On November 4th, as people all over the country celebrated an Obama victory, over 70 men, women, and children lay dead in Afghanistan after U.S. bombs rained down on two wedding celebrations. Over the last two years, hundreds of Afghan civilians have been killed in this way, since the U.S. considers any large gathering to be inherently hostile. And there are plans to escalate. Defense Secretary Robert Gates (who will also be Obama’s Defense Secretary) is sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan by this summer. Meanwhile in Iraq, General Odierno just announced that the U.S. will violate their promise of withdrawing combat troops from urban areas in Iraq by June 30th 2009. Contrary to public opinion, the Iraq war is not “winding down” or “over.” There are still 149,000 troops in Iraq. Obama has not been promising to end the Iraq war, but to leave a “residual force” of 50-80,000 troops (not including mercenary soldiers employed by companies like Blackwater) in Iraq – and he is already preparing to break even that weak promise by pledging to “listen to the generals.” How is the new commander-in-chief going to deal with the challenges of being the #1 superpower in the world, dominating resources and controlling economies of other countries in the name of the “war on terror”? Apparently, Obama has plans to expand the U.S. military by 92,000 troops.
Where are they going to get the soldiers to fight their wars? They are in high school right now! In addition to the standard arsenal of college money, job training, “have an experience,” “get some discipline and structure,” “give your life a purpose,” military recruiters now have some new weapons which they have been using to exceed their recruiting goals. For one thing, the election of Obama has summoned a “new spirit of patriotism and service,” as he put it in his victory speech. Whereas under Bush the war effort had come to be viewed by the vast majority as illegitimate, now there are more people believing in America’s “new direction”… and willing to fight for it. Some inner city youth are saying that they wouldn’t fight for this government, but would fight for Obama. Another common tactic reportedly used by recruiters these days is the lie (yes, recruiters lie) that it is now safe to join up because Obama is going to end the war. And then there is the economic factor, rising unemployment and the promise of a steady paycheck. As David Chu, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said, “I don’t have the Dow Jones banner running up behind me here this morning, but that is a situation where more people are willing to give us a chance.”
Video taken this month of military recruiters creating a carnival atmosphere outside Riverview High School in Sarasota, FL.: