The Corner

Re: Green Card Soldiers

My mail is like Stanley’s, mostly favoring the idea, but it also seems to resemble his in being based on stories of non-citizens who served honorably. The problem is that anecdotes can’t be the basis for sound policy. Of course there are many examples of heroic, patriotic, or even just competent foreigners in our armed forces, but their stories are no more justification for the policy than examples of the occasional incompetent or cowardly or traitorous foreigner are reasons to avoid it.

The question is what would the consequences of such a policy be — and, as I pointed out in an NRO piece a few years ago, the most likely result would be to turn soldiering into yet another “job Americans won’t do,” because foreigners would be happy to take lower wages and less benefits than American recruits, because part of their compensation package would be access to permanent residence in the United States. I’ll go further: once we start down the road of recruiting from the German tribes across the Rhine, the ever-present budget pressures guarantee that the Pentagon and appropriators in Congress would push for ever-larger allotments of foreign troops, because they’d be so much more cost-effective than Americans. Heck, we could recruit a million men — tomorrow — to fight for free so long as they could move their families here when their hitch was up.

I come down where one of Stanley’s correspondents is — immigrants who already live here and have applied for citizenship should be welcomed to serve, because they are already engaged to America, as it were, and will soon get married. But I still maintain that if we can’t find Americans to do what our military is being asked to do, then we shouldn’t be asking the military to do it.


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