Saturday, July 02, 2005

# Posted 7:35 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF, CAPT. CARTER: Earlier this week, Phil Carter announced that he will be shipping out for Iraq along with the legendary 101st Airborne. I have tremendous respect for Phil and am already impatient to have him return home to the United States safe and sound.

As Phil explains, the Intel Dump will begin making the transition from a single author to group blog in order to adjust to Phil's active service. With any luck, Phil will be able to contribute on occasion from Iraq, although his mission and his soldiers will obviously take priority.

In light of Phil's coming deployment, this is a particularly good moment to consider two of the excellent (as always) posts on his blog, both of which address the ongoing manpower crisis in the United States Army.

In one post, Phil addresses the question of whether the manpower crisis will force the United States to draw down its forces in Iraq before the military and political situation on the ground merits such a decision. Whereas some Americans were once afraid that an elected Iraqi government would demand that our troops return home, that kind of demands is now exactly what the Pentagon is hoping for.

All I would add to Phil's analysis is that we may find ourselves in the bizarre situation in which we want the Iraqis to kick us out but they are desperate to have us stay and protect them from the insurgents. You might call it imperialism in reverse or even Vietnam in reverse. It would be an unfortunate situation, but one that would provide an ironic vindication of our democratic ideals.

Phil's second post concerns Max Boot's proposal for an American foreign legion. While not unsympathetic, Phil raises three important objections to Boot's proposal: First, we need educated soldiers. Second, uneducated soldiers are a threat to themselves. Third, having non-citizens serve may attentuate the democratic legitimacy of our armed forces.

I will add a fourth objection: That it is absolutely critical for our soldiers to be committed to American ideals if they are given incredibly complex missions such as nation-building in Iraq.

Yet I believe that all of these objections, while valid, can be overcome. We do not need to throw open the door to every immigrant. In light of just how much demand there would presumably be to serve in the armed forces in exchange for citizenship, it may be possible to recruit some very talented soldiers. Moreover, we may very well be able to recruit them from other democratic nations where the citizens are no less committed to democratic ideals.

I greatly regret that once Phil ships out for Iraq, we will no longer be able to depend on his always sharp analysis. But I also know that our regret pales in comparison the 101st's great good fortune to have such a good man commanding its soldiers in Iraq. Take care, Phil.
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