THE RISE OF THE SERVICE GAP

ACADEMICS vs. MILITARY SERVICE
By John Noonan, National Review On Line, July 28, 2006

John Noonan is the co-founder and author of the military blog Op-For, where he discusses security, technology, grand strategy, and the war on terror.

It seems that every American conflict has been accompanied by paranoia about a military-service gap - the age-old contention that poor men are forced to fight rich men’s wars. Traditionally, the service gap has been a myth, a falsehood designed to stroke society’s bitter underbelly for some sort of political gain.

While a service gap between the rich and the poor may have actually existed during the French Revolution or the final days of the Russian czars, it has never been a prominent feature of American history.

Yet as the top tier of American academia grows increasingly hostile toward the military and military service, the service gap may go from fiction to fact. As the antiwar movement has grown, so have so-called “counter-recruitment” campaigns, designed to strip the military of the legal right to recruit on campuses.

There is hypocrisy here, as the same activist element that specializes in counter-recruitment also spends a great deal of time bemoaning the supposed service gap. On the one hand, these activists want to blame the wealthy for exploiting the poor to serve as cannon fodder in today's wars. On the other hand, they seek to ensure that as many affluent young people are kept out of the military as possible.

Few people dispute that the military should represent an accurate cross-section of American demography. Pentagon officials do their best to recruit at all levels of society, but it's the antiwar and anti-recruitment groups who are hampering the effort. By fighting to keep recruiters from reaching the upper rungs of the American social ladder, they are seemingly determined to ensure that the war in Iraq and the Global War on Terror will be fought only by the middle and lower classes.

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