Articles

Counter-Recruitment Deserves Higher Priority on the Peace Agenda

Pat Elder -

National Guard Bureau Sky's the limit for kids in STARBASE Camp > National Guard > News Features - The National Guard - DOD ImageThe mainstream peace and justice movement is beginning to see that countering military recruitment deserves a higher priority and should be viewed in strategic, rather than tactical terms. Resisting the unprecedented and relentless militarization of American youth transcends the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Countering military recruitment confronts an ugly mix of a distinctively American brand of institutionalized violence, racism, militarism, nationalism, classism, and sexism.  It gets to the root of the problem.

Confronting the work of military recruiters, particularly in the nation’s public schools will provide a catalyst for activists to shift gears from the traditional antiwar tactics of vigils, protests, sit-ins, and CD actions to the long-term strategy of opposing the militarization of youth.  The two are not necessarily mutually exclusive. One however, treats symptoms; the other addresses causes.

How Peace Activists Can Win Access to Schools Equal to that of Military Recruiters

Rick Jahnkow -

Since the end of the Vietnam War, the US military has been steadily expanding its presence and influence in schools. In light of this, our expectations need to be realistic: reversing the militarization trend and establishing a strong counter-recruitment presence in schools is not something that can be accomplished in a year. It requires a long-term vision and proportionate commitment by groups for the long haul.

Notes Toward More Powerful Organizing: Pitfalls and Potential in Counter-recruitment Organizing

Matt Guynn -

Amy Hagopian, co-chairwoman of the Garfield High PTSA, lights up Marine Sgt. Christopher Matthews in the school lunchroom. Hagopian is trying to get military recruiters barred from the school. The Marines and the Army have failed to meet recruiting quotas in recent months. Photo: Dan DeLong/Seattle Post-Intelligencer / SL.It’s not necessary to go to Washington for a protest to significantly engage key issues related to the War on Terrorism. Try going to a local coffee shop or any other public place where you can strike up a conversation with youth or young adults about the choices and paths that the young people in your community see in front of them.

 

I tried this recently, when I began talking with a camouflage-fatigued young man next to me in the airport.  He was in his third year in the US Army, about to be shipped to Iraq next week.  “Why did you join?”  “My town (in central Oregon) was boring.”  The refrain from young people in many communities across the United States is that there is nothing to do: Nowhere to get a job (or a job that anyone wants).  Little help available for education. Few paths toward a life of meaning and wellbeing. Too little accompaniment, mentorship or assistance.

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