Neo-Nazis in the American military

In an Op-Ed comment [“A Vietnam Lesson, Unlearned,” 7/10/06] Bob Herbert points out that this administration “failed to learn from Vietnam … how utterly tragic it was to pull the trigger on an unnecessary war.” One of the consequences of that failure, besides all the others already so evident, there has been the failure to maintain standards in recruiting for the military. Because of “lowered standards” there now is, as there were in Viet Nam, “breakdowns in discipline and a series of atrocities that are nothing less than a betrayal of the many honorable men and women in uniform and the country they serve.” This is because “The Army has had to lower its standards because most young Americans want no part of George W. Bush’s war in Iraq. Recruiters, desperate to meet their quotas, are sifting for warm bodies among those who are less talented, less disciplined and, in some cases, repellent.” They have even allowed “large numbers of neo-Nazis and skinhead extremists” into the military. “Under intense pressure to fill the thinning ranks” recruiters “often look the other way” as militant white supremacists and anti-Semites make their way into the armed forces.” “The pressure to put somebody — anybody — in uniform also led to the lowering of standards for admission to the junior officer ranks. For example, minor criminal offenses that previously would have been prohibitive could suddenly be overlooked.” “Despite the administration’s repeated attempts to put the best face on Mr. Bush’s war, the predicament confronting the military is growing more, not less, dire. There are still not nearly enough American troops in Iraq to secure the country. Some troops are on their third or fourth tour of duty in the war zone, which is beyond unfair. According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the military will be not be able to maintain its current force levels in Iraq for much longer.” More evidence that the train wreck will be devastating as it unfolds before our eyes. It is hard to believe that it could get worse – but apparently it will.