by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Recently we’ve heard arguments that the failure of the military to meet its recruitment goals is a product of recruitment policy. Politics are also held to play a supporting role. But these only address the surface issues needing adjustment. The real cause is more complicated and rooted in the last thirty years of constant international strife.
The 17-24-year-old populace is the focus in recruiting. This is traditionally where new military personnel are found. So what have these people been bombarded with their whole lives? Constant combat, bloody house-to-house fighting against a foe who seeks death as a reward, detailed accounts of every death, never-ending rotations through Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa and other trouble spots around the world. Does the media shout our servicemen’s bravery, their commitment to national pride and support? No — they are shown as failures of our politicians, failures of our foreign policy, stupid for even joining and ignored at home. Returning soldiers commit suicide at record levels because of lack of public and political support. There is no end to the wars in far-off lands where politicians bloviate and big business grows wealthy.
I spent 26+ years in green, so I know what the military can do for you and how it can help make you a better person. That military is gone. It died as we went to war in Iraq. Vietnam was bad enough for politicalizing foreign wars. The Middle East is worse. There is no end to battling a religion. As long as one person believes, the war rages on. Especially when some areas are off limits to attack, as were Cambodia, North Vietnam, and Laos. Or Pakistan and Iran. We never seem to learn that war is either all or nothing. The military knows this simple fact; politicians don’t.