Big Soildier on Campus

Harvard’s new president, Drew Faust, gave her inaugural address last Friday–and was accompanied during the closing recessional by none other than seven members of Harvard’s ROTC corps. The flag-bearing color guard included students from Harvard’s Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine squads, and bears tremendous symbolic significance.

Harvard has not hosted an on-campus ROTC program since 1969, when anti-Vietnam fervor resulted in the program being banned. Since then, Harvard cadets have commuted to MIT to train–and since the mid-90s, when the faculty voted to protest “don’t ask, don’t tell” by withdrawing financial support for ROTC, Harvard has not paid the annual fee required to maintain its cadets in MIT’s program. Now anonymous alumni pay the six-figure dues that enable Harvard undergraduates to combine their studies with preparation for national service.

Anthony Paletta, American Council of Trustees and Alumni Online

If you don’t think Bush is planning on bombing Iran, well, then, you’re not paying attention. First, Bush put Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the terrorism list. Then, on August 28 at the American Legion convention, Bush blew his bellicose bugle.

Calling Iran “the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism,” he enumerated a list of troubles Tehran is making, from funding Hezbollah and Hamas to “sending arms to the Taliban in Afghanistan.” The latter is an odd one, since Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Afghan President Hamid Karzai are on record denying that there is evidence that the Iranian government is involved in this.

Matthew Rothschild October 2007 Progressive

It’s hard to know what to add to this pairing. On the one hand, the U.S. is increasingly a militarized society. The elite professors and students at Harvard, of course, aren’t likely to serve in any future war, except as officers and government officials. Still, not having the ROTC at Harvard was a small victory for common sense, now being reversed.

And more specifically frightening is the ongoing calls for war, seemingly against anyone but preferably in the Middle East. Watching bits and pieces of the Republican debate last night was deeply disconcerting, with each candidate seeming to want to out do the other in adolescent macho posturing about various enemies that had to be shown what was what and who was who.

The one voice of sanity and good old fashioned conservative pigheadedness seemed to be Ron Paul, who sounded like an isolationist from just before the First World War. They had absolutely no idea what to do with him or how to respond to his scathing criticism of his party’s wildly violent overseas adventures and profligate spending habits. We are in real trouble when the wacky right wing libertarian sounds like the sensible alternative.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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