Re: Race, Recruitment, and Ripple Effects


The tone of that piece was weird, in that it sounded like the journalist was lamenting this turn of events, as the military would lose black leadership. But come on, all these kids that recruiter is trying to rope in? Can he really guarantee them non-combat positions? As long as the military continues to actively recruit undereducated black kids from impoverished communities, those kids are always going to end up on the front lines.

I used to teach at a college where about 75% of my students were black students from the projects, and almost every one of them had friends or relatives who'd been sent to Iraq and were writing back with horror stories. A lot of those students said they'd gone to college because their friends in the military had told them not to sign up, to choose college as a way of saving themselves from the misery and danger of being a grunt. "College is a way to avoid ending up in the Army or in jail," was a common defense of their choice.

Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 2:17 PM
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"OK, what's the thing you're scared of the Army?" he said over the phone to a potential recruit. "Gotta go to war? So if you didn't have to go to war, then would you join the Army?"

Yeah, that sounds like a pretty sketchy sales pitch.

Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 2:34 PM
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N.b. I haven't watched the clip.

Can he really guarantee them non-combat positions?

Old joke:

Q. How can you tell a military recruiter is lying?
A. His lips are moving.

In all seriousness, my modest experience with those guys is that they are salesmen with impossible quotas, who are chosen precisely because they will be susceptible or amenable to pressure from above to say absolutely anything (including promises of money, location, sex, and legal immigration status/citizenship) to get a teenager to enlist.

I am sure there are exceptions, but I think the job description of a recruiter and the structure of the system creates a miserable pressure-cooker environment.

Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 2:41 PM
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Remember that scene in Fahr 911 where the recruiter is chasing kids in a mall parking lot? He's asking them what they want to be when they grow up, and the one kid says, "I want to be a musician," and the recruiter says, "Then the Army is the right place for you! Did you know Shaggy was in the military before he became a huge star?" and the kid, sadly, kinda falls for it.

I'm trying to imagine all kinds of careers you could name to an Army recruiter and how he'd spin it so "The Army is the right place for you!"

Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 2:48 PM
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I wanna be a puppeteer at anti-WTO rallies?

"Then the Army is the place for you! You'll learn what it is like to have a hand up your ass directing your every movement! You'll be the most authentic puppeteer in Davos!"

Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 2:52 PM
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The thing with blacks in the military (and other "minority" groups, for that matter) is really fascinating and cool. And kind of a rebuke to civilian society, which hasn't managed to institute the same kinds of regulations to ensure that people are evaluated on merit rather than bullshit stereotypes.

Women are a somewhat different story--they do pretty well, numbers- and promotion-wise, but there's still a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle harassment that goes on.

Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 2:59 PM
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On an irrelevant note, one of my next-door neighbors is an Army recruiter. I've never talked to him about it, but we did decide to wait to hang the peace flag up until he moved.

Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 3:01 PM
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The U.S. Army should be disbanded. Marine Corps too.


Posted by: Ugh | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 3:26 PM
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8: Start with the air force. Splitting that off was always a bad idea, and an expensive one.

Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 3:42 PM
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It would conform to leftist fantasy if this war was being fought overwhelmingly by blacks. "George Bush sends poor blacks to fight his wars!" Alas, that's not the case. This war is being fought overwhelmingly by poor whites from Indiana and Kentucky. Blacks are overrepresented in the military, but in non-combat positions. Combat positions are filled largely by whites, and whites are 75% of combat deaths, which overrepresents whites in the general population.

The Asians are clearly not pulling their weight. They die at a rate of just 1.48% of total casualties, but are over 4% of the population.

Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 3:47 PM
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There's a guy at my synagogue who's in the process of joining the Marines. He just graduated from college, so he can go in as an officer, but he had a hard time getting in touch with the guys who handle that, so for a while he was talking to the regular recruiters instead, who told him that he could just go in as an enlisted man and become an officer later (which he later found out is maybe technically true, but very unlikely to actually happen). Just before he officially signed up, though, he randomly ran into the officer-recruiting guys and was able to go in through that process instead. If he hadn't found them, he would already be in basic training in San Diego as an enlisted man. I think now he's going to leave in a couple weeks or so; he was at services last night, but I didn't get a chance to talk to him.

Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 3:49 PM
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9: Happy to see the Air Force folded into another service too.

Posted by: Ugh | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 3:58 PM
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8:"The U.S. Army should be disbanded. Marine Corps too. McManus?"

I am thinking. There has to be a place where left libertarianism and state socialism. Meet. Draft everybody, and I mean everybody. When Merrill-Lynch and the Washington Wizards are part of the Army, the Army loses its meaning & purpose.

No more ridiculous than disbanding the Military in a country where we can't stop increasing military spending, year after year.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 4:00 PM
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10: I don't know any leftists who have that `fantasy', seems a weird one. There are plenty of people who will tell you that this is another case of poor people dying in a rich persons war, but that's a pretty defensible position..

Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 4:02 PM
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re: 14

It's certainly a belief I've come across [with reference to the US military] even here. I've also come across the countervailing claim too.

Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 4:53 PM
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Thanks bob.

Posted by: Ugh | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 5:14 PM
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With the draft a political impossibility and recruitment falling lower and lower, I've really come to think that the only good thing to come out of this war might be the slow death of the modern U.S. military.

Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 5:30 PM
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I remember a piece in the WSJ a few years ago, maybe ten, about how the makeup of the combat units had "reverted to type," meaning the background of the soldiers in them resembled what they had on the outbreak of WWII, the last previous moment where a draft and its aftereffects didn't skew them.

So the soldiers in an infantry unit in the nineties would come from the same background as those in From Here to Eternity: small town whites and urban ethnics, also predominantly white.

Posted by: I don't pay | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 5:33 PM
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1a: Yeah, would that the general public had a similar skepticism.

10: I thought that was something said about the Vietnam War, not the current war.

Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 5:34 PM
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I've also come across the countervailing claim too.

So have I, but these claims seem terribly unconvincing. They seem overwhelmingly based on the level of education of the military as compared to that of the public at large, with education used as a proxy for class. But this fails to account for the fact that the military typically pays for your education when you sign up, so you'd expect that, for example, poor kids who join the military as a way to go to college and get valuable career training would, in fact, be fairly well-educated compared to other, non-military poor people.

Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 5:38 PM
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I'm not a feminist, but B's 6 seems strangely understated.

Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 5:47 PM
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17: The militry will follow the path of much American businesses:outsourcing, privatization, contracting, mechanization, automation, high-tech. We did need many actual soldiers to destroy Iraq. Disband the Army & Marines? The assholes can still wage war.

A bad lesson was learned by bad people in Lebanon, reinforced by Kosovo & Iraq. Another lesson is being taught to the not-so-bad inhabitants of nations resistant to the forces of multi-national globalization and Anerican Empire.

Saudi Arabia asking the Gulf States to build up their militaries is partly about resisting Iran. Oil left in the ground is oil the military hyperpower can feed to their fighter-bombers someday.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 5:57 PM
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Since this seems to be the most relevant active thread, how about a little something to make you beat your head with a blunt object?

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - With an intensifying White House race drawing attention to his legacy, President George W. Bush could leave office without the baggage of complete failure in Iraq thanks to new U.S. military gains, some analysts say.

American success at quelling sectarian and insurgent violence has raised hopes that the relatively calmer conditions of the past few months in Iraq might last into early 2009, when the next U.S. president takes over.

"The overall prediction has to be that George Bush will escape this without an obviously visible abject failure. It may become that again over time. But right now, it looks like Bush will escape by the skin of his teeth," said Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution.

Posted by: JL | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 6:05 PM
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For "George Bush" in that third paragraph, substitute "Michael O'Hanlon."

Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 6:06 PM
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The overall prediction

Right there, the problem in a nutshell. We shouldn't be employing prognosticators, and we certainly shouldn't be paying them. Didn't Machiavelli have something to say about this? If not, he should have.

Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 6:36 PM
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Can he really guarantee them non-combat positions?

Calculon: And you say you can guarantee me the Oscar?
Bender: I can guarantee you anything you want.

Posted by: Toadmonster | Link to this comment | 11-17-07 9:09 PM
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26: Exactly. The last time I looked at the wordings on the forms (when my kid was being pursued by an Army recruiter) they all had "subject to the needs of the service" attached to any promises.

Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 11-18-07 9:04 AM
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