And Since We Have No Guns And Less Military

By now, you’ve probably heard about Bill O’Reilly’s reaction to the SF vote on military recruitment and his comments that terrorists should blow up Coit Tower because SF has rejected recruitment. Now, there’s a bunch of overreaction going on to his remarks. He’s a talk radio host – seriously, he wins the angrier you get. So unbunch those panties.

But what about the substantive question – the rejecting recruitment part?

Even if you disagree with this war – and I strongly do – and even if you’re a peacenik – I tend to be – what about defense? The world isn’t a stable place – never has been, never will be. Discouraging military service may seem like a great start to curbing the government’s enthusiasm, but maybe we should focus on running more people for office who agree with our views? What about encouraging military service by people who will have different ideas for handling conflict?

12 Comments so far

  1. joann Landers (unregistered) on November 11th, 2005 @ 9:56 am

    Marvin Gaye, said in his classic song,


  2. Steve Shaffer (unregistered) on November 11th, 2005 @ 10:47 am

    I’d maintain that this would be a more interesting question at a state level, which in the course of legal actions it might reach, what are the obligations of each member of the union to provide for the common defense? The constitition’s idea of state provided militia’s is consisting of a citizen army is certainly out-moded (second ammendment’s true intent).

    Militaries are a final resort when “states” can not resolve their conflicts though negotiations/diplomicy/politics. Gwen Dyer (Military historian and host/witer of a PBS series on war) changed my perspective on armys – “A soldiers job is not to kill for his country; his job is to die for his country”. I completely agree with your sentiment that we need to have our representatives understand the gravity of the decision to sarifice our military. It is hard to argue that the Afganistan campaign was anything but thrust on us.

    Peace comes at a cost, and in a world where “states” are willing to push their viewpoint by killing; our nation must have the power of a professional military that is willing to die resisting those “states”. Once a military is called into action the citizens they are protecting must do everything in their power to minimize the magnitude of that sacrifice. The soliders must be honored for the sarifice that we have asked of them, through our elected representatives.

    The place for multiple ways of resolving conflicts is within the executive branch of the government – let’s encourge service in not just the military but in the public sector as a whole – being a career diplomat for instance. A soldier has little opportunity (except at the highest levels) to influence conflict before it turns deadly. Once it has turned into a “military conflict” it is best for the forces to be united in action, differing opinions need to be layed aside.

    We as the citizens they are protecting need to always remember that the soldier has agreed to sacrifice themselves for us. It is our elected representatives that we need to task with responsiblity for where and how they make that sacrifice.

    Take a moment today to honor those that have sacrificed themselves for you.

    Happy Veterans Day.


  3. rg (unregistered) on November 11th, 2005 @ 11:00 am

    Rejecting military recruitment does not mean discouraging military service. Some people simply don’t want their kids being force fed infomercials in school.


  4. Chester (unregistered) on November 11th, 2005 @ 12:07 pm

    Judging from the quotations in that Chron story, the only thing that Bill O’Reilly spews more often than bile are logical fallacies. Mayor Newsom’s reaction in the article was the only reasonable reaction to O’Reilly.

    As for your refocusing on the topic, I think it needs to be stressed that Measure I was not about “rejecting recruitment”. It was about rejecting recruitment in public schools. It was not a referendum about whether or not we should have a strong military or whether or not the military should actively recruit.

    It was about whether or not it’s right for the federal government to demand access to our children in order to recruit them for military service in exchange for funding those children’s education. (Though, the language of the Measure also put in a lot of arguments against our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.)

    Extrapolating the discussion into a more general debate on what it means to have a strong national defense is certainly a good conversation, but it’s something that is outside of the bounds of Measure I.

    And, I think this distinction needs to be made clear because I resent how people like O’Reilly use a series of fallacies to equate advocating Measure I with being against military recruitment in an absolute sense with being against a strong defense with being unpatriotic and undeserving of being an American.

    It’s a ridiculous chain of assertions involving a lot of unsubstantiated leaps of logic. I see nothing inconsistent with being for Measure I and what it represents while still believing in the need for a strong military to defend our country.


  5. anonymous (unregistered) on November 11th, 2005 @ 6:16 pm

    I thought I had read in the voting pamhplet that it restriicted recruitment without the school’s permission; that’s not the same as banning recruitment.

    Also, children should complete their education before being solicited to make their career choice.


  6. repub@repub.com (unregistered) on November 12th, 2005 @ 1:55 pm

    This city sucks. The illegals, homeless, gayleftards, and the undeniably stupid left run this place.

    I’ve been here for 20+ years and started as an anarchist/feminist/etc, but now see how incredibly DUMB I was.

    I’m a proud SF Republican now. I can’t stand the left here. It’s much more exciting to be a Repub in SF anyways, just to see people look shocked (what a Hip Republican? NO!!!). They just stereotype people. A Republican is someone who is a stuffed shirt to them.

    Um, look around, the only stuffed shirts are the DEMS who are running this place. Call me an Indie Republican, as that is what I am.


  7. Josh Trevino (unregistered) on November 12th, 2005 @ 5:20 pm

    Military recruitment is tough. I know, because my first job after being commissioned a Second Lieutenant eight years ago was to recruit 17- through 20-year olds for my college ROTC program. We were lucky to get a success rate of 1-2% — and that was with the promise of free college at a nice school, no war on the horizon, an officer’s commission, and the sweetener of no active service if the prospective cadet didn’t want it. So I feel for the recruiters who must recruit for enlisted positions in wartime — they need all the help they can get. If you proceed from the assumption that the United States must be able to meet its present defense and wartime commitments, then the alternative to helping out the recruiters in every way possible is the draft.

    If you think you don’t like “infomercials” in high schools, try that for a while.

    Admittedly, you could make the argument that we don’t need to meet our present defense and wartime commitments. I don’t agree, but it’s a rational and defensible position in many ways. Still, I don’t see either political party having the spine to chart such a dramatic course.

    Beyond this, San Franciscans have made a terrible error in disassociating themselves from the military in this way. (Yes, I know not all who voted for this measure see themselves as doing so, but rest assured that most of the rest of the country does.) The military is, especially on the officer level, a deeply conservative subculture. Self-identified leftists and Democrats are exceedingly rare — and frankly, that’s bad for the military and the country at large. I speak as a conservative myself: the Army would have been a far more moral entity, in my experience, with some ideological diversity in its ranks. If the military is to defend all of America, it ought to self-identify with all of America. The leftmost bits, such as our hometown of San Francisco, disassociating themselves from it thus only serve to deepen a completely unnecessary and poisonous alienation on both sides.


  8. cd (unregistered) on November 13th, 2005 @ 8:54 pm

    Good discussion, everyone (with the exception of “repub” who added zero to the discourse).

    And, Chester, I too get frustrated when the actual issues of a ballot measure or policy decision are reduced or trimmed to fit another discussion – but I hoped to set out from the start that I wanted to look at the recruitment issue more broadly.

    I’d have to say the statement with which I most disagree was the unsigned comment: “Also, children should complete their education before being solicited to make their career choice.” No, actually, children should constantly be thinking and looking at a future – especially high school students. They should be weighing whether college, vocational school, military service, or whatever is the best route for them. And high school kids aren’t exactly completely without deliberative skills.

    Most colleges and vocational schools are welcomed to campus to recruit students – and some of those colleges are selling a load of poo also (Pomona – looking at you! Just kidding, that’s a college rivalry thing – don’t worry about it). It’s true that military recruiters are a lot more about the hard sell than college recruiters. I had two marines working on me once when I was in high school waiting for another college presentation. I’m mule-like in my resistance abilities, but I know many kids aren’t. Perhaps, however, that’s why the new armed services “discussion” commercials are a good idea – a way to get parents involved in the process in an intelligent way.

    I do think that embracing a policy that seeks to exclude recruiters does, in fact, discourage military service. There are probably many people in San Francisco who are fine with that – and I’ll admit that if I had a son or daughter of the age to consider service, I’d have major reservations. I have reservations about JAG service right now – which would be the most likely avenue for me, were I to want to join up.

    I’m not sure what the answer is on this – or even what my opinion is on it – but I think it’s a much more important issue than the relatively small amount of coverage in this election implied.


  9. afkbrad (unregistered) on November 15th, 2005 @ 6:11 pm

    San Francisco is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been too. I love the scenery, good food, and the weather. However, my last visit was to Mill Valley two years ago and San Francisco was not kind to me. I was there on military business for three weeks and was told before I arrived that I would be treated differently than anywhere in the U.S. In fact, I was warned to not wear my uniform anywhere in public and to take off my BDU top while driving just in case. As a 15 year Air Force veteran, I was shocked by this disclaimer from military law enforcment officials.

    My point is that we in the military understand that the bay area is not a bastion of military loving people and I don’t have a problem with that. If you hate the military, it doesn’t affect my life whatsoever. You may dislike us, but surely let the people who like myself did not have enough money or discipline to pay for college to at least entertain the thought.

    If the citizens of San Francisco don’t want guns or military members in the city, that’s fine. Enjoy your freedoms and leave the rest of us alone. However, from a purely militaristic standpoint, you have a large harbor and no protection after the closing of the Presidio and the absolute gutting of bases in California in the past decade. Large harbors are one of the key items to take in any war, especially one with close proximity to major railroads and highways. Pearl Harbor happened, 9/11 happened, who knows what else is possible. Point is, the city of San Francisco might want to entertain the possibility of asking the Federal Government to at least provide closeby air, land, or sea protection for such a beautiful city.


  10. cd (unregistered) on November 15th, 2005 @ 6:20 pm

    Akfbrad – compelling points all around.

    It’s puzzling and disappointing that such a love-all city has a reputation for open hostility to men and women whose only sin was their willingness to take a bullet for their country and commit themselves to serving even if it ends up being for someone with whom they disagree.

    And thank you for bringing up the city’s particular geography and why we’d be an attractive target for an enemy to acquire.

    I grew up in a military hometown that was badly effected by the closure of aerospace industries, a shipyard, and is under the continuing threat of further base closures. I would hate to see the AFB gone for a million reasons even before you get to the protection factor.

    I’ll continue to believe that discouraging participation won’t bring about the change sought by advocates of exclusion (for any reason from their war opposition to the don’t-ask-don’t-tell issue). I think participation works worlds better.


  11. Chester (unregistered) on November 16th, 2005 @ 11:23 am

    Eh, it’s pretty fallacious to characterize military personnel as “men and women whose only sin was their willingness to take a bullet for their country”. A certain amount of military personnel embody that idealized portrait and a certain amount do not. To characterize all military personnel as universally righteous and self-sacrificing individuals is as fallacious as characterizing them all as morally-bankrupt war-mongerers.

    Again: being against military recruitment in schools does not equate to being against recruitment in general. It also doesn’t equate to being against ensuring a strong defense for one’s nation.

    Right now, our military’s problem with recruitment has to do with people not wanting to go to go to war in Iraq. This doesn’t mean that people don’t want to defend our country. I imagine it means they don’t think that the war in Iraq is tantamount to defending our country and is therefore not a war that is worthy of their ultimate sacrifice.

    That’s my general viewpoint. Here’s some specific responses:

    - I think the analogy between military and college recruitment is a poor one. Going to one college versus another (or to college at all) does not greatly increase of getting killed in the near future. If recruiters for North Atlantic fishing outfits or Pennsylvanian coal mines were to recruit as aggressively in public schools, I’m sure there would be an outcry about that too. I don’t believe pushing military recruitment out of schools is merely — or even primarily — an issue of being “against” the military.

    - AFKBrad wrote: “San Francisco was not kind to me.” Nothing in your comment actually listed unkind things you encountered in SF due to your being military. You only cite how you were told that you’d be treated differently in SF. I’m not saying that your experience, as military personnel, hasn’t been adverse in SF or that you don’t have colleagues with plenty of bad anecdotes, but you didn’t actually describe them in your comment. It would be interesting to hear some of your specific experiences as explanation for how SF “was not kind” to you.

    - Military protection of San Francisco is a national interest, not merely a local one. And it shouldn’t be predicated on the local populace’s supposed hostility toward the military — particularly when it’s a hostility that is unproven and vaguely defined. Saying that the citizens of San Francisco don’t want military members in the city — either while on duty or as visitors — is a gross generalization that rings pretty false in my ears. Again: don’t mistake not wanting military recruitment in schools or being against a particular war with being anti-military.


  12. Nunya (unregistered) on November 23rd, 2005 @ 8:06 am

    -I think Bill’s right…even if he didn’t mean it literally. How do you get that pushing military recruitment out of schools isn’t being against the military? Stupidity. I’m not against you, but I want you out of here…hmmm…okay. I like black people, but I don’t want any recruited to this school…gimme a break. San Francisco hates the military, and I think the military should hate you back.
    I don’t especially want my kids to join, but I think everyone has at least the duty to listen, and make up their mind. In other countries people are required to do military service. Fortunately in this country we are not. The only way do this is through recruitment.
    Even if Brad had told his specific experiences, there would be 90 percent of you lefties out there that would not believe him. San Francisco…city of forbearance…as long as you’re a hippie…we love everyone…as long as you have nothing to do with the military or America in general.
    Sure military protection of ANYWHERE in the United States is in the national interest you nut. You’re part of the “nation”.”Supposed” hostility? Stopping recruiting is just one more thing in a long line of strikes in your history.
    San Fran has become a freakshow. You just do things that suit you’re own needs. You want gay marriages so you just do them…(no matter what the law says). You ban guns…(no matter the constitution), but hey…if you NEED something… all of a sudden, hey…we’re part of the country… or maybe since laws obviously don’t matter in San Fran, they shouldn’t even worry about the passing of the law…they can just keep recruiting even if you pass it.
    I don’t mistake not wanting recruitment in schools anti-military…I KNOW it’s anti-mlitary. I don’t care that you’re for OR against the war…just get enough hippies out there to vote the president out of office…that’s the great thing about this country…things change. Ultimately this is a country run by the people willing to get out and vote…what burns me is people that don’t pay attention to the law, or only obey some laws.



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