Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Lie, Cheat and Steal? If It Gets The Boots On The Ground.

This developing story out of Arvada, Colorado is truly sickening, but not completely surprising. To sum up shortly, a local high school newspaper reporter posed as a dropout, drug-using teenager and went to the local army recruiter. The recruiter then proceeded to instruct 17-year old David McSwane to buy a kit to help him pass a drug test and go online to buy a fake high school diploma. This sleazeball then also said that he could falsify the results of the ASVAB taken by McSwane to make it "passing."

Read the full story at the website of Denver's CBS affiliate.
Here's the Army's expected "we'll-get-to-the-bottom-of-this message, also at CBS4-Denver.

This is truly a new low. I do realize, naturally, that this is one incident in one place and one recruiter. The fact, however, that this high school kid (who if he keeps this up will be the next Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein) could walk in, play a role and get the reaction that he got causes one to wonder.

The military forcing conscription is by no means a new thing. Impressment of men into the military was a major issue in the War of 1812. Men during the Civil War, with the means, could buy their way out of service by paying poor immigrants or rural dwellers to do their service. More recently, the draft filled the ranks of the U.S. military during the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War and the Vietnam war and also during peace time. This non-voluntary conscription fortunately ended after the problems with draft evasion during the conflict in Vietnam (the year was 1973). From that day to this, we have had an all-volunteer military (the way it should always be in a free society) and things seemed to be fine.

Comes the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the protracted situation in Afghanistan and the military finds itself in quite a state. Seems that a combination of a stronger economy and an even stronger desire by young men and women not to get killed by a suicide bomber on the streets of Baghdad. Recriuitment is at all time lows. Check the stats and story in the Honolulu Observer. Now comes this situation in Colorado. The military is showing a less than honorable side with this incident.

Military recruiters always struck me as being akin to car salesmen, television preachers (most preachers, really) and other such unsavory catergories. They seem to try to play to your basest, lowest, knee-jerk sensibilities. The seemed like a lower form of life to unleash a barrage of empty promises and bluff language about God, country and freedom all in an attempt to get you to essentially sign away your whole life for years. They prey on the fearful, naive, ignorant, poor, uneducated, hopeless and shiftless. Like a smarmy funeral director, they can hit you in your weakest moment and get you to make the Faustian bargain.

Where does this leave the military? It seems, like many paths in life, this is a great fit for some people and they go on to a rich and rewarding life. It can be a way to fulfill a psychosocial need to serve your nation, but also make a life for yourself, learn new things and hell, who knows, you may get to kill people all over the world! In other words, the military should not be at all surprised at the problems that they face. The military is a career choice, one of many. That's the great part about an all-volunteer force; it should be made of people who WANT to be there. Hard to do in a war sans exit strategy or hope for resolution, but hey, few in power are blameless for this one.

Is any career choice worth dying for? This is a question that one must ask before comitting to any high-risk line of work.

They do not need help from a dirty, sleazy con-man trying to herd the sheep onto the ever-expanding minefield of entangled world politics.

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