By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers
Date: 16 January 2007
From: Dick Cheney
To: George W. Bush
cc: Karl Rove, Bob Gates, John McCain, Joe Lieberman
OK, guys, let’s think this one through.
We’ll be funneling 21,000 U.S. troops into the Baghdad surge. No doubt we will need tens of thousands more after awhile and then more after that. Where can we possibly get them without provoking a total political firestorm?
We can’t constantly keep going to the well of serving trooops in Iraq and extending their tours of duty; nor can we keep recalling National Guardsmen and Reserves from the States for another couple of years in-country. These troops and their families are getting pissed off and starting to rebel.
Add to that problem that Gates wants nearly 100,000 new soldiers and Marines so that America will have a large enough military force to handle future threats and wars, especially in the Middle East region. Does he propose we dragoon young men in shopping malls and ship them off to Iraq and Afghanistan? Similarly, buying up Latin American young men in their countries and promising them U.S. citizenship can only fill a small fraction of our need; besides, that tactic of hiring what the pinkos call “mercenaries” is a bit obvious and makes us look desperate.
Re-starting the military draft should happen only as a last resort, and over my dead body. No way we should ever want a draft. Re-starting that program would rile up the great middle class and lead to ugly protest actions; see Vietnam. Better to keep the force we now have — with a huge percentage of poor whites and lower-middle-class young men and women of color — and 100,000 “contracted” soldiers.
WHERE TO OBTAIN THE NECESSARY BODIES
Given that situation of a hard-up military trying to restock its tappable resources, I’ve come up with a handy-dandy solution. Here’s my modest proposal: hire the handicapped, the elderly, orphans, welfare recipients, convicted prisoners, illegal immigrants, etc. (More below on these groups.)
Advantages: low pay; we make “heroes” of those usually not thought of that way; many of them will die early, so the various entitlement programs — Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, for example — can have their budgets reduced significantly.
Disadvantages: the whining liberals will accuse us of being “unfeeling” or “not compassionate.” So Rove and his P.R. team will have to tackle that problem and come up with effective counter-spin. See below for a few ideas for how this might be accomplished.
HERE ARE THE TARGETED GROUPS
1. The physically and mentally handicapped. These people, who often feel unwanted and discriminated against, might well go for this in big numbers, as will their put-upon family members. These defective recruits would be given clerking-type jobs in Iraq — say in the police stations that will be operated by Iraqi and U.S. forces — to free up actual soldiers and police units.
If those stations are attacked while the soldiers are out rounding up bad guys, the terrorists, shown to have killed and wounded the retarded and wheelchair-bound innocents, would take the brunt of the ugly publicity.
A new presidential Patriotic Sacrifice Medal, perhaps in the form of a lamb, could be created to honor these brave recruits. See also: financial savings, as noted above.
2. Orphans. The orphanages are full of unwanted, neglected, low self-esteem kids and teenagers. They have nobody really watching over them — no parents, no blood relatives who care — so little protest could be anticipated by assigning them wartime duty. Since they weigh less (and thus would be less likely to trigger the explosions), they could be perfect candidates for locating and disarming the improvised explosive devices (IEDs) planted on the various streets and roads in Baghdad and environs.
Again, a new presidential medal could be devised to honor our brave young soldiers: the “Bomb-Squad Rangers,” or something like that, who “died with honor and exceptional courage,” that sort of thing. See also: financial savings, as noted above.
3. Welfare recipients. Many of these citizens, often minorities and poor whites, contribute little to society and help drain its resources. In addition, even if there were jobs out there, their employment skills are so minimal as to leave many of them in a permanent underclass status.
Here they would be working off their debt to society, and learning skills along the way that could result in good jobs for them if they survive the experience: security guards, executioners, demolition technicians, etc. These Welfare Brigades would give them status and plaudits in our society. See also: financial savings, as noted above.
4. Illegal immigrants. There are now more than 10,000,000 “undocumented” aliens in our country, and many in our electoral base are mad as hell that those illegals aren’t being caught and deported.
Here’s a way of satisfying those anti-immigrant forces. At the same time, we will be giving something to the commie liberals who support the illegals being in our country. We accomplish this by giving these wetbacks a way to earn citizenship, a way for them legally to make money for their families back home, and by helping them come out of the shadows and celebrating their contributions to the cause of protecting America.
See also: financial savings, as noted below. Note: We’d have to find another subgroup to pick the crops. Perhaps we could bring over a whole lot of poor Iraqi refugees to fill those jobs so vital to our agricultural economy. Immigrants from Darfur also might be added to the cheap-labor pool.
5. Convicted felons. Our jails are stuffed to the breaking point with millions of convicts, many of whom would jump at the chance of reducing their sentences by serving in the military. Von Ryan’s Express on steroids.
In addition, since the great majority of those prisoners were convicted of non-violent crimes, most for possession or sale of drugs, they might be enticed into the program by mentioning the fact that Iraq is right next door to Afghanistan, where the best poppies are grown, if you get my drift.
Great financial savings of not having to pay the high costs of incarceration.
6. The elderly. We wouldn’t want those who are in final-stage skilled-nursing facilities, but there are millions in independent-living retirement villages and suchlike, just kind of vegetating there while their bodies and minds begin to fail them. They (and their harried, grown-up children) would jump at the chance to have these oldsters actually do something, anything, and be honored and rewarded for their patriotism and willingness to jump back into the fray. The Geezer Brigades.
We might also want to consider recruiting in early-Alzheimers wards, as they are likely to provide the most docile recruits, who, because they would have little awareness of the bad things that could happen to them every day, would be extremely malleable soldiers, with no risk of rebelling.
See also: financial savings, as noted above.
SPINNING THE SPIN
As for the P.R. spin, Karl and the speechwriters could have the President say something like:
“My fellow Americans, when I first announced the augmentation of our Iraq initiative, I mentioned the term ‘sacrifice,’ referring to the heroic efforts of our soldiers on the ground. But sacrifice isn’t the only operative word here; we also have to speak of duty and patriotism and service to one’s country.
“So tonight I’m announcing new job opportunities in the global war on terrorism, and I know Americans, wanting to help our troops abroad and help defend our country (with a salary commensurate with their experience and their jobs) will rally to the cause and join the new legions of volunteers. In particular, I want to speak to those of you in the following categories: …etc. etc.”
I think this approach would work. Are you guys ready to consider it?
Even if you don’t think my proposal would fly, I suggest that we consider leaking it. This would get the mainstream press to focus on something not likely to happen, while they ignore what we’re actually doing to gin up the movement to bomb Iran, our attacks in Somalia and covert actions in Lebanon, our siccing the CIA and military intelligence agencies on American citizens’ bank accounts without getting the supposedly “required” court warrants, and so on.
We can’t have journalists and ordinary citizens thinking they can influence what we do on their behalf. That smells too much like democracy. #
Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government & international relations, has taught at Western Washington University and San Diego State University, worked as a writer/editor for the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently co-edits The Crisis Papers (www.crisispapers.org). To comment: email@example.com .
First published by The Crisis Papers 1/16/07.
Copyright 2007 by Bernard Weiner.