Wednesday, October 11, 2006

ROTC on Campus

Greg Mankiw makes a number of thoughtful points about the relationship between ROTC programs and elite colleges, referencing this post at Open University. I believe that there should be more support for ROTC at Ivy League colleges, and I made a point this year of attending the Army commissioning ceremony.

At the Rockefeller Center, we have also made a point of commemorating Veterans' Day. Last year, we invited Nate Fick '99, a veteran of both Afghanistan and Iraq, who delivered a remarkable lecture. This year, we will host Kathy Roth-Douquet and Frank Schaeffer, authors of AWOL: The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service--and How It Hurts Our Country on November 10. (The book is referenced in the Open University post.) There are some elements of citizenship that need to be shared more equitably, regardless of personal characteristics.

Greg ends his post with a poke at some of his colleagues' protests against ROTC:

Some faculty see the Harvard ROTC ban as a protest against the federal government's treatment of gay military personnel. But to me the form of the protest seems particularly sanctimonious, as the faculty are asking for a sacrifice from others (in particular, from potential ROTC students and from other students who would benefit from a more diverse student body), while giving up relatively little themselves. I propose that any professor who wants to protest federal policy can do so personally by refusing to apply for or accept any grants from the federal government.

Well put. I support neither the treatment of homosexuals by the military nor the obstacles to ROTC on campuses. I'll also suggest another dimension along which burdens could be more equitably shared. If conscription should be required in order to protect the United States, then the entire population below the age of service in the Vietnam era should be mobilized, excepting only those who have already been discharged from the military. This does not mean combat for everyone--it means service. There is no reason why the burden of fighting the war against Islamic radicals should fall so disproportionately on young adults.


Mark Tempest said...

I note that Ivy schools Penn and Cornell have Navy ROTC units and that there are slew of other fine schools that have NROTC and other ROTC units, including Berkeley, Rice, Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Vanderbilt, MIT, USC, Georgia Tech and many more. ROTC students bring something special to each of those campuses which is being denied to students of the discriminating Ivies.

I like Professor Mankiw's suggestion of the protesting academics rejecting any federal monies instead of rejecting students who have no say in a policy imposed by Congress.

I have some bias, of course, being a North Carolina NROTC alumnus, as is one of my sons.

Tom C said...

MIT always has had a strong ROTC contingent, as they skew towards engineers and pre-meds in their scholarships. It can make a huge difference in someone's ability to deal with the finances of a private institution.

But, truly, the professors who are against ROTC are just reliving their rock-throwing-protest-filled youth (or the fondly recalled youth of their mentors)...they have no use for military types, don't want their contributions on the campus, don't think that they form any sort of "diversity" and don't want the consistent reminder that some people are willing to sacrifice all to defend America. That's a strong comment, I know, but covers the truth consistently the way I see it.

And, I love the idea of universal service...I would just also allow peole who did Vista, Peace Corps, Foreign Service, etc., to also opt out.

TStockmann said...

I notice your grandmothering out females of the Vietnam War era and earlier in your quest for equity in service.

Don Coffin said...

My objection to ROTC has generally been that colleges and universities are providing a subsidy (space, etc.) for the activity and, in some cases, giving college credit for a course of study that is not within the conrol of the institution.

My own preference is to allow students who with to participate in ROTC to do so, but that the facilities be non-university, and that no course credit be given.

Anonymous said...

Compulsory service seems like a good idea to me. But if combat is not the requirement, I would not restrict it to those below the age of Vietnam service age. I would make it a general requirement for everyone, excepting only those who have already served. However, the problem with the "everybody goes into the army" plan is that increasingly, the military's purpose is becoming less and less relevant. People have a vague sense that national service is a good idea, but look at the facts. The United States has the world's most expensive military. We spend as much, or perhaps more, than the sum total of the rest of the world. However, in the past six years, since late 2001, the combination of the civilian leaders and the mismatch between the military's capabilities and the requirements have led to the loss of two wars against the world's two poorest nations. These are clearly not traditional military losses. The US military is clearly capable of projecting irresistible violence anyplace in the world. But both in Iraq and Afghanistan, this violence has not turned the trick, and we face military defeat. Something is clearly out of joint.

How much better would the outcome in Iraq have been if the military approached it with 200,000 arabic speakers who knew the difference between Sunni, Shia and Sufi muslims, and who know who the Kurds are? I guess it would have been much better. At least we would have some idea of the existence of the insurgency before it started.

Anonymous said...

dumb retard is all i have to say to you. We have lost no wars maybe we should have sent your foolish ass there then we would have won when they gutted you. You are a freak leave war up to men real men. sit back and do your dainty thing in another country. oh and when we may have went to war with the russians would it be your first clue that we should send communists so they know the territory?????? what mind do you have left after all that crack? sorry about being so hasty to slam your head in the door but YOU ARE STUPID. so when we want to fight drug sales here in the states by your lead we would hire drugies so they can win girly style??????
weird real weird Vilĉjo BLANKA. Don't think so hard you and your buddies huh all it does is causes trouble. this big giant think tank for sissies lol grow up and be a man unless you are a ladie then be that