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Military Recruiters and Programs Target marginalized communities for recruits...
..and the high schools in those same communities

 Militarization of our Schools

The Pentagon is taking over our poorer public schools. This is the reality for disadvantaged youth.


What we can do

Corporate/conservative alliances threaten Democracy . Progressives have an important role to play.

 Why does NNOMY matter?

Most are blind or indifferent to the problem.
A few strive to protect our democracy.

The Militarization of U.S. Culture


Vice President Kamala Harris delivers remarks to Department of Defense personnel, with President Joe Biden and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Feb. 10, 2021. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

Though the United States of America shares with other nations in a history of modern state militarism, the past 78 years following its consolidation as a world military power after World War II has seen a shift away from previous democratic characterizations of the state.  The last forty years, with the rise of the neo-conservative Reagan and  Bush (2) administrations, began the abandonment of moral justifications for democracy building replaced by  bellicose proclamations of the need and right to move towards a national project of global security by preemptive military force. Even with the return of eight years of the, so called, Liberal Obama administrations we saw the further erosion of long held human right protections with the suspension of habeas corpus and the increased usage of extra-judicial drone bombing killings of claimed combatants in multiple conflicts worldwide. Now with the Trump and Biden administrations, these programs have increased unbeknownst to the general public as the mainstream media silenced and normalized perpetual wars.

In the process of global military expansion, the US population has been subjected to an internal re-education to accept the role of the U.S. as consolidating its hegemonic rule internationally in the interest of liberal ideals of wealth creation and protectionism.

U.S. Air Force airmen acting as extras during the filming of the 2007 film Transformers at Holloman Air Force Base. A camera operator on an ATV can be seen filming them on the right.The average citizen has slowly come to terms with stealthily increasing campaigns of militarization domestically in media offerings; from television, movies, militarized video games,  and scripted news networks to reinforce the inevitability of a re-configured society as security state. The effect has begun a transformation of how, as citizens, we understand our roles and viability as workers and families in relation to this security state. This new order has brought with it a shrinking public common and an increasing privatization of publicly held infrastructure; libraries, health clinics, schools and the expectation of diminished social benefits for the poor and middle-class. The national borders are being militarized as are our domestic police forces in the name of Homeland Security but largely in the interest of business. The rate and expansion of research and development for security industries and the government agencies that fund them, now represent the major growth sector of the U.S.economy. Additionally, as the U.S. economy continually shifts from productive capital to financial capital as the engine of growth for wealth creation and development, the corporate culture has seen its fortunes rise politically and its power over the public sector grow relatively unchallenged by a confused citizenry who are watching their social security and jobs diminishing.

Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team members, some armed with assault rifles, preparing for an exerciseHow increasing cultural militarization effects our common future will likely manifest in increased public dissatisfaction with political leadership and economic strictures. Social movements within the peace community, like NNOMY, will need to expand their role of addressing the dangers of  militarists predating youth for military recruitment in school to giving more visibility to the additional dangers of the role of an influential militarized media, violent entertainment and play offerings effecting our youth in formation and a general increase and influence of the military complex in all aspects of our lives. We are confronted with a demand for a greater awareness of the inter-relationships of militarism in the entire landscape of domestic U.S. society.  Where once we could ignore the impacts of U.S. military adventurisms abroad, we are now faced with the transformation of our domestic comfort zone with the impacts of militarism in our day to day lives where we are witnessing militarized police forces in all our cities.

How this warning can be imparted in a meaningful way by a movement seeking to continue with the stated goals of counter-recruitment and public policy activism, and not loose itself in the process, will be the test for those activists, past and future, who take up the call to protect our youth from the cultural violence of militarism.

Counter-recruitment poster.The "militarization of US culture" category will be an archive of editorials and articles about the increasing dangers we face as a people from those who are invested in the business of war. This page will serve as a resource for the NNOMY community of activists and the movement they represent moving into the future. The arguments presented in this archive will offer important realizations for those who are receptive to NNOMY's message of protecting our youth, and thus our entire society, of the abuses militarism plays upon our hopes for a sustainable and truly democratic society.





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Revised / 11/04/2023 - GDG


Against the Militarized Academy

Henry A. Giroux -

While there is an ongoing discussion about what shape the military-industrial complex will take under an Obama presidency, what is often left out of this analysis is the intrusion of the military into higher education. One example of the increasingly intensified and expansive symbiosis between the military-industrial complex and academia was on full display when Robert Gates, the secretary of defense, announced the creation of what he calls a new "Minerva Consortium," ironically named after the goddess of wisdom, whose purpose is to fund various universities to "carry out social-sciences research relevant to national security."(1) Gates's desire to turn universities into militarized knowledge factories producing knowledge, research and personnel in the interest of the Homeland (In)Security State should be of special concern for intellectuals, artists, academics and others who believe that the university should oppose such interests and alignments. At the very least, the emergence of the Minerva Consortium raises a larger set of concerns about the ongoing militarization of higher education in the United States.

In a post-9/11 world, with its all-embracing war on terror and a culture of fear, the increasing spread of the discourse and values of militarization throughout the social order is intensifying the shift from the promise of a liberal democracy to the reality of a militarized society. Militarization suggests more than simply a militaristic ideal - with its celebration of war as the truest measure of the health of the nation and the soldier-warrior as the most noble expression of the merging of masculinity and unquestioning patriotism - but an intensification and expansion of the underlying values, practices, ideologies, social relations and cultural representations associated with military culture. What appears new about the amplified militarization of the post-9/11 world is that it has become normalized, serving as a powerful educational force that shapes our lives, memories and daily experiences. As an educational force, military power produces identities, goods, institutions, knowledge, modes of communication and affective investments - in short, it now bears down on all aspects of social life and the social order. As Michael Geyer points out, what is distinctive about the militarization of the social order is that civil society not only "organizes itself for the production of violence,"(2) but increasingly spurs a gradual erosion of civil liberties. Military power and policies are expanded to address not only matters of defense and security, but also problems associated with the entire health and social life of the nation, which are now measured by military spending, discipline and loyalty, as well as hierarchical modes of authority.

As citizens increasingly assume the roles of informer, soldier and consumer willing to enlist in or be conscripted by the totalizing war on terror, we see the very idea of the university as a site of critical thinking, public service and socially responsible research being usurped by a manic jingoism and a market-driven fundamentalism that enshrine the entrepreneurial spirit and military aggression as means to dominate and control society. This should not surprise us, since, as William G. Martin, a professor of sociology at Binghamton University, indicates, "universities, colleges and schools have been targeted precisely because they are charged with both socializing youth and producing knowledge of peoples and cultures beyond the borders of Anglo-America."(3) But rather than be lulled into complacency by the insidious spread of corporate and military power, we need to be prepared to reclaim institutions such as the university that have historically served as vital democratic spheres protecting and serving the interests of social justice and equality. What I want to suggest is that such a struggle is not only political, but also pedagogical in nature.

Over 17 million students pass through the hallowed halls of academe, and it is crucial that they be educated in ways that enable them to recognize creeping militarization and its effects throughout American society, particularly in terms of how these effects threaten "democratic government at home just as they menace the independence and sovereignty of other countries."(4) But students must also recognize how such anti-democratic forces work in attempting to dismantle the university itself as a place to learn how to think critically and participate in public debate and civic engagement.(5) In part, this means giving them the tools to fight for the demilitarization of knowledge on college campuses - to resist complicity with the production of knowledge, information and technologies in classrooms and research labs that contribute to militarized goals and violence.

Even so, there is more at stake than simply educating students to be alert to the dangers of militarization and the way in which it is redefining the very mission of higher education. Chalmers Johnson, in his continuing critique of the threat that the politics of empire presents to democracy at home and abroad, argues that if the United States is not to degenerate into a military dictatorship, in spite of Obama's election, a grass-roots movement will have to occupy center stage in opposing militarization, government secrecy and imperial power, while reclaiming the basic principles of democracy.(6) Such a task may seem daunting, but there is a crucial need for faculty, students, administrators and concerned citizens to develop alliances for long-term organizations and social movements to resist the growing ties among higher education, on the one hand, and the armed forces, intelligence agencies and war industries on the other - ties that play a crucial role in reproducing mili tarized knowledge.

Opposing militarization as part of a broader pedagogical strategy in and out of the classroom also raises the question of what kinds of competencies, skills and knowledge might be crucial to such a task. One possibility is to develop critical educational theories and practices that define the space of learning not only through the critical consumption of knowledge but also through its production for peaceful and socially just ends. In the fight against militarization and "armed intellectuals," educators need a language of critique, but they also need a language that embraces a sense of hope and collective struggle. This means elaborating the meaning of politics through a concerted effort to expand the space of politics by reclaiming "the public character of spaces, relations, and institutions regarded as private" on the other.(7) We live at a time when matters of life and death are central to political governance. While registering the shift in power toward the large-scale pr oduction of death, disposability and exclusion, a new understanding of the meaning and purpose of higher education must also point to notions of agency, power and responsibility that operate in the service of life, democratic struggles and the expansion of human rights.

Finally, if higher education is to come to grips with the multilayered pathologies produced by militarization, it will have to rethink not merely the space of the university as a democratic public sphere, but also the global space in which intellectuals, educators, students, artists, labor unions and other social actors and movements can form transnational alliances to oppose the death-dealing ideology of militarization and its effects on the world - including violence, pollution, massive poverty, racism, the arms trade, growth of privatized armies, civil conflict, child slavery and the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As the Bush regime comes to an end, it is time for educators and students to take a stand and develop global organizations that can be mobilized in the effort to supplant a culture of war with a culture of peace, whose elemental principles must be grounded in relations of economic, political, cultural and social democracy and the desire to sustain human life.


Revised: 10-11-2019


(1). Brainard, Jeffrey. (April 16, 2008) "U.S. Defense Secretary Asks Universities for New Cooperation," The Chronicle of Higher Education, online at

(2). Michael Geyer, "The Militarization of Europe, 1914-1945," in The Militarization of the Western World, ed. John Gillis (Rutgers University Press, 1989), p. 79.

(3). William G. Martin, "Manufacturing the Homeland Security Campus and Cadre," ACAS Bulletin 70 (Spring 2005), p. 1.

(4). Chalmers Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2004). p. 291.

(5). See Cary Nelson, "The National Security State," Cultural Studies 4:3 (2004), pp. 357-361.

(6). Chalmers Johnson, "Empire v. Democracy," (January 31, 2007), available online at (Archive)

(7). Jacques Rancière, "Democracy, Republic, Representation," Constellations 13:3 (2006), p. 299.

What can an analysis of everyday life tell us about the militarisation of popular culture?
In the 21
century, militar isation has become a prominent aspect of our lives. Fro meducation to entertainment, our daily life is full of militaristic ideas, values andunderstandings. That impact shows itself primarily in popular culture. Digital war games,movies, toys or camouflage clothes seem so cool that
any people can easily becomemilitarized in their thinking in how they live their daily lives, in what they aspire to for theirchildren or their society, without ever wield
ing a rifle or donning a helmet?
(Enloe 2000)Militarisation as a process seems inevitable for popular culture. While digital war games andmovies in particular explore undiscovered militaristic fantasies, legitimize and justify militaryinterventions, and teach some basics of using weapons, they are also used as an effectivemilitary recruitment tool and a propaganda machine.In this paper I aim to consider what an analysis of everyday life can tell us about themilitarisation of popular culture. As a criterion, I have tried to look at the most popular andthe most effective dimensions of everyday life in terms of the militarisation of popularculture. My central argument is that there are four universal dimensions of everyday life -entertainment, fashion, media and education
which are arenas of the militarization of popular culture, first in thought and then in practice, and that, therefore, militarisation hasbecome absolutely inevitable in our daily life.My study is constructed from two sections. To begin with, I will briefly define theterms
and „popular culture?
. The main part of my essay, which is composed of four parts, consists of an analysis of everyday life with regard to the militarisation of popularculture. Firstly, I will analyze the military-entertainment complex; secondly, I will examinethe relations between the military and fashion/shopping; Thirdly, I will look at military-mediarelations; and lastly, I will discuss the military-education dimension.
First and foremost, in order to analyze the militarisation of popular culture in everydaylife, it is vital to understand
what „militarisation? is.
There are a number of definitions, whichmakes it a challenging task to distinguish between militarisation and militarism. However, inthis analysis, I used militarisation as
a process which leads to militarism
(Ross, cited inShaw 1991: p.13). Militarisation is a process which privileges, legitimizes and justifies themilitaristic ideas and values that arise from it. Enloe supports this definition when he writesthat militarisation is
a step-by-step process by which a person or a thing gradually comes tobe controlled by the military or comes to depend for its well-being on militaristic ideas
(2000: p.3; 2002). On the other hand, Crandall defines militarisation more specifically. Heconsiders that
militarization is tied into the media and entertainment industries and verymuch a player in the youth-driven field of video game culture
. Also, he thinks that
it is apowerful rhetorical frame and a machine of territorialisation, indoctrination and recruitment
(Crandall, cited in Power 2007: p. 274). I will argue that this process of militarisation affectsboth thought and the practice of everyday life.Secondly, I define popular culture as a group of people, who are heavily influenced bymass media, entertainment, trends in fashion, and characteristic language. These aspectscreate popular culture. Having provided these definitions of militarisation, a broad analysis of everyday life will make it easier to understand how complex and purposeful the militarisationof popular culture is.
In this main part, everyday life is analyzed in terms of the militarisation of popularculture, in which popularity and effectiveness are used as criteria. Four main dimensions of daily life: entertainment, fashion, media and education, are discussed respectively.
The Military-Entertainment-Fashion-Media-Academics Complex
1) The Military- Entertainment Complex-
Generally speaking, two main forms of entertainment, digital war games and warmovies, may be considered as being of the highest importance to an analysis of themilitarisation of popular culture in the entertainment world.
a) Digital War Games
More and more people, especially teenagers, are becoming addicted to digital wargames every day. Today, a walk through the corridor of any digital games
shop „
can seem likea visit to your local military academy
(Kane, cited in Power 2007: p.272), which offers a
range of “grittily realistic” games that seek to
glorify the war. A big part of the appeal of such
games is that most seek to “proudly transport the gamer into immersive, gut wrenching virtual battlefields. They persuade the gamer that, in an echo of WWII era journalism, „“you arethere”? –
on the beaches of Normandy, in the jungles of Vietnam, in modern military hotpots[like the deserts
of Iraq]” (Cowlishaw, cited in
Power 2007: p. 272)
. As Nieborg argues, „the
increasing militarisation of game culture, as an extension of the military-entertainmentcomplex, has never been so cool and deliberately
chosen to directly interact with the “Internetgeneration” ?(Nieborg 2006).
The influence of digital war games upon the militarization of popular culture and the shaping
of people?s
understandings serves some deliberate aims:(1) Digital games provide a way to explore undiscovered militaristic fantasies in aneasy and clean way. As Power indicates, war games present
a clean, sanitized and enjoyable
version of war for popular consumption, obscuring the “realities”, contexts and consequences
f war? (2007: p.
274), most importantly, doing so bloodlessly. (2) Digital war gameslegitimize and justify military interventions by targeting an already demonised enemy, givingwrong information and glorifying the art of war. (3) Digital war games serve as anincreasingly effective military recruitment tool and teach some basics of using weapons fromgame play.On the one hand, as Allen
argues, „the official site for America?s Army game
consistently denies that players can learn the basics of using weap
ons from game play? (citedin Power 2007: p.281). On the other hand, „Chris Chambers, a graduate of the University of
Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, a former Army major and the deputy director of development for "America's Army"admits that the game is a recruiting tooland Turse argues

Education as Enforcement: The Militarization and Corporatization of Schools

Kenneth J. Saltman -

[Editors' note: This article is an excerpt from the "Introduction" to Education as Enforcement: The Militarization and Corporatization of Schools, a collection edited by Kenneth J. Saltman and David A. Gabbard, published by Routledge Press. ]

Education as Enforcement: The Militarization and Corporatization of SchoolsMilitary generals running schools, students in uniforms, metal detectors, police presence, high-tech ID card dog tags, real time Internet-based surveillance cameras, mobile hidden surveillance cameras, security consultants, chain link fences, surprise searches--as U.S. public schools invest in record levels of school security apparatus they increasingly resemble the military and prisons. Yet it would be a mistake to understand the school security craze as merely a mass media spectacle in the wake of Columbine and other recent high-profile shootings. And it would be myopic to fail to grasp the extent of public school militarization, its recent history, and its uses prior to the sudden interest it has garnered following September 11.

This book argues that militarized education in the United States needs to be understood in relation to the enforcement of global corporate imperatives as they expand markets through the material and symbolic violence of war and education. As an entry into the themes of the book this introduction demonstrates how militarism pervades foreign and domestic policy, popular culture, educational discourse, and language, educating citizens in the virtues of violence. This chapter demonstrates how a high level of comfort with rising militarism in all areas of U.S. life, particularly schooling, prior to September 11 set the stage for the radically militarized reactions to September 11 that include the institutionalization of permanent war, the suspension of civil liberties, and an active hostility of the state and mass media toward attempts at addressing the underlying conditions that gave rise to an unprecedented attack on U.S. soil.

Militarized schooling in America can be understood in at least two broad ways: "military education" and what I am calling "education as enforcement." Military education refers to explicit efforts to expand and legitimate military training in public schooling. These sorts of programs are exemplified by JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) programs, the Troops to Teachers program that places retired soldiers in schools, the trend of military generals hired as school superintendents or CEOs, the uniform movement, the Lockheed Martin corporation's public school in Georgia, and the army's development of the biggest online education program in the world as a recruiting inducement. The large number of private military schools such as the notorious Virginia Military Institute (VMI) that service the public military academies and the military itself could be thought of as a kind of ideal toward which public school militarization strives. Military education seeks to promote military recruitment as in the case of the 200,000 students in 1,420 JROTC army programs nationwide. These programs parallel the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts by turning hierarchical organization, competition, group cohesion, and weaponry into fun and games. Focusing on adventure activities these programs are extremely successful as half (47 percent) of JROTC graduates enter military service.

In addition to promoting recruitment, military education plays a central role in fostering a social focus on discipline. In short, to speak of militarized schooling in the United States context it is inadequate to identify the ways that schools increasingly resemble the military and prisons. This phenomenon needs to be understood as part of the militarization of civil society exemplified by the rise of militarized policing, increased police powers for search and seizure, antipublic gathering laws, "zero tolerance" policies, and the transformation of welfare into punishing workfare programs. The militarization of civil society has been intensified since September 11, as conservatives and most liberals have seized upon the "terrorist threat" to justify the passage of the USA Patriot Act. As Nancy Chang of the Center for Constitutional Rights explains, the Patriot Act sacrifices political freedoms and dangerously consolidates power in the executive branch.

It achieves these undemocratic ends in at least three ways. First, the act places our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and political association in jeopardy by creating a broad new crime of "domestic terrorism" and denying entry to noncitizens on the basis of ideology. Second, the act reduces our already low expectations of privacy by granting the government enhanced surveillance powers. Third, the act erodes the due process rights of noncitizens by allowing the government to place them in mandatory detention and deport them from the United States based on political activities that have been recast under the act as terrorist activities.1

As Chang persuasively argues, the Patriot Act does little to combat terrorism yet it radically threatens basic constitutional safeguards, most notably the freedom of political dissent, which is, in many ways, the lifeblood of democracy as it forms the basis for public deliberation about the future of the nation. The repressive elements of the state in the form of such phenomena as militarized policing, the radical growth of the prison system, and intensified surveillance accompany the increasing corporate control of daily life. The corporatization of the everyday is characterized by the corporate domination of information production and distribution in the form of control over mass media and educational publishing, the corporate use of information technologies in the form of consumer identity profiling by marketing and credit card companies, and the increasing corporate involvement in public schooling and higher education at multiple levels. The phrase Education as Enforcement attempts to explain these merging phenomena of militarization and corporatization as they are shaping not only the terrain of school but the broader society. The term refers both to the ways that education as a field is being transformed by these trends but also it refers to the extent to which education is central to the workings of the new forms that power is taking.

What I am calling "Education as Enforcement" understands militarized public schooling as part of the militarization of civil society that in turn needs to be understood as part of the broader social, cultural, and economic movements for state-backed corporate globalization that seek to erode public democratic power and expand and enforce corporate power locally, nationally, and globally. In what follows here I lay out these connections. Then, by reading news coverage of NATO's attack against Kosovo in relation to the shooting at Columbine High School, the latter half of this introduction shows how both events were driven by the same corporate-driven cultural logic of militaristic violence. I continue by discussing how the movement against militarism in education must challenge the many ways that militarism as a cultural logic enforces the expansion of corporate power and decimates public democratic power.

Educating to Enforce Globalization

Corporate globalization, which should be viewed as a doctrine rather than as an inevitable phenomenon, is driven by the philosophy of neoliberalism. The economic and political doctrine of neoliberalism insists upon the virtues of privatization and liberalization of trade and concomitantly places faith in the hard discipline of the market for the resolution of all social and individual problems. Within the United States neoliberal policies have been characterized by their supporters as "free market policies that encourage private enterprise and consumer choice, reward personal responsibility and entrepreneurial initiative, and undermine the dead hand of the incompetent, bureaucratic and parasitic government, that can never do good even if well intended, which it rarely is."2 Within the neoliberal view, the public sphere should either be privatized as in the call to privatize U.S. public schools, public parks, social security, health care, and so on, or the public sphere should be in the service of the private sphere as in the case of U.S. federal subsidies for corporate agriculture, entertainment, and defense.

As many critics have observed, globalization efforts have hardly resulted in more just social relations either in terms of access to political power or democratic control over the economy. While corporate news media heralded economic boom at the millennium's turn, disparities in wealth have reached greater proportions than during the Great Depression,3 with the world's richest three hundred individuals possessing more wealth than the world's poorest forty-eight countries combined, and the richest fifteen have a greater fortune than the total product of sub-Saharan Africa.4

According to the most recent report of the United Nations Development Programme, while the global consumption of goods and services was twice as big in 1997 as in 1975 and had multiplied by a factor of six since 1950, 1 billion people cannot satisfy even their elementary needs. Among 4.5 billion of the residents of the "developing" countries, three in every five are deprived of access to basic infrastructures: a third have no access to drinkable water, a quarter have no accommodation worthy of its name, one-fifth have no use of sanitary and medical services. One in five children spend less than five years in any form of schooling; a similar proportion is permanently undernourished.5

Austerity measures imposed by world trade organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund ensure that poor nations stay poor by imposing "fiscal discipline" while no such discipline applies to entire industries that are heavily subsidized by the public sector in the United States. While the official U.S. unemployment rate hovers around 5 percent, the real wage has steadily decreased since the 1970s to the point that not a single county in the nation contains one bedroom apartments affordable for a single minimum wage earner.6 Free trade agreements such as NAFTA (and the FTAA that aims to extent it) and GATT, have enriched corporate elites in Mexico and the United States while intensifying poverty along the border.7 Free trade has meant capital flight, job loss, and the dismantling of labor unions in the United States, and the growth of slave labor conditions in nations receiving industrial production such as Indonesia and China. But perhaps the ultimate failure of liberal capitalism is indicated by its success in distributing Coca-Cola to every last niche of the globe while it has failed to supply inexpensive medicines for preventable diseases, or nutritious food or living wages to these same sprawling shanty towns in Ethiopia, Brazil, and the United States. Forty-seven million children in the richest twenty-nine nations in the world are living below the poverty line. Child poverty in the wealthiest nations has worsened with real wages as national incomes have risen over the past half century.8 The effects of globalization on world populations are a far cry from freedom.

Neoliberalism as the doctrine behind global capitalism should be understood in relation to the practice of what Ellen Meiskins Wood calls the "new imperialism," that is "not just a matter of controlling particular territories. It is a matter of controlling a whole world economy and global markets, everywhere and all the time."9 The project of globalization according to New York Times foreign correspondent Thomas L. Friedman "is our overarching national interest" and it "requires a stable power structure, and no country is more essential for this than the United States," for "[i]t has a large standing army, equipped with more aircraft carriers, advanced fighter jets, transport aircraft and nuclear weapons than ever, so that it can project more power farther than any country in the world . . . America excels in all the new measures of power in the era of globalization." As Friedman explains, rallying for the "humanitarian" bombing of Kosovo, "[t]he hidden hand of the market will never work without the hidden fist--McDonald's cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps."10 The Bush administration's new military policies of permanent war confirm Wood's thesis. The return to cold war levels of military spending approaching $400 billion with only 10­15 percent tied to increased antiterrorism measures can be interpreted as part of a more overt strategy of U.S. imperial expansion facilitated by skillful media spin amid post-September 11 anxiety. The framing of those events enabled not only a more open admission of violent power politics and defiant U.S. unilateralism but also an intensified framing of democracy as consumer capitalism. Who can forget the September 12 state and corporate proclamations to be patriotic and go shopping. Post-September 11 spin was a spectacularly successful educational project. Suddenly, in teacher education courses, students who would have proudly announced that they could see no relationship between U.S. foreign policy and U.S. schooling now proudly announced that teachers must educate students toward the national effort to dominate, control, and wage war on other nations who could threaten our economic and military dominance because we have the best "way of life," because "they are jealous of our freedoms," because "they are irrational for failing to grasp that our way of life benefits everybody." Yet, the new Bush military expenditures are part of a longer legacy of World War II military spending that has resulted in a U.S. economy that is, in the words of economist Samir Amin, "monstrously deformed," with about a third of all economic activity depending directly or indirectly on the military complex--a level, Amin notes, only previously reached by the Soviet Union during the Brezhnev era.11

The impoverishing power of globalization is matched by the military destructive power of the new imperialism that enforces neoliberal policy to make the world safe for U.S. markets. However, weapons are not the predominant means for keeping Americans consent to economic policies and political arrangements that impoverish the world materially and reduce the imaginable future to a repetition of a bleak present. Rather, education in the form of formal schooling and predominantly the cultural pedagogies of corporate mass media have succeeded spectacularly in making savage inequalities into common sense, framing issues in the corporate interest, producing identifications with raw power, presenting history in ways that eviscerate popular struggle, and generally shifting the discussion of public goods to the metaphors of the market.12

Though initially received as a radical and off-beat position by liberals and conservatives at the time of its promotion by Milton Friedman during the Kennedy administration, neoliberalism began to take hold with the Reagan/Thatcher era. Significantly, the Reagan era is also the origin of the landmark A Nation at Risk report published in 1983. This formulated a crisis of U.S. public education through the language of global business and military competition. It began, "If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war." The report suggested that there was a crisis of education requiring radical reform. Because the crisis was framed in economic and militaristic terms, the solution would be sought in those domains. This marked a turning point in the public conversation of American education. While such earlier initiatives as the GI Bill and Sputnik indicated a strong link between the military and education, what can be seen as new is the way that militarism was tied to the redefining of education for the corporate good rather than the public good. In other words, this marked a new conflation of corporate profit with the social good, the beginnings of the eradication of the very notion of the public. Corporate CEOs became increasingly legitimate spokepersons on educational reform. Such high-profile corporate players as Louis Gerstner of IBM began declaring that education needs to serve corporate needs. Increasingly, as David Labaree has noted, this trend marked a shift toward defining the role of schools as preparing students for upward social mobility through economic assimilation. So, while on a social level, schools were suddenly thought to exist for the good of the national economy, that is the corporate controlled economy, on an individual level, schools came to be justified for inclusion within this corporate-controlled economy.

The case of Michael Milken nicely exemplifies the relationship between the neoliberal redefinition of the goals of public schooling and the privatization movement. Upon release from prison for ninety-eight counts of fraud and insider trading that resulted in the milking of the public sector of billions of dollars, junk bond king Michael Milken immediately began an education conglomerate called Knowledge Universe with his old pals from investment bank Drexel. As he bought up companies engaged in privatizing public schooling, he declared on his website that schools should serve corporate needs. He was wildly lauded throughout the press by such respectable papers as the New York Times, and was declared a greater figure than Mother Teresa by Business Week for redeeming himself from a tainted past by such good works in education. In addition to Knowledge Universe, Milken established the Milken Institute that propagandizes neoliberal social policy, and he set up the Milken Family Foundation that funds research and lobbies for privatization of Israel's economy and education system through the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He also funded Justus Reid Weiner's slanderous attack in Commentary Magazine on Palestinian human rights spokesperson and progressive intellectual Edward Said. Milken was instrumental in the growth to monopolistic proportions of Time Warner, which included Time's swallowing of Warner Brothers and Turner Broadcasting, and the growth of MCI. As Robert W. McChesney, Edward Herman, and others have shown, the radical consolidation of corporate media with its stranglehold on knowledge production has contributed significantly to the success of neoliberal ideology.13

Neoliberal ideals were not taken seriously until the 1990s, in part because of the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. This began a tide of claims that we live in the best and only social order. This is a social order marked by what Zygmunt Bauman calls the TINA thesis: There Is No Alternative to the present system.14 The TINA thesis was started by Francis Fukuyama's "End of History" argument and runs through Thomas Friedman's The Lexus and the Olive Tree with its circular logic: everyone in the world wants to be American because this is the best of all possible systems, and if anyone does not want to be American, this proves their irrationality and we must bomb them into realizing that this is the best of all possible systems. The dissolution of the Soviet system as a symbol of a possible alternative allows a growing insistence on the part of neoliberals that since the present order is the only order, then the task should be one of enforcing the ideals of the order, aligning institutions and social practices with these ideals. So for example, you get Washington Post columnist William Raspberry (who favors full-scale public school privatization) writing that scripted lessons may seem harsh but after all "it works."15 Such an instrumentalist approach to schooling, which overly relies on supposedly value-free and quantifiable measures of "success," fails to account for how efficacy needs to be understood in relation to broader social contexts, histories, and competing notions of what counts as valuable knowledge. So, for example, how did the canon championed by E. D. Hirsch, Jr., with his Core Knowledge Schools come to be socially valued knowledge? Whose class, racial, and gender perspectives does such knowledge represent? There are high social costs of measures such as scripting, standardization, and the testing fetish. Citizenship becomes defined by an anticritical following of authority; knowledge becomes mistakenly presented as value-free units to be mechanically deposited; schooling models the new social logic that emphasizes economic social mobility rather than social transformation--that is, it perceives society as a flawed yet unchangeable situation into which individuals should seek assimilation into the New World Order.

This criticism of instrumental schooling would seem not to be a terribly new insight. In education, the tradition of critical pedagogy that includes Freire, Apple, Giroux, and others made this critical insight a basic precept. However, what is distinct about instrumentalism under the neoliberal imperative is that prior taken-for-granted ideals of an education system intended to ameliorate, enlighten, and complete the individual and society no longer hold. For neoliberalism is not simply about radical individualism, the celebration of business, and competition as a virtue; it is about a prohibition on thinking the social in public terms. In the words of Margaret Thatcher "there is no such thing as English society," there are only English families.16 The insidiousness of the TINA thesis cannot be overstated. When there is no alternative to the present order then the only question is the method of achieving the goal--the goal being the eradication of anything and anyone that calls the present order into question. This is why it has been so easy following September 11 to discuss methods that are radically at odds with the tradition of liberal democracy in the war on terrorism. (It is no coincidence that the new war is declared on a method of fighting rather than an ideological opponent or another nation. Precisely because there is no alternative to the present order, the values, ideologies, and beliefs of the opponent are not discussable. Ethics can only be a matter of strategy.) Torture of prisoners, disappearances of suspects, spying on the population without limit, and an unprecedented level of secrecy about the workings of the government are a few of the proto-fascist developments that have been achieved within the first year since September 11. But the destruction of the trade towers did not itself make this rush to fascism possible so much as did the success of neoliberal ideology's prohibition on thinking, discussing, and creating another more just system of economic distribution, political participation, and cultural recognition.

Ronald Reagan entered office with plans to dismantle the U.S. Department of Education and implement market-based voucher schemes. Both initiatives failed largely due to teachers' unions and the fact that public opinion had yet to be worked on by a generation of corporate-financed public relations campaigns to make neoliberal ideals appear commonsensical.17 Despite this failure, in his second term Reagan successfully appropriated the racial, equity-based, magnet school voucher model developed by liberals to declare that the market model (rather than authoritative federal action against racism) was responsible for the high quality of these schools.18 What should not be missed here is that the real triumph of such rhetoric was to shift the discussion of U.S. public schooling away from political concerns with the role that education should play in preparing citizens for democratic participation. The market metaphors redefine public schooling as a good or service that students and parents consume like toilet paper or soap. Despite a history of racial and class oppression, that owes in no small part to the fact that U.S. public schooling has been tied to local property wealth and hence unequally distributed as a resource, public schooling has been a site of democratic deliberation where communities convene to struggle over values. Despite the material and ideological constraints that teachers and administrators often face, the public character of these schools allows them to remain open to the possibility of being places where curricula and teacher practices can speak to a broader vision for the future than the one imagined by multinational corporations. Thus, to speak of militarized public schooling in the United States, it is not enough to identify the extent to which certain schools (particularly urban nonwhite schools) increasingly resemble the military or prisons, nor is it adequate to point out the ways public schools are used to recruit soldiers. Militarized public schooling needs to be understood in relation to the enforcement of globalization through the implementation of all the policies and reforms that are guided toward the neoliberal ideal. Globalization gets enforced through privatization schemes such as vouchers, charters, performance contracting, and commercialization; standards and accountability schemes that seek to enforce a uniform curriculum and emphasize testing and quantifiable performance; assessment, accreditation (in higher education), and curricula that celebrate market values and the culture of those in power rather than human and democratic values. Such curricula and reforms are designed to avoid critical questions about the relationships between the production of knowledge and power, authority, politics, history, and ethics. While some multinational corporations, such as Disney in their Celebration School, and BPAmoco, with their middle-level science curriculum, have appropriated progressive pedagogical methods, these curricula, like ads, strive to promote a vision of a world best served under benevolent corporate management.

Selling War

JROTC and standard recruitment, prior to September 11, proved insufficient to keep the voluntary U.S. military stocked with enough soldiers to wield, in the words of Thomas Friedman, "the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley's technologies and McDonald's."19 In fact, military recruiting in the United States has seen a crisis in the past few years. As of 1999 the army suffered its worst recruiting drought since 1979 with a shortage of 7,000 enlistees to maintain a force size of 74,500. The air force fell short by 1,500­1,800, while the navy had to cut its target numbers and lower its requirements to make numbers.20 As recruitment target numbers have not been met, the military has invested heavily in a number of new advertising campaigns that radically redefine the image of the military and use "synergy" to promote the branches of the service in Hollywood films and on television. For example, navy ads use clips from the film Men of Honor, with military advertising preceding the film. Because the U.S. military must rely fully upon consent rather than coercion to fill its ranks, the military is portrayed in ads as fun and exciting, and the heroism of service is tied to the most sentimental depictions that play on childhood innocence and family safety to sell youth on the business of killing. The new campaign for the air force titled "Lullaby" promotes its new slogan "No One Comes Close." Quadrupling its advertising budget to $76 million (all the services are spending $11,000 per recruit on advertising),21 buying national television slots for the first time, and using a "brand identity" based approach, the new marketing seeks to induce recruitment by filling the airwaves with "value-based" advertising that emphasizes the "intangibles" of military service.22

An ad called "Lullaby," for example, shows home videos of happy children and their mother with a soft voice singing in the background. At the words "guardian angels will attend thee all through the night," the visual image shifts to an F-117 "stealth" fighter roaring across a dark sky. The only explicit appeal to recruits comes in the final second, when the Air Force's new slogan, "No One Comes Close," appears on a black screen followed for an instant by the words "Join Us."23

A central strategy of this campaign as well as the army's new "Army of One" campaign is to suggest a heroic exclusivity of service in this particular branch. All of the branches are following the Marine Corps' successful campaign that "portrayed enlistment as a chance to become a dragon-slaying knight in shining armor. The macho ads were designed to convince young people that joining the Marines was not merely a career choice but a powerful statement about what kind of adults they intended to become."24

The Air Force advertisement draws on Judeo-Christian imagery of an angry and protective techno-god. By joining the air force one can be the, protector of the innocent and approach the infinite power of the almighty--interchangeably God and the unmatchable techno-power of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, McDonnell-Douglas, and Raytheon. To be in the air force, the ad suggests, is to be in an elite and exclusive, powerful, and moral position. Another set of public service announcement ads aimed at adults seeks to "ensure that parents, teachers and other 'adult influencers' know about the educational programs so that they, in turn, can advise young people."25 These ads stress tangible rewards such as educational opportunities, high-tech skills training, and managerial expertise, which can later translate into cash in the corporate sector.

While the United States offers no public universal higher education program in civil society, it does so through the military. Ryan's statement about the higher calling of serving our nation is hardly a sentiment reserved for a conservative military establishment. Liberals and conservatives join in proclaiming the virtues of a military form of public service at a time when public spending goes increasingly for militarized solutions to civic social problems. These militarized solutions have translated into the United States having by far the largest prison system in the world with over two million inmates. Rapidly rising investment in the prison industrial complex, which includes for-profit prisons and high-tech policing, is matched by rapid privatization of the public sector.26 As U.S. citizens enjoy few of the social safety nets of public health care, education, or welfare, enjoyed by citizens of most industrialized nations, U.S. public institutions such as hospitals, schools, and social security are subject to the fevered call to privatize. At the same time that public investment in militarizing civil society has come into vogue, the world of the corporate class has discovered military chic. The first issue of Harper's Bazaar for the new millennium shows a serious looking fashion model goose stepping down the runway in uniform. The accompanying text sounds off: "Military Coup. Never thought you would crave camouflage? Think again . . . fashion's military scheme will have even the most resistant shopper succumbing to the latest protocol."27 The model's designer jacket is listed for $1,500, and the cotton skirt runs $370. Military chic for corporate elites extends to the nationwide trend for private boot-camp style exercise classes.

The same marketing strategies designed to lure recruits are used by weapons manufacturers Lockheed Martin and Boeing (along with a lot of money) to lobby the U.S. Congress to continue funding such miserably failed and unbelievably expensive and unnecessary weapons programs as the F-22 joint strike fighter and "Star Wars."28 As Mark Crispin Miller observes, the defense industry's advertisements not too subtly suggest that the public better fund the weapons projects or American family members will die in foreign wars and from terrorist attacks at home.29 The weapons manufacturers also use the ads to propose that peace is a result of heavy military investment, thereby obviating the need for social movements for peace such as those that influenced the end of the Vietnam War.

The new campaign for the army, "An Army of One," replaces the "Be All That You Can Be" slogan that was the number two jingle of the twentieth century behind McDonald's "You Deserve a Break Today."30 The "Army of One" campaign, like its predecessor, stresses individual self-actualization, yet goes a step further to insist upon the ideal of radical individualism. A lone recruit runs across a desert in full gear as troops pass in the opposite direction. Such images would seem to chafe against the necessity of self-sacrifice and teamwork, which more accurately characterizes the military. The new ads insist that every soldier is a hero, is an army. The promise is not merely one of becoming the "best" that one can be, a promise that implies there might still be someone better; the "Army of One" slogan promises that one incorporates the army into oneself, one renounces oneself and actually becomes the army with all of its power and technology. The Army slogan is consistent with the virtual tour offered by the marine corps. This tour begins by explicitly linking the militaristic renunciation of self to economic metaphors:

One must first be stripped clean. Freed of all the notions of self. It is the marine corps that will strip away the façade so easily confused with the self. It is the corps that will offer the pain needed to buy the truth. And at last each will own the privilege of looking inside himself to discover what truly resides there.31

One renounces oneself. One's body undergoes torments of the flesh. Yet this pain inflicted through training is currency that allows one to buy knowledge of one's new self. At the end of the tour one learns that self-renunciation, pain, the breaking and remaking, and ultimate purchase of self-knowledge results in the privatized social unit: "We came as orphans, we depart as family," concludes the marine tour.

Just as family restoration becomes the aim of war in the marine ad, so too does it appear in such blockbuster films as Saving Private Ryan, Men of Honor, Three Kings, and The Thin Red Line. The brilliant innovation of Saving Private Ryan was to make the goal of the good war not the protection of the public so much as the preservation of the private family unit. Saving Private Ryan simultaneously shifted democratic ideals onto the market metaphor. Freedom, we are told in the end of Saving Private Ryan, needs to be earned by individuals. When they have earned their freedom they can go home.


Within the climate of the innocent culture of violence the endlessly repeated images of collapsing twin towers were nearly seamlessly contextualized as a complete surprise, a fall from American innocence. Rather than confronting the problem with U.S. intervention in the Middle East, central and South America, and elsewhere as the original violence that has been some of the most brutal of the past century, the event was interpreted as unthinkable and irrational rather than as a political response, thereby justifying an escalation of violence in the Middle East, central and south Asia, and South America. In the declaration of permanent war not on a specific enemy but on a method of warfare, mindless vengeance trumps understanding the history of U.S. imperial violence overseas that brought about such brutal reaction. Moreover, the enemy's ideological commitments, basic values, and historical relation to the U.S. cannot be discussed as the ground of discussion in the war on terrorism is shifted to the methods of struggle. The enemy is anyone in the world who does not pledge allegiance.

Education is becoming increasingly justified on the grounds of national security. This can be seen in the Hart-Rudman commission that in 2000 called for education to be classified as an issue of national security, in the increase of federal funding to school security simultaneous with cuts to community policing, in the continuation of the Troops to Teachers program, as well as the original A Nation at Risk report. Why is this? It is tied to the attack on social spending more generally, the antifederalist aspect of neoliberalism, a politics of containment rather than investment, the political efficacy of keeping large segments of the population uneducated and miseducated, the economic efficacy of keeping funds flowing to the defense and high-tech sectors and away from the segments of the population that are viewed as of little use to capital. As well, the working class, employed in lowskill, low-paying service sector jobs, would be likely to complain or even organize if they were encouraged to question and think too much. Education and literacy are tied to political participation. Participation might mean that noncorporate elites would want social investment in public projects or at least projects that might benefit most people. That won't do. There is a reason that the federal government wants soldiers rather than say the glut of unemployed Ph.D.s in classrooms. Additionally, corporate globalization initiatives such as the FTAA seek to allow corporate competition into the public sector at an unprecedented level. In theory, public schools would have to compete with corporate for-profit schooling initiatives from any corporation in the world. By redefining public schooling as a national security issue, education could be exempted from the purview of this radical globalization that such agreements impose on other nations. Consistent with the trend, education for national security defines the public interest through the discourse of discipline that influences reforms that deskill teachers, inhibiting teaching as a critical and intellectual endeavor that aims to make a participatory citizenry capable of building the public sphere.

What to do? As Seymour Melman argues in After Capitalism, a central task for the future is to transform a war economy to a civilian one not only for former Soviet states but for the United States as well. Considering the ways that the global financial system maintains poverty and the military system produces war, a key task for educators is to imagine the role of education as a means of mobilizing citizens to understand and transform these systems toward a goal of global democracy and global justice. Militarized schooling can be resisted at the local level. Many activists and critical educators already do so. For example, Kevin Ramirez started and runs the Military Out of our Schools campaign that seeks to eject JROTC programs from public schools. Ramirez points out to parents, teachers, administrators, and newspaper reporters that school violence is an extension of social violence, which is taught. Like Ramirez, other civic and religious organizations work to eliminate military recruiting in schools. I have argued that militarized education in the United States needs to be understood in relation to the enforcement of corporate economic imperatives and in relation to a rising culture of "law and order" that pervades popular culture, educational discourse, foreign policy, and language. The movement against militarism in education must go beyond challenging militarized schooling so as to challenge the many ways that militarism as a cultural logic enforces the expansion of corporate power and decimates public democratic power. Such a movement against education as enforcement must include the practice of critical pedagogy and also ideally links to multiple movements against oppression such as the antiglobalization, feminist, labor, environmental, and antiracism movements. These movements and critical educational practice and theory need to form the basis for imagining and implementing a just future.





1 Nancy Chang, Silencing Political Dissent: How Post-September 11 Anti-terrorism measures threaten our civil liberties (New York: Seven Stories, 2002).

2 Robert W. McChesney "Introduction," in Profit Over People Noam Chomsky (New York: Seven Stories Press, 1999), 7.

3 "Since the mid-1970's, the most fortunate one percent of households have doubled their share of the national wealth. They now hold more wealth than the bottom 95 percent of the population." "Shifting Fortunes," Chris Hartman, ed., "Facts and Figures" (September 18, 2000), available at <>. In a report to the World Bank's Board of Governors, James D. Wolfensohn attests, "Across the world 1.3 billion people live on less than $1 a day; 3 billion live on under $2 a day; 1.3 billion have no access to clean water; 3 billion have no access to sanitation; 2 billion have no access to power." "The Other Crisis," October 6, 1998 available at <>. In the United States alone, "by far the richest country in the world and the homeland of the world's wealthiest people, 16.5 per cent of the population live in poverty; one fifth of adult men and women can neither read nor write, while 13 per cent have a life expectancy shorter than sixty years." Zygmunt Bauman, The Individualized Society (Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2001), 115.

4 Bauman, The Individualized Society, 115.

5 Bauman, The Individualized Society, 114.

6 "Index," Harper's Magazine (July 2000).

7 "According to data from the 2000 consensus, fully 75 percent of the population of Mexico lives in poverty today (with fully one-third in extreme poverty), as compared with 49 percent in 1981, before the imposition of the neoliberal regimen and, later, NAFTA. Meanwhile, the longstanding gap between the northern and southern regions, as manifested in poverty, infant mortality and malnutrition rates, has grown wider as the latter has borne the brunt of neoliberal adjustment policies. Chiapas, for example, produces more than half of Mexico's hydroelectric power, an increasing portion of which flows north to the maquiladora zone on the Mexico­US border. Yet, even including its major cities of Tuxtla Gutiérrez and San Cristóbal de las Casas, only half of Chiapanecan households have electricity or running water. Additional water sources have been diverted to irrigate large landholdings devoted to export-oriented agriculture and commercial forestry, while peasant farmers have suffered reductions in water and other necessities as well as an end to land reform, even as they have endured a flood of US agribusiness exports that followed the NAFTA opening. According to the Mexican government's own official estimates, 1.5 million peasants will be forced to leave agriculture in the next one to two decades, many driven northward to face low-wage maquiladoras on one side of the border and high-tech militarization on the other." Jerry W. Sanders, "Two Mexicos and Fox's Quandary." The Nation (February 26, 2001): 18­19.

8 John Williams, "Look, Child Poverty in the Wealthy Countries Isn't Necessary," International Herald Tribune (July 24, 2000). See also Chris Hartman, ed., "Facts and Figures": "nine states have reduced child poverty rates by more than 30 percent since 1993. These states include Tennessee, Michigan, Arkansas, South Carolina, Mississippi, Kentucky, Illinois and New Jersey. Michigan is a prime example of a national trend, in that even the recent dramatic improvement did not counter the losses of the previous 15 years, in which its poverty rate increased 121%. In California, the number of children living in poverty has grown from 900,000 in 1979, to 2.15 million in 1998.

9 Ellen Meiskins Wood, "Kosovo and the New Imperialism," in Masters of the Universe?, edited by Tariq Ali (New York: Verso, 2000), 199.

10 Thomas L. Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree (New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1999), 304, 373.

11 Samir Amin, Capitalism in the Age of Globalization (New York: Zed Books, 2000), 48.

12 Public schooling has come increasingly to be described in the language of monopoly, accountability, choice, and efficiency, and decreasingly described in the language of the public, the civic, community, and solidarity. For a longer discussion of the political use of market language in educational policy see Kenneth J. Saltman, Collateral Damage: Corporatizing Public School--a Threat to Democracy (Boulder, Colo.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000).

13 Robert W. McChesney, Rich Media Poor Democracy and McChesney and Edward Herman, The Global Media: The New Missionaries of Corporate Capitalism (Washington, D.C.: Cassell, 1997).

14 Zygmunt Bauman, In Search of Politics (Malden, Mass.: Polity, 1999).

15 William Raspberry, "Sounds Bad, but It Works," Washington Post (March 30 1998): 25A.

16 Zygmunt Bauman, Liquid Modernity (Malden, Mass.: Polity) 2000, 30.

17 McChesney "Introduction," 7.

18 See Jeffrey Henig's Rethinking School Choice (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994) for an excellent history of the appropriation of equity-based programs by privatization advocates.

19 Friedman, 373.

20 Steven Lee Myers, "Drop in Recruits Pushes Pentagon to New Strategy," New York Times (September 27, 1999): A1.

21 Robert Suro, "Army Ads Open New Campaign: Finish Education," Washington Post (September 21, 2000): A3.

22 Robert Suro, "Army Ads Open New Campaign: Finish Education," Washington Post (September 21, 2000): A3.

23 Ibid.

24 Ibid.

25 Ibid.

26 Noam Chomsky, Profits Over People (New York: Seven Stories Press, 1999).

27 Harper's Bazaar (January 2001): 35.

28 See Ken Silverstein's Washington on $10 Million a Day for a detailed expose on the way the lobbying industry ensures that weapons manufacturers keep politicians voting in favor of their projects.

29 Marketing Tomorrow's Weapons video produced by America's Defense Monitor.

30 News Services, "Army to Try New Advertising Maneuver to Boost Recruiting," Star Tribune (Minneapolis) (January 8, 2000): 12A.

31 Available at <http//>.


Revised 10/15/2019

Training Killers in the Classroom

June Terpstra and Husayn Al-Kurdi -

“If they would rather die, said Scrooge, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

image source: militarization of public schools is a subject concerning the life and death of the young people of this country and those millions across the globe they will be trained to kill, torture, and invade. To speak of this is to challenge the intense economic, social and cultural campaigns conducted to convince populations that wars benefiting the rich are wars guaranteeing freedom. The increasing need for young people to voluntarily join the US military to fight the wars for the enforcement of global capitalism as it expands its markets poses a challenge for radical educators to provide alternative scenarios. This article examines this agenda for militarization and provides strategies for counter-campaigns to end militarization in the public schools and the culture at large.

The educational system in the USA has from its inception been a site of struggle between the owning and possessing classes and those who serve them and abide by their bidding. Schools are the breeding grounds in which competing fantasies, fears, hopes and desires held by individuals and social groups crystallize. Public schooling is used to promote the militarization of young people whose class, racial and gender perspectives represent various competing ideological and economic claims. Unsuspecting young people are unaware that this militarized education will lead to train the individual to more readily kill and commit war crimes such as those committed by U.S. troops in Iraq, such as the brutality exhibited at Abu-Ghraib or in Mahmoudiya, where soldiers gang-raped a teen-age Iraqi girl and burned her body to destroy the evidence.

As Kenneth Saltman explains in Education as Enforcement:

Military generals running schools, students in uniforms, metal detectors, police presence, high-tech ID card dog tags, real time Internet-based surveillance cameras, mobile hidden surveillance cameras, security consultants, chainlink fences, surprise searches”—are all part of the investment the military industrial complex is embedding in U.S. public schools as they increasingly resemble the military and prisons. Militarism and the promotion of violence as virtue pervade foreign and domestic policy, popular culture, educational discourse, and language. In addition to promoting recruitment, military education plays a central role in fostering a social focus on discipline. In short, to speak of militarized schooling in the United States context it is inadequate to identify the ways that schools increasingly resemble the military and prisons. This phenomenon needs to be understood as part of the militarization of civil society exemplified by the rise of militarized policing, increased police powers for search and seizure, anti-public gathering laws, “zero tolerance” policies, and the transformation of welfare into punishing workfare programs.

The process of molding recruits into serviceable troops is based on indoctrinating them in the dehumanization of designated enemies. In the present US-led wars of terror these “enemies” are people who pose no threat to the individual or country but whose resources are coveted by the corporations. Additionally, the killing fields of the present US wars target people who mean nothing to capitalism’s obedient generals but a playground in which to use up old weapons and military equipment and experiment with new weapons and technologies. The public school military agenda offers the first steps to train young people to overcome any fear or prejudice against killing that the culture has not already dispelled via video games and films where the military is portrayed in ads as an adventure and a way to gain skills and a future education (providing one does not get killed). The heroism of service is consistently morphed with the concept of freedom along with an understated promotion of the excitement of killing bad guys. Ads, films and TV shows suggest that to be in the military is to be in respected and powerful elite. The main themes stress tangible rewards such as educational opportunities, high-tech skills training, and managerial expertise, which can later translate into cash in the corporate sector.

Chicago is one of the most militarized zones in need of de-militarization. There are five military academies affiliated with the Army, Navy, or Marines in the Windy City. Along with required attendance in the Junior ROTC program cadets must wear full military costumes to school and undergo daily uniform inspections, take a daily ROTC course focusing on military history, map reading and navigation, drug prevention, and the branches of the Department of Defense. Cadets can be seen marching on an academy’s drill team, learning the proper way to fire a weapon and shoot to kill. Military commandants from the U.S. armed services teach alongside math and music teachers in each academy. Three of these military academies were created in part with Department of Defense appropriations, funds secured by Illinois lawmakers. CPS is the only public school system in the country with Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marine Corps high school academies. In 2000, the armed services Chiefs of Staff testified before The House Armed Services Committee that 30%-50% of all Junior ROTC cadets later enlist in the military. Organizations opposing the military’s growing presence in public schools insist that it’s no coincidence that the number of military academies in Chicago is on the rise at a time when the U.S. military has had difficulty meeting its recruitment targets while fighting unpopular wars of aggression.

A militarized society from which to draw human cannon fodder is crucial to imperialist global control. The military is one of the most important sites of struggle for educators and researchers. Militarized schooling should be resisted at the local level as in organizations such as the Military Out of our Schools campaign that seeks to eject JROTC programs from public schools. Beyond this, an aggressive campaign that counters the cultural, social and economic program of the military is needed. We must provide an educational curriculum which facilitates the development of critical awareness of the student’s social, political and cultural conditions and conditioning.



Revised: 10-11-2019



June Terpstra, PhD. Activist educator and a visiting lecturer in the North Eastern Illinois University Justice Studies Department (Archived). Contact her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Repress U, Class of 2012: 7 Steps to a Homeland Security Campus

Michael Gould-Wartofsky -

Lt. John Pike leads SWAT team on UC Davis campus just before he pepper sprayed peaceful students. From ( spies. Pepper spray. SWAT teams. Twitter trackers. Biometrics. Student security consultants. Professors of homeland security studies. Welcome to Repress U, class of 2012.

Since 9/11, the homeland security state has come to campus just as it has come to America's towns and cities, its places of work and its houses of worship, its public space and its cyberspace. But the age of (in)security had announced its arrival on campus with considerably less fanfare than elsewhere -- until, that is, the "less lethal (archived)" weapons were unleashed in the fall of 2011.

Today, from the City University of New York to the University of California, students increasingly find themselves on the frontlines, not of a war on terror, but of a war on "radicalism" and "extremism." Just about everyone from college administrators and educators to law enforcement personnel and corporate executives seems to have enlisted in this war effort. Increasingly, American students are in their sights.

In 2008, I laid out seven steps the Bush administration had taken to create a homeland security campus. Four years and a president later, Repress U has come a long way. In the Obama years, it has taken seven more steps to make the university safe for plutocracy. Here is a step-by-step guide to how they did it.

1. Target Occupy

Had there been no UC Davis, no Lt. John Pike, no chemical weapons wielded against peacefully protesting students, and no cameras to broadcast it all, Americans might never have known just how far the homeland security campus has come in its mission to police its students. In the old days, you might have called in the National Guard. Nowadays, all you need is an FBI-trained, federally funded, and "less lethally" armed campus police department.

The mass pepper-spraying of students at UC Davis was only the most public manifestation of a long-running campus trend in which, for officers of the peace, the pacification of student protest has become part of the job description. The weapons of choice have sometimes been blunt instruments, such as the extendable batons used to bludgeon the student body at Berkeley, Baruch, and the University of Puerto Rico. At other times, tactical officers have turned to "less-lethal" munitions, like the CS gas, beanbag rounds, and pepper pellets fired into crowds at Occupy protests across the University of California system this past winter.

Yet for everything we see of the homeland security campus, there is a good deal more that we miss. Behind the riot suits, the baton strikes, and the pepper-spray cannons stands a sprawling infrastructure made possible by multimillion-dollar federal grants, "memoranda of understanding" and "mutual aid" agreements among law enforcement agencies, counter-terrorism training, an FBI-sponsored "Academic Alliance," and 103 Joint Terrorism Task Forces (which provide "one-stop shopping" for counterterrorism operations to more than 50 federal and 600 state and local agencies).

"We have to go where terrorism takes us, so we often have to go onto campuses," FBI Special Agent Jennifer Gant told Campus Safety Magazine in an interview last year. To that end, campus administrators and campus police chiefs are now known to coordinate their operations with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) "special advisors," FBI "campus liaison agents (Archived)," an FBI-led National Security Advisory Board, and a Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, which instructs local law enforcement in everything from "physical techniques" to "behavioral science." More than half of campus police forces already have "intelligence-sharing agreements" with these and other government agencies in place.

2. Get a SWAT team

Since 2007, campus police forces have decisively escalated their tactics, expanded their arsenals, and trained ever more of their officers in SWAT-style paramilitary policing. Many agencies acquire their arms directly from the Department of Defense through a surplus weapons sales program known as "1033," which offers, among other things, "used grenade launchers (Archived) (for the deployment of less lethal weapons)... for a significantly reduced cost."

According to the most recent federal data available, nine out of 10 campus agencies with sworn police officers now deploy armed patrols authorized to use deadly force. Nine in 10 also authorize the use of chemical munitions, while one in five make regular use of Tasers. Last August, an 18-year old student athlete died after being tased at the University of Cincinnati.

Meanwhile, many campus police squads have been educated in the art of war through regular special weapons training sessions by "tactical officers' associations" which run a kind of SWAT university. In October, UC Berkeley played host to an "Urban Shield (archived)" SWAT training exercise involving local and campus agencies, the California National Guard, and special police forces from Israel, Jordan, and Bahrain. And since 2010, West Texas A&M has played host to paramilitary training (archive) programs for police from Mexico.

In October, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte got its very own SWAT team, equipped with MP-15 rifles, M&P 40 sidearms, and Remington shotguns. "We have integrated SWAT officers into the squads that serve our campus day and night," boasted UNC Charlotte Chief of Police Jeff Baker. The following month, in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, a SWAT team staged an armed raid on an occupied building, pointing assault rifles at the heads of activists, among them UNC students.

3. Spy on Muslims

The long arm of Repress U stretches far beyond the bounds of any one campus or college town. As reported by the Associated Press this winter, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and its hitherto secret "Demographics Unit (archive)" sent undercover operatives to spy on members of the Muslim Students Association at more than 20 universities in four states across the Northeast beginning in 2006.

None of the organizations or persons of interest were ever accused of any wrongdoing, but that didn't stop NYPD detectives from tracking Muslim students through a "Cyber Intelligence Unit," issuing weekly "MSA Reports" on local chapters of the Muslim Students Association, attending campus meetings and seminars, noting how many times students prayed, or even serving as chaperones for what they described as "militant paintball trips." The targeted institutions ran the gamut from community colleges to Columbia and Yale.

According to the AP's investigation, the intelligence units in question worked closely not only with agencies in other cities, but with an agent on the payroll of the CIA. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, facing mounting calls to resign, has issued a spirited defense of the campus surveillance program, as has Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "If terrorists aren't limited by borders and boundaries, we can't be either," Kelly said in a speech at Fordham Law School.

The NYPD was hardly the only agency conducting covert surveillance of Muslim students on campus. The FBI has been engaging in such tactics for years. In 2007, UC Irvine student Yasser Ahmed was assaulted by FBI agents, who followed him as he was on his way to a campus "free speech zone." In 2010, Yasir Afifi, a student at Mission College in Santa Clara, California, found a secret GPS tracking device affixed to his car. A half-dozen agents later knocked on his door to ask for it back.

4. Keep the undocumented out

Foreign students are followed closely by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) through its Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). As of 2011, the agency was keeping tabs on 1.2 million students and their dependents. Most recently, as part of a transition to the paperless SEVIS II -- which aims to "unify records" -- ICE has been linking student files to biometric and employer data collected by DHS and other agencies.

"That information stays forever," notes Louis Farrell, director of the ICE program. "And every activity that's ever been associated with that person will come up. That's something that has been asked for by the national security community... [and] the academic community."

Then there are the more than 360,000 undocumented students and high-school graduates who would qualify for permanent resident status and college admission, were the DREAM Act ever passed. It would grant conditional permanent residency to undocumented students who were brought to the U.S. as children. When such students started "coming out" as part of an "undocumented and unafraid" campaign, many received DHS notices to appear for removal proceedings. Take 24-year old Uriel Alberto, of Lees-McRae College, who recently went on hunger strike in North Carolina's Wake County jail; he now faces deportation (and separation from his U.S.-born son) for taking part in a protest at the state capitol.

Since 2010, the homeland security campus has been enlisted by the state of Arizona to enforce everything from bans on ethnic studies programs to laws like S.B. 1070, which makes it a crime to appear in public without proof of legal residency and is considered a mandate for police to detain anyone suspected of being undocumented. Many undocumented students have turned down offers of admission to the University of Arizona since the passage of the law, while others have stopped attending class for fear of being detained and deported.

5. Keep an eye on student spaces and social media

While Muslim and undocumented students are particular targets of surveillance, they are not alone. Electronic surveillance has expanded beyond traditional closed-circuit TV cameras to next-generation technologies (Archived) like IQeye HD megapixel cameras, so-called edge devices (cameras that can do their own analytics), and Perceptrak's video analytics software (archived), which "analyzes video from security cameras 24x7 for events of interest," and which recently made its debut at Johns Hopkins University and Mount Holyoke College.

At the same time, students' social media accounts have become a favorite destination for everyone from campus police officers to analysts at the Department of Homeland Security.

In 2010, the DHS National Operations Center established a Media Monitoring Capability (MMC). According to an internal agency document, MMC is tasked with "leveraging news stories, media reports and postings on social media sites... for operationally relevant data, information, analysis, and imagery." The definition of operationally relevant data includes "media reports that reflect adversely on DHS and response activities," "partisan or agenda-driven sites," and a final category ambiguously labeled "research/studies, etc."

With the Occupy movement coming to campus, even university police departments have gotten in on the action. According to a how-to guide called "Essential Ingredients to Working with Campus Protests" by UC Santa Barbara police chief Dustin Olson, the first step to take is to "monitor social media sites continuously," both for intelligence about the "leadership and agenda" and "for any messages that speak to violent or criminal behavior."

6. Coopt the classroom and the laboratory

At a time when entire departments and disciplines are facing the chopping block at America's universities, the Department of Homeland Security has proven to be the best-funded department of all. Homeland security studies has become a major growth sector in higher education and now has more than 340 (archived) certificate- and degree-granting programs. Many colleges have joined the Homeland Security and Defense Education Consortium, a spinoff of the U.S. Northern Command (the Department of Defense's "homeland defense (archive)" division), which offers a model curriculum to its members.

This emerging discipline has been directed and funded to the tune of $4 billion over the last five years by DHS. The goal, according to Dr. Tara O'Toole, DHS Undersecretary of Science & Technology, is to "leverag[e] the investment and expertise of academia... to meet the needs of the department." Additional funding is being made available from the Pentagon through its blue-skies research arm, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the "intelligence community" through its analogous Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity.

At the core of the homeland security-university partnership are DHS's 12 centers of excellence. (A number that has doubled since I first reported on the initiative in 2008.) The DHS Office of University Programs advertises the centers of excellence as an "extended consortium of hundreds of universities" which work together "to develop customer-driven research solutions" and "to provide essential training to the next generation of homeland security experts."

But what kind of research is being carried out at these centers of excellence, with the support of tens of millions of taxpayer dollars each year? Among the 41 "knowledge products" currently in use by DHS or being evaluated in pilot studies, we find an "extremist crime database," a "Minorities at Risk for Organizational Behavior" dataset, analytics for aerial surveillance systems along the border, and social media monitoring technologies. Other research focuses include biometrics, "suspicious behavior detection," and "violent radicalization."

7. Privatize, subsidize, and capitalize

Repress U has not only proven a boon to hundreds of cash-starved universities, but also to big corporations as higher education morphs into hired education. While a majority of the $184 billion in homeland security funding in 2011 came from government agencies like DHS and the Pentagon, private sector funding is expected to make up an increasing share of the total in the coming years, according to the Homeland Security Research Corporation, a consulting firm serving the homeland security industry.

Each DHS Center of Excellence has been founded on private-public partnerships, corporate co-sponsorships, and the leadership of "industry advisory boards (archived)" which give big business a direct stake and say in its operations. Corporate giants allied with DHS Centers of Excellence include:

*Lockheed Martin at the Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), based at the University of Maryland at College Park.

*Alcatel-Lucent and AT&T at the Rutgers University-based Command, Control, and Interoperability Center for Advanced Data Analysis (CICADA).

*ExxonMobil and Con Edison at the Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE), based at the University of Southern California.

*Motorola, Boeing, and Bank of America at the Purdue University-based Center for Visual Analytics for Command, Control, and Interoperability Environments (archived) (VACCINE).

*Wal-Mart, Cargill, Kraft, and McDonald's at the National Center for Food Protection and Defense (NCFPD), based at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.

What's more, universities have struck multimillion-dollar deals with multinational private security firms (archived)  like Securitas, deploying unsworn, underpaid, often untrained "protection officers" on campus as "extra eyes and ears (archived)." The University of Wisconsin-Madison, in one report, boasts that police and private partners have been "seamlessly integrated."

Elsewhere, even students have gotten into the business of security. The private intelligence firm STRATFOR, for example, recently partnered (archived) with the University of Texas to use its students to "essentially parallel the work of... outside consultants" but on campus, offering information on activist groups like the Yes Men (archived).

Step by step, at school after school, the homeland security campus has executed a silent coup in the decade since September 11th. The university, thus usurped, has increasingly become an instrument not of higher learning, but of intelligence gathering and paramilitary training, of profit-taking on behalf of America's increasingly embattled "1%."

Yet the next generation may be otherwise occupied. Since September 2011, a new student movement has swept across the country, making itself felt most recently on March 1st with a national day of action to defend the right to education. This Occupy-inspired wave of on-campus activism is making visible what was once invisible, calling into question what was once beyond question, and counteracting the logic of Repress U with the logic of nonviolence and education for democracy.

For many, the rise of the homeland security campus has provoked some basic questions about the aims and principles of a higher education: Whom does the university serve? Whom does it protect? Who is to speak? Who is to be silenced? To whom does the future belong?

The guardians of Repress U are uninterested in such inquiry. Instead, they cock their weapons. They lock the gates. And they prepare to take the next step.


Revised: 11-04-2019

Anders Breivik, videogames and the militarisation of society

John Martino -

GrenadaThe ongoing trial of Norwegian right-wing extremist Anders Breivik has generated a great deal of media coverage, public debate and analysis. Much of this has focused on claims made by Breivik that he used the “military shooter” Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 to prepare for his attacks. Critics of games and gaming very quickly pounced on his assertion to claim this was evidence of a causal link between game-playing and committing acts of violence. As Adam Ruch pointed out last week on The Conversation, there is no conclusive evidence one way or the other concerning the effects of playing violent videogames. Endlessly debating whether or not games contribute to an individual’s violent actions or thoughts misses the point. What has not been addressed in the debate generated by violent military games is the role these games play in the process of “militarisation”.

Troops Out, Now What?

Jose Vasquez -

Jose VasquezMarch 19th marked the sad anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Nine tumultuous years after "shock and awe," the people of Iraq struggle to rebuild their society while dealing with the aftermath of a disastrous occupation. When the last combat brigades pulled out in December 2011, putting Iraq in their rear-view mirrors, what was the legacy they left in their wake and the burdens they brought home with them?

As both an organizer active with Iraq Veterans Against the War and a student of anthropology, I have worked closely with U.S. military veterans who served in the so-called "Global War of Terror," particularly those involved in peace and social justice movements. Looking back, I see many lessons to be drawn from this costly debacle.

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