Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bleeding Red White and Blue: Immigrants, Accelerated Citizenship, and the U.S. Military

I have a new piece up at Global Comment.

Though the U.S. is planning to exit Iraq, the military is still stretched trying to fight a war in two separate countries. During his presidency, George Bush was well aware that restoring the draft to continue his illegal war of aggression would have led to a massive revolt of the US citizenry. The image of young men burning their draft cards has not yet left the American memory. The unpopularity of the Iraq war would quickly have led to massive acts of civil disobedience. No parent wants to bury her child to enrich the already over privileged elite.

Obama’s promise to remove American troops from Iraq and refocus on Afghanistan was a major talking point during his campaign. Using rhetoric and bravado, he vowed to refocus on capturing Osama Bin Laden and challenging Pakistan to end their status as a haven for so-called terrorists. While this may seem at first glance as decreasing the responsibility of the military, the scale of the operation that he has planned is just as large as fighting a war on two fronts.

Afghanistan may be a challenge for the US, however. Americans are dealing with a people that have history of resisting occupation forcefully. From Alexander the Great to the Soviets, many have had to make a bitter retreat after entering and losing an extended war of attrition. Simply announcing itself as a saviour on a mission to usher in peace will not bring about submission in a region that passionately demands the right to determine its own destiny.

Even with all of the efforts poured into Afghanistan by western countries since September 11, Karzai continues to be the president of Kabul rather than the nation. Canadians, who have been largely responsible for the boots on the ground in the region since the US invasion of Iraq, recognize all too well a conflict that cannot be won by traditional means and have started to demand the withdrawal of troops.

The military is very well aware that if there is to be any hope of victory in this region, it is going to be necessary to overwhelm Afghanistan with manpower and it is to this end that they are offering immigrants accelerated U.S. citizenship for agreeing to serve in the military.

America is understood as the land of milk and honey but only because it has secured its prosperity at the cost of millions of lives. People do not flock to the United States because they have a love for all things American, but in a bid to secure housing, jobs, education, and food. Had these same opportunities been available in their country of origin, I daresay many would not choose to immigrate.

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