Thursday, December 28, 2006

Join the Army and become a US citizen

By Nancy Jane Moore

The Boston Globe reports that a recent change in US law allows the Pentagon to bring immigrants from other countries to serve in the military "if it determines it is vital to national security."

Right now the only non-citizens serving in the US military are those who were already legal immigrants living here, but the Globe says the Pentagon is considering setting up recruiting stations in foreign countries.

The incentive? Fast-track to US citizenship.

Now I certainly don't object to giving immigrants who have served in the armed forces extra points toward citizenship. And, in fact, there is a bill pending in Congress that would give permanent resident status to illegal immigrants who moved to the US before they were 16 and then serve in the military. The Arizona Daily Star reports that this bill, called the "DREAM Act," stands a good chance of passing the new Congress. It will also give these immigrants legal residency if they attend college.

But actual recruiting in foreign countries seems extreme. And it raises a big question: Why can't we get enough US citizens to join up?

There are those who would say that Americans are just too selfish to serve -- or, to put it more politely, that most citizens, like Dick Cheney during the Vietnam years, have "other priorities."

But while there are always people like Cheney who put self interest first, most of us are willing to make sacrifices for our country -- especially to keep ourselves and our families and neighbors safe. However, I suspect most of us are unwilling to put our lives on the line for Big Oil and a pigheaded president who can't admit he made a major mistake.

Bush is abusing the idealism of those who joined the armed forces to serve the country and keep it safe by sending them off to die in an unnecessary and unwinnable war. Many people of military age have figured that out, and they're not joining up.

Instead of setting up recruitment stations in foreign countries, the Pentagon needs to recognize that they won't ever get enough people to serve so long as they keep fighting wars that aren't in our country's best interest.

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