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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Find another place to protest

    Earlier this month, a group of students aligned with The World Can’t Wait – a mindless, anti-anything-Bush group – staged a rally on the UA Mall to protest the war in Iraq and military recruitment. Usually, when I come across a story of anti-war protesters in the newspaper, I treat it like an advertisement: I turn the page until I find something a little more thoughtful or important. But the target of this particular protest caught my attention. The rally ended with a sit-in at the ROTC building.

    That seemed like a strange forum to criticize either the war in Iraq or the military’s recruitment efforts. Surely, those in charge of the protest know that it is policymakers, not soldiers, who determine when and where our troops are deployed. Surely, they know that members of the ROTC have already been “”recruited”” into the military. Or maybe they don’t.

    The Army ROTC, Navy ROTC and Air Force ROTC are college programs established to educate and train future soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen to be officers in the military. Most members of the ROTC programs have already committed to serve in the military prior to arriving at college. They are full-fledged members of the military on reserve status.

    That is different from the officer recruitment process. The officer recruiters who set up booths on campus offer information to students who might be interested in becoming military officers after graduation.

    In both cases, there is a highly selective application process. A student cannot just put up his hand, say he would like to lead Marines and expect to get two bars pinned to his collar. Instead, students seeking admission into the ROTC and officer candidate programs must go through a rigorous academic, physical and psychological screening process.

    What’s more, almost all of the men and women who are part of these programs were not passively recruited, but instead, made an active effort to earn a spot. ROTC scholarships are some of the most coveted in the country. Most officer candidates sought out information about the programs and then competed hardily to be accepted. Marine recruiter Gunnery Sgt. D.L. Capozzolo said it best: “”It’s a job application. Either you want it, or you don’t.””

    Perhaps, then, there were other reasons why The World Can’t Wait protested at the ROTC building. One protester suggested that he was there “”to bring awareness to people in the ROTC.”” Was this student honestly suggesting that members of the ROTC are so lacking in maturity and intellectual capacity that they are incapable of making intelligent decisions about whether to join the military? Do members of the ROTC, people who have committed themselves to a life of discipline, leadership, honor and courage, really need the enlightened thinking of a war protester to understand the path they have chosen?

    Another protester suggested that people join the military “”because they’ll pay for your education.”” This person at least had a point: It is true the military will pay for the education of some of its members.

    The Navy, for instance, offers up to $80,000 to finance the education of its ROTC midshipmen. And it is certainly true that many of our nation’s finest citizens would not have had the opportunity to receive an education had it not been for scholarships such as this. But those who pay for their education through military scholarships probably joined the military for reasons other than – and far superior to – financial incentives.

    Perhaps the most honest reason why these students marched on the ROTC building is because they are just plain ol’ pacifists who think nothing is worth a war. However, as John Stuart Mill would respond, “”War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing is worth a war, is worse … A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”” Thank you to all of the ROTC cadets and officer candidates for being those men and women.

    Jonathan Riches is a second-year law student. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.com.

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