IN THE NEWS
So why hasn't the Bush Administration acknowledged the dangerous military overstretch that the Iraq war has created, and step up recruitment efforts? Short of reviving the draft, there are other measures that would ease the strain on the US Army and Marines. Even after giving recruiters aggressive quotas, activating the stop-loss option, and exercising other, less above-board options, the more public efforts to sustain US war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq have not even been tried.
During World War II, when the Draft Board enrolled young Americans into mandatory military service, the US government still pushed hard to increase voluntary enlistment. The emotional, often lurid appeals to civic duty in enlistment posters are now famous icons of American history.
In contrast, public appeals for enlistment in the current "Global War on Terror," "The Long War," or whatever we're calling this week, look the same as they did before the 9/11 attacks. The Pentagon's TV and magazine ads for recruitment have not changed. The recruitment page from the US Marine Corps web site contains nary a picture of 9/11 or Iraq. (Instead, the Marines have a Flash-based gallery of their most famous campaigns and leaders.)
Clearly, leaders in the White House and Congress are uncomfortable making a public appeal for enlistment. Appealing to the American conscience would highlight the paucity of sacrifices that the wealthy and powerful seem to be making themselves. Worse, it would call into question the political basis of the Iraq war itself. As George III once did, George W. Bush promised a quick, easy, and inexpensive war, and is now unwilling to own up to the harsher realities.
Instead of stirring recruitment posters, the only icon of the post-9/11 war effort is the shopping bag icon that appeared in many store windows in the Christmas 2001 season. If a single picture ever were truly worth a thousand words, that image certainly qualifies.