Who's Sacrificing the Most for Bush's 'War on Terror?'
The so-called commander-in-chief never asks the people of this country to make sacrifices for his botched war. Instead, he gives them tax cuts and tells them to go shopping. How will we explain this to our grandchildren?
"It is like watching a different reality,” says Larry Wilkerson, a former colonel who was chief of staff to Colin Powell. “Nothing could better illustrate the alienation of America’s armed forces from the college-going Americans for whom the Iraq war has meant tax cuts, SUVs and nice holidays.”
During the week since the 3,000th American soldier was killed in Iraq – by a roadside bomb in Baghdad – Washington’s attention has turned to speculation over George W. Bush’s reported plans to order a “surge” of US troops to Iraq.
What is often missing from America’s increasingly recriminatory debate over Iraq is how isolated are the communities that bear most of the human cost. The Pentagon does not disclose the socio-economic background of the 25,000 US soldiers who have been killed or wounded in Iraq.
But a breakdown of their ethnicity and states of origins shows they are overwhelmingly white and from small towns in the interior states of mid-America and the South.
For example, the ratio of killed to the state’s population is 221 per cent for South Dakota, 178 per cent for Nebraska and 163 per cent for Louisiana. In contrast, the District of Columbia, which is home to Washington, the US capital, has a ratio of just 52 per cent, while Connecticut is 66 per cent and New Jersey is 60 per cent.
Charles Moskos, a military sociologist at Northwestern University, says the divorce between the social origins of most US army personnel and the character of the population as a whole is greater than ever. When he attended Princeton as a student in the late 1950s, 400 out of his class of 750 had served in uniform. Last year only nine of Princeton’s class of 1,100 had been in the armed services, he says.