There’s lots of editorializing about the defeat of the so-called “Dream Act.” Lots of complaining about the decision to dump a plan that would have allowed illegal-immigrants to become U.S. citizens, provided they went to college or spent two years in the U.S. military. Or perhaps I should say, “had they been able to afford to go to college” or spent two years in the U.S. military. There’s a difference, isn’t there?
On the surface, it sounds like a reasonable path to citizenship for thousands of hard working, well-intentioned immigrants.
Is it really that simple?
The Pentagon was pushing for the act’s passage as a means of staffing the armed forces. That alone, should raise some eyebrows. That alone, highlights the question of not whether but how some 11-million immigrants can be given a shot at citizenship. These people aren’t going away and they can’t just be ignored.
Is forcing them into military duty the proper course of action?
It’s been more than nine years years since George W. Bush, took the country to war in Afghanistan. With no exit plan. Then, he took us to war again. This time in Iraq. For reasons that kept changing and again, without an exit plan. And he did it all without a draft, which meant Americans could go about their business without the fear of their sons and daughters being suddenly ordered to report for military duty. And that, made it one heck of a lot easier for the NeoCons to take us to war without a lot of questions being raised about the propriety or necessity of an additional expenditure of American blood and treasure.
But Mr. Bush and company were left with a problem. Where to get enough bodies to fight their two wars and democratize the Middle East? A war that could go on for decades? From the National Guard, that’s where. A force which, for years, served at home, not overseas. A force that traditionally is called up by the governors of the states in times of crisis. To deal with problems like, say…….Hurricane Katrina?
If you don’t understand this concept, ask someone who was around during the Vietnam War. Ask them how many Americans joined the Guard to stay out of Vietnam. And to what degree the draft, and forcing young Americans to serve in an unpopular war against their will, contributed to ending the War in Vietnam.
Bush and the NeoCons had thought it through. They had it nailed. They could argue that members of the Guard had freely signed on for duty. It was their choice. Never mind that none had expected to be deployed overseas, where their forces could be supplemented by large numbers of “private contractors” (also know as “mercenaries) taking over numerous tasks our military used to handle in a traditional theater of war.
The whole idea of America of going to war only when necessary, and even then putting everyone on an equal footing with regard to accepting the cost of fighting any given war had been turned inside-out, upside-down and then slammed up against the wall.
Preemptive war? Fought by mercenaries and the National Guard?
That’s where they took us, with the one-two punch of mercenaries and the Guard giving the Bushies the ability to fight both their wars without a draft. Even though many of our troops were being called back for multiple tours of duty as the wars dragged on and on.
But why worry? They signed up for it, didn’t they? And with Cronkite dead and gone, the question of America utilizing a mercenary force to fight its wars was just too complicated an issue for the evening news.
Anyway, so long as we were safe, what did it matter?
But then another little problem popped up. Our troops, which continue to be deployed all over the world, were running thin as the Obama Administration stayed on a path that kept it locked into an economy driven and partially controlled by the military-industrial complex.
With our troops being sent back on multiple tours, too much was being asked of too few. The Dream Act (The Draft Act) would have provided a solution. For a while, anyway.
During the Vietnam War, the draft, was the draft. We all payed a price for the conflict and knew precisely what that price was. Now, with mercenary armies and constructs like the “Dream Act,” nothing, it appears, is what it seems to be. And the much maligned “news filter” that once existed to help us wade through this morass, is no longer there. They bought it and shut it down by turning it into a principally commercial rather than journalistic enterprise, leaving us all to figure it our for ourselves.
And so the Dream Act was nothing more than a reasonable path to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of hard working illegal immigrants. Right?