Free Markets, Free People

ROTC


WaPo–keep ROTC out of our precious Ivies

Because, you know, its all about war and stuff.

The Washington Post rolled out  what I consider an inevitable op/ed today about keeping ROTC off the campuses of Ivy League schools who banned it when DADT was in effect.  Colman McCarthy, a former Post columnist who directs the Center for Teaching Peace claims that ROTC is essentially an anti-intellectual endeavor which can be opposed on moral grounds:

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

Another on the left wanting to limit your choices.

Of course those who reject military solutions to conflicts for reasons of conscience don’t mind being protected by those who graduate from other ROTC programs, one supposes.  And so they are.  It is always fun and easy to be against war if others are willing to fight them for you.   And you won’t find the military against peace either – they’re the ones who have to fight a war and suffer the losses.  However, they’re also some hard-bitten realists who recognize that there are evil people in the world who want to do us harm.  They also recognize that you can be for peace all you want to, but if the other guy chooses war, you either fight or capitulate and live by his dictates for your life.   I assume McCarthy rejects “just war” as a challenge to his “peace for reasons of conscience” as well. 

But if you look closely at the words above, you get an inkling of the depth of ignorance Mr. McCarthy displays in his piece.  In this country, “military solutions” are dictated by civilian authorities.  That may have slipped past him when he was studying “Peacenik 101”.  It isn’t the military that decides when to enter a conflict, it is, for the most part, civilian graduates of Ivy league schools who’ve made those decisions.  I know – irony.

Anyway, I thought that was a bit humorous. 

McCarthy, if you haven’t guessed, is a product of the ‘60s.  And it shows in the smug shallowness of his presentation and the bits of stereotypical nonsense with which his piece is studded.  It’s also a pitch for more “peace studies”, because, you know, we have women’s studies, and black studies, and LGBT studies.  I assume he believes ROTC to be war studies and filled with Neanderthals and knuckle-draggers who want to be indoctrinated, given a weapon and pointed in the right direction with orders to kill everything in sight.

As a proud ROTC grad (and Distinguished Military Graduate) I owe a debt to the course of study.  Like most who graduated from the program, I learned the basics of something our present CiC hasn’t yet learned – leadership.  And the Army took it from there to the point that when I retired, I was both a pretty fair leader and darn sure a good evaluator of leadership.  Other than perhaps a few on-campus organizations, it was the only opportunity to learn about leadership and to apply it in a real world environment.  I don’t know about you, but watching Obama founder on the leadership rocks, I think it is a pretty critical skill.

But McCarthy’s objection doesn’t even consider that.  He’s stuck in the ‘60s Vietnam time warp by which he evaluates everything now.  And he’s really concerned about the Ivies becoming tainted now that DADT has been repealed:

However, being the good PC creature he is, he knows he’s got to be careful.  Read this and shake your head in wonder:

To oppose ROTC, as I have since my college days in the 1960s, when my school enticed too many of my classmates into joining, is not to be anti-soldier. 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.

It isn’t “anti-soldier”?  Well of course not – check out the moral equivalency in the next line.  Your young son who joined the Army is now the equivalent of a Taliban terrorist who blinds young girls with acid, executes village leaders for cooperation with the Afghan government and uses the sports arena in Kabul to execute women who’ve offended its bizarre codes.

His reasons for “admiring” soldiers are just as tatty – for their discipline, loyalty, principles and sacrifices.  Most of us assume these to be good traits.  Admirable traits as McCarthy says.  Where in the world does he think such things are taught? Certainly not in his peace studies apparently.  Uh, Mr. McCarthy, try “ROTC”.  Yup – it’s stock and trade.

Finally he panders a bit: combat veterans have lots of resolve and daring.  Daring?  Is there perhaps a bit of a yellow-streak peeking out from behind the word salad?  And aren’t “resolve and daring” what has made this nation great?  Wow – more admirable traits.

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. 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.

Yeah, that warrior ethic thing is a real “taint” on intellectual purity, isn’t it – if you define intellectual purity as “what I deem important and nothing else”.   Let’s review – loyalty, daring, resolve, discipline, principle and sacrifice.  I have to agree those traits contained in the warrior ethic would be a real drag on “intellectual purity” wouldn’t they?

McCarthy calls the classes taught in ROTC “softie classes” that don’t require much intellectually.  Well they’re certainly not advanced nuclear physics, but then they’re not designed to be.   They are classes which lay the ground work for what is to come in the military.  They are an introduction to the schooling the military will incrementally give its officers as they go on active duty and progress through the ranks.  When I entered the Army I went to the Infantry Officer Basic Course which picked up right where ROTC left off.  Given a few years of experience I went to my branch’s Advanced course, then the Command and General Staff College, etc.  – all part of a planned military schooling cycle that turns out the leaders that we have commanding our military today – most of whom could easily pit their intellect against that of McCarthy and come out miles ahead.

As for the intellectual purity of a school being compromised by ROTC, if this demonstrably misinformed op/ed is an example of what such intellectual purity produces, ROTC would most likely raise the intellectual level of the school this guy attended.   It just makes you wonder what he’s so afraid of.

~McQ