paying minorities to defend an empire

Even the NYTimes is finally reporting that we just might not have the representative citizen army we like to think we have.

Does the United States military have to be representative of American society? The question has hung heavy since war with Iraq first seemed inevitable, and with it the possibility of heavy casualties. Now, with that war at a climax, a small band of critics continues to maintain that the all-volunteer force — which is 30 years old this year — is all-volunteer in name only.

They argue that relative economic disadvantage has replaced local draft boards in determining who enters the military, especially the enlisted ranks, and that it is un-American to have an affluent nation being defended by working-class young people, heavily layered with minorities.

The pattern would be familiar to a citizen in late Rome. Should we be concerned?