Book Reviews

Counter-Recruitment and the Campaign to Demilitarize Public Schools

Scott Harding, Seth Kershner -

ISBN 9781137515254
Publication Date September 2015
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF)
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

Counter-Recruitment and the Campaign to Demilitarize Public Schools"This book brilliantly dissects not only the militarization of schools in the United States but also offers a systemic approach to forms of counter-recruitment. Not content to simply condemn military recruitment of students, the book offers parents and others a ray of hope in developing a language, strategies, and policies that can end this pernicious militarizing of schools and the recruitment of young people into America's ever expanding war machine. A must-read book for fighting back against militarized pedagogies and strategies of repression." - Henry Giroux, McMaster University, Canada, author of The Violence of Organized Forgetting (2013)

"What does sustainable anti-militarization look like? Who does it—and how? This fascinating book pulls back two curtains, first on how American high schools are being steadily militarized, and second, on how thoughtful, committed local counter-recruitment activists are rolling back that militarizing process, school by school, town by town. For any of us in critical security studies, American studies, peace studies, education, or women's and gender studies, this is a genuinely valuable book." - Cynthia Enloe, author of Nimo's War, Emma's War: Making Feminist Sense of the Iraq War (2010)

The United States is one of the only developed countries to allow a military presence in public schools, including an active role for military recruiters. In order to enlist 250,000 new recruits every year, the US military must market itself to youth by integrating itself into schools through programs such as JROTC (Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps), and spend billions of dollars annually on recruitment activities. This militarization of educational space has spawned a little-noticed grassroots resistance: the small, but sophisticated, "counter-recruitment" movement. This book describes the various tactics used in counter-recruitment, drawing from the words of activists and case studies of successful organizing and advocacy. Counter-recruiters visit schools to challenge recruiters' messages with information on non-military career options; activists work to make it harder for the military to operate in public schools; they conduct lobbying campaigns for policies that protect students' private information from military recruiters; and, counter-recruiters mentor youth to become involved in these activities. While attracting little attention, counter-recruitment has nonetheless been described as "the military recruiter's greatest obstacle" by a Marine Corps official.

Source: http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/counterrecruitment-and-the-campaign-to-demilitarize-public-schools-scott-harding/?isb=9781137515254


Scott Harding is Associate Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the School of Social Work, University of Connecticut, USA. He has extensive advocacy and organizing experience on issues of homelessness, affordable housing, welfare, community development, and transnational labor solidarity. He was Executive Director and Policy Coordinator for the California Homeless & Housing Coalition, USA. He is a Board Member of Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS), and former Editor of The Journal of Community Practice.

Seth Kershner is an independent writer and researcher whose primary focus is the US military's growing presence in public schools. His work has appeared in a number of academic journals and books, as well as popular outlets such as In These Times, Rethinking Schools, and Sojourners, among others. Kershner currently works as a reference librarian at Northwestern Connecticut Community College, USA.

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Henry Giroux | Beyond Neoliberal Miseducation

Henry Giroux -

This article draws from a number of ideas in Henry A. Giroux's newest book, Neoliberalism's War on Higher Education.

Neoliberalism's War on Higher EducationAs universities turn toward corporate management models, they increasingly use and exploit cheap faculty labor while expanding the ranks of their managerial class. Modeled after a savage neoliberal value system in which wealth and power are redistributed upward, a market-oriented class of managers largely has taken over the governing structures of most institutions of higher education in the United States. As Debra Leigh Scott points out, "administrators now outnumber faculty on every campus across the country."1


Under the regime of neoliberal education, misery breeds a combination of contempt and source of profits for the banks and other financial industries.


There is more at stake here than metrics. Benjamin Ginsberg views this shift in governance as the rise of what he calls ominously the "the all administrative university," noting that it does not bode well for any notion of higher education as a democratic public sphere.2A number of colleges and universities are drawing more and more upon adjunct and nontenured faculty - whose ranks now constitute 1 million out of 1.5 million faculty - many of whom occupy the status of indentured servants who are overworked, lack benefits, receive little or no administrative support and are paid salaries that increasingly qualify them for food stamps.3

Many students increasingly fare no better in sharing the status of a subaltern class beholden to neoliberal policies and values, and largely treated as consumers for whom education has become little more than a service. Too many students are buried under huge debts that have become a major source of celebration by the collection industry because it allows them to cash in on the misfortune and hardships of an army of indebted students. Under the regime of neoliberal education, misery breeds a combination of contempt and source of profits for the banks and other financial industries. Jerry Aston, a member of that industry, wrote in a column after witnessing a protest rally by students criticizing their mounting debt that he "couldn't believe the accumulated wealth they represent - for our industry."4 And, of course, this type of economic injustice is taking place in an economy in which rich plutocrats such as the infamous union-busting Koch brothers each saw "their investments grow by $6 billion in one year, which amounts to three million dollars per hour based on a 40-hour 'work' week."5 One astounding figure of greed and concentrated power is revealed in the fact that in 2012, the Koch brothers "made enough money in one second to feed one homeless woman for an entire year."6 Workers, students, youths and the poor are all considered expendable this neoliberal global economy. Yet the one institution, education, that offers the opportunities for students to challenge these anti-democratic tendencies is under attack in ways that are unparalleled, at least in terms of the scope and intensity of the assault by the corporate elite and other economic fundamentalists.

War is a Crime Against Humanity: The Story of War Resisters' International

René Wadlow (reviewer - Peace Magazine) -

War is a Crime against Humanity: The Story of The War Resisters' InternationalDevi Prasad, General Secretary of the War Resisters' International (WRI) in London from 1962 to 1972 and then chairman from 1972 to 1975, has written a useful study of the organization, highlighting the period in which he had direct responsibility. His history ends in 1975 when he passed on his chairmanship to Myrtle Solomon, who held the chair from 1975 to 1985.

This is an action-filled history of the 1960s until the end of the US war in Vietnam in 1975. It was only yesterday for some of us like myself who started protesting atomic-bomb testing around 1953. It is ancient history and unfamiliar territory for those who can not recall the heated debates over the concept of a "Third Camp" -- basically a force between the Soviet Union and the USA but with a humanistic philosophy which made it more than just "the non-aligned" -- presented by A.J. Muste at the WRI Triennial Conference in 1954.

In reading the history, I was struck by how long-serving was the secretariat and the officials. The book is dedicated to Herbert Rumham Brown who was General Secretary when the WRI was officially structured in 1926, then chairman until his death in 1949. Likewise, Grace Beaton, the administrative soul of the organization served from 1933 until 1956.

Like all organizational histories, it has more meaning for those in the organization or on its edge than for the activists who worked through other organizations. Unfortunately, Devi Prasad does not make the people in the movement come alive with descriptions of their character or their impact, even for those from India with whom he had worked before coming to the UK. Thus, if one wants to understand the character and role of the Indian socialist-pacifist Jayaprakash Narayan, one does better reading the book of another Prasad: Bimal Prasad Gandhi, Nehru, and J.P. (Delhi: Chamakya Publishers, 1985, 294pp).

The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War

Edward A. Olsen The Independent Institute -

The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by WarAs Andrew Bacevich notes in the introductory section of The New American Militarism, most critics of militarism's influence on U.S. foreign and defense policy have their roots in the progressive or center-left portions of the ideological spectrum. Bacevich's roots clearly are in the traditional conservative to libertarian end of that spectrum. A graduate of West Point, he earned a Ph.D. at Princeton University. After a military career, he became a professor at Boston University. This background reinforces his credibility in critiquing how and why militarism became a major factor shaping U.S. policy. The author also of a previous, well-received book, American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of U.S. Diplomacy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002), Bacevich has become an established critic of U.S. policy. His excellent analysis of American militarism reinforces that stature.

The essence of his views is encapsulated by statements at the beginning and end of the book: "Today as never before in their history Americans are enthralled with military power" (p. 1); and "America will surely share the fate of all those who in ages past have looked to war and military power to fulfill their destiny. We will rob future generations of their rightful inheritance. We will wreak havoc abroad. We will endanger our security at home. We will risk the forfeiture of all that we prize" (p. 225). After referring to "America's marriage of a militaristic cast of mind with utopian ends," Bacevich declares that his goal is to examine "the origins and implications of this union and [to propose] its annulment" (p. 3). As a devout Roman Catholic, he avoids the term divorce, but in this case an annulment would be a de facto divorce. For conservatives who might be uneasy about this objective, Bacevich sets the tone for the book by quoting James Madison: "Of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded.... No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare." He then states, "The purpose of this book is to invite Americans to consider the relevance of Madison's warning to our own time and circumstances" (p. 7). Thus, Bacevich seeks to refocus Americans' attention on how the United States has gone astray from its founders' principles.

Despite the title's emphasis on "new American militarism," most of the book deals with how and why "present-day American militarism has deep roots in the American past" (p. 5) by assessing that history and its policy implications then and now. The successive chapters provide provocatively conveyed insights into various aspects of that long-term evolution. Bacevich sets the stage with a critique of Wilsonian interventionism and its legacy to date. This analysis is balanced in its criticism of various administrations. At the core of its salience for militarism are observations about "the demise of the ancient American tradition of the citizen-soldier" (p. 26) and the claim that "the outsourcing of defense to a professional military elite, the erosion of civilian control—distorts if it does not altogether nullify important elements of the American birthright" (p. 32). Against that background, Bacevich carefully analyzes how the cultivation of military professionalism, an inadvertent by-product of Wilsonianism, assumed self-regenerating momentum. This discussion contains many insights drawn from Bacevich's background in both military and policy analysis. Readers who lack any military background should benefit from it, but some may find it arcane if they fail to grasp its nuances.

The chapter titled "Left, Right, Left" will have much broader appeal to all but the neoconservatives whom it thoroughly evaluates and whose flawed conservative credentials it closely examines. Bacevich contends that neoconservatives "laid the intellectual foundation of the new American militarism" (p. 72), and he analyzes the elements of that foundation and how they evolved from the views of dissenting leftists to those of supposed conservatives. In assessing these pseudoconservative issues, he skillfully critiques the roles of the Weekly Standard, many of its prominent writers, "the fellow-traveling American Enterprise Institute," and "the agitprop of the Project for the New American Century" (p. 89).

Genuine conservatives will enjoy the following two chapters less. One chapter deals with the legacy of Ronald Reagan's role in "conjuring up the myths that nurtured and sustain present-day American militarism" (p. 99) and how that legacy helped shape successive administrations. As controversial as that analysis will be in some circles, the other chapter's focus on the religious right's alleged roles in reinforcing the values behind militarism will be even more provocative. Bacevich maintains that "militant evangelicals imparted religious sanction to the militarization of U.S. policy and helped imbue the resulting military activism with an aura of moral legitimacy" (p. 124). The content and title of this chapter, "Onward" (as in "onward Christian soldiers"), is likely to make it the most controversial in the book among today's Republican base.

The chapter titled "War Club" is much less likely than "Onward" to provoke controversy, but it does deal with a sensitive issue: the institutionalization of the doctrines that foster militarism in the current Bush administration. Bacevich examines the analysts in academe and think tanks, especially RAND, who contributed to what became a quest for a perpetual "revolution in military affairs" (RMA) designed to keep the United States poised for deterrence in ways that eventually led to the Bush doctrine's focus on military preemption. At the core of this development was an evolving "national-security elite" that Bacevich labels a "priesthood." (p. 151). Although the purposes behind the RMA concept can have merit, it proved to have troubling implications. As Bacevich states, "although the Revolution in Military Affairs offered a way of reconceptualizing warfare, its importance extended well beyond that sphere. In fact, the RMA was one expression of a larger effort to formulate a new vision of the world itself and of America's proper place in (and astride) that world" (p. 170). In short, he concludes, "the priesthood had turned out to be a war club" (p. 174).

Bacevich explores how U.S. policies toward the Middle East over several decades have been shaped and distorted by oil and by radical Muslim reactions, including terrorism, in response to those policies. In this context, he refers to the Cold War as "what it really was: World War III" and to the post–9/11 war on terrorism as "World War IV" (p. 175). Although many readers will disagree with that analytical categorization because of its reliance on a neocon perspective, Bacevich uses that paradigm to provide insights into where and how presidents from Jimmy Carter to George W. Bush have used interventionist policies to impose American objectives on the Middle East, based on U.S. dependency on petroleum stability and U.S. ties with Israel, in order to transform countries that were not in harmony with U.S. interests. In one of his blunter assessments, Bacevich states: "Bush and members of his inner circle conceived of this [aggressive interventionism] as a great crusade" (p. 202) in part because "they had drunk deeply of the waters that sustained the new American militarism" (p. 203).

In concluding, Bacevich expounds on ten principles that can reduce U.S. tendencies toward militarism: pay attention to the nation's founders, bolster the separation of powers, treat the use of armed force solely as a last resort, strengthen U.S. self-sufficiency, emphasize national defense, control defense spending, use more soft power, emphasize citizen-soldiers, use the National Guard and reserves properly, and improve U.S. civil-military relations. Were the United States to pursue these goals, including greater reliance on civilian education for U.S. military officers, Americans would benefit from the demilitarization of U.S. policy and the U.S. role in world affairs. These recommendations are sound. If implemented, they would reduce militarism sharply within U.S. society and in U.S. policymaking and help to stop the policy shift toward the maintenance of a de facto empire.

As I noted earlier, a number of liberal-progressive analysts have criticized militarism in the United States. However, Bacevich's criticism and recommendations, voiced by a conservative with military credentials, are important for people across the entire U.S. spectrum to read and heed. Liberals may be pleasantly surprised. Although some conservatives may be taken aback, they too will benefit, as will anyone in the civilian or military departments of the U.S. government regardless of his ideological inclinations.

Edward A. Olsen
Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California

Buy The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War at Amazon.com for $18.48 (hardcover)

Source: http://www.independent.org/publications/tir/article.asp?a=569

Games of Empire Global Capitalism and Video Games

May 31, 2011

Brett Caraway -

Games of Empire

In the first decade of the twenty-first century, video games are an integral part of global media culture, rivaling Hollywood in revenue and influence. No longer confined to a subculture of adolescent males, video games today are played by adults around the world. At the same time, video games have become major sites of corporate exploitation and military recruitment.

In Games of Empire, Nick Dyer-Witheford and Greig de Peuter offer a radical political critique of such video games and virtual environments as Second Life, World of Warcraft, and Grand Theft Auto, analyzing them as the exemplary media of Empire, the twenty-first-century hypercapitalist complex theorized by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. The authors trace the ascent of virtual gaming, assess its impact on creators and players alike, and delineate the relationships between games and reality, body and avatar, screen and street.

Games of Empire forcefully connects video games to real-world concerns about globalization, militarism, and exploitation, from the horrors of African mines and Indian e-waste sites that underlie the entire industry, the role of labor in commercial game development, and the synergy between military simulation software and the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan exemplified by Full Spectrum Warrior to the substantial virtual economies surrounding World of Warcraft, the urban neoliberalism made playable in Grand Theft Auto, and the emergence of an alternative game culture through activist games and open-source game development.

Rejecting both moral panic and glib enthusiasm, Games of Empire demonstrates how virtual games crystallize the cultural, political, and economic forces of global capital, while also providing a means of resisting them. Source: Publisher

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