This Rosa Brooks column in the LA Times straightens out some details about where our troops in Iraq come from. I may have been too pessimistic about their educational status. She says almost almost all are high school graduates, although this is not too great a recommendation in these days of poor high schools. Furthermore, she says most come from families with more than average income, but that there is an almost complete cutoff at $60,000. None come from families with incomes of more than $60,000. And although many, mainly officers, have college educations, almost none come from elite universities, like Harvard.
As a draftee in the Vietnam war, I think a cross-section is important to the military. It would help prevent torture, and other evils sometimes committed by today’s troops who come from less advantaged backgrounds. Of course, this administration encourages them to torture, but now torture is delegated mainly to CIA agents, who are probably even better educated than military troops.
I am hoping that this election will be something of a political earthquake that will return us to traditional American values. I would be very pleased to see Rumsfeld go. For one thing, Rumsfeld hates the troops. He loves Star Wars missiles and stuff like that, and he likes special forces troops, but hates regular GIs, who bear the brunt of the fighting in Iraq and almost every other war.