Bloods, Crips, Latin Kings, Skin heads and other gangs in the military

I was astounded by this story until I stopped to consider the social strata where the military draws most of its recruits.  Although it goes to great lengths to depict it otherwise,  the military often draws recruits from pools of  young men with few other options in the economy.  Although jail is a place where one can get  three squares and lodging, the military provides that and more; one can get paid, have the opportunity to travel and, if you’re a gang member, you also get to hang with your homies  in Iraq and Afghanistan while working off some of that aggressiveness.  The regimentation, camaraderie and discipline of the military is quite similar to the gang environment, and as I think about it, it’s easy to see how this could be very attractive to gang members.  Besides, there’s the benefit of getting trained in military tactics that might prove very helpful back on the streets while protecting drug turf.

I once read a book entitled Bloods about the experience of many African-Americans in Vietnam.  One of the things that was very common for young black men who were caught in the criminal justice system was the choice given them by many judges back then; either go to jail or go to Vietnam.  One has to wonder whether that same choice is being presented today and even if it’s not explicit, it’s certainly made implicit by economic and social circumstances.

You’ll need about a half hour to view the two videos below.  For me, there are a jumble of  thoughts that I have after having watched these:

  • The wars are definitely not as depicted by the government.
  • Wars eliminate “undesirables” on both sides while furthering economic interests.
  • Although the percentage of recruits who are gang members is not clear, there’s apparently enough of them such that the popular image of who our soldiers are is much different than the reality.
  • Afghan poppy production is up dramatically, even though we’ve surged troop strength.  Are any gang members involved in a manner similar to Harlem gangster Frank Lucas’ involvement in bringing back heroin from Vietnam concealed in caskets?
  • The military has to know its bringing in gang members.  It may be that it’s feels forced to do this to meet recruiting goals.
  • Many of the areas gang members reside in are already violent.  What does having trained former soldiers who are gang members portend for these areas and the nation?

Part 1
Part 2
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  • Black Diaspora

    “Besides, there’s the benefit of getting trained in military tactics that might prove very helpful back on the streets while protecting drug turf.”

    I read elsewhere that this was the principle reason that gang bangers entered the military. And if so, this nation, as usual, is predictably shortsighted, resorting to short-term solutions, while creating long-term problems.

    Wasn’t it our training of the mujahadeen to defeat the Russians in Afghanistan that resulted in our return to that region to destroy what we created?

    With military sophistication, gang bangers can hold off battalions, using their training to train others, making the inner city not just a turf battle but a war zone.

    • Black Diaspora

      I must proofread better: That should be “principal reason” as in chief, or main. Now that I’m here let me add this: I wonder if the military is dealing with other problems associated with gangs–rival-gang conflict, internal unrest, threats, and illegal activity?

    • http://theafricanamericanclarioncall.com Greg L

      The mujahadeen are a good example here.  The proxies in these resource wars are viewed as expendable.  Not to digress, but here’s an excerpt of interview of Zbigniew Brzezinski regarding the use of the mujahadeen against the Russians, note his answer to the question:

      Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski about how the US provoked
      the Soviet Union into invading Afghanistan and starting the whole mess
      Le Nouvel Observateur (France), Jan 15-21, 1998, p. 76*

      Question: And neither do you regret having supported the
      Islamic fundamentalists, having given arms and advice to future
      terrorists?

      Brzezinski: What is most important to the history of the
      world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up
      Moslems or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the cold
      war?
      Basically, this is the same worldview that applies to the gang members.  They and the communities they come from are expendable in support of the larger goal.  So, they could care less if this results in full out wars to protect drug turf.  As long as the wars in the ghetto are about drugs and criminality, that’s not a problem nor will they be stopped.  However, if they ever became political that would be a threat with the first threat being against the illegal drug industry itself.  I don’t necessarily think everything is a conspiracy as some merely just take advantage of what’s available.  Frequently the question regarding whether something is a conspiracy or not is besides the point when the effect is the same regardless.  It’s of benefit to someone for gangs to be trained in military style tactics.

      • Diaspora Black

        “As long as the wars in the ghetto are about drugs and criminality, that’s not a problem nor will they be stopped. However, if they ever became political that would be a threat with the first threat being against the illegal drug industry itself.”

        What comes to mind is this: We say we wage these wars to make the world “safe for democracy,” when in fact it’s to make the world “safe for capitalism.” What a price we pay for our economic system, that it’s more likely to create unrest throughout the world than peace.

        That’s the conspiracy; it’s built into the system: Powers conspire in concert or separately, knowingly or unknowingly, to build, to maintain, and to perpetuate economic hegemony–what we’ve come to know as American capitalism.

        • http://theafricanamericanclarioncall.com Greg L

          >>That’s the conspiracy; it’s built into the system: Powers conspire in concert or separately, knowingly or unknowingly, to build, to maintain, and to perpetuate economic hegemony–what we’ve come to know as American capitalism. <<

          Exactly. Well said.

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