June 29, 2008
Nick Kreitman -
Reviewing Five Years of Counter Recruiting in Chicago
Counter recruitment is shorthand for a strategy by the peace movement to make the military withdraw from the occupation in Iraq and other countries through impacting the enlistment levels of willing soldiers. Countering military recruitment involves dissuading people who might interact with the recruiters from doing so and removing the public presence of military recruitment altogether.
Over the past five years of counter recruitment in Chicago there have been roughly four areas of struggle; confronting the military presence inside high schools, the military recruitment at public events, recruitment at universities and confronting military recruitment centers directly. Unfortunately there have been few moments to pause and allow ourselves to review our accomplishments and setbacks. Hopefully those engaged in counter recruitment and those who want to know more will be helped by this work which looks to outline some of the questions that need to be asked in order to help benchmark our progress.
Before discussing the individual arenas where counter recruiters have acted in Chicago, we have to acknowledge the fact that there will probably never be reliable statistics published on our efforts. Most likely the military will never keep statistics on counter recruitment, and if some government agency did receive a budget to track counter recruitment there would be a number of serious issues about reliability. This dearth of information on the regional and national levels however, does not prevent us from collecting information and drawing conclusions about our efforts at the city level. Although the need to collect data of more quantity and quality from actions is universal to the social justice movement, it is particularly necessary in our case because such data could help us choose between a number of possible strategies towards ending the war.