As a preview of what may be in store at the meeting, I had a chance to speak briefly with John Taylor, the Mary and Robert Raymond Professor of Economics at Stanford, who feels particularly passionate about the issue. Here are some excerpts from the interview:
How long have you been interested in the ROTC issue on college campuses? And, what made you become interested?
My interest in ROTC on college campuses grew after I returned from 4 years serving in the U. S .government following the 9/11 attacks where I interacted with the military on many issues from freezing terrorist assets to reconstruction in Afghanistan and Iraq. (Flying on a C-17 back to the United States from Tokyo where I was on 9/11 was a kind of watershed as I described in my book Global Financial Warriors). I also participated in many foreign policy meeting in the White House with the JCS. It was clear to me that a better understanding between the military and the civilians was very important to our country, and given that I was a college professor, bringing ROTC back to those college campuses where it was removed seemed like a significant contribution to that.
I could also see this on a personal note: my son served in the Marines (he went to OCS) and I served in the Navy (also OCS) . I saw how little students knew about the military now compared to previous generations. At the same time it is important to train military officers who could benefit from the excellent education that places like Stanford offer. (To be sure the military is already very well served by the military academies and colleges where they now have ROTC, but brining ROTC back to places like Stanford would be a positive improvement) These views were reinforced when I worked with some ROTC students at Stanford as part of an effort to set up a plaque in Memorial Auditorium in honor of Ryan McGlothlin a Stanford graduate who joined the Marines and was killed in Iraq. (You might want to walk over to Mem Aud to see this sometime.)
What are your thoughts on the current university policy and approach to ROTC?
I am hopeful that ROTC can be brought back to those campuses like Stanford where ROTC was removed due to the antiwar sentiment at the time of the Vietnam war. (It never was removed from Berkeley or MIT) President Obama called for this during the campaign when he and Senator McCain debated at Columbia. An editorial in the Stanford Daily in May 2007 called for rethinking the issue. The New Yorker had an article by George Parker saying how important a highly educated military is. Also I think the current generation would be more accepting; they may be more like their grandparents than the parents as the attached piece from the Weekly Standard puts it. You can see that I have been “clipping” stories about this for a while.
Will you be present at the meeting advocating for ROTC’s return? If so, what do you intend to say?
I am not now a member of the Faculty Senate. From quiet conversations I know there are faculty at Stanford who would be supportive, and I hope the faculty reaction to David Kennedy and Bill Perry will be positive. That they are making the presentation at all is a very positive development, and they are the best people to put this forward.
For further reading on the issue, be sure to check out:
- The Stanford Report’s preview of the issues that will be discussed.
- Stanford Alumni Magazine’s coverage back in ’02 of students who choose to participate in ROTC in other campuses.
- The Review’s coverage this year of Stanford ROTC participants and of the Law School’s actions inhibiting JAG recruitment on campus.