Student Perspective on ROTC:

This week's issue of the Dartmouth Free Press, a liberal student newspaper, has a thoughtful personal essay by a Dartmouth ROTC cadet discussing his experience on campus here. I think the essay provides some interesting context on the campus ROTC issue and the Solomon Amendment litigation, and in particular.

The article opens with a quote from Thucydides that I had not seen before and which I think succinctly captures a large element of my thinking on the whole Solomon Amendment/ROTC debate:

"The Nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools." - Thucydides

Leaving aside the merits of the Solomon Amendment itself, one reason I am troubled by allowing law schools to exclude the military from recruiting on campus is that it further reinforces the divide between the military and elite society in the nation, and I believe that that divide is unfortunate and that we should be trying to narrow, not widen the gulf. I also believe that given the criticisms of the military as unduly class-based, we should be making it easier for highly-educated students to join the military, not more difficult. One needs only to look at the remarkable job that the JAG has been doing with the Abu Ghraib cases to see how beneficial it can be to have well-qualified students in the military. Finally, post-9/11 my personal experience is that many young people have felt a renewed call to serve their country and believe in the essential justice of the war on terror, and that we should not be raising the costs for these students to serve their country if they so desire. Thucydides, I think, says this all much better than I.

Of course, I understand all of the arguments on the other side and recognize their merits. But, again, I personally don't believe that the way to bring about the changes that are desired is by excluding military recruiters from campus, as opposed to trying to change the law. So I don't intend for this to be the place to fight the FAIR v. Rumsfeld case (although I'm sure that will be the likely consequence of this post anyway).