End The Slump? End The Shame!
The US Army has announced some plans to try and increase recruitment. This comes about because of a continued failure to meet recruiting goals.
Methods include: Increase enlistment bonuses. Increase the number of recruiters. Target people who've already begun college, but might "want a break" from schooling. Target high-school age kids who are being home-schooled.
This sounds to me like deep denial. It sounds to me like the military still doesn't want to admit (or isn't being allowed to admit) the root causes for the slump in recruitment.
Some people join the military becauses of bonuses, training and such, yeh. But a lot of -- I think most -- recruits join the military because they really do want to contribute to their country, they really do want to be one of the "Good Guys" helping defend their own country and going after Bad Guys in other countries.
When I joined the Army in 1972, some of my reasons were personal. (Yeh, I really did want a break from college, because I wasn't sure what I wanted to do there anymore; and I wanted to get out on my own, away from my parents, as well; it was also the tail-end of the American involvement in Vietnam, and while I never sought out duty there, my enlisting was also partially a test of my own courage, and whether I was man enough to endure danger [as it turned out, I spent my entire enlistment Stateside, probably a good thing; in retrospect, I would probably have sucked in a combat role])
But I also joined because I wanted to be a good citizen, because I thought the USA was a great nation, because I wanted to contribute to continuing that greatness. And serving in the military was a traditional and honorable way to serve.
That honor isn't there anymore.
People can still argue that invading Iraq was worthwhile. They can still argue that progress of some kind is being made there. I think they're wrong, but the argument can be conducted, even if not concluded.
But the torture... the torture is indefensible.
And the military has acquiesced to the Bush administration's approval of, endorsement of, encouragement of, torture. They enable it, they commit it, they fail to object to it.
The American military has lost its honor. The American military has shamed itself.
As long as the United States government acts like a rogue state, holding prisoners without charges or trial, and committing torture on those prisoners, with the military's acquiescence and assistance, serving in the military cannot be a source of pride, but only a source of shame.
I think it's as simple as this: Stop the torture, stop the slump.