Irregular Army: How the U.S. Military Recruited Neo-Nazis, Gang Members, and Criminals to Fight the War on Terror

Matt Kennard, Author
Matt Kennard. Verso (Norton, dist.), $26.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-84467-880-8
Open Ebook - 184 pages - 978-1-84467-905-8
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-1-78168-563-1
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Financial Times writer Kennard highlights changes in U.S. military demographics in recent years in this chilling study. As a result of a dwindling recruitment pool, the armed forces offered "moral waiver[s]" to former criminals; obese enlistees were given medical waivers; those with alcohol or drug addictions were able to stay in the military without layoffs or treatment; age limits were increased; and IQ standards were lowered while recruiters' contact with secondary schools was increased. The military ranks now include gang members who have access not only to weapons, but to military training that has been put to use upon their return to the U.S. "The military had become the perfect place to be a criminal simply because in it normal legal constraints didn't apply." Tracing the politics before and after the beginning of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kennard spreads blame around evenly, from Reagan and Rumsfeld to Obama, and he closes by challenging the government to rethink its use of force around the globe, a cycle of violence he deems "self-perpetuating" on account of the "competitive advantage" of the United States military. Kennard's nonpartisan portrait of martial waywardness is foreboding, and will be illuminating for anyone interested in the modern army or contemporary public and foreign policy. (Sept. 18)
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