Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Bring ROTC back to the Ivy League

Suppose we here in the northeast, citing the foibles and earthy prejudices of the gnarly red clay heartlanders, decided not to send ours to Congress or the Supreme Court or any court until they became more refined, like us. Congress might then consist of Senators exclusively from Baylor and Southern Methodist and the Supreme Court of Justices from Liberty University and the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. That is what we have done with the refusal to allow ROTC to recruit on ivy league campuses. To become an American military officer you would have to go to another college. Without a doubt, it has influenced foreign policy, including our current missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. But we in Boston suffer the most. Gone is the memory of Joshua Chamberlain, and although the tourist bus makes its first stop on Boston Common at the monument to the historic Black Civil War Regiment, Robert Gould Shaw, who died and was laid to rest with his men, is likewise lost to our collective memory. Barney Frank, Bart Simpson, Bob Dylan: This is what we are today. This is what we have become since the Vietnam period.

As Eliot A. Cohen points out in today’s Washington Post, many elite universities kicked ROTC off campus during the Vietnam War and never brought it back. But in truth, the military's policies toward homosexuals were, for the most part, merely an excuse for keeping recruiters at bay.

“The attenuated memories of Vietnam, a restoration of patriotic sentiment, a far less turbulent student body and the trauma of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks have made it easier to contemplate the return of ROTC. During the 2008 election campaign, Barack Obama and John McCain both supported it,” he writes.

In the excellent new Eisenhower memoir, “Going Home to Glory: a Memoir of Life with Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961 - 1969,” by David Eisenhower and Julie Nixon Eisenhower, the authors report that Ike was skeptical of the clamor for federal aid to education.
“When the federal government begins to fund education, he argued, educational institutions will find they cannot live without the assistance they receive.”
That was in the first days of the Kennedy administration and was certainly prophetic.

General Eisenhower wisely added that with federal funding, the government will eventually tell educators what to do.

True again, especially in the sciences, and Eisenhower’s famous characterisation of the “military industrial complex” has been expanded by some to the military-industrial-informational-educational complex.

But if they don’t allow military officers to be trained on their campuses, they should at least for the present time, receive not a penny more of federal aid.

No comments: