… Or at least that’s what I wanted to hear as I sat through the “Ethics of the Draft” panel discussion- a part of the “Ethics of War” series sponsored by the Stanford Center for International Security and Cooperation. The panel consisted of David Kennedy (Professor Emeritus of History at Stanford), Eliot Cohen (Professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies) and Jean Elshtain (Professor at the Divinity School, University of Chicago), and was moderated by Scott Sagan (Professor of Political Science, Stanford).
All three speakers focused on a broad variety of topics pertaining to military participation and the role of the citizen-soldier. They also drew attention to the fact that the rejection of ROTC by institutions such as Stanford helps to further the distance between the civic society and the military. In Professor Kennedy’s words, “How can it be that the army is at war, but the nation is not?” Professor Cohen went so far as to state that Stanford, Harvard and their cohorts use DADT as an excuse to hide the deeper reasons for banning ROTC- and I can only imagine that it’s the hostility from certain professors that he was talking about.
However, I disliked the lack of talk about the actual ethics of the draft. Although there was some mention of social equity, nobody actually debated whether the draft was a good or even ethical way of achieving it.
By far, the best moments of the night were:
When Professor Bernstein (History, Stanford) used the Q/A portion of the session to try and slam Kennedy with a more accurate history of the draft- but as Kennedy put it, if any one historical viewpoint was correct, historians would be jobless.
When an audience member (a former Marine whose daughter is also in the military) pointed out that the student body at Stanford is probably ready for ROTC, and a few students at the back yelled out “No we’re not,” accompanied by boos and thumbs-downs. I for one thought that it was highly unnecessary and even a bit indecent, and stretched my arm a little too high when the man asked for a show of hands in support of ROTC- but hey, that’s just me!