Thursday, April 8, 2010

Rendering Honors for ROTC Expansion

I don't take a lot of strong policy issues here on this blog or in comments on other people's blogs. And that's for a VERY simple reason -- if I don't feel like I have enough information to say something definitive, I'll hold my horses and pipe down.

Health care is a great example. I'm really lucky to have health insurance. I've never been hospitalized overnight, and I don't have any history of disease in my family. I'm not sure I like the idea of massive government expansion during a time of ballooning budget deficits and a real risk of looming insolvency. I'm also not sure I like something that doesn't address costs -- as local blogger Kad Barma and many other writers have pointed out, there's a big difference between needing a car for basic transportation and needing a Cadillac...I'm on board with everyone being able to see a doctor, but I'm not on board with my tax dollars paying for expensive surgeries that could be averted entirely by lifestyle changes.

But like I said, beyond that I'm really not qualified by either a) life experience or b) policy expertise to say much more, so I haven't.

The one realm where I can solidly check BOTH those boxes, however, would be for a military-related policy issue -- not only is "the military," broadly speaking, the single thing where I could reasonably claim a level of expertise relative to the rest of the country, it's also the single strongest component of my identity, the singular focus of the past six years of my life, and a major factor for the next few decades to come.

So I've got a strong opinion about recent proposals on several private college campuses to restore ROTC programs -- I think it's wonderful.

Putting ROTC on these campuses would expose many undergraduates to a system and a culture that may in some ways be more foreign to them than, well, studying abroad in a foreign country. This exposure would also dispel a lot of commonly-held myths about who actually comprises our modern military and what it really does. (And if you've ever met a military recruiter, they'd be the first to tell you that despite what any propaganda may want you to think, the overwhelming majority of young Americans are not ELIGIBLE to serve, so they certainly aren't being *preyed upon* by our armed services).

There are many other benefits -- immediate, secondary, tertiary, and so on -- that this would bring...not just for the universities, not just for society at large, and not just for the military -- but in a way that would strengthen all three. Remember, social capital is not a zero-sum game, and neither is heightened understanding and trust.

I'll probably return to this topic but for now it's time to shut the laptop off and hit the rack...I've got a long three-day weekend in Bourne starting in just a few hours.


DConnell said...

Greg -

I concur - ROTC should be expanded as broadly as possible. It benefits all concerned - the students will gain valuable leadership experience and training, the universities will add to the diversity of opinions and views represented in their student body and the nation gains the ability to recruit and train more of our best and brightest. It's time for this vestige of the Vietnam-era to be shed. My two cents, of course...

- DC

The New Englander said...

Dan -- glad you agree, and it's good to see more and more people coming on board w/this, too..