Posted January 16, 2012
On the Duty to Counter Recruitment
Counter recruitment is a strategy for bringing attention to deceptive recruitment practices and to the immorality and illegality of the military "adventures" in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world. Its ultimate goal is to discourage enlistment into the military, primarily through counseling and educating prospective recruits and by denying recruiters access to our schools and to our children.
Let me begin by saying that counter recruitment is motivated neither by hatred of America nor of the military. Rather, it is inspired, first and foremost, by love, like that of a responsible parent who realizes that, besides praise and approval, sometimes love and responsibility require providing direction and even correction to a child who has gone astray. Further, it is motivated by an awareness of a moral and civic responsibility to oppose immoral and unjust wars, and by a sensitivity and concern for the plight of war victims and for the young men and women who are dishonestly recruited into the military and asked - no, required - to fight, kill and die unnecessarily.
Although it is beyond the scope of this essay to argue the issue at length, American imperialism around the globe is clearly a violation both of international and moral law. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Saddam Hussein was not the mastermind behind the events of 9/11, nor was he harboring al-Qaeda terrorists. Further, since it was never intended as a war to save the Iraqi people from mass slaughter, there was no ongoing or imminent genocide. Neither can it be justified as a humanitarian intervention. It was a war not of necessity, nor of last resort, but of choice.
After ten years of occupation in Afghanistan it is clear that a military resolution is impossible and that our continued military presence merely serves to exacerbate the turmoil and violence. Even were there a glimmer of hope for a successful military resolution, to continue to wage an illegal and immoral war and occupation to finish the job and achieve victory because it is in our national interest to do so, or because to admit a mistake or a crime of aggression would negatively affect our nation's prestige and standing in the world and devalue the sacrifices of those who have already suffered and died, makes no moral sense. It is like arguing that a rapist must persevere in his assault, perhaps even escalate his violence and kill his victim and eye witnesses, because it is in his interest to eliminate anyone who could identify him, or because his reputation as a bully and a thug would be diminished were he to admit a crime of aggression and cut and run. Further, to continue to wage an immoral and illegal war despite recognition of its unjustness indicates a wanton disregard for the dictates of morality and international law.
Given the dangerous world in which we live, maintaining a proficient and well-trained professional military is prudent. However, faced with the reality of increasing recruiter wrongdoing and unscrupulous enlistment practices and of a continuing illegal and immoral war, prudence must give way to the dictates of morality and justice.
Consequently, when our beloved nation has lost its moral compass, when alternative means of conflict resolution have not been creatively explored, when our youth are aggressively recruited through deceit, misrepresentation and/or coercion to kill and be themselves killed or maimed unnecessarily, and the military becomes, not an instrument of national defense or deterrence, but of aggression, oppression and murder, it is not only permissible, it is morally required, that we counter recruit.
This obligation to counter recruitment requires that we protect those most vulnerable, impressionable young people in our high schools and colleges and the underprivileged who see the military as their only alternative to poverty, crime and unemployment from being enticed, seduced, brainwashed and deceived into becoming complicit in crimes of aggression and cannon fodder for corporate war profiteers and opportunists. Therefore, we are morally obligated to remove recruiters from our schools; rescind the No Child Left Behind Act's military recruitment provision which requires schools, in order to receive financial assistance under the act, to provide military recruiters with students' contact and other information; and to inform prospective recruits and their parents of the realities of military service, the horrors of war, the immorality and futility of the war in Afghanistan, and of other educational options and employment opportunities available to them other than by joining the military. I doubt this information is contained within a recruiter's motivational packet of hats, tee shirts, bumper stickers and violent video games.
In conclusion, the duty to counter recruitment is not absolute but situationally relative. Given the unethical and unscrupulous practices utilized by recruiters to meet their quotas, the immorality and illegality American Imperialism, the needless sacrifice of thousands of American soldiers and Marines, the unconscionable killing of hundreds of thousands of civilians, the expenditure of billions of taxpayer dollars that could have been better spent elsewhere, it is clear that counter recruitment is a moral and civic duty. To do anything less would be unpatriotic - nay, treasonous and morally irresponsible.