The National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth Blog

NNOMY

Too Fat To Fight? Obesity, Bio-Politics and the Militarization of Children’s Bodies

From: McSorley, K. (ed.) (2012) War and the Body: militarization, practice and experience - London: Routledge

 

Joseph Burridge and Kevin McSorley - The United States military stands ready to protect the American people, but if our nation does not help ensure that future generations grow up to be healthy and fit, that will become increasingly difficult. The health of our children and our national security are at risk. (Mission: Readiness, 2010: 7)

 

Introduction

 

“The Offi cial Portrait of the Military Junta,” oil on canvas, 173 x 218 cm, 1971. (© Fernando Botero, courtesy Marlborough Gallery, New York.)On the 13th of December 2010 US President Barack Obama signed into law a piece of legislation commonly referred to as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act. The law had passed a vote in the House of Representatives eleven days earlier, with near unanimous bipartisan support, and had been designed to, among other things, move towards provision of more healthy food for school children across the entire United States via establishing higher nutritional standards through a revised National School Food Lunch Program. One prominent organisation that lobbied strongly for this legislation, garnering significant media attention(BBC 2010, Shalikashvili and Shelton 2010), was Mission: Readiness. This campaign group, populated largely by retired senior members of the US military, addresses a range of issues connected with children, but in this case directly addressed itself to their food consumption, its impact upon rates of obesity, and the consequences that they argued this was having upon American military recruitment. Specifically, Mission: Readiness’ contributions to the debate used an anticipatory logic, and were addressed to an alleged need to do something about American children’s bodies because, increasingly, too many such bodies were considered at risk of becoming ‘Too Fat To Fight’ the title of one of the organisation’s reports (Mission: Readiness 2010) and this chapter.

House Hearing on Selective Service

May 19, 2021 / Edward Hasbrouck / Antiwar.com - A House Armed Service Committee (HASC) hearing on May 19th heard from witnesses on only one side of the debate over whether to end draft registration or extend it to young women as well as young men. But despite the one-sided panel of witnesses, questions and comments from members of Congress highlighted the failure of the ongoing attempt to get men to register for a future military draft, and the lack of any feasible way to enforce a future military draft of men or women.

The Chair of the Armed Service Committee, Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), opened the hearing by noting a written statement submitted by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR). Rep. DeFazio is one of the initial co-sponsors of the bipartisan Selective Service Repeal Act of 2021 (H.R. 2509 and S. 1139), which is pending in the Armed Services Committees in both the House and the Senate.

According to Rep. DeFazio, "President Carter reinstated draft registration in 1980 largely for political reasons. Military draft registration has existed ever since, requiring all men aged 18-26 to register with the Selective Service System (SSS). It should be repealed altogether…. The SSS is an unnecessary, unwanted, archaic, wasteful, and punitive bureaucracy that violates Americans’ civil liberties… It’s beyond time for Congress to repeal the SSS once and for all."

The NDAA for 2021 expands the programs of the Pentagon in our public schools

Gary Ghirardi / NNOMY - A not surprising but concerning feature of the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act is the doubling of the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps in our public schools and the expansion of DoD STEM and of the STARBASE Program into territories that the United States of America controls in the Pacific.

In the case of the JROTC the following is stated in the NDAA Report for 2021:



Expansion of Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program (sec. 547) The committee recommends a provision that would amend section 2031(a)(2) of title 10, United States Code, to insert language expanding the purpose of the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) to include an introduction to service opportunities in military, national, and public service. The provision would also require the Secretary of Defense to develop and implement a plan to establish and support not fewer than 6,000 JROTC units by September 30, 2031.1



As of 2019, the U.S. Department of Defense cites that JROTC programs associated to the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, are taught as elective courses at more than 3,000 high schools nationwide.2 How those expanded programs might be purposed is not totally defined other than a recommendation that there be added a focus within JROTC on cyber security education in schools.

Peace Churches in the Orbit of Youth Demilitarization Activism

Gary Ghirardi / NNOMY – In my years working as a communications consultant to counter-recruitment organizations, now approaching twenty years for the summer of 2021, I have experienced personally and observed the organizing and activism of groups formed by historical peace churches make prolonged and concerted efforts to intervene against the militarization of our youth by departments of defense.

The National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth itself is a creation, in part, as a project of the American Friends Service Committee’s National Youth & Militarism Program¹, a Quaker organization that helped organize NNOMY as a network at a conference in Philadelphia in 2003 along with ten other national and regional peace organizations.

In the intervening years, that network grew at its peak in 2011 to over 140 groups nationally and regionally. In recent (post Obama) years the focus of as many as 65% of these groups has shifted to other issues while at the same time the programs of the military in our public schools have expanded.

One of the historic peace churches most active in direct counter-recruiting activism is the Church of the Brethren and their organization, On Earth Peace² which organized the Stop Recruiting Kids campaign with its expansive social media campaign on multiple platforms. On Earth Peace also sits on the NNOMY steering committee as an observing member.

Other historic peace church contributors that have made efforts to intervene against the militarization of youth have been Quaker member groups such as War Resisters’ International in London and Truth in Recruitment in California. These efforts have been some of the strongest representatives of the push-back on programs of the Department of Defense in the United States and the Ministry of Defence in Britain designed to recruit youth into military service.

Supreme Court asked to review Constitutionality of current male-only draft registration requirement

Edward Hasbrouck / Resisters.info - On January 8, 2021 the National Coalition For Men, a men’s rights organization represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review the Constitutionality — now that women are allowed in all military combat assignments — of the law which requires men but not women to register with the Selective Service System for a possible military draft.

Read below for my FAQ about what this does and doesn’t mean, and what happens next. (Click here for links to the Supreme Court docket, pleadings, press releases, and additional commentary and analysis.)

I’ve been tracking this case up and down through the lower courts since 2015, and I attended the oral argument last year before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans that led to the ruling that the Supreme Court is now being asked to review.

I’m actually a footnote (note 3, p. 4) to the petition for certiorari filed today with the Supreme Court, which cites my Web site about the draft as the authoritative source of one of the Department of Defense documents I obtained in response to my Freedom Of Information Act requests to the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service (NCMNPS). Apparently this document isn’t available from the DoD, the NCMNPS (which removed many files from its Web site before it shut down), or any other government source. The NCMNPS summarily and improperly “closed” almost all of my outstanding FOIA requests and appeals just before it disbanded, and designated most of its records to be immediately destroyed. I managed to get all of the NCMNPS records transferred to the National Archives, which is also threatening to destroy most of those records, but has released some additional files.

Militarization Has Become Our National Religion

Civilians dead after US bombingsAugust 13, 2019 / William Astore / The Nation - When I was a teenager in the 1970s, I looked to the heavens: to God and Christianity (as arbitrated by the Catholic Church) and to the soaring warbirds of the US military, which I believed kept us safe. To my mind then, they were classic manifestations of American technological superiority over the godless communists.

With all its scandals, especially when it came to priestly sexual abuse, I lost my faith in the Catholic Church. I would later learn that there had been a predatory priest in my parish when I was young, a grim man who made me uneasy at the time, though back then I couldn’t have told you why. As for those warbirds, like so many Americans, I thrilled to their roar at air shows but never gave any real thought to the bombs they were dropping in Vietnam and elsewhere, to the lives they were ending, to the destruction they were causing. Nor at that age did I ever consider their enormous cost in dollars or just how much Americans collectively sacrificed to have top cover, whether of the warplane or godly kind.

The MAGA Face of JROTC

January 18 2021 / Gary Ghirardi / Op-ed / NNOMY - With the violence  witnessed in the beginning of 2021 at the nation's capital,  we have been forced to acknowledge the culture war that exists in the United States in full expression. We also witnessed in the subtext of that event, and the emerging crisis that will follow it, the government's promise of increasing securitization as a reaction to it. That process did not start at the "surge on the capital"  but has been in a steady progression of growth for many years. This latest event only provides an additional justification for the need to  increase the militarization of our "democracy."

Nowhere is that trend more evident as in the Junior Reserves Officers Training Corps (JROTC) military cadet program slated for a massive expansion. What is billed by the Pentagon as a character building and good citizenship program designed to instill leadership qualities in young people, now is being funded to expand from 3500 nation-wide units to over 6000. JROTC corps are constructed increasingly of ethnic minority and black youth disadvantaged with a lack of opportunities to jump start their lives. This is not an organic development. Those poorer youth lacking in programs designed to prepare them for college are specifically profiled and targeted for JROTC programs. In Chicago that targeting has gone a step further in configuring actual public schools as military academies complete with military school uniforms, protocols and curriculum.

Subcategories

The NNOMY Opinion section is a new feature of our articles section. Writing on youth demilitarization issues is quite rare but we have discovered the beginning articles and notes being offered on this subject so we have decided to present them under an opinion category.  The articles presented do not necessarily reflect the views of the NNOMY Steering Committee.

General David Petraeus' rocky first days as a lecturer at the City University of New York Though the United States of America shares with other nations in a history of modern state militarism, the past 65 years following its consolidation as a world military power after World War II, has seen a shift away from previous democratic characterizations of the state.  The last thirty years, with the rise of the neo-conservative Reagan and Bush administrations (2), began the abandonment of moral justifications for democracy building replaced by  bellicose proclamations of the need and right to move towards a national project of global security by preemptive military force .

In the process of global military expansion, the US population has been subjected to an internal re-education to accept the role of the U.S. as consolidating its hegemonic rule internationally in the interest of liberal ideals of wealth creation and protectionism.

The average citizen has slowly come to terms with a stealthly increasing campaign of militarization domestically in media offerings; from television, movies and scripted news networks to reinforce the inevitability of a re-configured society as security state. The effect has begun a transformation of how, as citizens, we undertand our roles and viability as workers and families in relation to this security state. This new order has brought with it a shrinking public common and an increasing privatization of publicly held infrustructure; libraries, health clinics, schools and the expectation of diminished social benefits for the poor and middle-class. The national borders are being militarized as are our domestic police forces in the name of Homeland Security but largely in the interest of business. The rate and expansion of research and development for security industries and the government agencies that fund them, now represent the major growth sector of the U.S.economy. Additionally, as the U.S. economy continually shifts from productive capital to financial capital as the engine of growth for wealth creation and development, the corporate culture has seen its fortunes rise politically and its power over the public sector grow relatively unchallenged by a confused citizenry who are watching their social security and jobs diminishing.

How increasing cultural militarization effects our common future will likely manifest in increased public dissatisfaction with political leadership and economic strictures. Social movements within the peace community, like NNOMY, will need to expand their role of addressing the dangers of  militarists predating youth for military recruitment in school to giving more visibility to the additional dangers of the role of an influential militarized media, violent entertainment and play offerings effecting our youth in formation and a general increase and influence of the military complex in all aspects of our lives. We are confronted with a demand for a greater awareness of the inter-relationships of militarism in the entire landscape of domestic U.S. society.  Where once we could ignore the impacts of U.S. military adventurisms abroad, we are now faced with the transformation of our domestic comfort zone with the impacts of militarism in our day to day lives.

How this warning can be imparted in a meaningful way by a movement seeking to continue with the stated goals of counter-recruitment and public policy activism, and not loose itself in the process, will be the test for those activists, past and future, who take up the call to protect our youth from the cultural violence of militarism.

The "militarization of US culture" category will be an archive of editorials and articles about the increasing dangers we face as a people from those who are invested in the business of war. This page will serve as a resource for the NNOMY community of activists and the movement they represent moving into the future. The arguments presented in this archive will offer important realizations for those who are receptive to NNOMY's message of protecting our youth, and thus our entire society, of the abuses militarism plays upon our hopes for a sustainable and truly democratic society.

NNOMY

 

The Resources section covers the following topics:

News reports from the groups associated to the NNOMY Network including Social Media.

Reports from counter-recruitment groups and activists from the field. Includes information about action reports at recruiting centers and career fairs, school tabling, and actions in relation to school boards and state legislatures.

David SwansonDavid Swanson is the author of the new book, Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, by Seven Stories Press and of the introduction to The 35 Articles of Impeachment and the Case for Prosecuting George W. Bush by Dennis Kucinich. In addition to cofounding AfterDowningStreet.org, he is the Washington director of Democrats.com and sits on the boards of a number of progressive organizations in Washington, DC.


Charlottesville Right Now: 11-10-11 David Swanson
David Swanson joins Coy to discuss Occupy Charlottesville, protesting Dick Cheney's visit to the University of Virginia, and his new book. -  Listen

Jorge MariscalJorge Mariscal is the grandson of Mexican immigrants and the son of a U.S. Marine who fought in World War II. He served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam and currently teaches at the University of California, San Diego.

Matt GuynnMatt Guynn plays the dual role of program director and coordinator for congregational organizing for On Earth Peace, building peace and nonviolence leadership within the 1000+ congregations of the Church of the Brethren across the United States and Puerto Rico. He previously served a co-coordinator of training for Christian Peacemaker Teams, serving as an unarmed accompanier with political refugees in Chiapas, Mexico, and offering or supporting trainings in the US and Mexico.

Rick JahnkowRick Jahnkow works for two San Diego-based anti-militarist organizations, the Project on Youth and Non-Military Opportunities and the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft. He can be reached at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Pat ElderPat Elder was a co-founder of the DC Antiwar Network (DAWN) and a member of the Steering Committee of the National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth, (NNOMY).  Pat is currently involved in counter-recruitment projects in a dozen jurisdictions in the DC metropolitan area.  Pat’s work has prominently appeared in NSA documents tracking domestic peace groups.

 

Documents:

audio Pat Elder - National Network Opposing the Militarization of Youth

NNOMY periodically participates in or organizes events(e.i. conferences, rallies) with other organizations.

The Counter-recruitment Essentials section of the NNOMY web site covers the issues and actions spanning this type of activism. Bridging the difficult chasms between religious, veteran, educator, student, and community based activism is no small task. In this section you will find information on how to engage in CR activism in your school and community with the support of the knowledge of others who have been working to inform youth considering enlisting in the military. You will also find resources for those already in the military that are looking for some guidance on how to actively resist injustices  as a soldier or how to choose a path as a conscientious objector.

John Judge was a co-founder of the Committee for High School Options and Information on Careers, Education and Self-Improvement (CHOICES) in Washington DC, an organization engaged since 1985 in countering military recruitment in DC area high schools and educating young people about their options with regard to the military. Beginning with the war in Viet Nam, Judge was a life-long anti-war activist and tireless supporter of active-duty soldiers and veterans.

 

"It is our view that military enlistment puts youth, especially African American youth, at special risk, not only for combat duty, injury and fatality, but for military discipline and less than honorable discharge, which can ruin their chances for employment once they get out. There are other options available to them."


In the 1970's the Selective Service System and the paper draft became unworkable, requiring four induction orders to get one report. Boards  were under siege by anti-war and anti-draft forces, resistance of many kinds was rampant. The lottery system failed to dampen the dissent, since people who knew they were going to be drafted ahead of time became all the more active. Local draft board members quit in such numbers that even I was approached, as a knowledgeable draft counselor to join the board. I refused on the grounds that I could never vote anyone 1-A or eligible to go since I opposed conscription and the war.

At this point the Pentagon decided to replace the paper draft with a poverty draft, based on economic incentive and coercion. It has been working since then to draw in between 200-400,000 enlisted members annually. Soon after, they began to recruit larger numbers of women to "do the jobs men don't want to". Currently recruitment quotas are falling short, especially in Black communities, and reluctant parents are seen as part of the problem. The hidden problem is retention, since the military would have quadrupled by this time at that rate of enlistment, but the percentage who never finish their first time of enlistment drop out at a staggering rate.

I began bringing veterans of the Vietnam War into high schools in Dayton, Ohio in the late 1960s, and have continued since then to expose young people to the realities of military life, the recruiters' false claims and the risks in combat or out. I did it first through Vietnam Veterans Against the War/Winter Soldier Organization, then Dayton Draft & Military Counseling, and since 1985 in DC through C.H.O.I.C.E.S.

The key is to address the broader issues of militarization of the schools and privacy rights for students in community forums and at meetings of the school board and city council. Good counter-recruitment also provides alternatives in the civilian sector to help the poor and people of color, who are the first targets of the poverty draft, to find ways to break into the job market, go to a trade school, join an apprenticeship program, get job skills and placement help, and find money for college without enlisting in the military.

John Judge -- counselor, C.H.O.I.C.E.S.
 
Articles
References:
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