Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Remember Rome

From The Boston Globe:

The armed forces, already struggling to meet recruiting goals, are considering expanding the number of noncitizens in the ranks -- including disputed proposals to open recruiting stations overseas and putting more immigrants on a faster track to US citizenship if they volunteer -- according to Pentagon officials.


With severe manpower strains because of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and a mandate to expand the overall size of the military -- the Pentagon is under pressure to consider a variety of proposals involving foreign recruits, according to a military affairs analyst.

"It works as a military idea and it works in the context of American immigration," said Thomas Donnelly , a military scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington and a leading proponent of recruiting more foreigners to serve in the military.


Both President Bush and Robert M. Gates, his new defense secretary, have acknowledged that the total size of the military must be expanded to help alleviate the strain on ground troops, many of whom have been deployed repeatedly in combat theaters.


O'Hanlon and others noted that the country has relied before on sizable numbers of noncitizens to serve in the military -- in the Revolutionary War, for example, German and French soldiers served alongside the colonists, and locals were recruited into US ranks to fight insurgents in the Philippines

But it would take years and billions of dollars to recruit, train, and equip the 30,000 troops and 5,000 Marines the Pentagon says it needs. And military recruiters, fighting the perception that signing up means a ticket to Baghdad, have had to rely on financial incentives and lower standards to meet their quotas.

That has led Pentagon officials to consider casting a wider net for noncitizens who are already here, said Lieutenant Colonel Bryan Hilferty , an Army spokesman.


"It is not without historical precedent," said Donnelly, author of a recent book titled "The Army We Need," which advocates for a larger military.

Still, to some military officials and civil rights groups, relying on large number of foreigners to serve in the military is offensive.

The Hispanic rights advocacy group National Council of La Raza has said the plan sends the wrong message that Americans themselves are not willing to sacrifice to defend their country. Officials have also raised concerns that immigrants would be disproportionately sent to the front lines as "cannon fodder" in any conflict.

I think there are couple of points on this storyworth exploring.  It should be noted first and foremost, however, that if military leadership, the new SecDef and the President are all suggesting that we need to increase the overall number of troops, then we probably need to increase the overall number of troops.  Of course, such an observation will undoubtedly be exploited for political gain by those who oppose the Iraq war and the broader war on terror.  They will certainly say that if Bush had not put us into these wars then we wouldn't be short on troops.  Of course, what good is a giant army if we never use it?

Secondly, I think it is safe to say that when we say the army is considering using "non-citizens" we actually mean it is considering using an increased number of non-citizen Hispanic folk, right?  Probably so, but for the National Council of La raza to fear that immigrants would be "cannon fodder" is outrageous.  Do such troops (those used only for cannon fodder) even exist anymore?  This is 2006, not 1915.

Thirdly, comparing the use of immigrants today to the use of immigrants in the Revolutionary War is a bit unequivocal.  There were no American citizens at the onset of the American Revolution because there was no America.  Another point to consider here is that French nationalists were not fighting in the Revolution for the love of the fledgling democracy.  They were fighting for their own imperialist interests after being handedly defeated by the French in past North American conflicts.

Fourthly and finally am I the only one who remembers what happened to Rome?  Their apathy of the non-Roman troops towards the future of Rome ultimately led to its demise.  Do we really want to be protected by a group of individuals which we are unsure of where their loyalties lie?  Need we remember the Mexican flag waving celebrations of MEXICAN NATIONALISM which occurred in our cities just a few months earlier.  These individuals are not loyal to the United States.  They are loyal to their home countries, and that is not what we need or want in our Armed Forces.

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