I detest everything about the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. I detest the fact that thousands of civilians have been killed, I detest the fact that thousands of American soldiers have had to die and I detest the fact that hundreds of billions of dollars have been needlessly hemorrhaged from the pockets of U.S. taxpayers. Consequently, I strongly identify myself with the current anti-war movement.
The overall mission of this movement is positive and it clearly deserves support. Nevertheless, the anti-war movement does have some flaws that must be addressed and fixed.
One of the most glaring of these deficiencies is the tepid position most of the movement has taken with regard to military recruitment on American campuses.
It is common knowledge that the military experiences persistent difficulty in meeting its monthly enlistment quotas. This is not at all shocking, for most people do not want to risk their lives in the atrocious slaughterhouse that the Middle East has become.
Sadly, high school and college students are desperate or even somewhat na’ve, and see the military as a viable option. As one would expect, the leaders of the U.S. military have heartlessly exploited this entire situation – it is not inaccurate to describe their policies as a “backdoor draft.”
Academic institutions in this country are chock full of ROTC chapters and recruiters for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marines, and the College is no exception. There are more than a few frenzied jingoists lining up to join, of course.
But, as I stated above, the majority of participating students are either in difficult financial straits or not fully aware of the real consequences of a military career. They cannot be blamed.
On the contrary, the cynical military masters should be (strongly) blamed. For them, young adults are to be treated as nothing more than easy targets that can be made into “good soldiers.” This may seem terrible, but from the perspective of the brass of institutions like the Army or Navy, it is a highly rational way to think and act.
Nevertheless, students are not the only ones who suffer from this pernicious scheme. It also adversely affects educational administrators. If they do not allow the military on their campuses, they risk losing huge amounts of federal funding for their schools.
Understandably, this is not a peril that most are willing to endure. The military thus places administrators in an almost impossible predicament.
Most importantly, though, this recruitment is what allows the government to perpetuate its failed, destructive wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Without a constant stream of new recruits, the United States simply could not continue these “crusades for freedom.”
It is not enough to just be against these wars; one must also oppose the right of ROTC and military recruiters to be on campuses. Not doing so would imply a significant amount of ethical and political inconsistency.
So many conservatives complain incessantly about “political correctness,” but this phrase is a double-edged sword. In the current national climate, publicly criticizing the military (as I have done throughout this article) is well beyond the bounds of “politically correct” speech. This does not bother me in the least. What I have written about is truly crucial – it is literally a matter of life and death.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have made the world a less stable, more dangerous place, and they are quite possibly the most salient issues of our generation.
From the government’s spending priorities to the lives of ourselves, our friends and our family members, these wars affect us all. We therefore must stand up and speak out. As the historian Howard Zinn famously stated, one “can’t afford to be neutral on a moving train.”
So if you are as nauseated as I am by the insatiable bloodlust of the Bush regime, it is your moral imperative to demand that the military be kicked off college and high school campuses.
Students should not be harvested as cannon fodder for the U.S. government’s imperialistic wars; young people have far too much dignity and worth.