Popular movement arises to stop Army recruiting
Published Jul 20, 2005 10:05 PM
It is impossible to read the daily reports of
the growing resistance in Iraq without realizing that the Bush-Rumsfeld plan for
a quick high-tech war is a complete failure.
In response, leading
Democratic politicians, including Senators Joe Lieberman, Hillary Clinton and
John Kerry, have called for increasing the size of the Army by 100,000, hoping
to relieve some of the stress on an overextended military. In January of this
year, the Project for a New American Century called for increasing the Army by
at least 25,000 troops each year.
But any plans to expand the military
fail to take into account that young people are refusing to sign up for a war of
conquest and occupation.
The Army is unable to meet even its current
recruiting goals. The Army’s top general told Congress in late June that
the Army is at “serious risk” of not making its recruiting goals for
One Pentagon official said the Army had already realized it
would not make the goal of 80,000 recruits this year—the only question was
how many thousands short it would be. It is about 7,800 recruits short now, with
three months left in the recruiting year.
In meetings of school boards,
parent-teacher associations and student governments across the U.S., parents and
students are taking action. Recruiters have identified parents as the biggest
obstacle to meeting their quotas.
‘College, not combat!’
In San Francisco,
parents and antiwar activists submitted a local ballot measure on July 11 that
will, if passed, put the city on record as opposing the presence of military
recruiters in public high schools and colleges.
Organizers are working to
gather enough signatures to place the initiative, called “College Not
Combat,” on the Nov ember ballot. It would encourage school officials to
deny access to recruit ers, even if that means the loss of federal money. The
initiative also encourages the creation of scholarships and training programs to
challenge the military’s appeal to disadvantaged youth.
One of the
organizers, Ragina Johnson of the International Socialist Organi zation, said,
“We do not see George Bush’s daughters signing up. It is poor and
working-class people who need a job and education at the same time billions are
being spent on this war.”
The Parent-Teacher Student Associ ation of
Garfield High School in Seattle took a decisive step in May, voting 25 to 5 to
adopt a resolution that says, “Public schools are not a place for military
“The mission of the PTA is to protect and defend
kids,” said Amy Hagopian, a mother of three whose son is a Garfield
senior. “It’s not just limited to education issues—which
explains why the PTA takes positions on kids’ health, violence and other
She added, “They’re spending $4 billion
a month in Iraq, but we have to cut our race relations class, which costs
$12,500. That’s an important class for our kids.”
Ludwig, whose son is a senior at Garfield, made a point shared by many in the
PTSA: Garfield does not allow organizations that promote illegal activities to
recruit students to perform those activities, nor does it allow organizations
that discriminate on the basis of race, gender, national origin, or sexual
orientation to recruit on campus.
Ludwig told the Christian Science
Monitor, “Planned Parenthood, as far as I know, does not advocate or
perform illegal acts. The U.S. military does.” He said he would not object
if Army representatives came to Garfield to debate their ideas on torture or
aggressive war. “What I object to is their coming here to recruit students
to perform those acts,” he said. “It’s not about free
Help remove military recruiters from
The Army Recruiting Handbook for High Schools—available
on the No Draft No Way website, www.nodraftnoway.org —says that the
recruiters’ goal is “school ownership.” But parents,
grassroots activists and students are working to deny them that ownership.
No Draft No Way, as part of a fall offensive against military recruiting,
is producing thousands of activist toolkits.
This will include a 120-page
book, “We Won’t Go—A Guide to Counter-Recruiting and Draft
Resistance,” which will include chapters on military recruiters’
lies, the No Child Left Behind Act, challenging recruit ers on campus, how to
organize an opt-out campaign, how to get ROTC off your campus, and how to
organize a protest at your local recruiting station.
Along with the book
will be a two-hour DVD. This will include original presentations by youth,
counter-recruiting acti vists and veterans discussing military recruiting and
how to organize to challenge it. The DVD will also include downloadable
petitions, posters, leaflets and fact sheets so that local activists can watch
the DVD and immediately put the information to active use.
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