Politrix: Smells Like Desperation

Five years, one month, ten days. Whether you call it Operation Iraqi Freedom, the Iraq War or a shit storm, that’s how long American troops have been occupying Iraq. And 4,052 American military deaths (and an estimated 83,000 to 90,000 Iraqi civilians) in, it appears our Armed Forces are in dire need of more lambs to send to slaughter—and they’ll take them however they can get them.
Starting with ex-cons: The military is fast making exceptions for folks with past felony convictions, as long as they promise to protect and serve. In 2007, 861 waivers were granted to allow them to serve; that’s 188% more than the number granted in 2006 (457). This I have several issues with.

First, several states in the Union do not let people with felony convictions vote, not for president, not for representatives to Congress, not for school board members, nada. So those who are not allowed to vote for the people who have lead our country into the dark of night are allowed to hand out flashlights in another land? I seem to remember that being a huge issue back in ’71 (okay, I don’t remember exactly, but I’ve read about it), when the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age from 21 to 18 in response to protests that citizens who weren’t deemed responsible enough to vote could be drafted to fight. And I’m not even going to get on the fact that many of these ex-offenders choose this treacherous route because of a lack of legitimate opportunities to grow here at home.

Then there’s the issue of the crimes that these people have committed. The congressional committee that tracks such things reports that assault, sex crimes, manslaughter and burglary are among the crimes committed by these 861 individuals. There are even nine people who were convicted of making terror threats!

Now I’m not saying that people can’t change, or that they don’t deserve a chance at salvation. But in a time when the number of sexual assaults against military women (who make up 15% of total U.S. forces) has reached the point where nearly a third of veterans who have sought health care at the VA report having been raped or nearly raped during their service, it makes me nervous that we’re sending people who are predisposed to crime to do our bidding. Just look at the recent situation with the Marine who raped a 14-year-old girl in Okinawa. No, he wasn’t a registered sex offender, but if someone with no history of violence can think this is acceptable behavior, what to say of the man who has already had a taste of this special brand of evil? According to the BBC, an unnamed military official said, “We’re digging deeper into the barrel than we were before,” but Army Lieutenant General James Thurman, the deputy chief of staff for operations doesn’t mind: “It hasn’t alarmed us yet,” he said.

Then there’s the matter of the increased recruitment of women. The Marines has started a new campaigned aimed at drawing us to join the Corps. It stresses patriotism and focuses on women who are athletically inclined and want to “prove themselves,” according to the company that developed the ads, which began running in women’s magazines late last year. This from a branch that until the last couple of decades, only accepted women for clerical positions. Now, when the heat is on, women are not only welcomed, but sought out. Hmm.

On a more international scale, there is the program to fast track citizenship for immigrants who sign up to fight. No, I’m not kidding. More than 26,000 members of the military have become American citizens since this war began, as part of a program championed by Bush (and implemented by executive order) to boost numbers in the military. Giving immigrants rights in the country they choose to defend doesn’t bother me; I’m floored by the fact that we are dangling citizenship as a carrot to up our numbers in this unending war. Of course, now, there is a backlog of about 7,200 martial citizenship applications outstanding—it seems shuffling paper is the sound of the government failing to make good on yet another promise.

So what do we do? First, we vote in this November’s election. Not just for a presidential candidate who supports an ethical end to this war, but for congressional reps, mayors and city council cats who have our best interests at heart. Then we hold them responsible for carrying out the will of the people, not agendas structured around political backslapping and glad-handling. And if all else fails, we can take a cue from the hippies who opposed the Vietnam War; that means we stop talking (and writing) about it, and take to the streets and be about it. Who’s with me?

-Kenrya

If you like Kenrya’s opinion, check out the rest of her posts here.

Last 5 posts by Parlour

  • Van

    I am with you Kenrya!! I think that this is totally out of control. How can they be stopped. . .felons. There is a dispropotionate number of African American males in prison, is this their way to control prison population?

    Why use felons who have been convicted of crimes such as rape considering the fact that they have been locked up and had a whole lot of time to think, plot, etc.

    Your country is out of control, but you are correct, the first step is to vote and prayfully. . .

  • julie

    Hmm, great reporting, I was not aware of this… This is ultimately a way out for the military from the crapy crapy situation they put themselves in to. But unfortunately, even if we vote and win, there are plenty of “bad seeds” with their own agenda that cannot be ejected from the ranks of decision-makers (call me cynical…).

  • Shameeka

    I knew that the war was pointless, but this make me even more aware of that. Honestly, if the folks that were calling the shots weren’t so detached from the war, maybe it would end. It is real easy to send folks you don’t know over to harm more folks you don’t know. Keep informing us! Great job!

  • Ms G.

    While I don’t agree with this war either, as my 12 yr old daughter says, “if Bush thinks this war is so important, why doesn’t he send his kids over there to fight?” I think the military is a great option for some of the young men and women today. No one had a problem with military recruiting until there was a war. I can not support sending our kids to be slaughtered, but I can support a system that gives our children 100% college tuition, medical care, and job experience. We are only hearing part of the story here. For example, the Marine Corps has the hardest qualifications to join. You would be surprised to see how many adults attempt to take the test to join the military and can’t even pass the test. I could go on and on. There are a lot of benefits to being in the militay and this comes from someone who watched the love of her life deploy to Iraq twice in a two year period!

  • Mahogs

    This is real. Thank you for this.

  • TAhira

    I am disappointed in our goverment, period. They are not looking out for us. It’s about the all mighty dollar. Think about it, why are they over there anyway, felon or no? Why not fight for a country (I strongly feel) like Africa, where the people are being slaughterered and exploited. Why not go there? (Oooooh, there’s no money to make from that country.)So, our president sends our men and women over to the Iraqi country because he was told there were weapons of mass destruction. Then when he found out that there were none, he found another reason to stay over there. Let that country do it’s own thing and bring our men and women home, where they belong. Bush, I truly believe is looking out for his own interests. As you can see the skyrocketing gas prices, Bushes’ investments are on the rise, while rising food and gas prices are putting a lot of people out of work. Sorry, if I got off point, had to get that off my chest.