As the Obama administration begins to deploy US troops back to the Iraq or Afghan war zones for their fourth or fifth tours of duty, I remain amazed at the silent complicity of my country. Why have we been so quiet? Is it because the Bush administration was, in fact, successful in sending our military down the path to foreign legion-hood? Is the fate of our troops no longer of much importance to most Americans?
Even the military’s recruitment and demographics are increasingly alien to much of the country. Troops are now regularly recruited in “foreign” places like south central Los Angeles and Appalachia that more affluent Americans wouldn’t be caught dead visiting. In some cases, those new recruits are quite literally “foreign” – non-US citizens allowed to seek a fast-track to citizenship by volunteering for frontline, war-zone duty in the army or marines. And when, in these last years, the military has fallen short of its recruitment goals – less likely today thanks to the ongoing economic meltdown – mercenaries have simply been hired at inflated prices from civilian contractors with names like Triple Canopy or Blackwater redolent of foreign adventures.
With respect to demographics, it’ll take more than the sons of Vice President Joe Biden and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to redress inequities in burden-sharing. With startlingly few exceptions, America’s sons and daughters dodging bullets remain the progeny of rural America, of immigrant America, of the working and lower middle classes. As long as our so-called best and brightest continue to be absent without leave when it comes to serving among the rank-and-file, count on our foreign adventurism to continue to surge.
Right before the election, I did a piece which once again highlighted the existence of the “two Americas.” If the Knowledge Class (led by the Elitist Snob) is now the “real” America, it will be interesting to find out what happens when the rest of us connect the dots on what this means.