Latest official reports say the jobless rate is at 9.8%, with the real rate probably closer to 17%.
Yet, the military can't find enough troops to pacify Afghanistan. Even if it doubles its efforts and puts 129,000 troops on the ground along with 35,000 from other NATO countries, that is still about one-fourth of what is needed if textbook counter-insurgency operations can work.
Makes one wonder, how many of that 17% of unemployed people are men qualified to enlist?
It has to number in the several million.
And why don't they?
Why doesn't President Obama recruit them, and tell the Pentagon to prepare the infrastructure for a much larger military? Why doesn't Congress increase the Pentagon budget for this?
It shouldn't be that difficult to do. After all, if Obama is really the hopeful and inspiring leader he's cracked up to be, surely many a young man would want to fight for this commander-in-chief.
Instead, each branch set modest recruitment goals, and does not show interest in going over them too much. Recruiting is up from a few years ago, but they're not exactly overwhelmed with applicants.
You see, it's easier for the young progressive to rail against "tea-baggers." It's a lot more fun to scream at Republicans in Congress who are obstructing health-care legislation, than it is to get shot at.
They may like Obama compared to the previous guy. That doesn't mean they have confidence in what he's doing in Afghanistan. At least, not enough to risk their own lives.
The Bush Administration had the same problem. There were countless millions of young Republican men who could have enlisted, but chose not to. Their faith in their President could go only so far.
This all makes perfect sense. It's one thing to support a President. It's one thing to support a war ideologically. It's quite another to put one's life on the line for partisanship and ideology.
And that's all it is in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are ideological wars with mild partisan differences in how to wage them.
The Iraqi resistance is not a threat to the American people. The Afghani resistance is not a threat to the American people. They are only a threat to American troops who are occupying their countries. The American citizen knows this. That's why he won't enlist unless he's really desperate to find work.
If the American people actually felt threatened by our enemies in these wars, the military would have adjusted to accommodate a much larger force. Young men would sign up in droves out of honor or peer pressure.
They don't. The military is just not an attractive career option. Young men don't want to fight against people who otherwise would not be a threat to us. The Bush-Obama strategy to win wars that are "cheap" in terms of a low number of boots on the ground and low numbers of casualties has proven its futility. After Vietnam, we know the American people will not be drafted, and they refuse to be I.E.D. fodder.
I almost wonder if we're still engaged in these wars because the federal government wouldn't want to confront greater numbers of unemployed ex-soldiers and the loss of war-related civilian jobs.
Because in every other sense, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are not in America's best interests. The only sensible thing is to end both.