Military Recruitment

Ezra Klein on Code Pink’s protest of a military recruiting station:

Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin says “We feel that it’s our obligation because of this war to shut down the recruiting station.” That’s silly. When you focus your protesting on the military, you distract from the argument over the war. It’s a staggeringly bad idea.

True (the political fallout, etc.), if all you care about is this war. But remember, that Code Pink “Calls on women around the world to rise up and oppose the war in Iraq and future wars.” If you want to reduce the future ability of the US to conduct wars of choice (a laudable goal), then decreasing the size of the military makes a lot of sense.  I think this makes it just a bad idea (the political fallout, etc.), with no staggering.

A better plan, that might be effective and consistent with the broader goals of the anti-wars movement would be to set up anti-recruitment stations (comprehensively, not just in liberal enclaves) that made their case to individuals considering military service.  You know, we report, you decide.  Less confrontation, more respectful — and it would lead to metrics by which we could judge its effectiveness (personal contacts, recruits turned around, army recruiting stations closed).

Despite the political reality of runaway nationalism that make this impossible to say by anyone with power, individual soldiers do have agency and are responsible for choosing to sign on to this war, in the same way as someone who goes to work for Enron or a Pregnancy Crisis Center is responsible for their work.  You can’t know enough about someone’s individual situation to judge their livelihood decisions (the only potential recruit I’ve ever given shit to is my brother), but I choose to believe that there’s some other, less messed-up opportunity for the two hundred thousand recruits signing up every year.  So: bad choices are being made; it’s legitimate to try to convince people of said badness; more power to Code Pink.

But, for the sake of your goals, try to Code Pink smarter.

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