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June 2005, Volume 12 Nr. 18, Issue 153

Military Recruitment: Excess On the Road to the Abattoir

Jozef Hand-Boniakowski

Like a carnivore that is running out of flesh to devour, the recruiting arm of the U.S. military is going to excess in its search for the raw materials needed to sustain it.  Recruiters are going far  beyond the acceptable in their attempts at securing a steady stream of tender veal unbruised by the lies told to entice our youth into uniform and war.  Susan Paynter, a Seattle Post Intelligencer columnist, writes that military recruiters tell potential enlistees: "You don't want to be a burden to your mom." "Be a man." "Make your father proud."  Well, Mr. Military Recruiter.  Perhaps, you were a burden to your mom.  Perhaps, you did not make your father proud.  Is it not brain-twisted logic to suggest to young and impressionable students that by not enlisting into the industrial war-making mega-corporation they are a "burden to... mom", or, that their father is ashamed of them?  Excuse me, Sarge.  I am a Vietnam-era US Navy veteran who served in GTMO, that Gulag paradise of the new "American" century.  I know better.  How about telling potential enlistees about how proud you are of the torture and misery perpetrated by your mother and your father, the Pentagon!  

Mr. Military Recruiter, do you tell prospective enlistees that the incidence of family abuse within military families is three to five times higher than in the civilian population?  Do you tell potential female recruits that sexual assault on women is common?  That military higher-ups often cover up rape and other sex crimes?  Do you tell your naive, often captive, audiences that you, as spokesman for the military in crisp dress uniform could care less about keeping the promises you make to them?  Do you point out the fine print in the enlistment agreement that says no promise needs to be kept by the government?  Do you tell them that your boss, the Commander-in-Chief, has cut veterans' benefits?  Do you tell them that veterans typically earn 12% to 15% less than those workers who do not go into the military?  Do you tell them that military enlistments are potentially unlimited in length?  Do you tell them that military service often leads to death?  Do you tell them that when they join the military that they can travel the world, meet interesting people and kill them?  That these interesting people may kill them?  Do you tell them that?  Of course not.  Ooooh Rah!

Not too long ago, in the Manchester Vermont high school, a military recruiter aggressively approached a student in the cafeteria and then made arrangements to meet with him at the McDonald's restaurant after school without parental knowledge nor consent .  The student was underage, just 16 years old.  Mr. Military Recruiter, if you did that to my kid I'd have you arrested for kidnapping.  How dare you arrange such a meeting with a child without parental permission?  What would you do if a stranger picked up your child and took him or her out for chow and a sales pitch?  How dare you attempt to bribe recruitment bonus points for your career total at the expense of someone's son?  Semper fi?  How about "Semper dolus!"  

Military recruiters are now having a difficult time getting enough fresh blood.  Understandable as the abattoir that is their theater of operations is soaked in blood, violence and death.  The word has gotten out.  The military kills.  The National Guard has missed its recruitment goal every month in 2005.  The Army has missed it for four months.  The Marines for five.  As a result, recruiters have pulled out all the stops in their attempts at finding new meat.  Recruiters have gone so far as to leave notes on cell phones saying that federal law requires the student meet with them and that their not doing so would trigger a warrant for their arrest.  

Military recruiters regularly use a tactic called plausible deniability, without technically lying, they purposefully mislead.  Really?  They wouldn't do that?  Would they?  You wouldn't think so with all those medals on those chests attesting to all the valor.  Naw, the vast majority of recruits don't get killed or wounded.  Do they?  Don't worry about it.  You'll be Ok.  Drink too much?  Naw, you don't have a problem with alcohol.  We'll take you.  You have a pin in your leg from a previous surgery?  Naw, you don't have any physical limitations.  We'll take you.  Your grades a bit too low?  We can fix the problem.  We'll take you.  Want a straight answer?  Forget about it!  How low can you go Mr. Military Recruiter?  Can you go lower than this?  You bet you can.  

In Arvada, Colorado, a 17 year old high school student journalist wanted to find out.  The student, David McSwane, faked being a high school drop out as he attempted to see what the recruiter would do to entice him.  No high school diploma?  No problem.  Mr. Military Recruiter suggested that McSwane simply make up the name the of a high school from which he graduated.  Mr. Military Recruiter told McSwane to get a phony diploma.  McSwane said. "I'm sitting there looking at a poster that says 'Integrity, Honor, Respect' and he is telling me to lie."

Military recruiters dog young people where they are known to gather.  They target kids at the nation's community centers for the advancement of citizenship, i.e., the Mall.  Better citizenship through consumerism goes hand-in-hand with better patriotism through militarism.  One must, after all, defend the God-given right to be able to buy something often.  The CBS television news magazine "60 Minutes" recently reported on military recruiter tactics as they scour the landscape for opportunity.  Round those little doggies up.  Giddee yup!  Sign on the dotted line.  Move 'em out.  Rawhide.  Yee ha! 

From the CBS news "Recruiters Go to School" website,

CBS News has reported that from asking teens to lie to their parents to guiding them through duping the drug-test system and forging documents, recruiters will go to many lengths to get young people to enlist. One Houston-area recruiter was caught on tape threatening jail time if a applicant didn't keep his appointment.

If fact, recruiting abuse was so widespread and prevalent that the military was forced to take a national day off from it on May 20, 2005, to cool the climate.  In their own words, it was a day to "stand down" and "re-train".

In my home state of Vermont, the students at the University of Vermont (UVM) recently received an email with the statement, "Army pays off student loans".  Sure they do.  The email came from a recruiter working out of the US Army recruitment office, Williston VT.  Just how did Mr. Military Recruiter get the UVM student email list?  Ah yes.  Military ethics, another one of those contradictions that the military is good at, like, destroying a village in order to save it.  Saying that the military "pays off student loans" is like saying that the infantry teaches soldiers how to change diapers.  It's just no so.

Few U.S. parents know that our high schools are military occupied territory. Every year, high schools administer to their junior class, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).  This is the same test that all enlistees take.  Welcome to the military, kid.  We pick your brain even before you are old enough to pick us.  Exactly why do our schools collect data on our students for the benefit of the military?  Why do thousands of high schools across the United States test their unsuspecting students, collecting personal information about their abilities and turn the results over to the military so that recruiters can target their enlistment strategies more effectively?  Do schools allow any other special interest group to do this?  They do not.  Shame on the military.  Shame on the schools.  Shame on the school administrators and guidance departments.  Shame on them for turning over millions of children to the pimps of the military-industrial-complex.  Shame on them for not emphatically pointing out that parents have the right to opt-out their sons and daughters from taking the ASVAB.  Shame on them for not pointing out that the No Child Left Behind Act requires that schools turn over to military recruiters the names and addresses of students who are turning into adulthood.  Shame on them for not pointing out to parents that students can opt-out of having their information turned over to the body hunters.  

Pat Elder, a member of the Washington, D.C. Antiwar Network says, "It's a dangerous militarization of society and I don't think recruiters should be given that access to schools".  He points to U.S. Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) who seeks to amend the No Child Left Behind Act by eliminating its opt-out provision and replacing it with an opt-in provision instead.  Good.  Why should everyone by default be forced to turn over their private and confidential information?  

Military recruiters lie.  Why wouldn't they?  The war that they are recruiting for was based upon lies.  All wars are.  Liars should not be given access to our schools.  People are finally waking up in large numbers.  All around the United States military recruiters are witnessing a push-back against the underhanded and sleazy military recruiting tactics.  Parents and students are protesting recruiters as they did in Garfield High School in Seattle.  Parent and teacher organizations are refusing to allow recruiters into the schools.  Recently, students chased two military recruiters off the Seattle Central Community College campus.  Counter recruiters and members of Veterans For Peace, and others, are demanding and getting equal access time into the schools.  

I suggest a course of action when recruiters come to the high schools with their colorful glossy slick military book covers, posters and high definition television multi-media presentations mounted on their unarmored Humvees, with rock music blaring.  I suggest we meet the propaganda show with evidence of the military's most striking by-product.  Let us display the red blood soaked twisted bodies, ligaments and bones in shreds, fetuses and their mothers bombed to pieces, the stench of human innards turned outward, legs and arms on one side of the road while the body lies flattened in the middle, with the head on the other side, the red mist that once was an adult human, or, child, the rape, the pain, torture, misery, disease, and psychological breakdown that comes with war.  But, oh, you will look so snappy and dapper in that over-pressed military uniform as you become a man slipping into your new identity. And when you do, you will set aside your humanity being blind to it all.  You will have become one of the "few good men", one of those who trust their leaders to lie for them.  And when you're eating that burger in the middle of yet another battle zone, setting aside the gnawing in the stomach that suggests you are responsible for what happens in the abattoir you are part of, you can drown out that feeling with a chorus of,

Swing those rifles left to right,
Kill those ragheads through the night.

Semper fi, my man.  Semper fi.  

Violence can only be concealed by a lie, and the lie can only be maintained by violence.

- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

2005 Jozef Hand-Boniakowski, PhD
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