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March 21, 2007


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Give me a break, Jack! Do you think our soldiers "would have a great deal of difficulty getting a job back home" because many of them are minorities or because of their tenure in the armed services? Are you racist or just so anti-American-military that you can't think straight? Some of America's and Michigan's finest young men and women proudly serve in the US armed services, and many companies all across our nation would be happy to hire such disciplined, hard working people. If you feel the need to denigrate our soldiers again, please do it on your own time, not on the public airwaves.

Mr. Lessenberry wrote:
"We are waging an imperialist war that many think is really about oil, and many of the soldiers fighting in it are members of underprivileged or minority groups who would have a great deal of difficulty getting a job back home."

His phrase, "many of the soldiers...are members of underpriveleged or minority groups," is almost deliberately vague. No, check that. It IS deliberately vague. Because to say what Mr. Lessenberry would presumably like to say -- that the military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are being waged by the American underclass on the behalf of corporate masters -- is demonstrably false. (By the way, do critics on the left suppose that the the "good war" in Afghanistan is any different, demographically speaking, from our "imperialist war" in Iraq?)

By every available analysis, it is known that whites are indeed slightly under-represented in today's active-duty military as a whole: They make up 64.2 percent of the force, compared with 69.1 percent of the U.S. population. (The reserve components are somewhat whiter.) But in the Iraq war, whites have been slightly over-represented among the dead, at approximately 70 percent. (Noting as well that in the Iraq war, a little less than 30% of the military deaths were due to non-combat deaths; otherwise the representation of whites in 'combat deaths' would have skewed even higher, by most accounts.)

African-Americans are indeed over-represented in the military as a whole. They make up 19.1 percent of the active-duty force, and 24 percent of the Army, as opposed to just 12.1 percent of the population. But blacks are not significantly over-represented among the dead of in Iraq and Afghanistan: They make up only 12.4 percent.

The reason for this discrepancy, by most accounts, is that although blacks sign up in greater numbers, they cluster pragmatically in noncombat units whose training in mechanics, electronics, and logistics translates well into civilian careers upon leaving uniform. "The proportion of blacks to whites is very much smaller in the combat arms than in other branches," is what Maj. Gen. Robert Scales has said about these numbers. He is the former commandant of the Army War College and the co-author of "The Iraq War: A Military History" published by the Harvard Press.

Today's typical combat soldier is not an unemployed or unemployable escapee from the underclass. When Jack Lessenberry said, "many of the soldiers fighting... are members of underprivileged or minority groups..." He would have been at least as accurate, and probably more accurate, to have said, "many of the soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan are highly-educated, degree-holding white males from middle-class backgrounds."

Sorry to disappoint you about today's all-volunteer U.S. military, Mr. Lessenberry.

Neither one of you actually understands Lessenberry. He's talking about all poor people. Obviously some of these people are black, but a majority are white. Very few of these people have a college education, or the ability to pay for one. Our combat units are 90%+ enlisted. Enlisted troops have no college education. Many of them enlist largely because they know the American people appreciate their service, and are more than willing to pay for their college education.

Thisis what Marx predicted. The people too poor to buy their nice jobs with their fancy degrees are fighting for the rest of us. I like the current system. I figure people who risk death for me deserve an education.

As for Jack's point about them "not being able to get a job" partly he's referring to the difficulties non-college grads having getting a job these days, which are particularly acute in Lessenberry's hometown of Detroit. Partly he's referring to the military lowering standards to meet it's recruitment goals.

Convicted felons recieve "moral waivers." Like that guy who raped an Iraqi 14-year-old and then murdered her family. Test scores have been lowered, and the Southern Poverty Law Center just outed several near-open Nazis in the ranks.

I had no idea that it was a controversial subject that if you came from a disadvantaged people or area, the idea that you could improve your lot by joining the military was a strange notion.

I had a lot of friends who had a lot going for them but lived in Detoirt, and came from poor families, and their lives reflected that. It is never an insult to them to notice that folks like the Bushes and Cheneys and Devoses and Princes do far better than they do in life.

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