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War: Turning now to Mr. Ralph Waldo Emerson - Christian Science Monitor
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‘A Poison in the System’: Military Sexual Assault - New York Times
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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.


U.S. Military Takes Education Hostage

Resist newsletter, May 1999

Rick Jahnkow -

Military Industrial ComplexIt used to be understood in this country that the key to securing and protecting our democratic rights was to exercise strict control over the military. One of the prerequisites for this control has always been maintaining a strong, protective buffer between civilian society and the armed forces. Clearly, this buffer has been eroded over the years, and now very few components of our society-especially government and the economy-have escaped the powerful influence of militarism.

One key institution that is currently under intense attack from the military is public education. This assault is not being accomplished using tanks and helicopter gun ships-though bringing them to campuses is, in fact, one of the Pentagon's goals-but rather by using the weapons of economic coercion and legal threats. It reflects a developing trend that could have broad, long-lasting implications for social change work but, unfortunately, has received relatively little attention from even some peace organizations that have traditionally concerned themselves with such issues (see resource listing on page seven for some of the exceptions).

The Erosion of Educational Autonomy

Ten years ago, colleges and universities were able to set their own policies on accepting ROTC units or granting armed forces recruiters access to campus facilities and students, and a number of schools exercised their right to restrict or prohibit the military's campus presence. Also, in most states college students who resisted draft registration by not signing up with the Selective Service System could still apply for and obtain state and locally funded financial aid (federal student aid has been unavailable to them since 1983).

In the last few years, this ability of educational institutions to assert their independence from the military has been severely curtailed. Former-Representative Gerald Solomon, a conservative Republican from New York who recently left Congress, led the attack by introducing federal legislation which compels schools to cooperate with Selective Service and punishes campuses when they refuse to cooperate with ROTC and military recruiters. Proposals modeled after his legislation have also been introduced and passed in some states, including laws which make draft registration resisters ineligible for state civil service jobs, state student aid and, in some cases, admission to state colleges and universities.
From a practical standpoint, the state laws are an act of overkill, since the threatened loss of just the federal funds is already enough to force the vast majority of students and schools to comply. The true significance of the state laws is to establish a higher status for the military on a local level by conveying to young people that deference must be paid to the armed forces, and failure to concede this point will result in punishment-in this case, additional economic hardship for schools and students.

As a result of Solomon's most recent efforts, post-secondary schools now stand to lose substantial funds if they try to restrict the military's campus presence. Under provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act of 1995, National Defense Authorization Act for 1996, and the Omnibus Consolidated Appropriations Act of 1997, schools can lose funds-including some funds used for student aid-from the departments of Defense, Transportation, Labor, Health and Human ~ Services, Education, and Related l Agencies. This loss of federal support can be triggered by any school policy or practice (regardless of implementation date) which either prohibits, or in effect, prevents, military recruitment representatives from obtaining entry to campuses, access to students on campuses or access to directory information on students, or which prevents the establishment and effective operation of a senior ROTC unit. Campuses with a "long-standing policy of pacifism based on historical religious affiliation" are still allowed to exclude military recruiters, if they wish, but the number of qualifying institutions is very small.

This change in law came about, in part, because a growing number of schools had adopted campus policies against discrimination based on sexual orientation. In line with these policies, campuses asserted their right to refuse to allow homophobic organizations access to school facilities; and since the Pentagon is the largest employer that fires people solely for being lesbian, gay or bi-sexual, many of the schools decided to ban armed forces recruiters and military programs like ROTC.

After the passage of Solomon's legislation, these schools faced the loss of significant, irreplaceable funds. Most, if not all, succumbed to the economic coercion and have been forced to accept violations of their nondiscrimination policies: ROTC cannot be banned, recruiters must be guaranteed access to the physical campus, and recruiters must be able to obtain directories of students names, addresses and phone numbers. (A few narrow exceptions are allowed, but they generally will not significantly limit the military's access to campuses and students.)

First Colleges, Now Grade Schools

Given the success of legislation forcing post-secondary schools to accept military training programs and recruiters, and the growing willingness of state legislators to pass parallel laws, it should not be surprising that the Pentagon and its supporters are now aiming their sights at grade schools. In March, military recruiters testifying before a House Armed Services Committee military personnel subcommittee complained that their efforts are being hampered by parents and teachers who view the armed forces as a "last option" for students who can't get into college or find good jobs. One recruiter said, "We have parents out there that forget what made America America. We have a lot of walls to break down."

One of the walls they want to break down is the right of citizens to protect their schools and homes from unwanted intrusions by the military. Air Force Sgt. Robert Austin, an Oklahoma City recruiter, complained that high schools will often give lists of students names to college representatives but not the armed forces. And he noted that individual school districts and principals can decide whether recruiters can go on campus. "I think that if they're federally funded, they shouldn't be able to tell us we can't come into the schools," said Austin.

At the time of the testimony, no members of the House Armed Services Committee subcommittee indicated whether they would introduce a law mandating military access to high schools, but the ranking Democrat, Rep. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii, said, "l think that's a good idea."In fact, such a law was once introduced unsuccessfully by Solomon, and there have been similar attempts at the state level. When several California school districts banned recruiter access to student lists during the Persian Gulf War, a reactionary bill almost made it through the legislature which would have mandated military access to high school campuses and student directory information. At the last minute, it was amended to become only a statement of legislative intent without the force of law. At least one state, Ohio, succeeded in passing a law which prevents high schools from limiting recruiter access to student addresses.

Even without a federal law mandating high school access, the Pentagon has significantly expanded its presence in schools. More recruiters are now invading both secondary and lower grade schools, where they give youths the false impression that the military is their best hope for obtaining the training and college financial aid that will later give them a chance at economic security. The view students have of viable civilian alternatives is being obliterated by the overwhelming marketing resources being employed by the armed forces. In many cases recruiters are being received with open arms by school counselors and vocational advisors who feel unable to deal with the problems facing today's young people problems which, ironically, are exacerbated by the huge diversion of national resources to the military.

Another recruiting device, the Junior Reserve Officers' Corps program, actually puts the Pentagon in a position to directly rob schools of local educational funds. The military tricks a growing number of school officials into accepting this curriculum by leading them to believe that JROTC is a cost-effective way to offer students a beneficial elective. The federal government shares in the cost of JROTC, but in actuality, schools wind up paying more than they would for a regular academic class, and they are essentially subsidizing military training and indoctrination.

Grassroots opposition to the military's invasion of public education has produced some important victories by community and student organizations. Court rulings have upheld the right of counter-recruitment activists to have equal access to schools, JROTC has been defeated in a few communities, and some educational institutions have been persuaded to adopt policies which limit or restrict armed forces activities on campuses. However, some of these victories-especially at the college level- have recently been reversed by the new legislation, and others are being threatened with talk about making military access mandatory at high schools.

Implications for Social Change Activism

The military establishment understands the key role that schools play in the shaping of people's values and attitudes, and they know that the deeper they penetrate into education, the greater their influence will be on society as a whole. Their goal is not just to attract enlistees; it is also to strengthen the position of the armed forces, in general, by teaching military values to a larger segment of the population and affecting people's worldview. If allowed to continue, the result will be a more conservative political climate and, in the long term, a breakdown in the protective barriers that prevent further military encroachment on civilian rule.

All of this underscores the importance of grassroots efforts to challenge the economic coercion and other legislative attempts to impose military recruiters and programs like JROTC and ROTC on our schools. Organizing against military intrusion is a way to resist a trend which, if allowed to continue unchecked, will affect a wide range of issues in future years. When it comes to subjects like economic justice, health care, women's reproductive rights, racial equality, the environment and other concerns of progressives, social change activists will have much more difficulty organizing when more young people have been persuaded that (in the words of one JROTC textbook) "the same qualities that make a good leader in the military services are equally helpful to the civilian leader," and being a good citizen means loyalty and obedience to leaders, "whether or not you agree with them." Militarism instills a conservative attitude toward life that children then carry into the community.

It is crucial that more social change activists realize the stake we all share in this issue. If we are to stop the trend toward greater militarization of society-and, by implication, the drift toward greater conservatism-more groups and individuals will need to join the effort to resist the military's encroachment on our civilian educational system. It's an immediate problem that we cannot afford to ignore if we hope to advance the cause of progressive social change in the future.

Rick Jahnkow is active in the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft and the Project on Youth and Non-Military Opportunities (Project YANO), both of which are based in San Diego, California and have received grants from Resist. For information, contact Project YANO, PO Box 230157. Encinitas. CA 92023.

When the World Outlawed War

When the World Outlawed War26 September 2011 - War Is a Crime - David Swanson's blog David Swanson -

Remarks at Lynchburg College on September 26, 2011

I'd like to thank Dave Freier for inviting me, and all of you for being here.  I think I was invited to speak about my most recent book, War Is A Lie, but I asked Professor Freier if it would be all right to speak about my next book, not yet finished, and he agreed.  So, the following is a relatively very short summary of a forthcoming book that is not yet finished, and which I need your help with.  It would be very helpful to me if you let me know when I've finished these opening remarks what was unclear, what didn't make sense, or what didn't persuade you, as well as what -- if anything -- seemed useful or inspiring.

It would also help me a lot if you would raise your hands to show your views on a few questions.  First, raise your hand if you believe that war is illegal.  I don't mean particular atrocities or particular types of wars, but war.  And I don't mean bad or regrettable, but illegal.  If you're not sure or think it's not a good question don't raise your hand.  OK, thank you.  Now, raise your hand if you think war should be illegal.  OK, thank you.  And now raise your hand if you know what the Kellogg-Briand Pact is.  All right, that was very helpful.  Now, let me tell you a little story, or at least a few pieces of it.

In 1927 and 1928 a hot-tempered Republican from Minnesota named Frank, who privately cursed pacifists, managed to persuade nearly every country on earth to ban war.  He had been moved to do so, against his will, by a global demand for peace and a U.S. partnership with France created through illegal diplomacy by peace activists.  The driving force in achieving this historic breakthrough was a remarkably unified, strategic, and relentless U.S. peace movement with its strongest support in the Midwest; its strongest leaders professors, lawyers, and university presidents; its voices in Washington, D.C., those of Republican senators from Idaho and Kansas; its views welcomed and promoted by newspapers, churches, and women's groups all over the country; and its determination unaltered by a decade of defeats and divisions.

The movement depended in large part on the new political power of female voters. The effort might have failed had Charles Lindbergh not flown an airplane across an ocean, or Henry Cabot Lodge not died, or had other efforts toward peace and disarmament not been dismal failures.  But public pressure made this step, or something like it, almost inevitable.  And when it succeeded -- although the outlawing of war was never fully implemented in accordance with the plans of its visionaries -- much of the world believed war had been made illegal.  Wars were, in fact, halted and prevented.  And when, nonetheless, wars continued and a second world war engulfed the globe, that catastrophe was followed by the trials of men accused of the brand new crime of making war, as well as by global adoption of the United Nations Charter, a document owing much to its pre-war predecessor while still falling short of the ideals of what in the 1920s was called the Outlawry movement.

"Last night I had the strangest dream I'd ever dreamed before," wrote Ed McCurdy in 1950 in what became a popular folk song.  "I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war.  I dreamed I saw a mighty room, and the room was filled with men.  And the paper they were signing said they'd never fight again."  But that scene had already happened in reality on August 27, 1928, in Paris, France. The treaty that was signed that day, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, was subsequently ratified by the United States Senate in a vote of 85 to 1 and remains on the books to this day as part of what Article VI of the U.S. Constitution calls "the supreme Law of the Land."

Frank Kellogg, the U.S. Secretary of State who made this treaty happen, was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize and saw his public reputation soar -- so much so that the United States named a ship after him, one of the "liberty ships" that carried war supplies to Europe during World War II.  Kellogg was dead at the time.  So, many believed, were prospects for world peace.  But the Kellogg-Briand Pact and its renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy is something we might want to revive.  This treaty gathered the adherence of the world's nations swiftly and publicly, driven by fervent public demand.  We might think about how public opinion of that sort might be created anew, what insights it possessed that have yet to be realized, and what systems of communication, education, and elections would allow the public again to influence government policy, as the ongoing campaign to eliminate war -- understood by its originators to be an undertaking of generations -- continues to develop.

One way to revive a treaty that in fact remains law would, of course, be to begin complying with it.  When lawyers, politicians, and judges want to bestow human rights on corporations, they do so largely on the basis of a footnote added by a clerk to a Supreme Court ruling from over a century back.  When the Department of Justice wants to "legalize" torture or, for that matter, war, it reaches back to a twisted reading of one of the Federalist Papers or a court decision from some long forgotten era.  If anyone in power today favored peace, there would be every justification for recalling and making use of the Kellogg-Briand Pact.  It is actually law.  And it is far more recent law than the U.S. Constitution itself, which our elected officials still claim, mostly unconvincingly, to support.  The Pact, excluding formalities and procedural matters, reads, in full:

"The High Contracting Parties solemnly declare in the names of their respective peoples that they condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies, and renounce it, as an instrument of national policy in their relations with one another."

"The High Contracting Parties agree that the settlement or solution of all disputes or conflicts of whatever nature or of whatever origin they may be, which may arise among them, shall never be sought except by pacific means."

"The French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand, whose initiative had led to the Pact and whose previous work for peace had already earned him a Nobel Peace Prize, remarked at the signing ceremony:

"For the first time, on a scale as absolute as it is vast, a treaty has been truly devoted to the very establishment of peace, and has laid down laws that are new and free from all political considerations.  Such a treaty means a beginning and not an end."

The peace movement that made the Kellogg-Briand Pact happen, just like the militarism against which it competed, was given a huge boost by World War I, by the scale of that war and its impact on civilians, but also by the rhetoric through which the United States had been brought into the war in 1917. According to U.S. Socialist Victor Berger, all the United States had gained from participation in World War I was the flu and prohibition.  It was not an uncommon view.  Millions of Americans who had supported World War I, came during the years following its completion on November 11, 1918, to reject the idea that anything could ever be gained through warfare.

The propaganda machinery invented by President Woodrow Wilson and his Committee on Public Information had drawn Americans into the war with exaggerated and fictional tales of German atrocities in Belgium, posters depicting Jesus Christ in khaki sighting down a gun barrel, and promises of selfless devotion to making the world safe for democracy. The extent of the casualties was hidden from the public as much as possible during the course of the war, but by the time it was over many had learned something of war's reality.  And many had come to resent the manipulation of noble emotions that had pulled an independent nation into overseas barbarity.

However, the propaganda that motivated the fighting was not immediately erased from people's minds.  A war to end wars and make the world safe for democracy cannot end without some lingering demand for peace and justice, or at least for something more valuable than the flu and prohibition.  Even those rejecting the idea that any war could in any way help advance the cause of peace aligned with those wanting to avoid all future wars -- a group that probably encompassed most of the U.S. population.

Some of the blame for the start of the World War was placed on secretly made treaties and alliances. President Wilson backed the ideal of public treaties, if not necessarily publicly negotiated treaties.  He made this the first of his famous 14 points in his January 8, 1918, speech to Congress.

Following the war, disillusioned with its promises, many in the United States came to distrust European peace efforts, as it was European entanglements that had created the war.  When the Treaty of Versailles, on June 28, 1918, imposed a cruel victors' justice on Germany, Wilson was seen as having betrayed his word.  When he promised that the League of Nations would right all the wrongs of that treaty, many were skeptical, particularly as the League bore some resemblance to the sort of alliances that had produced the World War in the first place.

Both jingoistic isolationists, and internationalist peace activists with a vision of Outlawry that shunned the use of force even to punish war, rejected the League, as did the United States Senate, dealing a major blow to those peace advocates who believed the League was not only advantageous but also the reward due after so much suffering in the war.  Efforts to bring the United States in as a member of the World Court failed as well.  A Naval Disarmament Conference in Washington in 1921-1922 did perhaps more harm than good.  And in 1923 and 1924, respectively, the members of the League of Nations in Europe failed to ratify a Draft Pact for Mutual Assistance and an agreement called the Geneva Protocol for the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, both of which had adopted some of the language of the U.S. Outlawry movement to somewhat different purposes.

Remarkably, these set-backs did not halt the momentum of the peace movement in the United States or around the world. The institutional funding and structure of the peace movement was enough to make any early twenty-first century peace activist drool with envy, as was the openness of the mass media of the day, namely newspapers, to promoting peace.  Leading intellectuals, politicians, robber barons, and other public figures poured their resources into the cause.  A defeat or two, or ten, might discourage some individuals, but it was not about to derail the movement.  Neither was political partisanship, as peace groups pressured Democrats and Republicans alike, and both responded.  It was during the peaceful Republican interlude of Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover, in between the Democratic war-making of Wilson and Roosevelt, that the peace movement reached its height.

European trade unions were pacifist and were working to recover the pre-war idea of a general strike to prevent any movement towards war.  Many political parties in Europe were strongly in favor of working to ensure peace. European peace organizations themselves were smaller and less influential than their U.S. counterparts, but they were more unified in their agenda.  They favored both disarmament and the League of Nations, as well as other treaties, alliances, and arbitration agreements.

U.S. and European peace advocates came from opposite directions.  Americans viewed peace as the norm and as consisting of the absence of war.  But Europeans, dealing with constant threats, provocations, grievances, and divisions, believed peace to require an elaborate system of checks on hostilities and means of resolving disputes.  The United States imagined the world at peace and sought to preserve it. Europeans strove to build a peace they did not know, with a keen awareness that they could never possibly solve every dispute to everyone's satisfaction.

Many U.S. peace groups, it should be said however, inclined toward the European perspective, while others did not.  The United States had a larger peace movement than Europe did, but a more deeply divided one.  Sincere advocates of peace came down on both sides of the questions of joining the League of Nations and the World Court.  Nor did they all see eye-to-eye on disarmament.  If something could be found that would unite the entire U.S. peace movement, the U.S. government of the day was sufficiently representative of the public will that whatever that measure was, it was bound to be enacted.

The Carnegie Endowment for Peace had profited from the war through U.S. Steel Corporation bonds.  Its president, Dr. Nicholas Murray Butler, and its director of the Division of Economics and History Professor James Thomson Shotwell, would play significant roles in the creation of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, after having advocated unsuccessfully for U.S. membership in the League of Nations. Shotwell had a $600,000 annual budget, or about $6.8 million in today's terms.  Other peace groups had even larger budgets.  More radical peace groups, often with less funding, in some cases supported the League and the Court, but in addition pushed for disarmament and opposed militarism more consistently, including U.S. imperialism in Central and South America.

One organization deserves particular attention, although it was largely a front for a single individual and largely funded out of his own pocket.  The American Committee for the Outlawry of War was the creation of Salmon Oliver Levinson.  Its agenda originally attracted those advocates of peace who opposed U.S. entry into the League of Nations and international alliances. But its agenda, of outlawing war, eventually attracted the support of nearly the entire peace movement, when the Kellogg-Briand Pact became the unifying focus that had been missing.

Levinson's mission was to make war illegal.  And he came to believe that the effective outlawing of war would require outlawing all war, without distinction between aggressive and defensive war, and without distinction between aggressive war and war sanctioned by an international league as punishment for an aggressor nation.  Levinson wrote:

"Suppose this same distinction had been urged when the institution of dueling was outlawed. . . . Suppose it had then been urged that only 'aggressive dueling' should be outlawed and that 'defensive dueling' be left intact. . . .  Such a suggestion relative to dueling would have been silly, but the analogy is perfectly sound.  What we did was to outlaw the institution of dueling, a method theretofore recognized by law for the settlement of disputes of so-called honor."

Levinson wanted everyone to recognize war as an institution, as a tool that had been given acceptability and respectability as a means of settling disputes.  He wanted international disputes to be settled in a court of law, and the institution of war to be rejected just as slavery had been.

Levinson understood this as leaving in place the right to self-defense, but eliminating the need for the very concept of war. National self-defense would be the equivalent of killing an assailant in personal self-defense.  Such personal self-defense, he noted, was no longer called "dueling."  But Levinson did not envision the killing of a war-making nation.  Rather he proposed five responses to the launching of an attack: good faith, public opinion, nonrecognition of gains, the use of force to punish individual warmakers, and the use of any means including force to halt the attack.

Levinson would eventually urge the nations signing the Kellogg-Briand Pact (also known as the Pact of Paris) to incorporate the following into their criminal codes: "Any person, or persons, who shall advocate orally or in writing, or cause the publication of any printed matter which shall advocate the use of war between nations, in violation of the terms of the Pact of Paris, with the intent of causing war between or among nations , shall be guilty of a felony and upon conviction thereof shall be imprisoned not less than ______ years."  This idea can be found in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, which states: "Any propaganda for war shall be prohibited by law."  It was an idea that also influenced the Nuremberg prosecutions.  It may be an idea worthy of revival and realization.

Levinson wrote on August 25, 1917: "War as an institution to 'settle disputes' and establish 'justice among nations' is the most barbarous and indefensible thing in civilization. . . . The real disease of the world is the legality and availability of war . . . .  [W]e should have, not as now, laws of war, but laws against war; there are no laws of murdering or of poisoning, but laws against them."

Many in the United States were averse to the sort of alliances created, for example, in 1925 in Locarno, Switzerland.  Under these aggreements, if Germany were to attack France, then England and Italy would have to attack Germany, whereas if France were to attack Germany, then England and Italy would have to attack France.  Aristide Briand made a name for himself as a peace negotiator in Locarno, but the Outlawrists' criticism of such arrangements as sheer madness looks wiser through the lens of later history.

Rather than alliances and unpredictable adjudications, the Outlawrists favored the rule of the written word.  The most popular criticism of Outlawry was that it intended to simply wish war away by banning it. The most popular criticism of international alliances was that they would create wars to end wars.  While NATO and even the United Nations have indeed been used to launch wars (although the European Union has rendered wars within Western Europe unimaginable), the Kellogg Briand-Pact and the United Nations Charter have banned war, and wars have proceeded merrily on their way not noticing.  But all of this criticism is overly simplistic.  The United Nations is a corrupt approximation of an ideal never yet realized.  And Outlawry, despite passage of the Kellogg-Briand Pact, has never been fully tried.

Outlawry, in Charles Morrison's outline of it (Morrison was a close ally of Levinson), required that a world court ruling on a body of world law be substituted for war as a means of settling disputes. The International Criminal Court (ICC), finally created in 2002 and having taken jurisdiction over the crime of aggression in 2010, begins to approach this idea, but the United States is not a member, and yet the court is under the thumb of the United States and the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.  The 1920s critics of the then existing World Court as a creature of the League of Nations would, if brought forward in time, no doubt have a similar critique of the ICC.

leaders to put on trial?Where the argument for Outlawry gets a little hairy is in its refusal to consider any distinction between aggressive and defensive war, while nonetheless countenancing armaments and self-defense. Morrison argues that distinguishing aggressors from defenders is a fool's errand, as every nation always claims to be fighting in defense, and an initial attack may have been provoked by the other side.  (In 2001 and 2003 the United States attacked the distant, unarmed, impoverished nations of Afghanistan and Iraq and claimed to be acting in defense.)  Morrison believes that self-defense will almost certainly not be needed, in the future of outlawed war, because war just won't happen.  But were it to happen, self-defense clearly must be envisioned in Morrison's scheme as something that does not resemble war.  For, otherwise, how can the world court of Outlawry determine which nation(s)' leaders to put on trial?

Ultimately, outlawing war is a process of moral development.  Changing the law and establishing a court to enforce it is a means toward changing people's conception of what is morally acceptable.  Viewed in this way, the work of the 1920s that brought about the Kellogg-Briand Pact can be seen as a partial success to be built upon, whether or not any court will ever be able to both prosecute warmaking and avoid the distinction between aggression and defense.

Morrison argued that Outlawry was so clear and so popular that no statesman would dare oppose it.  He urged popularizing the peace movement, taking it out of the hands of experts.  And he was right about that.  He was right about the United States and about the entire world.  Nobody opposed banning war.  While we still have wars, most people do not want them.  Wars may be Tyrannical Ruler Nature, or Corporate Profiteer Nature, but they are the furthest thing from Human Nature.

In 1922, the Lion of Idaho, Republican Senator William Borah, slowly began to roar. Levinson produced a pamphlet on Outlawry at Borah's request, and Borah republished it as a Senate document, placing it in the Congressional Record. Senator Borah and Senator Arthur Capper of Kansas mailed it to their lists.  Meanwhile, Raymond Robins barnstormed the country making speech after speech for Outlawry, and Levinson corresponded at length with anyone and everyone who expressed interest or raised objections.  Organizations of all varieties passed countless resolutions in support of Outlawry.  School boards and labor unions distributed pamphlets.  Prominent figures gave their endorsements.

Groups that supported the Outlawry of war early in the campaign included some organizations that are still around today, but which one cannot imagine even considering taking the same step again, even with the Kellogg-Briand Pact and the U.N. Charter already in existence and formally a part of our law.  Among these were the National League of Women Voters, the Young Women's Christian Associations, the National Association of Parents and Teachers, the Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America, and the American Legion.

When President Harding up and dropped dead in 1923, his Vice President Calvin Coolidge got the top job and the Republican nomination to remain in it after 1924.  Indeed, he remained until March 1929.  Levinson helped persuade Coolidge to pick Borah for the vice presidency and Borah to accept, but this deal fell through, Borah declined, and Charles Dawes accepted.  Secretary of State Frank Kellogg would have occasion to refer to Dawes as "an unmitigated ass" prior to organizing the nations of the world in support of brotherly love.  Borah would instead end up in the job of Chairman of Foreign Relations.  Outlawry made it into Coolidge's speech accepting the Republican nomination but not into the Republican Platform. It did, however, make it into the Democratic Party Platform.

While the struggle for women's suffrage had used marches and civil disobedience, and conscientious objectors to the war had used noncooperation, those were not the primary tools of the Outlawry campaign.  Instead there were countless public meetings and packed lecture halls, signed petitions and resolutions, and the support of numerous newspaper editorials.

In 1923, Borah introduced an Outlawry resolution in the Senate, following a tireless lobbying effort by Levinson.  Outlawry began to unite peace groups in a way that the League and the Court did not. In 1924 Levinson and the Outlawrists sought unity with their fellow peace-activist League supporters, offering support for World Court membership in exchange for support for the Borah Resolution on Outlawry.  In 1925, League and Outlawry supporters reached an agreement, known as the Harmony Plan, backing adherence to the Court Protocol and within two years the backing of Outlawry and the holding of a conference to embody in a treaty the principles that war be made a crime and the Court be given jurisdiction.  A third and final plank in this agreement was that the United States would withdraw from the Court if the Outlawry provisions were not put into effect within two years.  The plan was reported in national and international newspapers and served as a guide for local peace organizations, even though the peace-movement leadership was back to quarrelling by the end of the year.

Butler met with Briand in June 1926, at which point Briand asked "What can we do next?"  Butler replied: "My dear Briand, I have just been reading a book . . . . Its title is Vom Kriege, and its author was Karl von Clausewitz . . . .  I came upon an extraordinary chapter in its third volume, entitled 'War as an Instrument of Policy.' Why has not the time come for the civilized government of the world formally to renounce war as an instrument of policy?"  Briand's reply was "Would not that be wonderful if it were possible? I must read that book."

In 1927 the pressure on world leaders for steps to ensure peace reached a climax, and the pieces of a plan to do something about it began to be fitted into place.  Political organizations and clubs pushing for peace were springing up by the hundreds.  And the question of the League of Nations was no longer there to divide them.

Shotwell met with Briand in Paris on March 22nd.  France had just refused a U.S. invitation to a disarmament conference and was still upset about its treatment at the one in Washington and about U.S. accusations of militarism, not to mention U.S. insistence on war debt payment, and U.S. refusal to join the League or the Court. Shotwell suggested removing U.S. suspicions of French militarism by proposing a treaty to renounce war as an instrument of national policy.

On April 6, 1927, Levinson was on a train to New York where he would sail to Europe.  He read the day's newspapers on the train and was overjoyed and overwhelmed by an Associated Press report on a public statement from Briand, the Foreign Minister of France.  Shotwell later told both John Dewey and Robert Ferrell that he had written Briand's message himself.  The message proposed that the United States and France sign a treaty renouncing war.

This was public diplomacy at its most public.  The Foreign Minister of France was proposing a treaty through the Associated Press. The only downside to such methods was that a response could not be required.  And in fact, no response from the U.S. government was forthcoming.  And the newspapers didn't see any story worth pursuing.  On April 8th Butler and Borah publicly debated the outlawing of rum, which was of much more interest to the media.  Butler, who wanted to abolish war believed banning rum was too difficult.  With regard to Briand's offer, Butler took matters into his own hands.  He published a letter in the New York Times on April 25th demanding action in response to Briand's proposal.

Butler's letter in the New York Times and a supportive editorial published by the New York Times caught the wider news media's attention.  Newspapers turned it into a big story in the United States and even abroad.  This was Butler beginning a dialogue with his colleague Shotwell, but with Butler speaking for the United States and Shotwell having spoken through Briand for France. Not a bad bit of ventriloquism.

Numerous senators spoke up in support of answering Briand's offer.  Borah was opposed to an alliance with France and proposed that the treaty be expanded to include all other nations.  Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Frank Kellogg, when he read Butler's letter, told a friend that Butler and the French were a set of "--- ------ fools" making suggestions that could lead to nothing but embarrassment.  If there was anything he hated, Kellogg said, it was "-------- pacifists."

But as public pressure grew, Levinson and Borah worked to educate Kellogg on Outlawry.  When Senator Capper introduced a resolution in November 1927 in support of renouncing war, the nation understood that the farmers of the Midwest were behind Briand's proposal, or at least not against it.  The Pocatello Tribune arrived at this cynical interpretation:

"The real significance of the Capper plan . . . lie in its showing the belief of western politicians that the voters who prevented American entry into the league are aware that if Europe spends a disproportionate share of its limited funds in military preparation it will have little left for American wheat and corn."

This was, of course, before the weapons exporters came to hold more sway in Washington than the wheat and corn exporters.

The combination of a number of Republican leaders backing former Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes for the 1928 Republican presidential nomination and Capper introducing a resolution coming out of the Butler-Shotwell camp, a resolution that defined aggressive war, may have helped motivate Borah, with his own presidential ambitions, to manipulate Briand's offer in his own direction.  The treaty would end up banning all war in order to (1) avoid banning only aggressive war, and (2) avoid doing nothing.  The latter was not an option, given the pressure coming from the peace movement.  On December 10, 1927, Jane Addams led a delegation to the White House and delivered a petition with 30,000 names.  Coolidge assured her that he would try to achieve the treaty with France. Addams sent the same petition to Briand who thanked her.  By January, 1928, to the shock of his staff at the State Department, Kellogg was working hard to achieve a universal treaty, which France did not want, and writing to his wife that he hoped to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

On February 5th, with negotiations stalemated, Senator Borah published a front-page article in the New York Times Magazine, largely prepared by Levinson.  The headline was "One Great Treaty to Outlaw All Wars."  Borah claimed that a breach of the treaty by one nation would release other nations from complying with it in relation to that violator.  This would allow self-defense.  It would also allow France to sign such a treaty while still upholding its treaties forming alliances to respond to war.  Kellogg continued to push France, and in March asked the U.S. ambassador to point out to Briand the wisdom of acting while Kellogg was still in office.  Coolidge had less than a year remaining as president.

The Women's International League for Peace and Freedom passed a resolution commending Kellogg on May 5th.  So did the American Peace Society.  The National Committee on the Cause and Cure of War's 12 million women planned 48 state conferences through which to influence the Senate when it came time to ratify a treaty renouncing war.  On June 23rd, Kellogg wrote to 14 countries.  Germany formally agreed on July 11th, and France three days later.  Agreeing to sign the pact by July 20th would be Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, India, the Irish Free State, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States.And these additional nations would sign on to adhere to it: Afghanistan, Albania, Austria, Bulgaria, China, Cuba, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Romania, the Soviet Union, the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, Siam, Spain, Sweden, and Turkey. Eight further states joined at a later date: Persia, Greece, Honduras, Chile, Luxembourg, Danzig, Costa Rica, and Venezuela.  

Does anybody know what Persia is called today?

The Kellogg-Briand Pact was put together in an extremely public manner, and as these things go was agreed to very quickly, and with an unusually high number of adhering nations.  Most observers give public opinion and public pressure the credit.  The U.S. peace movement was fully behind it, and that unity was a new and powerful force.  About the public opinion in favor of the Peace Pact it is worth noting a couple of things.  First, the propaganda campaign that had brought public opinion around to supporting war in 1917 had been far more extensive, vastly more expensive, and backed up by a police force.  The peace movement did not have to intimidate or lie to anyone in the United States to gain their support for Kellogg-Briand. Secondly, the same was true with foreign heads of state acting in accordance with the wishes of their peoples.  Unlike the formation of a coalition of nations to invade Iraq in 2003, this coalition of nations to outlaw war was put together without bribery or threats being required.

The highest hurdle remained, namely the U.S. Senate.  The peace movement buried it in letters, petitions, resolutions, and lobbying visits.  Supportive senators read the petitions into the congressional record. President Coolidge persuaded Vice President Dawes to whip every senator in support of the Pact.  The Federal Council of Churches brought the White House a petition with 180,000 signatures.  In mid-January 1929, a thousand women peace leaders from around the country lobbied their respective senators in Washington, delivering thousands of petitions. Carrie Chapman Catt, who led this effort, suffered a heart attack during it.  The vote was 85 to 1.  The Wisconsin state legislature censured its U.S. senator who had voted No. Other senators who had expressed concerns all voted Yes.  One explained his Yes vote by saying he did not want to be burned in effigy back in his state.

It would take me another hour to begin to cover the hypocrisies, weaknesses, and shortcomings of this accomplishment.  I'll limit myself here to claiming that it was an accomplishment.  It was not just a second-rate effort after the League of Nations failed, nor just a pretense or a fraud.  The Kellogg-Briand Pact established the practice of not recognizing territorial claims gained through war, and its revival by another crusading lawyer during World War II (the Pact having been largely forgotten by then) created prosecutions of the crime of aggression -- ironically so, in that the Pact had been created precisely in order to avoid creating a crime called aggression.  Victors' justice is not full justice, but punishing leaders following World War II worked out a whole lot better than punishing an entire nation after World War I had.

A new and more faithful revival of Outlawry might again serve us well.  The Kellogg-Briand Pact, which has never been repealed, makes a stronger case against wars like Afghanistan and Iraq than does the U.N. Charter. To comply with Kellogg-Briand, wars need not be defensive or U.N.-authorized.  Rather, wars need to simply not exist.

Outlawry also removes a major reason why young men and women join the military, namely to make war as a means to achieving peace.  If there is no way to peace other than peace, if war cannot have a noble cause, if war has been -- as it formally has been -- renounced as an instrument of policy, then idealistic militarism goes away from recruiting offices, and the propaganda of humanitarian war suffers as well.

We may also have something to learn from the activism that promoted Outlawry.  It was principled, non-partisan, cross-ideological, and unrelenting.  More internationalist and more principled anti-imperialist or disarmament proposals, and the proposal to create a public referendum power to block wars, helped to make Outlawry mainstream by comparison.  The campaign was built over a period of years through both education and the cultivation of powerful supporters.It was not overly distracted by elections.  Its analysis included cold cost-benefit calculations, but front and center was always the morality of the cause of ending war.  This campaign worked internationally, nationally, and locally.  And its members did not believe victory would come in their lifetimes.  But neither were they so self-focused as to imagine that this somehow made eventual victory impossible.

There is one thing that we can say with certainty, and I will close with this: if Outlawry does not win, humanity will lose.  





Revised 12/13/2023 GG  | 30M+ Hits Club on NNOMY


Resistance of One

August 10, 2007 - ZNet

David Swanson -

There is something else we can try.  If you've given up on staging marches and rallies, or if - like me - you haven't but you want to try something else as well, and if you've given up on lobbying Congress as pointless, or if - like me - you haven't but you want to try something else as well, and if educating your fellow citizens as to exactly how completely corrupt the whole system is seems like an incomplete answer, and if staging a general strike or taking over the capital only seems like a good idea if you can get millions of others to join you, there is another approach that can be taken right away by a single person, a small group, or a crowd.

You can counter recruit, counter the corporate war profiteers, and counter the media.  Talking to high school and college students and career counselors about the reality of the military, done at the smallest or largest scale, helps to deny the military the troops it needs to occupy foreign lands and kill.  Of course, the military pushes back, raising the top age for recruits (now at 42), promising bigger bonuses (now at $50,000), and lowering various qualifications.  Ultimately, the military can push back by instituting a draft.  But that could also lead to much greater resistance.  Corporations profiting from the pretended "reconstruction" of Iraq, from the control of Iraq's oil, and from the use of weapons and mercenaries, can be protested and influenced.  Bechtel chose to stop bidding on contracts in Iraq rather than endure further protest.  And the media can be resisted through the creation and promotion of independent media, through criticism and protest, and through campaigns targeting advertisers.

A guide to engaging in these tactics and training others to do so is found in a new book called "Army of None: Strategies to Counter Military Recruitment, End War, and Build a Better World," by Aimee Allison and David Solnit: They present this approach, as everyone on the left always presents their approach, as the only one of any use.  I disagree.  I think the various approaches work together.  I think the marching and lobbying help move the public to the point where more people will resist recruitment.  I think countering recruitment helps recruit peace activists of all sorts.  And I think that we have to model democratic behavior as part of defining a vision for the future, if nothing else.  We have to publicly demand the behavior we want from our elected officials if only to deny them the argument that we never asked.  And we have to envision a world in which one day citizens are able to influence politicians directly.

Most of "Army of None" is devoted to counter recruitment, and the book makes an ideal guide for anyone interested in that project.  Among other things, it provides the basic facts about the usual lies recruiters tell.  For one thing, most recruits won't actually get $50,000 or anything close to it.  In fact, nothing a recruiter promises a recruit means anything at all, because every military contract includes these lines:

"Laws and regulations that govern military personnel may change without notice to me.  Such changes may affect my status, pay allowances, benefits, and responsibilities as a member of the Armed Forces REGARDLESS of the provisions of this enlistment / re-enlistment document."

In other words, the rest of the contract means nothing, and only those two sentences and a signature actually matter.  The rest, like much of what comes out of recruiters' mouths, is lies.  The New York Times reported that one in five U.S. Army recruiters was under investigation in 2004 for offenses ranging from "threats and coercion to false promises that applicants would not be sent to Iraq."

In addition to educating potential recruits and assisting them in finding more positive career options, citizens can actively counter recruitment by protesting or impeding recruiting operations.  One of the more creative ways to do this is for that dwindling portion of the population that is not qualified for recruitment to attempt to enlist.  Raging Grannies and other groups of women have tied up recruiting stations and attracted attention by attempting to sign up, refusing to leave, and risking arrest.  What are the raging grandfathers waiting for?

Although "Army of None" does not suggest it, I would recommend another tactic as well.  Get to know the recruiters and offer to help them with their job.  Take a stack of brochures and blank contracts from them.  And whenever you encounter a pro-war demonstrator, offer to help them sign up.  "Hey Hey What about you?  You look under 42!" is a chant that has been known to silence the most obnoxious voices.  The point is not, of course, to actually recruit anyone, but to expose the hypocrisy of war proponents and call attention to the question of exactly who is being recruited.

If you want to get involved in countering recruitment and in supporting members of the military who refuse to serve in illegal wars of aggression, go to




Wars Begin in High School Cafeterias

April, 17 2008 - Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice

David Swanson -

Citizens in a number of school districts around the country have dramatically reduced military recruitment through simple procedures that anyone can do. No marching or civil disobedience is required. You might, however, have to chat with a principal at a football game or write a couple of letters. Why aren't more of us doing more of this?

That's the question I came away with after interviewing Pat Elder for an hour (here's the audio: ). Pat is a member of the coordinating committee of the National Network Opposing Militarization of Youth:

In Pat's view, we shouldn't stop marching in the streets or pulling stunts for media attention or any of the other tactics employed by the peace movement, but far and away the most useful thing we can be doing is changing school policies to block military recruiting efforts in high schools.

Laws provide military recruiters equal access to students, equal to the access granted colleges and employers. But often the military gets greater access. Colleges and companies have to make appointments with the guidance office to speak to students. The military sets up a table in the cafeteria to push its sales pitch on every student who comes to lunch. Why not talk to your local high schools about changing that policy and complying with the law?

The No Child Left Behind law makes school funding dependent on providing students' names and contact information to military recruiters, but parents can opt-out of including their children in that list. With a little bit of organizing and persuading you can convince your school and your school district to follow through on allowing families to opt-out, and to opt-out of military recruitment without removing names from databases used for other things (like college recruitment), and to send all parents a letter letting them know that they can opt-out.

Take a look at this website: Smiling kids, happy colors, and free career guidance. Would you have any idea that this was a military recruiting tool? The ASVAB is the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery. Some high schools allow students to take it, others require every student to take it. You can persuade your school to not require it, and/or to not send the results to military recruiters, and/or to inform students and parents that the test is a military recruiting tool.

These and similar steps can deny the military tens of thousands of names and the accompanying contact information. Without cannon fodder, not even today's high tech military can fight aggressive wars. If the need for a defensive war ever arises, recruitment won't be hard. Sure the military can simply spend billions of our dollars to increase recruiting, but school districts that have taken the steps described here have blocked recruitment regardless.

I recently interviewed Dave Meserve as well (audio here: ) who is promoting an ordinance in Arcata, California, that would ban military recruitment in locations where there are large numbers of minors. That sort of approach, if possible in your town, would work as well to keep recruiters out of schools.

Schools that provide space in their cafeterias for military recruiters are also required to provide equal access for alternatives, and that includes you. You can set up a table at which veterans tell the truth about the military and at which you offer alternative career choices. But, in Elder's informed view, the more effective (and measurable) success comes from keeping the recruiters out all together. You don't have to keep them out of town. You can't ban their advertising, their movies, their video games, their toys. But you can keep them out of the cafeteria of a school and keep their souped up vans and simulated weapons off school grounds.

And if you can keep their numbers too low, you can shut down ROTC units in high schools and JROTC units in junior high schools.

You can take your message to recruiting stations as well. Grandmothers can try to enlist, or knit stump socks in front of the entrance. You can dress up as Bush and Cheney and try to enlist, since you missed your chance in Vietnam. Such stunts may have a use if they bring more people into your organization or change the media discourse, but - says Elder - the bulk of the recruitment is not happening at recruiting stations. It's happening in schools. And it can be stopped where it's happening. And it's not hard to do.

To get involved in this work, go to:


Army Experience Center’s Bad Experience: Turns out Training Kids to Kill Not Popular with Public

Published in the November/December 2009 Humanist

David Swanson -

“This is so cool! This is so cool!” a thirteen-year-old boy repeated as he squeezed rounds from a real M-16, picking off “enemy combatants” in a video game while perched atop a real Army Humvee. “I just came to the mall to skateboard but everyone said this was pretty cool. I just had to try it and it’s great!”

The person reporting on this youthful enthusiasm was Pat Elder, who serves on the Steering Committee of the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth. Elder also described young teenagers congratulating each other for “killing ragheads” and “wiping out hajis.”

All of this fun went on at the Army Experience Center (AEC), a 14,500-square-foot “virtual educational facility” in the Franklin Mills Mall in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The U.S. Army opened the center in August 2008 and planned to run it for two years as a pilot program. If the center proved able to recruit as many new soldiers as five ordinary recruiting stations, the Army planned to build them nationally. The AEC cost more than $12 million to design and construct, but of course the Army spends several billion dollars a year on recruitment.

Peace activists and concerned citizens from the surrounding area and up and down the East Coast quickly formed a campaign dubbed “Shut Down the AEC” ( Through a series of nonviolent protests and demonstrations, some of them involving arrests, protesters raised concerns and generated a flood of negative media attention for the Army’s latest recruitment tool. As a result, the Pentagon called on Donna Miles, a writer for the American Services Press Service, the Pentagon’s propaganda arm. Miles had already published soothing articles following scandals at Abu Ghraib, Walter Reed, and various incidents involving civilian casualties. As Elder points out, “Either Miles is incredibly prolific, with 229 articles attributed to her this year, or she’s a pseudonym for several under the employ of the Pentagon.”

Miles reported on the AEC thusly: “Thirteen-year-old Sean Yaffee, for example, doesn’t see himself joining the military. But he’s becoming another regular at the center, where he can play the same computer games he has at home, but in the company of his buddies. Yaffee said he’s learned a lot about the Army at the center. ‘It just tells you about the Army experience, but it doesn’t pressure you,’ he said. ‘I’m really just here to have a good time.’”

Sweet, but the public wasn’t buying it and the protests continued. On September 12, 2009, a crowd of 250 activists marched to the AEC in opposition to the use of public dollars to teach children—in a quasi-public-space—that killing can be fun, while also recruiting eighteen-year-olds to engage in the real thing. This time, police arrested six protesters and one journalist. The journalist, Cheryl Biren, wasn’t with the protesters but was picked out of the crowd, apparently because of her professional camera.

Days prior to this long-planned and publicly announced protest, the Army preemptively announced that it would likely close the AEC and not open any others in shopping malls, as had been planned. The reason? Are you ready to hear this?

By their own admission, the Army doesn’t need any more recruits because the bad economy has driven up recruitment significantly.

Now, the truth is that the economy is lousy, unemployment is rising, and the military has cut back on other recruitment expenses, the stated reason being the rise in recruitment that comes with a lousy economy.

The whopper of a lie is that the Army could ever be satisfied with its recruitment numbers. And the glaring omission was the protests. While the Army is cutting back in recruitment on some areas, it’s still spending billions of dollars per year, and it is spending those billions where they’ll be most effective, which means, in part, where they will generate the least opposition and negative attention. Early reports, prior to the protests, were that the AEC was succeeding in its recruitment goals. Following the protests, the AEC mysteriously became ineffective.

Stories in the Associated Press and other news services reported the Army’s likely decision and transcribed the Army’s explanation, noting the protests as an afterthought lower in the reports. Media outlets that support the spread of democracy, as opposed to the spread of militarism under the banner of democracy, would have told this story quite differently and used it as a lesson showing that citizens can have an impact on what their government does.

The Army won’t announce our victories for us. We have to claim them. We the people drove Alberto Gonzales out of town, made the Iraq War illegal by turning the United Nations against it, and we may have scared George W. Bush away from pardoning his subordinates’ crimes. We the people have turned many Americans against wars of empire, and we have made the Army Experience Center a bad experience for the Army.

Seven people were arrested on September 12, six of whom were risking arrest: Debra Sweet, Elaine Brower, Sarah Wellington, Joan Pleune, Beverly Rice, and Richard Marini. The seventh was Biren, who was covering the event for OpEdNews. She didn’t have a shirt or a sign or anything associated with the activists. She made it clear that she was a journalist. Then she and the other five women spent the night in the Roundhouse, the central jail in Philadelphia, from which they were released into the street at 5 a.m. the next morning, denied permission to use their cell phones until after the doors had slammed behind them.

Biren told me: “The images that are most critical to me as a photographer and reporter are those at the end, of protesters being arrested. Trying to prevent me from (or punishing me for) taking them reminds me of Bush not allowing photos of the caskets of dead bodies coming home from war. The way in which they try to prevent us from recording this kind of news in the making is shameful. It’s anti-democracy.”

The reporter continued: “The action against me was violent and vengeful. A police officer rushed me from the side suddenly…and pulled me forcefully into the line of protesters. Later, another officer had to physically pull this officer off of me because he was so incredibly aggressive and enraged. I’m convinced it was because I was taking pictures of the arrests.”

An arraignment for charges of criminal conspiracy and failure to disperse was scheduled for September 23 for the six women. Restoration of our rights to freedom of speech, assembly, and press hangs in the balance. But we can nonetheless chalk up a victory against the mighty war machine.

David Swanson is the author of the new book, Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, by Seven Stories Press and of the introduction to The 35 Articles of Impeachment and the Case for Prosecuting George W. Bush by Dennis Kucinich. In addition to cofounding, he is the Washington director of and sits on the boards of a number of progressive organizations in Washington, DC.


Countering Junior Recruitment

Mar.-Apr. 2003/ Nonviolent Activist Magazine - War Resisters League

Asif ullah -

Ostensibly a training program, JROTC—the U.S. Army’s Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps—is actually a recruiting device for the Army. Unlike the college ROTC program, which actually trains participating cadets to be officers when they graduate, JROTC “trains” high school students only to be privates, exactly as they would be if they never joined the program at all.

In the winter of 2001/2002, ROOTS (Revolution Out Of Truth & Struggle), the War Resisters League’s youth program, decided to launch a major campaign to counter JROTC. Chosen after many meetings and discussions, the campaign, as members of ROOTS saw it, would serve as one of the most concrete and grassroots forms of doing antiwar work.

To begin with, ROOTS focused on researching the ins and outs of JROTC: the history, the players involved, the demographics of those being targeted, the number of established and prospective units, and the costs. Since then, ROOTS has worked across the country to reduce the effectiveness of JROTC as a recruiting tool in the hope of some day ending the program entirely.

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