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NY Times Bob Herbert: Military recruiters dishonest, hounding, Boy Scout stalkers

NY Times columnist Bob Herbert writes about Army recruitment in his June 16th piece, “Uncle Sam Really Wants You

Opponents of the liberation of Iraq seem to be throwing up the military’s recruiting difficulties in a “See? Nobody wants to fight in Bush’s illegal, immoral, nazi-like, yada yada yada, war!” sort of way quite a bit lately.

Our reaction is something like — Um, duh! Of course it’s going to be harder to recruit people during a war than during peacetime. There’s just nothing surprising about that. It doesn’t tell us anything about the merits of the current war.

People join the military for many different reasons — they need college money, they feel a love for and duty to their country, they want to capture/kill terrorists — so it’s no surprise that some percentage of potential recruits would be less enthusiastic during an actual war.

Quoting from a recruiting handbook, Herbert throws in an odd line:

The sense of desperation is palpable: “Get involved with local Boy Scout troops. Scoutmasters are typically happy to get any assistance you can offer. Many scouts are [high school] students and potential enlistees or student influencers.”

No rational thinking human could get any sense of “palpable desperation” from a suggestion to “talk to Boy Scouts.” How Herbert could possibly come to that conclusion is really between him and his shrink. But what do we know? We’re not a Big Time New York Journalist. Maybe they have powers of perception we mortals can only imagine.

Herbert closes:

One of the many problems here is that adolescents should not be hounded by military recruiters under any circumstances, and they shouldn’t be pursued at all without the full knowledge and consent of parents or guardians.

Herbert’s column didn’t provide any evidence of “hounding” by recruiters, he just sloppily threw that in out of the blue. So we’ll dismiss it, as everyone should. And that’s the end of a very thin column.

But as an aside, we wonder what Herbert’s position is on parental notification laws for minors seeking abortions. Surely if he’s against a 17-year-old high school junior or senior merely talking to a military recruiter, then he must oppose a 15- or 16-year-old girl getting a life-altering medical procedure done “without the full knowledge and consent of parents or guardians.” Just wondering.

posted by: The Editors @ 12:35 pm June 16, 2005

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