Friday, December 31, 2010

Repeal DADT, and arguments against ROTC get...sophomoric

If this editorial is any indication (comments italicized):

Now that asking and telling has ceased to be problematic in military circles, ROTC has resurfaced as a national issue: Will universities such as Harvard, Yale and other Ivy League schools be opened to Reserve Officers' Training Corps since colleges can no longer can argue that the military is biased against gays and therefore not welcome?

The debate reminds me of an interview I conducted over parents' weekend at the University of Notre Dame in 1989. I sat down with Theodore Hesburgh, the priest who had retired two years earlier after serving 35 years as the university's president. Graciously, he invited me to lunch at the campus inn. During our discussion, he took modest pride at having raised more than a billion dollars for Notre Dame, and expressed similar feelings about the university's ROTC program. More than 700 student-cadets were in the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Few universities, public or private, had a larger percentage of students in uniform then. The school could have been renamed Fort Hesburgh.

When I suggested that Notre Dame's hosting of ROTC was a large negative among the school's many positives, Hesburgh disagreed. Notre Dame was a model of patriotism, he said, by training future officers who were churchgoers, who had taken courses in ethics, and who loved God and country. Notre Dame's ROTC program was a way to "Christianize the military," he stated firmly.

I asked if he actually believed there could be a Christian method of slaughtering people in combat, or a Christian way of firebombing cities, or a way to kill civilians in the name of Jesus. Did he think that if enough Notre Dame graduates became soldiers that the military would eventually embrace Christ's teaching of loving one's enemies?

Tendentious questions most of these. Obviously the writer either shows no familiarity with Just War Theory (an outgrowth of Christian thought) or doesn't want to deal with the arguments found therein. Also, just as obviously, war will be with us forever. Sorry to burst your bubble peace-studies guy. Granted that fact, who would you rather have fighting the fight, people that have had no exposure to ethics, nor JWT, or those that have?

The interview quickly slid downhill.

I'm sure it did.

These days, the academic senates of the Ivies and other schools are no doubt pondering the return of military recruiters to their campuses. Meanwhile, the Pentagon, which oversees ROTC programs on more than 300 campuses, has to be asking if it wants to expand to the elite campuses, where old antipathies are remembered on both sides.

I.e., for those that have lived under a rock, 40-50 year old Vietnam era antipathies, which are still harbored by many faculty on campi all over the country, obviously including the writer. Obviously, the DADT rationale was a cheap veneer for the real reason guys like this don't want ROTC on their ivied grounds; they sincerely believe the U.S. military are depraved killers. This kind of caricature was the coin of the realm in the heyday of the aged new left. ("Winter Soldiers" anyone. Sheesh.

It should not be forgotten that schools have legitimate and moral reasons for keeping the military at bay,

(notice the language here, keeping the military "at bay" like some angry rabid crazed dog...holy mackerel)

regardless of the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell." They can stand with those who for reasons of conscience reject military solutions to conflicts.

I think he means here, pacifists. Yes, I suppose they could stand with pacifists, and exclusively pacifists, but why? Pacifism is, to say the least, dangerously unrealistic, and if pursued in certain circumstances, deeply irresponsible. Suppose armed resistance to Nazi Germany never occurred. Is there any reason to think things would have turned out good?

They can stand with Martin Luther King Jr. and his view of America's penchant for war-making: "This madness must cease he said from a pulpit in April 1967."

(America's "penchant" for war making...we just can't help ourselves, you see. Crazed blood thirsty rabid dogs..ya see. Maybe that "penchant" is there because others...oh..I don't know..AQ types, the NoKos, Soviets, had and have a penchant for war making, and the rest of the world has a "penchant" for calling on the big guy in the white hat because they have a "penchant" for self defense, but, gosh darn it, are not able to defend themselves) and btw, citing MLK is simple argument from authority anyway. Sheesh.)

Even well short of the pacifist positions, they can argue the impracticality of maintaining a military that has helped drive this country into record depths of debt The defense budget has more than doubled since 2000, to over $700 billion. They can align themselves with colleges such as Hobart, Earlham, Goshen, Guilford, Hampshire, George Fox and a long list of others that teach alternatives to violence. Serve your country after college, these schools say, but consider the Peace Corps as well as the Marine Corps..

Notice the weasel word "helped" All governmental spending that increased the debt "helps" drive us into the fiscal ditch. All of it. But, get a grip friend. National defense accounts for about 20% of the budget, and 4.2% of GDP, small compared to WWII days. And, the primary driver of deficit spending and debt is spending on Medicaire/caid, Social security, and no doubt the new health care system will add to that.

Additionally, notice the tendentious last sentence. These other schools teach alternatives to violence, while by implication, any school that allows ROTC, and presumably, the military, and by extension or implication, the war-making U.S. Pentagon on campus doesnt' attempt and/or teach non-violent solutions. Nope. They just rush headlong into bombing civilians and etc.. Sheesh. 60s dime store Marxism. Why not add that U.S. corporations encourage war, so as to rake in filthy lucre whydontcha?

Will the Ivies have the courage for such stands? I'm doubtful. Only one of the eight Ivy League schools - Cornell - offers a degree in peace studies. Their pride in running programs in women's studies, black studies, and gay and lesbian studies is well-founded, but schools have small claims to greatness so long as the study of peace is not equal to the other departments when it comes to size and funding.

Color me cynical here, but there wouldn't be any vested interest here in making this argument that schools can take on the mantel of greatness by adding peace-studies departments to their roster of ________ studies departments would there? I know. I know. That's ad hominem motive mongering.

But the premise is laughable. As it stands, there are more "peace studies" depts. than there are departments of military studies, given the general climate on college campi. And our friend here wants to make sure that balance of power does not change.

At Notre Dame, on that 1989 visit and several following, I learned that the ROTC academics were laughably weak. They were softie courses. The many students I interviewed were candid about their reasons for signing up: free tuition and monthly stipends, plus the guarantee of a job in the military after college. With some exceptions, they were mainly from families that couldn't afford ever-rising college tabs.

Wow. Speaking of ad-hominem. ROTC folks take dumbed down courses. Don't they take the same courses taught by the same faculty as the non-ROTC students? Are there special set-aside courses for the dummies in cammies? Military Basket Weaving 101? Sheesh.

Also, notice here that the ROTC students back in 1989 were candid about why they joined ROTC. Because tuition even then, was exorbitant, and they were concerned with having jobs upon graduation. SHUDDER. The horror of it all. They thought practically. And the evil military just preys on these poor destitute Notre Dame students. For shame! For shame!


To oppose ROTC, as I have since my college days in the 1960s,

(don't pull a muscle old man, patting your brave self on the back)

when my school enticed too many of my classmates into joining, is not to be anti-soldier.

(Oh no. Of course not. Quite the contrary. You have to pity the poor dullards, and protect them from being taken advantage of 'enticed' by the eeeevil U.S. military. Right?) Sheesh.

I admire those who join armies, whether America's or the Taliban's: for their discipline, for their loyalty to their buddies and to their principles, for their sacrifices to be away from home. In recent years, I've had several Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans in my college classes. If only the peace movement were as populated by people of such resolve and daring.

You are serious about this? The freaking Taliban? Those "soldiers" do things the "Winter Soldiers" only dream that U.S. soldiers would have done (not that they didn't claim these sorts of things anyway.) And, you know what. They are dedicated to their principles, and gosh darn it, they are away from home sometime. But, getting back to your opening 'shot' Clyde (forgive the pun) our soldiers, versed as they are in our values, and our ethical system, which includes JWT, are, and this is understating the obvious, NOT on a moral level with the freaks in the Taliban. They execute women in soccer stadiums, routinely target civilians as SOP. We don't do this, despite what the winter soldier types would claim..

ROTC and its warrior ethic taint the intellectual purity of a school, if by purity we mean trying to rise above the foul idea that nations can kill and destroy their way to peace.

Sophomoric drivel. this guy is sounding a bit like an antipode to General Jack D. Ripper, what with this talk of purity.

But, seriously. Does the Peace Studies expert really have no clue what the basic features of the American warrior's ethic is? The warrior ethic is rooted in the basic moral principle that self defense is justifiable when attacked, or that protection of the vulnerable is justifiable when they are attacked. It's not simply a matter of believing that you can "kill and destroy your way to peace", you dense idiot.

It's based on the realization, indeed the truism that sometimes you have to use military force to prevent greater, more egregious evils. You simply refuse to recognize that. Here's a simple analogy: A guy breaks into your house, announces he is taking it from you, and will kill you and your family in the process. He makes no bones about it. Now, you can attempt some of those nifty non-violent methods you learned at the peace studies dept., but I suspect that you will fail. Are you then justified, morally justified mind you, in using violence against this guy?

Similarly, suppose he breaks into your elderly neighbor's house, does the same thing, you call the cops (noted violence users), they cannot make it in under 6 hours. You live way out in the sticks. Suppose, as well, you have firearms (I know...I know...just go with me peace studies dude..), and are well trained and can defend this neighbor. Are you morally justified? I suppose your answer would be "no". As a pacifist you maintain no use of violence is ever justified. However, most reasonable folks would say you are wrong. No. For you, the simplistic truth is that any use of violence is "foul". Anyway, back to the editorial, as it mercifully ends:

If a school such as Harvard does sell out to the military, let it at least be honest and add a sign at its Cambridge front portal: Harvard, a Pentagon Annex.

Colman McCarthy, a former Post columnist, directs the Center for Teaching Peace in Washington and teaches courses on nonviolence at four area universities and two high schools.

Oh good God in heaven. And, I suppose that if 'Hahvahd' decided to set up a Peace Studies Institute, then by parity of reasoning, they should add a sign at their "portal" "Harvard, a 'Center for Teaching Peace' Annex".

After all, wouldn't Harvard be taking on the mantel of greatness by doing so? You did say that a while back.

Let's be clear about this: It would be selling out if Hahvahd allowed an ROTC program, manned by folks from the U.S. military, but would NOT be selling out to the CTP if they created one of those departments you so crave, manned by people like yourself, or people trained by people like yourself (free of charge????)


One wonders why the WAPO gave this guy so much space. Probably because they wanted to present arguments for both sides. HERE is a considerably better editorial from the same paper, from 12-21-10, which is pro ROTC, and does a better job making the anti-case than this sophomoric piece did.

Man. The sixties did a number on a great many people. Sheesh.