In the Army Now, Wins and Loses

Inside the Hiawatha light rail cabin, riding from downtown Minneapolis to the Mall of America, there is an U.S Army Special Forces advertisement on the wall asking: “Are you tough enough for Special Forces?”

What would be my answer if I were a young student leaving high school, or an undergraduate, or even worse, a drop out, and wondering about my future? If I came from the southern low-income family with little cultural capital, it would be highly possible, according to Defense Department population stats that I would end up enlisting. But if I lived in the northeast with parents, or supporters who had a solid professional background, I would be directed to think other options in my life.

Toughness sells among the low income kids, especially those on the edge. With other good Americans they want to reach for the “American dream,” by any means necessary. Besides the dream (not coming true), “there is no higher calling than service in the US armed forces,” proclaims president Bush. And that is about all there is.

Military’s recruiting strategies are copious. Earlier recruiters had an open access to college campuses, and high school corridors. Now they are knocking on the doors of public schools, wanting to get student’s names, and addresses straight from the school office, setting their after school military programs to 10-12 year old “cadets” drilling with they wooden riffles and chanting time-honored marching cadences. “New Junior ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) programs are being introduced in high schools across the country, and lately kids as young as 11 are being invited to join pre-ROTC at their elementary and middle schools.” See more from Karen Houppert’s article Who's Next? Military Recruiters Are Now Targeting Sixth Graders (The Nation, September 12th, pp. 15-20).

Thus it is young, poor and low-income people who are fighting each other for the good cause greater than one human being (whether it is a nation, democracy, loyalty, pure hatred, religious beliefs, or the dream). The youth of the world who supposed to be the future and promise of humanity – apples of our eyes’ – are foot soldiers of raging state terror, “the prolific father of all terrorisms” (Galeano 2005). State terror, says Uruguayan writer and journalist Eduardo Galeano in his article (the Progressive # 9, pp. 22-23), “finds the perfect alibi in the terrorisms that it generates. It sheds crocodile tears each time the shit hits the fan, then feigns innocence of the consequences of its actions.” And it pays to cry and lie for the good cause like democracy. “The world spends $2.2 billion per day – yes, per day – on the military industry of death” (...) There is no more lucrative business on the face of the earth than this practice of industrial-scale assassination.” (Ibid.)

It must be the devil providing the weapons, writes Galeano, and the “bombardment of lies from the factories of public opinion.”

“The chemical weapons of consumer society that are maddening the climate and polluting the air.
The poison gas from the factories of fear that make us accept the unacceptable and turn indignity into a feature of destiny.
The deadly impunity of the serial killers who are heads of the state.
The endless multiplication of armaments versus the dwindling attention to poverty.
The sowing of anti-personnel mines and then selling of prostheses.
The raining of bombs and then the doling out of contracts for the reconstruction of the countries they annihilate.” (Galeano 2005, 23.)

And so it goes, the poor are assassinated, and suffer most whether in uniforms, or rags. For them a war on terror, or any other war, is almost definitely a lose-lose situation as for the owners of the world it is all profit.

Galeano: progressive.org/?q=mag_galeano0905
Houppert: www.thenation.com/doc/20050912/houppert


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