Sunday, January 28, 2007

War fair

US Army buys foreign nationalism for a few dollars

It is too early to state whether for better or for worse, in this era of unabashed globalisation, ‘nationalism’ has lost hands down to ‘internationalism’. For, if you ever considered that fighting for the nation was a matter of national honour and pride – You gonna crazy! The US Army, which is supposedly fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan for ‘democratic values’, is running short of American citizens who are willing to lay down their valuable life for their own country. In fact President George Bush’s private war is increasingly finding few takers in his own country. The Pentagon, struggling to meet the recruitment goals, is taking up the controversial initiative of not only outsourcing the war to the ‘private civilian contractors’ but also luring foreign citizens to join their ranks.

No doubt the American disenchantment with the war has been at an all time high. Though the war has affected not more than 0.5% of the American families, the support has nosedived across all the sections. For example, the proportion of African Americans as recruits has dropped steadily from 22.7% in 2001 to 15.9% in 2004, forcing the Pentagon to seek vulnerable pastures. Particularly focusing on those poor countries where nationalism can easily be bought over with few ‘green’ dollars. It has not only put the recruiting stations on fast track overseas, but has also been arm-twisting the foreign immigrants into serving in the armed forces (or under the civilian contractors) for expediting their citizenship request. The military statistics (which can be relied only to an extent) confirm that since the World Trade Centre attack, the number of foreign immigrants who have taken the ‘uniformed’ route to the US citizenship has increased from 750 in 2001 to almost 4,600 by the end of 2005! Not only that there are around 30,000 non-citizens actively participating in different American war theatres making up for about 2% of the US Army.

Beyond the realm of the regular recruits, the civilian contractor companies (that have seen booming business in Iraq) have been reported to be on a hiring spree in far-off lands like Chile. In the ‘privatised war’, where the contractors have ruled the roost, the monthly pay and emoluments of former commandos of the Augusto Pinochet (erstwhile US-supported Chilean dictator known for his atrocities ) have been close to $4,000. These pay packages have gone up to as high as $1,000 a day in highly sensitive areas! Obviously so these ‘dogs of war’ have not only been coldly indifferent in supporting the American actions in Iraq but have also reduced the American military to a mercenary Army. No wonder it has been reckoned that in coming years many soldiers from the Third World would be joining the ranks of the ‘stars and stripes’ to fight the American war to bring in ‘global peace’.

At the end who would own the prize of the war is anybody’s guess. But the epitome of misery would be the day when these mercenaries have to pick up guns against their own families. That day probably the colour of ‘green’ would fade and we hope to see yet another renaissance. If not, then that day we can say for sure that nationalism has lost hands down to internationalism.


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