Naomi Klein, who made what I thought was a suicidal mission to Iraq to see what was happening for herself, has this interesting take on the working class stiffs behind the prison scandals. She makes the case for something called the "NAFTA draft". Here's an excerpt:
There's something else connecting the sorry state of the U.S. job market and the images coming out of Abu Ghraib. The young soldiers taking the fall for the prison-abuse scandal are the McWorkers, prison guards and laid-off factory workers of Mr. Bush's so-called economic recovery. The résumés of the soldiers facing abuse charges come straight out of the April U.S. Labor Department Report.
There's Specialist Sabrina Harman, of Lorton, Va., assistant manager of her local Papa John's Pizza. There's Specialist Charles Graner, a prison guard back home in Pennsylvania. There's Sergeant Ivan Frederick, another prison guard, this time from the Buckingham Correctional Center in rural Virginia.
Before he joined what prisoner-rights advocate Van Jones calls "America's gulag economy," Sgt. Frederick had a decent job at the Bausch & Lomb factory in Mountain Lake, Md. But according to The New York Times, that factory shut down and moved to Mexico, one of the nearly 900,000 jobs that the Economic Policy Institute estimates have been lost since NAFTA, the vast majority in manufacturing.
...And that's where the U.S. military comes in: The army has positioned itself as the bridge across the United States's growing class chasm: money for tuition in exchange for military service. Call it the NAFTA draft.
I think that's the one thing the warbloggers fail to understand is that the election is more than just about the war, it's sort of about whether the American economy is turned into a hallowed-out, Third World reality...It will be great for the Wal Marts and Dells of this world, lousy for the rest of us who actually have to live here. I'm not wildly enthusiastic about Kerry (I'm a former Dean supporter.). But I do think that he's a competent man. At the very least, he'll run a bad war with some small measure of efficiency and panache....