finally, a good idea
Following post after post on dumb ideas, I finally found one I like
The DREAM Act is a great idea, but I would go further and offer citizenship to anyone, anywhere on the planet, willing to serve a set term in the U.S. military. We could model a Freedom Legion after the French Foreign Legion. Or we could allow foreigners to join regular units after a period of English-language instruction, if necessary.
I actually discussed the idea of an American foreign legion once with a buddy of mine while I was in the desert. This guy was a big fan of "Soldier of Fortune" magazine and fancied himself a romantic mercenary, but in spite of that this remains a solid idea.
The way I figure, people from anywhere in the world could sign up for a stint in the US Military. Pay them the same as their American counterparts, which is a decent pay rate to most poorer Americans and would probably be pretty good to folks from under-developed nations. They would wear American uniforms, with a tab or patch to identify them. After a few years of service, they would become citizens of the US of A, with the same benefits as any veteran, espeically college and housing.
The need for security screening and precautions is obvious, but I don't think it would be insurmountable. Basic would weed out many of the ne'er-do-wells, slackers and troublemakers. The problems that it would solve as far as military recruitment would be a huge benefit.
Personally, I fail to see the downside. For the enlistees, they are given a chance at a decent salary and to become citizens of a country that almost certainly provides more opportunities than the one they were born into; and the opportunity to help that country after they spend some time working and learning in the US.
For the military, it will help a strained recruitment process, a process hindered by its country's very success. It would make that potential that drives so many Americans away from the military available to many others.
The author of that article said that he rejected the idea of people serving in the military that don't "Culturally identify" with the United States. Newsflash: in the lower eschelons of the military, who they culturally identify with is irrelevant, so long as they don't identify with Osama Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein. The vast majority of E-1 through 5, or 6, or even 7, are just people doing a job. Their country may be a motivator, but they are also doing it for a paycheck, or experience, or college funding. Adding citizenship to that list is not going to pull apart the military.
On a less tangible note, many people around the world truly do believe in the American vision of freedom. Americans, even in the military, often become cynical about what America stands for. But don't believe the media or whatever stupid polls are put out: to poor and oppressed people around the world, the stars and stripes represent freedom and prosperity. Not to everyone, and not in a perfect way, but there are alot of people out there who love this country even though they've never set foot on its ground.
One of the most enduring memories from Iraq is of a teenaged boy that helped us as a translator at a place we called "The Bank". I won't bore you with the details, but the bank was a stressful place. Thousands of Iraqis would show up on a daily basis, and they had to be controlled by a few dozen American soldiers. Arguments, fighting, sniper attacks, and outright riots were not uncommon there.
There was this kid, who for some reason had learned english very early on. He showed up and pestered us until we put him to work as a translator. He wasn't under contract from the government, but he showed up every day none the less. He worked his ass off for us, explaining what we lacked the skills to explain and even yelling at people when we started yelling, helping to keep order and avoid massive problems. I once badly hurt and damn near killed a guy that tried to attack him for conveying my instructions, because after a few days the kid had become not only a valuable resource, but a friend in a way. He was smart, dirt poor, and working hard for a better life for himself and his country.
He also worshipped the American military. He would have done whatever we asked of him, even though all we ever asked was to talk to people for us. He used to ask me questions endlessly about life in America, life in the military, and when he could join. Part of it, I know, was typical young-man love of the gadgets, the weapons, the aura of the American Soldier. But beyond that, he loved America for what it stood for, for what it was trying to do in his country, and he wanted to fight for it. Of course, he planned to move to America some day, but was willing and wanting to sacrifice for it, and for the future of Iraq.
And it killed me to tell that kid that he could never be an American soldier, he could never wear the uniform or fight for America. I told him to try the ICDC, or try to go to college and get to America that way, as many other Iraqis have and many more are trying to. He would have made a fantastic soldier, and a valuable citizen.
Combining these two motivators, pulling in people who are cynical but looking for a better life and people who really do think America is a positive force in the world, and crafting them into a tool to help our military goals and inviting them into our country is a win-win situation. It is beneficial to everyone involved, and not using this potential is a huge waste of resources for the government and unfortunate for the people wanting to be a part of it.