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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 the year.

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.

San Francisco:
‘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 recruiters.”

“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 serious issues.”

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.”

Steve 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 speech.”

Help remove military recruiters from schools!

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.