Stay in School or go to Iraq

Stay in School or go to Iraq

The Republicans have their panties all in a bunch over a comment that Senator John Kerry made while speaking to a group of college students. As covered by the Seattle Times today, Kerry has apologized ‘for a botched joke’.

Here is what Kerry said:

“You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.”

President Bush responded:

Kerry’s suggestion “that the men and women of our military are somehow uneducated is insulting and it is shameful,” Bush said at an appearance in Georgia tonight. “The members of the United States military are plenty smart. And they are plenty brave. And the senator from Massachusetts owes them an apology.”

So, what are the facts? I don’t know. I can’t find anything that seems to be unbiased.

But here is what I think. I believe that the U.S. military largely consists of young people who after high school are faced with the depressing prospect of a life time working for the local factory, or more likely the local Wal-Mart. There is probably no money available for college, so the promise of a free college education seems like a pretty good offer.

So, did Kerry offend people? Probably. Did he give good advice to the students he was speaking to? Definitely.

10 thoughts on “Stay in School or go to Iraq

  1. But look at the lancet study itself! If you have a range of 600,000 deaths in your estimates, how can you really trust it as a starting point? I could say, “Between 1 and 1 million people have died due to Iraq” and sure it’s a starting point, but it’s not close nor is it accurate.

  2. Additionally, the website Iraq Body Count claims that the count of reported civilian deaths to be between 45,061 and 50,022. So, here is a base point, based upon media reports of civilian casualties.

    From their FAQ, “It is likely that many if not most civilian casualties will go unreported by the media”.

    So, if most civilian casualties are going unreported, the Lancet study, with a death toll range of between 393,000 and 943,000, is at least a starting point.

  3. Here is a link to an October 11, 2006 Lancet article discussing the methodology and findings in the study indicating over 650,000 deaths as a result of the U.S. invasion.

    One of the key considerations is that a death due to the United States’ invasion does not need to be a direct result of U.S. military firepower. The United States is responsible for all deaths that would not have occurred if the United States did not invade Iraq.

    The Lancet study looks to a preinvasion period and compares the death rate pre- and post- invasion to come to the estimates.

    If anyone knows of a ‘more accurate’ estimate of all deaths resulting from the United States invasion of Iraq, please share the information with us.

  4. Well, that all depends on whether or not you believe that number of 650,000. My thoughts on that are here –

    Many people have disputed that claim. After I wrote that article someone left a comment on my blog leading here – showing several quotes where the Lancet themselves said that the report was released with the purpose of affecting our november elections.

    So many people want to hear that kind of news that they believe it without question, when in all actuality it really just doesn’t add up.

  5. Well, he probably did misspeak, but John Kerry handed the Republican Party an ‘October Surprise’?

    I have been on the look out for the Rove’s promised ‘October Surprise’ and so far all I can find is that gas prices are down and voting machines are still easily manipulated.

    This brain fart of Kerry’s could be just what the Republicans need. On the other hand, it will be hard to keep this alive until next week, and the Democrats could change the focus back to the real issues right before the polls open.

    Only time will tell.

    As far as the war benefiting the people of Iraq, the end result will benefit some in Iraq. But only those who survive the process could possibly benefit.

    Over 650,000 dead as a result of the United States’ illegal actions in Iraq. Who knows how many will be killed in the Civil War that has started as a result of the U.S. invasion.

    These numbers don’t even look at Iraqis killed between 1991 and 2003 as a result of U.S. led bombing during and after the Persian Gulf War and as a direct result of sanctions. Estimates are in excess of 500,000.

    I would rather pay higher gas prices for the rest of my life than fill my gas tank with slightly less expensive gas that is the result of over 1 million deaths in Iraq.

  6. However there’s no need to put down anyone in the military just because they joined.

    But that’s not what he was saying. The whole point of this episode is that the Bush administration took a poorly worded joke, something that was supposed to be taken as “if you don’t, you get your country stuck in Iraq.”

    The Bush team actually called the press and told them the president would be addressing Kerry’s remarks later that day. The Kerry comments had been heard by so few that the first most people heard of it was “John Kerry owes our troops an apology!” and then, later in the story, the actual words he spoke, and later still, his explanation of the joke he was trying to tell.

    He was calling George Bush intellectually incurious and that’s the reason we’re stuck in Iraq. He was not making a statement about those who do the actual fighting and the socio-economic reasons for that.

  7. But honestly, that’s not just Bush’s war. That’s almost every war from the beginning of time with very few exceptions (Most revolutions being those exceptions). War is always fought with the “peasants”. Even our enemies fight that way. Al-Qaeda makes a plan to blow something up, and takes a very underprivileged person and promises to pay their family money for him to sacrifice himself, it doesn’t benefit him.

    At least as far as being planned by the privileged and fought by the underprivileged. I disagree that it is for the benefit of the privileged however. In many ways it does benefit them, but they are not the sole benefactors. For example, if in 3-7 years an Iraqi woman can walk outside without a burqa, or go to a club without worrying about being abducted by Uday for the night, she has benefited from it. If Iraq stabilizes and begins exporting huge amounts of oil, though it does benefit the privileged, it also benefits those at the pump. If Iraq doesn’t end up turning into a Shia Khalipha, then it will stand as a guard against Iran, which benefits everyone.

    I agree that it does have some benefit for the higher ups, and I don’t even deny that that had some part in influencing their decision making, I just believe that you can’t overlook the fact that it will trickle down and benefit everyone to some degree, most importantly the Iraqi civilians who are facing such hard times now for the hope of those benefits.

  8. I agree with you. People join the military for a wide variety of reasons and I respect their choices.

    But ultimately, I think that our military consists largely of the demographic which I described in a very generalized manner.

    I was able to find some demographic information from the official Air Force website. While this information is only for one branch of the military which may have different standards for its recruits, it does illustrate a general trend toward…

    The website proclaims that “99.9 percent of enlisted Airmen have at least a high school education”. But, over 95% of enlisted Airmen have not obtained a bachelor’s degree.

    Officers on the other hand tend to be more educated. This could be due to ROTC programs which provide scholorships in exchange for future military obligations.

    I am not trying to put down anyone in the military. But being Politically Correct is not helping further the discussion. Ultimately, Bush’s wars are being planned by the Priveleged to benefit the Privileged, but fought by the Underprivileged.

  9. Honestly those aren’t the only people who join the military. Pat Tillman was a well known NFL player who joined the military and went to fight in Afghanistan, subsequently he was killed by friendly fire. Plenty of college graduates also join the military after spending their college years in ROTC programs. The advice would have been good had he left off the end part, because staying in school is important. However there’s no need to put down anyone in the military just because they joined.

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