Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - March 19, 2010

Guest Opinion: If ROTC returns will it compromise Stanford's core mission?

by Charles Drekmeier

There appears to be much concern these days about "identity": Who or what it is we are, what we need and what we, as individual persons or as organizations, should become.

There is a glaring exception: institutions of higher learning which, with minimal restrictions, continue to accept — often gleefully — the sponsorship of outside interests whose purposes are remote from the promotion of knowledge and wisdom and of those skills and insights that will enhance our humanity. The large number of such sponsorships by businesses and the military-industrial complex threatens to overshadow the original purpose of Stanford University and other universities.

History Professor David Kennedy and Engineering Professor William Perry last week proposed to the Academic Senate that Stanford do its part to provide our country with military officers lest our age-old tradition of the citizen soldier be seriously compromised. The proposal was to create a committee to review the possibilities of returning ROTC to the Stanford campus, and the committee has begun to meet.

Strangely, they do not call for a reinstituting of military conscription, which would seem an obvious way to achieve a citizen army.

Such an army, which may or may not be a "tradition," is a problematic concept to begin with. Both napoleon and Frederick the Great claimed to have such an army: Napoleon was certainly closer to the truth. In the early years of its operation Napoleon's ventures had a liberating effect for many of Europe's peoples, yet it later in its metamorphosis became an instrument of autocracy.

But perhaps more to the point today's military forces feature un-manned aircraft, privately-contracted "militias" and other methods of warfare (and the killing of those who are not soldiers) that put such concepts as "citizen army" back into mothballs.

We are somewhat shy about admitting that today's "volunteer" army may be other than that. By their own testimony, many of those who enlisted simply couldn't find a decent job elsewhere. What does "citizenship" mean in a society characterized by extremes of wealth and various expressions of discrimination?

And, if a note of cynicism is permitted, does the army provide something of a cushion for problem that need to be solved elsewhere — as in federally financed work programs? Someday a faculty committee, drawing from many disciplines, will study possibilities for moving from a "security state" to (for want of a congenial term) a "facilitating state."

It's pointed out that the Vietnam War brought strong anti-war feelings to Stanford (as elsewhere). The university was implicated in ways not always acknowledged: There was forbidden usage of Stanford computers by SRI for programming amphibious landings in North Vietnam. Close ties with the military and with agencies that make Dwight Eisenhower's warnings about the military-industrial complex look naive are persistent and will continue to be.

It is hard to believe that the military has not profited from Stanford connections. I would like to believe that it is not just the hang-up over "don't ask, don't tell" that has crippled the relationship (as the faculty proponents suggest). Afghanistan may very well look like another misguided adventure which university-educated brains designed and that, despite the absence of a draft bringing the way close to home, opposition to killing will be a distinguishing feature of universities.

Stanford has Knight fellowships for journalists who wish to participate in studies here and it would not be remiss to establish such an opportunity for military officers and noncommissioned men. But ROTC curricula developed apart from the usual academic quality controls is something else.

And the university would, for its part, be reluctant to meddle: That sort of thing isn't done. In recent years ethics courses have proliferated on the campus and certainly there is much for military representatives to learn. Practitioners of one kind or another — talented and accomplished artists and theologians and businessmen et al — have something to teach us. No question. But this must be done within the prophylaxis, so to speak, of this last of the great guilds.

I should say, for the record, that I am myself a veteran of the ROTC. But it was the high-school variety, the Second War was raging and it was long ago and far away, in Wisconsin.

This has limited relevance — except for the impression I retained of a kind of learning that is tied suffocatingly to training manuals and which discourages any independent thinking.

We need to remind ourselves that a core principle of a great university is the fostering of critical thinking.

Charles Drekmeier is professor emeritus of political science at Stanford, and is the father of former Palo Alto Mayor Peter Drekmeier. He does not use e-mail, but communications may be sent for forwarding to editor@paweekly,com.

Comments

Posted by Boomer, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 19, 2010 at 12:04 pm

Professors Kennedy's and Perry's proposal that Stanford graduates might enlighten the military would seem poorly supported by the performance of several Stanford people in high positions in government.

Chief Justices Rehnquist and O'Connor disgraced their offices in the 2000 Bush v. Gore decision that stopped the counting of votes in Florida and handed the election to the candidate that, subsequent ballot studies showed, actually lost the election both nationally and in Florida. The legal sophistry of their opinion is clear to scholars, and defended only by political hacks.

Condi Rice as a member of the Principals Committee was responsible for approving torture policies. She was also responsible for ignoring dire warnings from the CIA before 9/11 (Cofer Black said "The only thing we didn't do was pull the trigger to the gun we were holding to her head.") Her subsequent promotion to Secretary of State was possible politically only because the Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission, Dr. Philip Zelikow, was Condi's friend and did everything possible to blunt criticism in the report of Condi's incompetence. He even telephoned the CIA authors of the famous "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US" memo to try to get them to validate Condi's perjured testimony that the memo was "not a warning". They refused.

Stanford should clean its own house before blowing its necrotic "Luft der Frieheit" on the military.











Posted by Richard Lindenauer, a resident of Stanford
on Mar 19, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Professor Drekmeier wrote:

"I would like to believe that . . . despite the absence of a draft bringing the [war] close to home, OPPOSITION TO KILLING WILL BE A DISTINGUISHING FEATURE OF UNIVERSITIES." (Emphasis added.)

If Professor Drekmeier is to be taken at his word, I look forward to his organizing a sizeable contingent of Stanford students and faculty to participate in the annual March for Life next January 22nd in Washington, SC, protesting the wholesale KILLING of millions of human beings resulting from the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

Richard Lindenauer, Captain, U.S. Navy (Retired)
B.A. (1962) and M.A. (1963), Political Science, Stanford University
Navy ROTC (1962), Stanford University
Currently residing in Locust Grove, Virginia



Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 19, 2010 at 12:54 pm



It is a disgrace that Stanford does not have a ROTC and that students have to commute to U Santa Clara or UCB.

Any college that receives Federal funds should active ROTC programs.


Posted by Boomer, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 19, 2010 at 1:17 pm


And of course I forgot George Shultz, Secretary of State during the time the Reagan Administration was supporting death squads and torture chambers in El Salvador and Guatemala. This tolerance was the beginning of policies that twenty years later would result in torture and murder of prisoners by the US government. Later Mr. Shultz's company Bechtel would become a major profiteer from the Iraq war.


Posted by Gary, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 19, 2010 at 2:24 pm

This editorial by Prof. Drekmeier is almost comical in its blindness and hyprocracy. Stanford still has a tenured professor by the name of Paul Ehrlich, who led the charge to ban DDT. The result of this ban is to condemn 1-2 million African children to death by malaria, each year. There is no basis for moral turpitude, with regard to the military, by Drekmeier, if he wants to invoke some special knowledge or high moral standard by his guild.

The old professor conveniently fails to mention that there is a Memorial Court on the quad with the names of many Stanford students who died in WWI. Certainly military service was welcomed and appreciated by Stanford's first generation.

Drekmeier is a typical Stanford leftist, who denounces the great good that the U.S. military has done and continues to do. It isn't the military that needs to be improved by Stanford...it is Stanford that needs to be improved by the military.

Bring back ROTC!


Posted by impressive ROTC, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 19, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Wow...what dizzying circular thinking...somehow critical thinking that opposes killing does not include the critical thinking that figures out how to resist being annhilated.

The critical thinking bullies of the playground LOVE critical thinking pacifists who won't defend themselves...

I am amazed and impressed by ROTC students who buck the elitists who knock them at every turn, and who persist in learning the critical thinking skills they can't learn in "academia", so necessary to our country's survival.

BTW, Mr. Drekmeier, the military does not want the draft, they do not want the dregs that would come to them should everyone be forced to join. They need professional, intelligent people to join who believe in their mission and on whom they can rely.

In addition, if you want to see what a "civilian military" looks like now, please check out the stats from your lofty tower..they are more educated than the general population, and reflect the nations "races" as a whole proportionately to the general population.

Sounds good to me.

Fortunately for you, they work to defend your viewpoint as much as mine.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 19, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Don't knock Junior ROTC - they taught me how to [dry] fire the Bazooka so that, in a unit sadly depleted of effective munitions by Harry's "Peace Dividend" I stood at the Naktong the only effective against tanks with 2 rounds of HE and one Willie Peter. As a regular, I winced at the mortality of the poorly trained 6-6 conscripts that we received as replacements. It takes years to become a soldier when you want to be one, as some patriotic conscripts were, and if you don't want to, you never make it.
If Dreckmeyer and Boomer represent Stanfoo Scholarship in their eminently Fiskable contributions here, then I suggest ROTC grads be allowed to back up to the dean to accept their sheepskin.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 19, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

P.S. Who was it who said that a nation that exalts philosophers and demeans plumbers is in trouble because neither their ideas nor their pipes will hold water?


Posted by Boomer, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 19, 2010 at 11:16 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 20, 2010 at 12:37 am



Unfortunately many of our allies in Europe, and elsewhere, fell into the illusion that, after the fall of the USSR we all could live in a hedonistic utopia.

WRONG

As the Rwandans found out, Europeans found out in the Balkans, and we all found out on 9/11--2001.

Stanford rejected ROTC in the era of " Make Love Not War ", " Money Cannot Buy You Love", " Sex,Drugs and Rock and Roll"

How did that work out for you?

The reality is that we can live in peace if we are prepared for War.

Reflect on General Petraeus report to the Senate this week if you want to understand the real world and the threats we face Web Link

General Petraeus got his PhD from Princeton------

Where are our Stanford warriors?

Bring back ROTC to the Farm and "Let Freedom Ring".


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 21, 2010 at 3:00 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

All the laws one can propose are worthless without the ability to compel attendance before a judge. Any education that conceals that is fatuous.
Those who put themselves above the instruments of freedom, by demeaning the protectors of that freedom, might some day convince the defenders that robbing the paymaster is easier than standing on the line.
One of the reasons given for chasing ROTC off campus was that ROTC lacked academic rigor; I can attest that the finals for military surpass anything within ivied walls.
Dreckmier, if you are an example of Stanford's core, then I pray the medical and engineering wings find another patron.
Boomer, the correct identification is Dr. Rice; The racist sexist practice of addressing Black women by diminutives is the antithesis of an educated man.


Posted by impressive ROTC, a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 21, 2010 at 5:08 am

Good post, Walter.

Thank you.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 21, 2010 at 12:34 pm



MIT has 3 active ROTC programs Web Link

If MIT is good enough for ROTC why not Stanford?


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 21, 2010 at 2:48 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

No one has convinced me Stanford deserves ROTC. Let them stick with Vinceremos and H.Bruce Franklin.


Posted by Paul, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 21, 2010 at 10:43 pm

ROTC would compromise Stanford's core mission only if it failed to bring gobs of money with it.


Posted by Anon, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 22, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Paul wrote: "ROTC would compromise Stanford's core mission only if it failed to bring gobs of money with it."

Paul, I think you have found a fatal flaw in the proposal to bring back ROTC! A flaw completely lacking in, e.g., such impurely academic pursuits as engineering and MBA's. Stanford has long reconciled itself to practical (money-making) arts; its lack of an ROTC program is indicative that there is neither wealth nor status associated with becoming a military officer today.

I wonder if Professor Drekmeier is also opposed to engineering, business, and other practical pursuits whose curricula are determined by job markets rather than critical reading of the Classics? Drekmeier sounds a little bit like the Olympics Avery Brundage back when he insisted that athletes be really pure amateurs. Still, Drekmeier's ramblings do hint at an interesting suggestion: what if Stanford had a military officer's program with a more academically-based high-level curriculum- with classes more like at the Service Academies rather than the "canned" ROTC program -- would there be any takers?



Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 22, 2010 at 1:44 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

What if the United States had a military and Nobody Came???
[With apology to Richard Bach's wife]


Posted by Gary, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 22, 2010 at 2:42 pm

"Charles Drekmeier is professor emeritus of political science at Stanford"

Just curious, why is politics a core study of the academy? And what makes it 'scientific'?

I have the same question about sociology.

ROTC helps to train an officer corps for the U.S. military. This is a much more important mission than training up a socialist cadre, dedicated to confisciatory taxation to build up the welfare class.


Posted by Charles Steele, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 23, 2010 at 4:01 pm

I was a student @ Stanford in the 60's and was taught by Professor Drekmeier. He was a genuinely fine instructor, but is stuck in the past. I also participated in ROTC and graduated as a distinguished military graduate.

His screed (Opinion re: ROTC), included topics as far ranging as... Napoleon, Fredrick the Great, conscription, "militias', war and collateral damage, Vietnam, don't ask don't tell, a suggestion that military officers and non-commissioned MEN (women also participate in ROTC, professor) could offered an opportunity to study journalism at Stanford (Knight Fellowship) so that they could get a "real" education etc. Come to the point!

Today's Stanford student is more than capable of making good choices, if given the opportunity. I guess the Professor feels that by studying military tactics/strategy, history, etc. it would take valuable time away from studying at the feet of the masters.

Professor Drekmeier is quoted as saying: "We need to remind ourselves that a core principle of a great university is fostering of critical thinking." Guess his principled position is to limit critical thinking and thinkers to those opportunities he feels are worthwhile! Wow, who do I spell hypocritical

Bring back ROTC to Stanford!


Posted by Big Dan, a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2010 at 7:14 pm

@Boomer

---- ROTC is a delusional paranoid who believes the USA, which spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined, is in danger of being annihilated.

Yup, I believe in the USA have and always will.

Makes me break into song. Web Link


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 23, 2010 at 7:56 pm



@ Big Dan, a resident of another community

Great link--- got any more?

Bring the ROTC back to Stanford-- for the good of the Campus

ROTC students will provide excellent role models for the liberal arts students who are currently lost in a fog of 4 years of continuous sex,drugs,booze and moral equivalence.

ROTC has discipline, moral spine, courage and the American spirit against all enemies, foreign and domestic.


Posted by The Real Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2010 at 9:35 am

"ROTC students will provide excellent role models for the liberal arts students who are currently lost in a fog of 4 years of continuous sex,drugs,booze and moral equivalence."

Interesting observation, Sharon. Do you have any facts to back it up?
Quite the condemnation of Stanford students, suggesting that they are continuously involved in sex, drugs and alcohol. Given the fact that the actual truth shows that most Stanford students are serious learners who advance to great careers in all walks of life, it kind of makes your comments appear to be a fantasy.

"ROTC has discipline, moral spine, courage and the American spirit against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

What domestic enemies are you referring to? Clearly millions of students have graduated from universities, with or without ROTC training, and have demonstrated discipline, moral spine, courage and the American spirit. But I would like to see the data to back up your assertions.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2010 at 6:01 pm



Tom Wolfe has published a couple of works based upon his research of liberal arts undergraduates and their life style, mainly at Stanford but also at Duke.

"Hooking Up" in 2001, and "I Am Charlotte Simmons" in 2004, which chronicles the moral equivalence, class prejudice, substance abuse, materialism and sexual promiscuity she finds at a prestigious contemporary American university.---Stanford and Duke

Tom did live research @ Stanford as the basis for his book-- not a pretty sight-- he discovered.

We met Tom while he was staying in Palo Alto and spending a lot of time on campus and heard his reports.

You can read them in his works


The ROTC will provide corrective role models for liberal arts undergraduates @ Stanford---


Posted by The real sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 24, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Wolfe's books are works of fiction. Whether he included anything factual from his time at Stanford is unknown. One wonders how he could have spen time and given reports with a fictional character. Why are Stanford undergrads being made the latest target of a venomous attack?


Posted by Army Officer, a resident of Mountain View
on Mar 24, 2010 at 8:54 pm

From what I've seen when the smoke has settled, an ROTC commissioned officer is twice the man compared to a trust-funded and pampered private school Stanford grad. As for you Palo Altans, the sooner you stop trying to represent yourselves as some intellectual elite due solely to your proximity to Stanford, the sooner you will find something more productive to do with your lives. If Stanford wants to bring back ROTC and a student wants to join, it's really none of your business anyway.

OEF 2003
OIF 2006
OEF 2008


Posted by T. Wolfe, a resident of another community
on Mar 25, 2010 at 6:14 am

Tom Wolfe here. A friend sent me this link and I wanted to clarify some points. First of all most of the research I did on the book mentioned above was at Duke, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Florida, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan. While I was at Stanford, I want to make it clear that the events in this book are a work of fiction and are in no way indicative of the student body I spoke with at Stanford.
Finally, I want to state that during my stay at Stanford and in Palo Alto I did not meet or speak with or give reports to anyone named "Sharon".


Posted by The Real Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 25, 2010 at 7:36 am

"an ROTC commissioned officer is twice the man compared to a trust-funded and pampered private school Stanford grad"

Army Officer--you base the above statement on what? FYI--most of the students that come to Stanford are getting some form of financial aid--very few are "trust-funded and pampered". Most students that go to universities in this country do not take part in ROTC programs and they turn out to be fine men AND WOMEN. Not sure why these venomous attacks on Stanford students have been unleashed at this time


Posted by CJ, a resident of Palo Verde
on Apr 8, 2010 at 6:08 pm

The president of my company is former ROTC and enlisted in the Navy. He now runs a 4000 person $2b/year high-tech firm.

If the ROTC and the US military can take someone "who cant find a job elsewhere" from "a society characterized by extremes of wealth and various expressions of discrimination" and turn them into an extremely successful businessperson, then I say, more power to them.....and Stanford is missing out on something of great benefit to individuals and to our society in general.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 8, 2010 at 6:54 pm


Well said CJ

The ROTC will bring moral spine back to Campus

Wolfe stayed at the Garden Court in PA, Web Link, that is were we had dinner with him, you may have seen him in his white suit around town when he was was documenting the culture on Stanford Campus---read his book

Stanford has to prove it deserves ROTC, while they are thinking about it Federal Funds to SU should stop.

BTW do they have a Confucius Center @ SU ? they are arms of the Chinese Republican Army according to the NSA and MI6Web Link


Posted by Big Dan, a resident of another community
on Apr 8, 2010 at 9:01 pm

If any thing it is Stanford that is on the decline.
Expect perhaps the medical school.
And in 20 years it will 1/2 of body of learning it was in 1985. The good news is that most of the communist fossils that teach there will have move on to that special place.

And yes, Sharon I have one more song for you. Web Link


Posted by Agree with Dan, a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Apr 9, 2010 at 5:05 am

Big Dan, I have to agree with you.


Posted by The Real Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 9, 2010 at 6:29 am

"The ROTC will bring moral spine back to Campus"
There is plenty of moral spine on campus. Overall, very few undergrads in US colleges take part in the ROTC, yet we manage to turn out millions of excellent young people each year. Stanford students and students all over the country do not deserve the derogatory comments made about them by Sharon.

"Wolfe stayed at the Garden Court in PA, Web Link, that is were we had dinner with him, you may have seen him in his white suit around town when he was was documenting the culture on Stanford Campus---read his book"
Sorry, Sharon, your link does provide proof that you dined with him--it is just a link to the Garden Court Hotel, Who knows where he stayed. Anyway, he responded on this thread and said that he never met you. His book was not about the "culture on Stanford". Saying it over and over will not make it true.

"Stanford has to prove it deserves ROTC, while they are thinking about it Federal Funds to SU should stop."
Write your congress person and suggest that. Stanford does not have to proven anything. I guess we should jeopardize the education of thousands of students, damage important research--which will impact millions of people when the US cuts of federal funding to Stanford?

"BTW do they have a Confucius Center @ SU ? they are arms of the Chinese Republican Army according to the NSA and MI6Web Link"
There is no Confucius Center at Stanford. But the rest of your sentence is a fairy tale. Your link is not about the fantasy arm you talk about. But a link to a wikipedia page about MI6.


Posted by Funny postings, a resident of Stanford
on Apr 9, 2010 at 7:44 am

So, CJ, what company is that?
Big Dan, which communist fossils? China, the largest communist nation in the world, is our good friend now. Or haven't you heard
Notice anything about the postings from the mutual admiration society of CJ, Sharon, Big Dan and Agree with Dan?


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 9, 2010 at 11:01 am

We see that Stanford in fact HAS a very active Confucius InstituteWeb Link

Confucius Institutes are founded and promoted by the Chinese Communist Party CCP as agencies of industrial and military espionage Web Link

So Stanford hosts a CCP spy agency but not ROTC?

time for some serious changes


Posted by The Real Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 9, 2010 at 11:20 am

"We see that Stanford in fact HAS a very active Confucius InstituteWeb Link"
My mistake. There is a Confucius Institute (not a center as Sharon claimed initially) at Stanford as part of the
The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures. this is normal and expected. China is our big trading partner these days. Many universities have East Asian centers for study. What is the problem?

"Confucius Institutes are founded and promoted by the Chinese Communist Party CCP as agencies of industrial and military espionage Web Link"
Note that the link that Sharon has provided is to a story that is 2.5+ years old and appeared in the Pittsburgh Tribune-review.
The owner of the Tribune-Review is Richard Mellon Scaife, a noted right-winger who funded the persecution of Bill Clinton.
Enough said about that.


"So Stanford hosts a CCP spy agency but not ROTC?"
If you have any proof that the Confucius Institute is a spy agency, then you should turn it over to the authorities. Otherwise you are engaging in defamation of character and attacking a world famous university and a respected department of said university without any proof.

"time for some serious changes"
No, not really. There is no spy agency. China is our partner now.
Saying it over and over will not make it true. Proof, please.


Posted by Sharon, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 9, 2010 at 7:25 pm



What is the story behind the Confucius Institute @ Stanford?

In Canada, Australia, UK etc they are viewed as suspicious agents of the Chinese Communist Party

EG Canada

"Controlled and mostly funded by Beijing, the institutes operate in partnership with the B.C. Institute of Technology. BCIT subscribes to the goodwill theory, but some human-rights lawyers say the Confucius Institute is a sophisticated attempt to persuade a world hungry for the Chinese goods and markets to ignore China's human-rights abuses.

A report from Canada's spy agency CSIS tends toward the latter view more than the former.

"I'm surprised people are that naive about China," David Matas, a prominent Winnipeg lawyer, said in an interview. "On the other hand, the need for money is endless and bottomless and China's got lots of it. People are very easily persuaded by money to delude themselves." Web Link


In contrast, ROTC promotes American interests and values, they have ROTC @ Princeton and MIT--- why not at Stanford?


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