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Archive for Saturday, May 4, 2002

KU should pursue proposal for ROTC international training

May 4, 2002

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No matter who has been in the White House Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Bush, Clinton or Bush or who has been secretary of state or director of the Central Intelligence Agency or the FBI, Uncle Sam has been caught with his pants down far too many times when it comes to understanding various events in other parts of the world.

The current situation in Afghanistan, Israel and other Mideast countries, the potentially explosive situation in Indonesia, problems in various African nations and the instability of many South American countries all should make it crystal clear the United States needs to be better informed about political activities around the world and have the knowledge and skill to correctly interpret those situations and keep this country and its government from being blindsided.

Too often, shootings, wars, genocide, political coups and other incidents seem to spring up, and the United States is put in the awkward, embarrassing or dangerous position of not knowing how to react or which side to support.

Several weeks ago, Kansas University professor Felix Moos suggested the creation of a National Security Reserve Officer Plan. This plan called for the 50 colleges and universities that offer three branches of ROTC Army, Navy and Air Force to add two students to the program at each school. Students accepted into this new program would be required to become proficient in a minimum of two languages and learn about the history, culture and religions of various countries.

Apparently, various U.S. agencies and their staffers are good at collecting information but are not very successful in understanding the significance of the information and how it relates to the history and culture of various countries.

It's obvious this country needs to train more young men and women to understand what is going on around the world and how any number of situations can affect the United States.

It's likely challenges to this country are going to increase in the years to come. Chances are, there will be growing bitterness, hatred and envy of Uncle Sam as America is looked to as, and actually is, the land of plenty plenty of food, plenty of opportunities, good health, good education, etc. In lands plagued by starvation, disease, lack of schooling and corrupt or oppressive governments, these people look at the United States as Utopia. This being the situation, those in these nations could easily take out their anger, frustration, envy and sense of hopelessness by attacking the United States.

Some were critical of Moos' idea, but it has received strong support from several top individuals in higher education, senior intelligence officials and members of Congress. Some people are critical of ROTC programs because they don't think colleges and universities should play any role in educating and preparing young men and women to be military officers. No plan, no matter how wise it may be or how badly needed, is going to have the support of some critics.

Nevertheless, Moos' plan makes much sense. This country does not have enough young, bright, highly trained experts in the general area of observing and understanding people living in other countries. The United States needs more people who can assemble information from a number of sources and understand its relevance to America.

This writer was told there were some top officials at KU who liked the general outline of Moos' plan and agreed with the concept, but they thought it was too controversial at this time.

If it is a good plan, if it makes sense, if it offers an excellent academic experience for a limited number of students and if it is good for this country, why hesitate in initiating the program?

Why not have KU investigate all angles of Moos' proposal and see how it could be initiated at the university? Why not be known as a leader and an innovator rather than as a university that is more comfortable following others?

Unfortunately, world affairs, world politics, world economies, world tensions and the threat of war and terrorism all are likely to increase rather than diminish in the years to come.

We will need more able, smart, well-trained young men and women to help this country better understand world affairs, not by spending all their time here in the United States in think tanks, and universities or watching spy satellite video screens, but by living abroad and becoming extremely knowledgeable about the countries and areas in which they live. Some critics may not like the idea of this country seeking better intelligence or having "spies" around the world, but current conditions, current fighting and the potential for more fighting and acts of terrorism here in the United States should provide sufficient justification to understand the threats and be prepared to keep the United States as safe as possible. Uncle Sam can play a more effective, knowledgeable role in helping the world be a better place for everyone.

The Moos plan makes a great deal of sense, and it is hoped those congressmen who have been impressed and supportive of the general idea will follow through and include funding for such a program in new legislation.

At the same time, leaders at KU should not shy away from sound plans that may be controversial in the eyes of some. KU has been a leader in many fields and it seems this is an ideal time to pursue a plan that offers so many positives for the students and this country.

By the way, Moos teaches a course called Violence, Aggression and Terrorism in the Modern World. It is a highly popular course that students are quick to recommend. Many have said, "It's the best course I have ever had at KU," or "It has prepared me for what is going on in the world today."

More Americans should be more knowledgeable about the realities of violence, aggression and terrorism in the modern world.

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