Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Who wants to be a soldier?

I'm the kind of Democrat who believes that the American military can, if used intelligently, be a force for good in the world. I was happy about Clinton's interventions to help the Bosnians and Kosovars, and I thought we were definitely right to invade Afghanistan. I was initially tempted to support the second Iraq War because I liked the idea of setting up democracy in Iraq. Shortly before the war, however, I decided that the opportunity costs of invading were too high and that I didn't trust George W. Bush to rebuild the country effectively. Those concerns, it turned out, were the right ones to have.

That's why I'm worried about the damage that this war will do to military recruitment. With the casualty figures and stop/loss orders, the risk/reward of joining the armed forces must look a whole lot worse now than it did 5 years ago. I imagine that back then, people thought they could get the rewards (money for college, etc.) without too great a chance of risking wounds or death far away from home. I can't imagine that anyone thinks that way anymore.

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