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Wednesday, May 16, 2007 01:02 am

Joining Bush’s war

He won’t ask the children of the affluent to pay the price

Untitled Document Remember the famous recruiting poster with Uncle Sam  pointing straight at us, declaring: “I Want You for the U.S. Army”? These days, the poster would feature President George W. Bush, pointing to the side and declaring: “I Want Them.”
See, Bush insists that his war is an urgent matter for the very survival of our nation — but it’s not so urgent that he’s willing to ask affluent young Americans to enlist and, you know, risk their lives or make any sacrifice whatsoever. Instead, Bush keeps calling on “them” — the less affluent and nonaffluent who make up America’s “volunteer” Army — to do his dirty and deadly work in Iraq. To meet the quota of roughly 80,000 new recruits a year needed to maintain the force in Iraq, the Bushites have already lowered the minimum standards so more high-school dropouts and people with low mental-aptitude scores can be taken. They’ve also raised the enlistment signing bonus to $25,000. Now, no kid from an affluent family is going to sign up for war in exchange for $25,000 — but that’s real money to poorer kids. So, they go to war . . . and the affluent go to college. And here’s a good one: The Bushites have raised the maximum recruitment age from 35 to 42. Think about that. If you and your spouse had kids when you were 20 and you’re now 40, the whole family could join George’s war. Wow — the Brady Bunch does Iraq! Meanwhile, West Point graduates — the Army’s elite — are also saying “no thanks” to Iraq, choosing to leave active-duty service at the highest rate in three decades. For an accurate barometer of how things are going in Iraq, just look at the recruitment reality. George keeps trying to sell Americans on his war, but no one wants to join it.
Jim Hightower is a national radio commentator, columnist, and author.
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