My Photo

« A Bad Day For Corruption; A Good Day For The Country | Main | Why I Love The Cunning Realist »

August 12, 2005

Comments

It's double posted Edward.

How can they be fair weather patriots, after all, I'm sure they're all going to government sponsored pro-government march on September 11, brought to you by the Pentagon.

I've seen the right try to spin this as the mother only saying she supports the Marines, not the war necessarily.

but, we've been hearing for years (no, decades, as Kerry can probably verify) that such a thing is impossible !

but, if this is true, i think it's a great thing, that the right has finally gained the ability to make the distinction. now, about that "reporting bad news = treason" thing...

(b.t.w. this appears to be a double post)

sorry about the double posting

now, about that "reporting bad news = treason" thing...

wait until a Dem's in the White House again, you'll see them slip out of that one.


Edward: I basically agree, but some quibbles: first, I do think it's possible to support the Marines without supporting the war. It's also possible to read ""I want you to know we support you," she gushed" as meaning: we support the troops, not: we support the recruitment efforts.

What's not spinnable is the part you highlighted: "It isn't for our kind of people." You can support the troops but not the war. But if you do, your reluctance to see your son enlist won't be because "your kind of people" don't enlist; it will be because you don't think any kind of people should go off to fight and quite possibly die in an ill-conceived war. It won't be because there's one sort of people for whom that's perfectly OK, but not yours. And it certainly won't be because not just this war, but military service in general isn't for 'your kind of people'.

This is the sort of sentiment that tempts me, a person who is normally against the draft, to think that it might be a good idea after all. Because there is no 'sort of people' who should not be asked to sacrifice for their country, in general. And if a war is wrong, then no 'sort of people' should be asked to give up their lives for it, in particular.

first, I do think it's possible to support the Marines without supporting the war.

Yes, of course, you're right. That was sloppy of me.

Vaguely relevant, this Overheard in New York:

Art Store guy: ...the Army was really persistent. They said, "Oh, we always need artists in the Army." And I'm like, "No, you fucking don't! What am I gonna do, paint with the enemy's blood?".

--New York Central Art Supply, 3rd Avenue

This is ancedotal, of course, but here goes: at the mostly upper-middle class high school where I teach, the majority (by far!) of the students enrolled in NROTC are also in special education. The gifted track kids wouldn't get caught dead in the military.
Most of the sped kids won't get caught dead in the real military either since very few of them plan military careers.
Now here's the kicker--they ones that do plan a military career are in it for the money. They see it as the only way they can pay their way through college or to learn a trade.
I guess the son in the family of Edward's post doesn't have that problem.

Sorry about the swearing! I tried to stop the post when I remembered, but it was too late.

Hilzoy beat me to the punch. I'd only add that it is important to look at these sorts of behaviors over populations, rather than in individual cases.

I'd only add that it is important to look at these sorts of behaviors over populations, rather than in individual cases.

Sure, for valid statistics, but anecdotes are valuable for illustrating where the debate should focus, IMO.

But before we get too meta here, the article does note why this is important:

Recruiters have to contact as many as 100 young people just to get one who is willing to talk about enlisting, chiefly because of opposition from parents, said Maj. Gen. Michael Rochelle, commander of the Army Recruiting Command. That's nearly four times as many as before the war in Iraq began.

Has opposition to the war grown to a level fout times what it was before the invasion? If not, I'd suggest that implies there's a disconnect.

Military service isn't for our son. It isn't for our kind of people

hilzoy: This is the sort of sentiment that tempts me, a person who is normally against the draft, to think that it might be a good idea after all.

One of the true hallmarks of the US military in WWII was its egalitarian character (except for the little problem with blacks, which was fortunately corrected shortly afterwards). That was because of the draft.

The Viet Nam era draft was so full of exemptions that it instead ended up filtering by class.

One of the weird by-products of the all-volunteer force is another sort of classism -- people now think of the military as a sort of quasi-mercenary force that only others actually join. In fact, they have been accultured to think that only a certain social class of people join, and that there is no obligation for others to join. More importantly, that there is no contradiction in ardently supporting war while adamantly refusing to join.

It makes it a whole lot easier to be for wars when there is no expectation of actual sacrafice by "your kind of people."

I thoroughly believe that the Army isn't for my kind of people, if by "my kind of people" you mean unathletic geeks with chronic health problems.* Beyond that... on behalf of all the soldiers I know, let me give her a whack over the head with a big ol' cluestick and we'll see if anything changes.

* Not to mention, y'know, the whole sodomizing, America-hating, child-molesting, society-corrupting liberal-academic thing. Details.

Not to mention, y'know, the whole sodomizing, America-hating, child-molesting, society-corrupting liberal-academic thing.

I'm pretty sure it's only the "sodomizing" thing that's problematic, and even then it depends on your partner.

One of the things I have always loved about John Rawls, my PhD advisor, was that he proposed (in a Harvard faculty meeting) that the Harvard faculty come out against the grad school exemptions to the draft, on the grounds that they were unjust.

Oops, forgot crucial detail: he made this proposal in the late '60s (I want to say '67, but I'm not sure.)

Can't help remembering Bill Hicks. 'I support the war, I'm just against the troops. Not a popular position.'

I think, and hope, WWII was an unusual case in that the massive mobilization required didn't leave a lot of room for maneuvering.

I am skeptical that a smaller-scale draft would produce the sorts of egalitarian results its advocates hope for. There will, inevitably, be some exemptions, and those with money or influence will be better placed to game these exemptions than others. Similarly, even for draftees, there will be more and less dangerous assignments. I doubt these will be handed out randomly.

I lean toward the libertarian approach myself. Pay enough to attract the needed recruits, without lowering standards. Yes, this produces class distinctions, but that doesn't bother me so much for three reasons:

1. The draft will also produce a degree of class distinction.

2. At least those who serve will be fairly well-paid.

3. If we face the fiscal realities, of which there is no guarantee, the financial costs will be borne by the entire nation. A draft imposes not only risks, but also financial costs, on the draftees.

Fair weather arguments

So is it only pro-war rubes who think military service isn’t for their kind of people?

So is it only pro-war rubes who think military service isn’t for their kind of people?

As wryly noted by SCMT upthread, there's a decent chunk of the population -- say around 10% -- who believe that. And they'e absolutely right.... just not in the way you'd intended.

Sulla: no one has said either that it's only people for the war who have this attitude, or that the woman quoted is a rube. Those are entirely your contributions to this debate.

Hilzoy- let's just say, that's progress, I guess.

Sulla,

that trick with parallelism only works if your meaning is unambiguous (otherwise it just comes off as pointless parroting).

To help you out here (and possibly infuse your jab with a bit of real punch), let's clarify your previous statement, OK?

Are you suggesting that she's right? That it's ok for her to applaud sending other people's children off to war but insist he own should not also serve his nation?

Edward- pointless parroting is what it was and I feel it is a worthy tactic against your post when for 3 years you have cried about how one can support the troops but not the war only to assume the woman in this article is pro-war without a shred of evidence.

Somewhat OT - from the linked article:

Another issue is a provision in the No Child Left Behind law that requires high schools to give recruiters access to information about their students.

Hwaaa? I had never heard of that. Was that a significant change from prior policy?

Well, I wouldn't say without a shred of evidence. Most Americans tend to make less prominent displays of their patriotism when their country is engaged in activities they're dead set against, human nature being what it is.

Further, and much more to the point, her son had expressed interest in going. Do you think if his mother had expressed any anti-war sentiments at all to her son, that he would have not warned the recruiter about them before the interview?

So what little evidence there is suggests she outwardly does support the war. Considering there's no evidence at all she doesn't outwardly support the war, I think it's fair to conclude she's bein hypocritical.

Either way, her classist insult to the recruiter's face is unforgivable. If you wish to push her out of the pro-war column for your own purposes, by all means, ignore the evidence we do have and carry on. From what's available, I'll stick with my analysis.

My parents have a 15-foot flagpole with American and Marine Corps flags on it. They have the yellow magnets on their cars and red, white and blue paraphernalia all over their house. They also have a son interested in serving over there (me, I’ve asked if the Corps needs me but the prior service recruiter hasn’t returned my calls). But guess what? They are both against the war (they don’t feel Americans should be dying for those people). So your evidence is as baseless as the assertion of people who are against the war are against the troops. But cling to it if it makes you feel better.

But cling to it if it makes you feel better.

Hey! I have that copyrighted.

I disagree with your conclusion though, Sulla, for the reason I noted above. You konw your parents' stance on the war. I'm assuming the son of the mother in question does too.

If the Marines had to interview your parents before you could sign up again, I'm sure you'd tell the recruiter how your parents feel, no?

slightly OT: Henry at Crooked Timber asks:

    I’d like instances in which commentators make egregious claims that a substantial section of those who opposed the war are, in fact, rooting for the other side.

It isn't for our kind of people

maybe they're pacifists

They didn't want me to join the first time around but they knew when I turned 18 I would do it anyway so how they felt was a non-issue.

That doesn't exactly answer the question Sulla.

If you were 17 and thinking about joining, but the recruiter had to interview your parents first, would you or would you not tell them how your parents felt beforehand?

maybe they're pacifists

yeah, others are suggesting perhaps she's a Quaker, The problem with that is, again, I'm sure the son would have warned the recruiter he'd run into that in the interview.

I was 17 and they gave my parents the same sales pitch they gave me. To be honest it made no difference because I still wanted to join (for reasons of my own and unmoved by their presentation) and they still didn't want me to. So for me it was an non-issue.

Something being a non-issue is different from showing the recruiter the consideration to warn him about a contrary interview.

It's an easier question than you're making it. Would you have warned the recruiter? Yes or no?

I didn't so the answer must be no.

Michael Ledeen's son is in the Marines and being sent to Iraq.

Michael Ledeen is a rather outspoken proponent of the so-called neo-conservative project in Iraq.

What that proves?

Who knows.

(I would also mention that esteemed conservative blogger Porphyrogenitus joined the army and as a result no longer has time to blog much.)

Is everybody just assuming that this story is true? Presumably the source is the recruiter. Whose function is to recruit. Sure, this attitude probably exists - certainly exists - but this is too neat and tidy. Propoganda, man.

"The Viet Nam era draft was so full of exemptions that it instead ended up filtering by class."

Not exactly, or in need of explication. Yes there were a lot of people who gained full deferments and avoided service.

But many people of all classes and aptitudes avoided the infantry draft via ROTC and officer status; or by joining the Navy or Air Force; or via the Reserves and National Guard; or by enlisting and getting some control over assignment.

By the late sixties the combat infantry was fairly monochrome or monoculture; the military as a whole was definitely not. This was a very good thing for everyone.

I didn't so the answer must be no.

Not true. Unless there was a war on at the time that your parents opposed, what you did is not an indication of what you would have done had that been the case.

Sulla,
I think you're asking for a rigorous proof of the woman's thoughts, and obviously no one can provide that. Let's just say it's likely that she supports the war, but uncertain. If you want to throw a party in the small space between probable and certain, go for it. Or are you claiming that it's actually more likely that the woman is anti-war?

Edward- even if we allowed that the kid might've informed the recruiter beforehand, it's possible that this detail didn't make it into the story. The media being who they are, exlcluding that hypothetical detail would give the story more impact (bc otherwise it gives away part of the punchline).

Wu

Edward- When Hussien invaded Kuwait I was in the delayed entry program for 6 months so it was well past the time of their talk with my parents. The time frame between me first talking to a recruiter and him talking to my parents was quick, 48 hours I believe. It wasn’t anything we breeched in that time.

Wu- fine, then I want to claim, on scant evidence, anyone who is against the war is against the troops based on the the actions of international ANSWER (we support the troops who shoot their officers) and such, are you cool with that?

I really have to stop arguing on two blogs at once (where's the three dimensional blogging we were promised by the Jetsons?), I'm leaving too much on both:

even if we allowed that the kid might've informed the recruiter beforehand, it's possible that this detail didn't make it into the story.

as I noted elswhere:

I think there's more evidence that the bias (if there is any) that led to the inclusion of the offensive quote is more the recruiter's than the reporter's. By putting quotes around it, unless the reporter's a hack, the article is suggesting Rivera offered it up as a direct quote.

as that applies to your comment Wu, the article does seem to be suggesting the recruiter reported being surprised by the response.


But many people of all classes and aptitudes avoided the infantry draft via ROTC and officer status; or by joining the Navy or Air Force; or via the Reserves and National Guard; or by enlisting and getting some control over assignment.

I wouldn't go too far with the "all classes" business, Bob. First of all, student deferments themselves have some class implications, and of course you can't get into ROTC unless you're a college student. Second, getting into things like the NG and the Reserves was heavily determined by connections and influence. That was my observation at the time, and I haven't seen a lot of evidence that I'm wrong.

As far as assignments go, I don't know the mechanics, but I will offer this. I attended a private university where students were generally quite well off. At my reunion (Class of 1967) I was surprised how few classmates had been in the armed services at all, and how consistently those who had been had found themselves in Europe or in the US rather than Vietnam.

Perhaps your experience differs.

Sulla,
It is not the case that all things which are not certain have the same likelihood of being true.
You want to conflate things which are apparently likely with things that are apparently unlikely to soothe your conscience or make a tiny point- yeah, Im cool with that.

Wu

My conscience isn’t involved (both actions go against actually) I just wonder why it’s ok if liberals do it?

Michael Ledeen's son is in the Marines and being sent to Iraq.

Michael Ledeen is a rather outspoken proponent of the so-called neo-conservative project in Iraq.

What that proves?

Who knows.

It proves that Michael Ledeen is the rare exception in his peer group. His peer group, of course, being the idealogical and policy architects of the war.

Kudos to Ledeen and his son for having the the courage of their convictions. They are rare indeed among policymaking elites in Washington.

Kudos to Ledeen and his son for having the the courage of their convictions. They are rare indeed among policymaking elites in Washington.

Of couse Ledeen is batsh**-insane in other ways, and he's possibly a traitor, so the kudos should be somewhat muted...

"I just wonder why it’s ok if liberals do it?"

I think it's Ok to assume something that's probably true for the sake of discussion, while admitting that it isn't a certainty. And, even if it isn't true in this particular case, we all know there to be plenty of cases of folks who support the war in principle, but not for them and their families.
I don't think your counterexample is reasonable, because it is (IMO) a low-probability linkage. We see low-probabiliy linkages all the time in mudslinging politics (eg "Repubs are racists!" "Dems are Communists!" etc), but it isn't a very pretty thing. Or a useful one.

My neighbors down the street have flags and pro-war bumper stickers. I assume that they voted for Bush (if they voted at all)- I might be mistaken, but Im probably not, and if so I can live with that, since Im not basing any serious decisions on it. And I can function better that way than if I was forced to only act on absolute certainties.

Wu

"Perhaps your experience differs." ...BY

A few years younger, upper midwest rustbelt/farm country, and solidly Catholic blue-collar. A wastrel, most of my relatives got degrees, but I hung out with factory workers and bikers. 9/10 had military experience, and 7/10 had been drafted to Vietnam. Lived in a house for a year with a guy who laid claymores, and a tunnel rat. Two other guys worked supply in Saigon. One constant visitor had been in Hue during Tet. I am trying to remember them all, a couple dozen, no officers, non-coms, or lifers. I have an easier time remembering people who did not serve.

Most of what I knew about the protests I saw on television. I was 1-A, drew a scarey lottery number, but escaped.

I guess we had different experiences, and much of what I know of the military at that time was drawn from the draftees, who were perhaps not the most reliable sources.

Hwaaa? I had never heard of that. Was that a significant change from prior policy?

Jeanne had a post about high school recruitment a few months ago. My curiosity (we don't have anything similar) lead me to this handy overview.

"His peer group, of course, being the idealogical and policy architects of the war."

With appropriate-aged sons? Most important policy-makers are of such an age that you can expect their children to be too old. Many of them have daughters.

Furthermore, it might be noted that those who join the military are adults, and not under the domination of their parents. In fact I don't know why that didn't get mentioned earlier.

Seb, you may not have heard, but they're letting girls into the armed services now.

Also, minors can commit to joining after graduation with a parent's consent. When my father wanted to join (back in 1962), his mother refused to consent, upon which the recruiter told her, "He's going to be 18 in five months anyway, so you might as well just sign it now."

"I wouldn't go too far with the "all classes" business, Bob. First of all, student deferments themselves have some class implications, and of course you can't get into ROTC unless you're a college student. Second, getting into things like the NG and the Reserves was heavily determined by connections and influence. That was my observation at the time, and I haven't seen a lot of evidence that I'm wrong."

No, you're quite correct, and not just from my own experience (as a 1967 draftee). Some years later I was teaching a course on the Vietnam war, for which I read an excellent book by Laurence Baskir & ?? Strauss, _Chance_and_Circumstance_. Quite non-polemic; a sedate and scholarly analysis of military service in the 1960s, based on a major government study of the draft. (Original study came out of Notre Dame, I believe; hardly a radical hotbed.)

They begin, usefully, by disaggregating the various steps that got young men into combat: registering for the draft, seeking various kinds of deferment (educational, medical) or avoidance (conscientious objection), being drafted, being sent to VN, serving in combat, &c. What they found was that at *every* step of the way except one [1], it was an advantage to be wealthier and better educated. You had a better chance of getting an education deferment (obviously), a medical deferment, recognized status as a conscientious objector or family-support, of appealing your draft status - and if these didn't work, you had a better chance of getting a non-VN, non-combat assignment once you were in the service. (That's where my own experience chimes in. I played the pre-draft game badly, but once in I was able to deploy my education and my quicker apprehension of rules and bureaucratic customs to avoid going to 'Nam. No hero, me.)

[1] - the only exception was in initial registration for the draft. If you were so marginalized from US society that you were never going to need a draft card in order to apply for a job or get government benefits, and if you didn't care that much whether you got arrested for not registering, then, poor & uneducated as you were, you had a better chance of avoiding combat. But once you registered, the odds were against you all the rest of the way.

Nevertheless, IMHO, the draft was a Good Thing, because it forced enough of the middle classes (if not perhaps the truly rich and powerful) to face at least the possibility of combat so that they could not all uniformly, smugly, send "our boys" off to die secure in the knowledge that "Our" boys would never have to. But that's my personal conclusion that you need not subscribe to in order to profit from Baskir & Strauss's study.

CAVEAT I: I haven't read the book for many years, and couldn't locate it on my shelf 5 minutes ago, so my memory may be off in certain details.

CAVEAT II: The study was completed before the end of the "Vietnam Era," and so does not provide definitive whole-war answers to questions of exactly how many people, of what race, &c., served or died or whatever. These are available from other sources, but none, AFAIK, looks at the whole process in as much detail as B&S.

Follow-up: More recently there's a major study on this topic -- Christian G. Appy, Working-Class War: American Combat Soldiers & Vietnam (Chapel Hill, 1993)-- that looks good. "although race and region were prominent factors (black Americans and those from small towns were significantly overrepresented in our combat forces), class was the most important element in determining who fought and died in Vietnam."

(That's from the back cover; to my shame, I still haven't read the book itself.)

Dr ngo,

Thanks. Another point worth recalling is that many decisions on deferments and classificiations were in the hands of local draft boards. The rules were a bit loose, so it is no surprise that some people had an easier time avoiding the draft than others.

The comments to this entry are closed.