Saturday, December 20, 2014

necropolitics: robert mcnamara's answer to the war on poverty...,

Vietnamese women and children in Mỹ Lai before being killed in the massacre, March 16, 1968.[65] They were killed seconds after the photo was taken.
wikipedia |  Project 100,000 was initiated by Defense Secretary Robert McNamara in October 1966 to meet the escalating manpower requirements during American involvement in the Vietnam War and ended in December 1971.[4] Promoted as a response to Johnson's War on Poverty by giving training and opportunity to the uneducated and poor, the recruited men were classified as “New Standards Men” (or, informally and pejoratively, as the “Moron Corps”[5]) and had scored in Category IV of the Armed Forces Qualification Test, which placed them in the 10-30 percentile range.[6] The number of soldiers reportedly recruited through the program varies, from more than 320,000[6] to 354,000, which included both volunteers and conscripts (54% to 46%).[4] Entrance requirements were loosened, but all the Project 100,000 men were sent through the normal training processes with other recruits, and performance standards thus were the same for everyone.[7]

Project 100,000 soldiers included those unable to speak English, of low aptitude, with physical impairments, as well as those who were too short or too tall or were overweight or underweight, among other categories. They also included a special category—a control group of acceptable soldiers. Each of the different categories was identified in their official personnel records with a large red letter stamped on the first page of their enlistment contract. Human resources offices had to prepare reports on them, to be submitted monthly to Department of the Army. The monthly reports did not include the identity of the soldiers.[1]

A 1995 review of McNamara’s book In Retrospect: The Tragedy and Lessons of Vietnam in the Washington Monthly severely criticized the project, writing that “the program offered a one-way ticket to Vietnam, where these men fought and died in disproportionate numbers...the men of the ‘Moron Corps’ provided the necessary cannon fodder to help evade the political horror of dropping student deferments or calling up the reserves, which were sanctuaries for the lily-white.”[8]

Project 100,000 was highlighted in a 2006 op-ed in The New York Times in which former Wesleyan assistant professor and then Tufts assistant professor Kelly M. Greenhill, writing in the context of a contemporary recruitment shortfall, concluded that “Project 100,000 was a failed experiment. It proved to be a distraction for the military and of little benefit to the men it was created to help.” As for the reasons why veterans from the project fared worse after returning to civilian life compared with nonveteran peers, Greenhill hypothesized that it might be related to the psychological consequences of combat or unpreparedness for the postmilitary transition.[1][9]

As Seymour Hersh has reported in “My Lai: A Report on The Massacre and Its Aftermath,” Lieutenant William Calley Jr. was a reflection of the type of soldier recruited during the Project 100,000 initiative. Calley “who’d flunked out of Palm Beach Junior College... and couldn’t even read a map properly...was given command of a platoon.” [10]