Monday, June 06, 2005

From the MailBag

To respond to reader MJef's comment on the post, Is The New York Times a liberal newspaper? Well, not exactly.

Mothers and fathers around the country said they were terrified that their children would have to be killed - or kill - in a war that many see as unnecessary and without end. Around the dinner table, many parents said, they are discouraging their children from serving.
I don’t have a problem with parents discouraging their children from serving. I don't object to the right of the parents to object to the military recruiting practices if they believe they are problematic. I do have a problem with parents banning the military from even trying to recruit their children. There is a big difference.

You say that perhaps if the military were to make a “compelling enough case that Saddam Hussein was an actual threat to America” that they wouldn’t have such problems with recruiting. But it is not the job of the military to make a compelling case that Saddam Hussein was a threat. It is the job of the military to support the president’s policies. And they must be able to recruit the number of soldiers requisite to perform this task.

If the recruiting campaign was based “on some sort of cartoonish, racist image of Osama Bin Laden” (which it may subtly be in some areas), that would surely be objectionable. But, again, the problem is banning the recruiters altogether, not the objection to their tactics.
“Are there any strategies of recruitment that are legitimately objectionable, or does the military have the right to use any and every tactic at its disposal without objection?”
The military does not have the right to use every tactic at its disposal without objection. But the reality is that we are a nation at war, and we need to recruit soldiers. One can object to specific instances where the military has used improper recruiting tactics, but one should not deny the fundamental fact that they must be able to recruit.
”is it possible that this sort of dissent is primarily understood by those who practice it as objection toe policy, rather than objection to the military as a whole, and if so, are citizens wrong to conceive of or practice dissent in such a way?”
Yes, I believe they are wrong. If you disagree with the policy, protest against those that formulated the policy. Yes, the military plays a crucial role in planning and decision-making at a tactical and even strategic level. Ultimately, though, it is the civilian leadership that led us to war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they should be held to account, not the military.
-- Eric

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