On NPR’s “Talk of the Nation”, Northwestern University military sociologist Charles Moskos described the composition of the U.S. forces:
Well, the soldiers today in Kuwait and getting ready to perhaps go to war in Iraq are basically working-class and lower-middle-class young men and women. They are not the bottom of society by any means. They are likely to be higher minority than the general population, but not particularly heavily concentrated in the combat arms.
The most notable thing is that America’s elite, our privileged youth, are not in the military today. A recent study was done on Congress. Out of 435 congressmen and a hundred senators, only four had children in the military and only one is an enlisted person.
… So it’s the absence of the elite. That’s probably what we’ve lost in the last 30 to 40 years.
… I graduated from Princeton in 1956. Out of 750 males, 450 served. Last year at Princeton, with a class of 1,000, male and female, only three served. So you can see the change in the class background.
Moskos has long been an advocate of a scheme to lure more graduates into the armed forces, and it has now been adopted.
Wasn’t that the rationale of Rep. Charles Rangel and the other congressmen who are calling for a return to conscription? Yup. The San Jose Mercury News reports:
Their proposal would exempt the disabled, but not college students. …
Sponsors of the bill are reigniting an argument that has raged since the days of the Vietnam War, when critics complained that low-income blacks and Hispanics suffered a disproportionate share of casualties while the sons of more affluent families got deferments. Experts say that was true in the first years of the war, although casualty rates were more even by the war’s end.