To get a sense of how far public sentiment has turned against the Bush Administration's foreign policy, one has to go no further than recruitment figures released by the U.S. Army yesterday. Here's a clip from Reuters:
The U.S. Army missed its April recruiting goal by a whopping 42 percent and the Army Reserve fell short by 37 percent, officials said on Tuesday, showing the depth of the military's wartime recruiting woes.
With the Iraq war straining the U.S. military, the active-duty Army has now missed its recruiting goals in three straight months, with April being by far the worst of the three, and officials are forecasting that it will fall short again in May.
The all-volunteer Army is providing the majority of the ground forces for an Iraq war in which nearly 1,600 U.S. troops have died.
The active-duty Army signed up 3,821 recruits last month, falling short of its goal of 6,600 for April, Army Recruiting Command spokesman Douglas Smith said. That left the Army 16 percent behind its year-to-date goal.
As support for war spirals downwards, the Army is now forced to seduce new recruits by any means necessary, including outright lying. Yesterday's New York Times reported stories of Army officers trying to lure a young recruit in Ohio they knew was bi-polar, and encouraging a teenager in Denver to fake a high school diploma. Apparently that's just the tip of the iceberg:
Interviews with more than two dozen recruiters in 10 states hint at the extent of their concern, if not the exact scope of the transgressions. Several spoke of concealing mental-health histories and police records. They described falsified documents, wallet-size cheat sheets slipped to applicants before the military's aptitude test and commanding officers who look the other way. And they voiced doubts about the quality of some troops destined for the front lines.
Doesn't sound like something very good for the troops that are already deployed. And it's definitely not good for the mentally disabled kids and high school dropouts the Army is preying on to feed the war machine.