News Flash! America worth defending 

This week, the Pentagon released the statistics on recruiting over the last five months. The “high” was the Marine Corps Reserve, which reached 113 percent of goal. The “low” was the Air National Guard with 99 percent. Message to America: There are young people out there who care.

This is the kind of important news that seldom makes the news because it doesn't fit the preconceptions of those who write the news. What are liberal preconceptions about military recruits? That 1) no one really wants to serve, so 2) those who volunteer do so only out of desperation--they have no other options.

This mindset was demonstrated perfectly by Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., not long after the Long War started. “We can expect the evolving global war on terrorism to drain our military resources even more, stretching them to the limit,” he warned, as he proceeded to call for reinstatement of the draft.

The volunteer military, he said, would be undermanned and stocked with little more than poor people unable to find jobs elsewhere.

The reality is military standards are high. The ranks are filled with the kind of people who could readily find work even in this slow economy. So much for the draft.

But the greater significance of this week's recruiting and reenlistment statistics is that it's a powerful statement of commitment to finishing the job in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A recent poll suggests most Americans think it'is not worth fighting in Afghanistan.

Such polls are superficial measures of concern and popularity. Americans are focused on other troubles right now--the catastrophe in Japan, the turmoil in the Middle East, the continuing economic problems at home. Polls may simply reflect that most see these issues as more pressing than Afghanistan right now, not that most feel it would be a good idea to turn Afghanistan back over to al Qaeda and the Taliban.

But there's nothing superficial about making a commitment to enlist or re-up in the armed services. The people who do that realize that there is every chance that that decision will put them in harm’s way somewhere. The numbers out this week show there is no shortage of young people willing to make that commitment today.

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Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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