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April 17, 2006
A Shortsighted Policy

The efforts by anti-war protestors at UC Santa Cruz to run military recruiters off campus, while successful, portends a dangerous trend for the Left. For a generation, universities around the country have kept the ROTC and recruiters off campus, ostensibly due to the ban on homosexuals serving in the military but more clearly due to an anti-military point of view. After the Supreme Court upheld the Solomon Amendment that gives the federal government the ability to cut off federal funding to colleges who block access to military recruiters, the students themselves have escalated the battle by driving them off campus through intimidation, as they did at the home of the Banana Slugs.

This represents a short-sighted policy by those on the Left, which comes as a piece from their reflexive dislike for all things military (the Left, as opposed to liberals). When they organize to force the military from their campuses, they deny access for their fellow students to the kind of opportunities that can eventually give them access to leadership roles in the armed services. Programs like the ROTC produce officers that often make the military their career, and while the Pentagon prefers academy graduates for promotion to the highest ranks, ROTC-trained officers have also risen to influential leadership positions. They certainly have had brilliant careers in the armed forces over the decades, and their contributions and influence have been remarkable.

The ROTC program allows for the widest possible sampling of the nation's best and brightest, ensuring that the officer corps reflects the nation as a whole, politically, ethnically, and geographically. However, the pressure from the most liberal universities to obstruct their students from entering the military has created an interesting dynamic: only the more conservative or moderate schools now contribute to the ROTC pool. The Solomon Amendment may have corrected that, but as the Banana Slugs have shown, the radicals will not allow it.

What kind of military leadership will this produce? We will have an increasingly conservative officer corps, one whose politics will not accurately reflect the nation's political spectrum. Even as a conservative, this worries me. The natural balance of viewpoints allow for the best decision-making. Moreover, it threatens to politicize the officer corps of the military in a manner which could eventually challenge civilian leadership, especially if a more liberal president gets elected. It sets up a potential conflict that could threaten the Constitution in a manner never seen before in the US. The open slots for officers will get filled, and if the Banana Slugs don't want to help fill them, then candidates will come from somewhere.

Chasing military recruiters off of the most liberal of campuses might give some kooks a thrill, but in the end it is self-defeating. It does not surprise me at all that these leftist radicals don't have the foresight to see this, but it does surprise me that the universities themselves fail to recognize it.

UPDATE: CQ reader Jack notes that this ROTC graduate had a pretty decent career:

George Catlett Marshall (December 31, 1880-October 16, 1959), America's foremost soldier during World War II, served as chief of staff from 1939 to 1945, building and directing the largest army in history. A diplomat, he acted as secretary of state from 1947 to 1949, formulating the «Marshall Plan», an unprecedented program of economic and military aid to foreign nations.

Marshall's father owned a prosperous coal business in Pennsylvania, but the boy, deciding to become a soldier, enrolled at the Virginia Military Institute from which he was graduated in 1901 as senior first captain of the Corps of Cadets.

Not that Marshall turned out to be influential ...

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at April 17, 2006 9:34 PM

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