I agree with every syllable of Secretary Gates’s recent lecture at Duke University and with Glenn Reynolds’s New York Post op-ed. The increased separation between our military and our elite institutions of higher education hurts our country. We should be clear about one thing, however. Harvard needs the military more than the military needs Harvard.
Simply put, the ideological groupthink at our elite universities implants bad — and even dangerous — ideas in its graduates. Our universities would be better off if more veterans and active members of the military (such as ROTC faculty) were on campus to present alternative — and more realistic — viewpoints. Some examples of typical elite university nonsense include:
The success of counterinsurgency strategies in Iraq rested a great deal on truly understanding your area of operations and the people who lived there. That meant seeing them as they were, not as you wanted them to be. That meant understanding the weaknesses of a culture, as well as its strengths. That meant adjusting expectations away from utopianism and towards the basics — security, food, and fuel. And it meant encountering and reacting to the counterintuitive. How do you respond when a Muslim man hands you a can (yes, a can) of whiskey to celebrate killing a terrorist? Or when a sheik begs you to bomb a mosque? Or kill an imam? How do you respond when the academic knowledge regarding the alleged irreconcilable differences between Sunni and Shi’ite terrorists collides with the reality of their cooperation, then the reality of their conflict?
But I suppose Harvard feels it is better off without this perspective and experience because the Uniform Code of Military Justice prohibits homosexual conduct — punishing even students who may disagree with “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” by not only keeping ROTC off campus but also denying them college credit for the ROTC courses they take elsewhere.
Harvard is hurting America, yes, but it’s hurting itself most of all.