Saturday, September 10, 2005

Calamity Pimping And Military Recruitment In A Post-Apocalyptic Neighborhood

Last week I wrote about the hellish Superdome as a Post-Apocalyptic Neighborhood for New Orleaneans in Katrina's wake. Now come to find out that the Astrodome has become a target for some military recruiters who sense an opportunity to bolster their enlistment numbers for what is an increasingly unpopular war in Iraq (Wall Street Journal via Josh Marshall via Aunt B). So, the Astrodome might be better than the Superdome--in that there are no murders and rapes and there seems to be food, water, and cots--but it has not exactly emerged Plato's Republic, either.

The evacuees are in a particularly vulnerable and desperate position such that the recruiters run the risk of posing the military option under duress. That's conscription by other means. I don't care how careful the recruiters are, many of the evacuees are going to be grasping at straws to try to support themselves and their families. Taking advantage of someone else's despondency in order to send more soldiers to Iraq constitutes calamity pimping. It is forcing a trade of one life-and-death struggle for another. That is not a good exchange, no matter how much money the military pays. There are millions of other Americans with less susceptible profiles whom they can recruit; why target the most vulnerable at their lowest moment?

Life in war-torn Iraq will probably be worse for evacuees than life was in the flooded Big Easy; and returning home from Iraq as a casualty of war is a distinct possibility. That possibility cannot and should not be pimped.

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