The casualty rate in Iraq is accelerating, with almost 3,000 dead, breaking the 100 barrier for one month alone in October. One would assume we must be reaching the point of necessitating a military draft. Afterall, who would voluntarily enlist for this suicide lottery mission? The answer, those needing a decent, respectable job, and because their ranks swell, we don't and won't need a draft.
Conventional wisdom suggests that as war casualties increase, enlistment should correspondingly decline, and in the case of the deteriorating disaster in Iraq, even plummet. That decline should be further exacerbated when neither national security (i.e. threat from Iraq) is at stake nor the conflict at hand is at all popular.
Stunningly, military recruiting targets are not being broadly missed, but rather counter-intuitively, being relatively easily hit, if not exceeded. Evidence the Oct. 10, 2006 Armed Forces Press Service article posted on the Department of Defense website, which validates those extraordinary results for the 2006 fiscal year recruiting effort, ending Sept. 30.
So what's going on? Is this new draft age generation more patriotic than even Tom Brokaw's glorified World War II Greatest Generation? The answer is no, and it's not an issue of patriotism (or education) at all. Rather, enlistment in large part during these times is driven by having no equivalent job opportunity choice, therefore becoming an employment necessity. This situation is the antithesis of that faced by their peers of the Vietnam War generation who did have job opportunity choice, albeit that choice often denied by the draft.
Is this by happenstance or part and parcel to a grander socio-political plan?
Clearly, the Bush Administration has a huge appetite for global military intervention. How do you then feed that insatiable hunger without a sustained inflow of new recruits? The answer is you can't, leaving but two options to sustain required recruitment: 1) a military draft, or 2) something more creative and hidden from public eye a strategy/plan to create economic imbalance.
For anyone wanting to remain in office, instituting a draft, particularly at a time when there is no superpower threat and/or being drafted for a conflict the majority of Americans don't support, is akin to committing political hari-kari.
Karl Rove and Dick Cheney, the master duo of Bush political/policy gaming strategy, understand this draft choice dilemma better than anyone. Whether it's war on Sadaam or war on the middle class, no one doubts their inherent ability to create and orchestrate war - once they identify a target. In what I'll coin Operation Gut the Middle, these policies are enabling and sustaining the global intervention ambitions of the Bush Administration vis-à-vis exploitive integrated abuse of the economy/military. Not only shameful but too its greatest political coup yet bestowed upon a naïve American public. It's indeed the best kept secret, surpassing even the mythical vault hidden formula for Coke.
To create this economic imbalance, which fuels military recruitment, two situation drivers jump out. One is as Lou Dobbs of CNN has so well documented the last month or so in his excellent series "War on the Middle Class" and the associated antagonistic economic and tax policies directed at that income segment. These efforts are creating a quasi Third World economy with a stripped middle class and rapidly expanding and bulging lower income class. The other driver being the unmitigated flow of illegal immigration, which with a blind eye, seemingly endorsed by the Administration, evidence it's inaction these last six years.
On the former, good jobs are being lost in droves to both outsourcing overseas and steady migration offshore of our manufacturing base to cheaper labor countries. This systematically reduces the equivalent employment options available here. Free trade then does not come without a huge price when your relative cost structure is as non-competitive as is ours. Compound this with the flood of cheaper labor coming into this country, and the effect on wages is flat to down, and even worse when inflation adjusted. Meanwhile, expenses for housing, healthcare, energy, tuition, etc. continue to soar, exceeding all inflationary measures. Add to these wallet assaults, the imposition of regressive taxation protocols such as the Alternative Minimum Tax (aka tax increase) for example, and one concludes the middle income class is under nothing short of pocket book siege - and getting systematically squeezed (out).
The only truly consistent stable employment alternative available to these proud, law abiding American citizens then is being greeted by Mssrs. Rove and Cheney as they walk into the local Army, Navy or Air Force recruiting depot to sign on the dotted line.
Let's briefly compare Vietnam and Iraq. The parallels are as striking as are the differences. The similarities being both were very unpopular wars with ever escalating casualties. The differences, in Vietnam there was a draft, whereas today it's all volunteer. During Vietnam, we had a stable, strong, growing and vibrant middle class, the backbone of the nation, and too vis-à-vis the draft, the military too. Today, the middle class is weakened and fast disappearing. During Vietnam, there was wide ranging employment choice opportunity for the middle class. Today there is limited to none, just noting the disproportionate higher number of high school graduates in the military than in the civilian job sector, as noted in the Nov. 5 New York Times.
The strength of the middle class segment and middle market economy during Vietnam provided a desired alternative to enlisting, thus sustaining the need for the draft to fuel an unpopular war. The difference now, the devastation to that same economic segment forces those same draft age people today, who might too be resistant to enlisting if more desirable alternative employment options existed, to succumb to a more limiting choice - no employment or enlisting.
So the secret is now out. The clandestine and increasing overt economic attack on the middle class is designed in large part to fuel military enlistment to support grand global conflict designs - Iraq today, others waiting in the wings. And precisely the reason why you've heard not a peep from the GOP about instituting a draft and you never will.
Concluding, the GOP has shrewdly gamed the economy to avoid a draft. In a functioning economy, we would be delighted that no draft looms on the horizon. The imposed economic dysfunction to achieve that however, is reason why we should not.
Bottom line, the GOP war on the middle class is ironically fueling the GOP ability to war overseas. With that, the middle class bears the ugly price of that integrated war plan, getting the double loss whammy, at home in livelihood and abroad in lives.
Author's Note: This article was prepared pre-midterm elections with an expectation the Democrats would not take both houses in Congress. With the good news they did, both the economic attack on the middle class and disastrous situation in Iraq should begin to mitigate.