal, and has created an active recruiting and training ground for terrorists.
But war supporters remain adept at finding scapegoats. Some leftish activists have been attempting to organize a counter-recruitment movement. I don’t know how successful it has been in practice, but Frank Gaffney’s Center for Security Policy is not pleased:

Those who oppose our armed forces recruiters’ visits to schools and universities or otherwise interfere with their activities will not prevent us from waging the war we have no choice but to fight. They may, however, require us to do so with forces that are obliged to serve rather than those who do so freely.

However, if anything is evident in the aftermath of the administration’s WMD intelligence fiasco, it is that the war was not necessary, but a matter of choice pursued for reasons having little to do with any direct threats to America. The fact that those most at risk in fighting — as opposed to arm-chair warriors sitting around Washington planning — such a conflict are increasingly saying no should create cause for reflection. There is nothing inevitable about how long America stays, or in what form it remains engaged.
If war enthusiasts (especially those enthusiastic young conservatives about whom I read who are now active on college campuses) can’t seem to make it down to the armed services recruiting offices, the administration has yet another reason to accelerate plans to get out. It’s one thing to contemplate conscription to preserve the nation from a hegemonic totalitarian menace. It’s quite another thing for those who failed to serve yesterday to draft those who don’t want to join today to spread “democracy” — especially if the ultimate result is an authoritarian Iraq leaning toward Axis of Evil member Iran.
Doug Bandow