Wednesday, November 01, 2006

War of the Words

I’m sure Sen. John Kerry would like a do-over. Depending on your political persuasion, you’re aware that this past Monday he either called U.S. troops in Iraq stupid or made oratorical mush of an intended slam at the president.

I tend to favor the latter interpretation. Full disclosure: I voted for Kerry in 2004, but I harbor no delusions about his abilities as a public speaker. He’s just plain dreadful. It’s well within the realm of possibility that he mangled a carefully crafted if ill-conceived jibe.

But I’ll leave it to the media to continue to flog this “war of the words.”

Actually, I had hoped they would use it as a springboard to a thoughtful examination of whether Sen. Kerry’s misrepresented comment actually held any weight. Are the less educated members of our society doing most of the fighting and dying in Iraq?

I don’t personally know anyone stationed in Iraq—not a husband, not a father or a mother, not a brother or a sister, not a nephew or a niece, not a cousin, not so much as a friend of a friend of a friend. I don’t know a single person who knows a single member of the U.S. military. For a large swath of our society, the military is a completely alien institution. To join or not to join? The question is never even raised.

I look at the roll call of soldiers killed in Iraq (kudos to George Stephanopoulos for running these names every Sunday on “This Week”). There is the occasional 26-, 35- or 42-year-old. But it seems the vast majority of soldiers coming home in body bags are 19, 20, 21. It’s safe to say that most joined the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines straight out of high school. Possibly because in their household, the question of going to college is never raised. Possibly because there’s not enough money for tuition.

And that’s not an education gap. That’s not a gap in intelligence. That’s an economic gap. That’s an opportunity gap.

And wouldn’t we all be better served if that were an issue our politicians and pundits would obsess over rather than a handful of words that dribbled out of John Kerry’s mouth?


Blogger Macko Usko said...

I think the republicans are clutching at straws, there is real anger about the direction of the USA at many levels, not only the war, but also inequality.

Soldiers are mostly from poor families, especially in the USA. Why is that? Why aren't rich kids going off to war? What kind of democracy allows this to happen?

The fact that the poor are usually not very educated (lets be honest: some are stupid some are average, few are highly intelligent but very very few would have gone to the army if they had alternatives especially these days) reflects the fact that most higher education in the US is very expensive and private.

Poor people are mostly excluded from education. The big change now is that unlike the past if you don't have a college degree you are unlikely to get a good job, and blue collar jobs are going to China Mexico and India, making the rich people that own the companies exporting those jobs richer (shareholders are included in this).

Increasingly middle income americans are affected too, mostly through their children. Sometimes as there are no good jobs to go to to live like a human being, people are forced to go to the army as it offers training and the only viable career...
Some become criminals... some become cleaners etc..

Whereas C students like Bush succeed based on their parents money not their own efforts, so this is hardly meritocracy. I wouldn't call Bush a smart man certainly he doesn't think about policy. I think he has outsourced the thinking to other unelected people who are influenced by lobbyists around him which is a big problem in a democracy.

As we live in a world were the rich can avoid the army, saying that poor people are the ones fighting the war is not a lie
Just think about it... Increasingly being poor makes you a non citizen in America..

This is particularly relevant since both Bush and Cheney avoided going to Vietnam by Bush getting his rich family to intervene for him to guard the fearsome invaders in Texas (i.e. nobody) during Vietnam, always at the ready from the bar, armed with several bottles of alcohol. Whereas Cheney used his university study as a reason not to go to Vietnam and he was granted this.

If they had fought in a war i would have much more time in listening to Bush or Cheney talk about the necessity of war or sacrifice, the reality is neither has experienced it... and they talk far too much about it.

I also fear that they use the war to obscure the financial interests they protect int he background. Americans need to do something about the corruption of their government..

7:47 AM


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