2007/07/23

A generation's call to duty

Glenn Greenwald quotes a writer from the Weekly Standard:

In the 1960s, history called the Baby Boomers. They didn't answer the phone.
Confronted with a generation-defining conflict, the cold war, the Boomers -- those, at any rate, who came to be emblematic of their generation -- took the opposite path from their parents during World War II.
...
Few of the leading lights of that generation joined the military.
...
But now, once again, history is calling. Fortunately, the present generation appears more reminiscent of their grandparents than their parents.

Er, sorry, but no, the young people of the "9-11 Generation" are no more likely to join the military than those of the Vietnam Generation were. In 1996, the number of personnel in the Army was a little over 490,000, in 2005, it was almost 489,000. The number stayed between 475,000 and 500,000 between those years.

Total numbers for the armed services as a whole were
1996: Over 1,470,000,
2005: Over 1,378,000.

We're constantly hearing stories like the following:

...as the war in Iraq rolls into its fifth year, the escalating cycle of combat deployments is wearing on the children and their families...

In other words, not only have the armed forces not expanded, they can't even bring in enough new people to replace those who are worn out and who are suffering from PTSD and really need to quit and allow others to take their places.

Nah, Greenwald accurately nails the problem. The Vietnam Generation had three components, those who went off to fight the war, those who stayed home and opposed it and the third, least honorable group, the chickenhawks, who enthusiastically supported the war, but who remained at a safe distance from the battlefield. Unfortunately, it's the chickenhawks who now run the country and the Iraq War. The "9-11 Generation" was told by their President to "Go shopping," so they did. There's nothing particularly wrong with the 9-11 Generation, but nothing particularly heroic, either.

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