IV. NEED FOR KILLERS
BY ALBERT E KAHN
Chapter4 from The Game of Death
All knowledge and experience gained should serve the sole and supreme purpose of shooting straight, to kill the enemy.
1. Warning to the Nation
EARLY IN 1950, a group of eminent American educators, churchmen and scientists issued a profoundly significant report in the form of an eighty-page booklet entitled Militarism in Education. Included among the sponsors were Albert Einstein, Dean Harold A. Bosley of the Divinity School of Duke University, Chancellor William P. Tolley of Syracuse University, President Harold Taylor of Sarah Lawrence College, and Bishop Gerald Kennedy of the Methodist Church of Oregon.
In recent months the nation's press has reported an increase in military activity and influence in our American educational institutions. This activity represented by military subsidy of science departments, expanded military training units, increased use of schools and colleges as recruiting grounds, and military propaganda directed toward students and faculty, has serious implications for the future of our nation and for world peace. . . .The report charged that in an elaborate, painstakingly planned campaign the National Military Establishment had "invaded our civilian education in an effort to capture the best minds of the nation for military purposes," and was conducting an intensive drive in educational institutions "to spread the military philosophy that preparedness for war is really preparedness for peace:' (1)
"Warmaking," stated the report, "is taught in more than a hundred colleges, each of which has its department of military science and tactics, while only two or three colleges in the country have specific courses in or departments of peace."
Under such subdivisions as Military Research, Military Training, Military Propaganda Among Students, Military Men As Educators, the report included detailed analyses of the huge financial investments of the Army, Navy and Air Force in the nation's schools and colleges; the military "security measures" in various educational institutions; the increase of campus military societies; and the multiple devices by which agencies of the armed services were indoctrinating public-school and college students and faculty members with military principles. (2)
The report concluded with this warning:
The systematic and well-financed effort of the National Military Establishment to penetrate and influence the civilian educational life of America will, unless the trend is reversed, seriously injure the life of the nation and the peace of the world. . . .
Education has the choice of being used as a tool of the military in its effort to achieve power, or being the servant of the people. Only if education is free from militarism can it really be the instrument through which democracy and may be achieved.
Under ordinary circumstances, a report issued by such distinguished sponsors and containing such startling facts would have stirred up widespread discussion and debate. Comparatively scant attention, however, was paid to the booklet, Militarism in Education. Circumstances at the time of its publication were far from ordinary.
In the words of President Harold Taylor of Sarah Lawrence College: "The whole of America seems to have become a vast instrument for making war, and American youth is considered useful only as material to fill up the armed services,"
2. "Raise Your Boy to be a Soldier"
FOLLOWING THE enactment in 1948 of the first peacetime draft law in the history of the United States, registration had been conducted in public schools throughout the country. The procedure was symbolic of the extent to which military considerations were coming to dominate the lives of school-age Americans.
According to an address delivered by Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson at Villanova College in June 1949, the nation needed youths who had "learned the art and science of warfare on the American campus as part of a liberal education,"
The National Military Establishment had already launched a methodical and vigorous campaign, planned with the aid of experts in the fields of promotion, advertising and salesmanship, to acquaint youths in schools and colleges with the glamour and advantages of a military career.
Specially trained teams of Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force personnel were being dispatched to all corners of the land to give lectures to high school and college students, show them military films, and arrange radio programs for their edification. In some cities, army recruiting staffs were circulating questionnaires among high school students and, after grading the papers, visiting parents to inform them how well qualified their sons were for military service. Not a few high school authorities were providing army agencies with the names and addresses of students about to graduate, so that they might be personally canvassed for recruiting purposes. Of one such in stance, the San Francisco Chronicle reported: "Soldiers went before Parent-Teacher Associations to sell the mothers. Then a canvass of the graduates at their homes was made. . ."
No promotional device was overlooked. Students were taken on special outings by army personnel, conducted on tours of army posts and entertained in a grand style by high-ranking officers. The Navy initiated a special "Junior Navy Day," during which, in the words of the New York Times, "boatloads of excited youngsters" were "taken on a tour of warships" in the New York harbor, served "ice cream, punch and cookies in the mess rooms," permitted to sit "in the cockpits of the planes," and otherwise feted by Navy personnel. . .
Diverse economic pressures, the generally prohibitive cost of a higher education and the difficulty of securing employment after graduation from school were advanced as persuasive arguments for enlisting in the armed services. In the words of a letter from an Army Recruiting Station to high school graduates in St. Louis, Missouri:
After high school you may be looking for a job or preparing to set yourself up in business or thinking of entering a college. And, as we know, competition is very stiff when it comes to looking for employment, or going into business. A college education is essential in most any endeavor. But a college education is also very expensive, unless you do it the "Army Way."To aid in the campaign, more and more high schools were offering special orientation and training courses to prepare students for induction.
"We are thinking in terms of stimulating the reorganization of high school curricula," announced Federal Security Administrator Oscar Ewing on December 19, 1950, "so that there will be a consistent program of military and technical training to prepare high school students, when they reach eighteen, for fullest usefulness to the armed forces . . . and to meet the requirements of what may well be a lifetime of mobilization". . .
"Whether you like it or not, the chances are overwhelming that your boy is going to be a soldier, sailor or airman. . . ," read the opening paragraph of an unusually outspoken article by Andre Fontaine in the January 1952 issue of the widely circulated magazine, McCall's. "You can hate it until the cows come home, but you can't escape it. Once you accept it, however, you'll find that there are many things you can do to make your son's inevitable hitch in the service easier and more productive."
The article undertook to show the reader how "by handling your boy from childhood up you can make the psychological adjustment from civilian to military life much easier," and how "by learning. . . to take advantage of the educational opportunities the services offer, you can get your boy invaluable training, free, for the job he'll come back to," assuming, of course, that he did come back.
No less important than the utilization of military service as a stepping-stone to "a happy and useful career," stated Fontaine in his article, was the preparation of boys to make "satisfactory adjustment" to army life. Too many parents, "especially mothers," were "overly protective" of their children..(3)
Get him away from home. . . . Encourage him to join the Boy Scouts. He'll not only gain experience in getting along in a strictly male group, but he'll learn practical techniques, such as tenting, fire-building and knot-tying, that will help him when he's in uniform.
Get him accustomed to change. . . . Give him a chance to adjust to new surroundings . . .
Teach him to respect, not fear, authority.
And last, but decidedly not least:
It might even be a good idea to let him have his own gun. If you don't know how to teach him to use one properly, a Scout leader, schoolteacher or the local gun club can help you out.
Fontaine's article was entitled, "Raise Your Boy To Be A Soldier."
But despite the elaborate, all-pervasive campaign to persuade the nation of the desirability of raising its boys to be soldiers, and notwithstanding the increased war hysteria which followed the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, American youths have by and large remained stubbornly reluctant to dedicate themselves to military careers.
"Hardly anyone wants to go into the army," Time magazine reported on November 5, 1951, in a nationwide survey of "The Younger Generation." "There is little enthusiasm for military life, no enthusiasm for war."
The April 1952 issue of the Marine Corps Gazette regretfully noted that "No one in the country wants to be a fighting man," and that the present "generation . . . does not want to be Marines or combat soldiers under any circumstances."
"Volunteers for flying duty in the Air Force and in the Naval Aviation Service, as well as for paratroop duty, are increasingly hard to find," wrote the New York Times military expert, Hanson R Baldwin. (4)
Early in December 1952, FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover released the startling information that his Bureau had investigated a total of 65,901 draft violation cases since the Korean conflict began. Shortly afterwards, the Army disclosed that during the same period more than 46,000 soldiers had deserted from its ranks . . .
"Why should military service pose such a problem?" queried journalist Frank Grover in an article in Coronet magazine. In answer to his own question, Grover observed that in the past young Americans had been "taught to abhor violence and to value 'getting along with others.''' Such a philosophy, he indicated, was now clearly out-of-date and at variance with prevailing Government policies:
We now, as a nation, have declared that boys in high school will be trained to fight, no matter what their past experience. . . . Here we have a great shift in thinking and in values, a big change in our social pattern.
The fact, however, is that not a few young Americans are thoroughly opposed to accepting this new "social pattern." They share the view expressed by Douglas Glascow, director of the American Youth Peace Crusade:
Never before have we had so large a standing army in peacetime. . . And while this may be desirable to the makers of armaments and coffins, it isn't to us. We have no desire to die in wars when we're just about to live. . . . What are we going to do about it? . . .
Since peace is America's best defense, we young Americans have the responsibility of building it. (5)
Nor have the overwhelming majority of American parents become resigned to the idea of raising their sons to be soldiers.
"Today I buried my first-born son," Mrs. Donna Cooper of Memphis, Tennessee, the mother of a soldier killed in Korea, wrote to President Truman on February 19, 1952. "To the Army he was known as Pfc. Paul R. Cooper, Jr., US530490. To me he represented God's test that every man must develop before he can proudly say at the end: 'I have lived fully and justly.' . . . Having known the depth of his soul I can find no place among his memories for the Purple Heart or the scroll.
"I am returning it to you with this thought, to me he is a symbol of the 109,000 men who have been sacrificed in this needless slaughter, a so-called police action that has not and could never have been satisfactorily explained to patriotic Americans who love their country and the ideals it stands for."
Another mother whose son had been killed in Korea, Mrs. Doris Tipton of Townsend, Kentucky, wrote in a letter to the Knoxville Journal:
I have just finished reading the editorial in The Journal where two men refused to take the Medal of Honor. I would like to shake the hands of those two men. If all people who felt that way would come out and tell the world what they did, we might have a better world for our young people to live in. . . . My son was killed over there, and without a cause. . . .I can't explain my thoughts. There never has been a love greater than a mother's love for her son. We had but one son. . . . My son left five little children. I don't want his boys to die like he did.
The feelings of these two grief-stricken mothers were common to countless American parents. Day in and day out, the nation's press was being deluged with letters from desperately anxious mothers and fathers of GI's and draft-age boys urging an end to hostilities in Korea. By the end of 1951, more than three thousand peace groups had sprung up in every section of the land. According to the Gallup Poll, the great preponderance of the American people desired an immediate conference between the heads of the United States, British and Soviet Governments with the aim of ending the Cold War and achieving a peaceful settlement of international differences.
There has been no more conclusive proof of the deep-rooted and widespread anti-war sentiment in the nation than the events which developed when the Universal Military Training Bill came before Congress early in 1952.
For years, American military leaders had hopefully planned for the day when some form of permanent peacetime conscription might be established in the United States. With the outbreak of the Korean war, they felt their long-awaited opportunity was at hand.
In the spring of 1951, with the backing of the Truman Administration, the Pentagon arranged to have universal military training included as part of a bill pending before Congress on the extension of the Selective Service Act. The bill was adopted by the Senate; but public pressure against the package measure forced a compromise in the House of Representatives. The bill, as finally enacted, contained a provision authorizing the President to appoint a National Security Training Commission to draft a plan for a Universal Military Training Program. Administration and Pentagon forces regarded the setting up of the Commission as tantamount to the establishment of UMT. The acceptance of the Commission's plan was considered to be a mere formality.
In October 1951 the Commission made its report in the form of a 124-page book entitled Universal Military Training: Foundation of Enduring National Strength. Prepared with the assistance of top-ranking Pentagon officers, leading members of the Defense Department and Administration aides, the Report urged the immediate passage of legislation to subject all youths at eighteen to six months of military service and keep them on reserve call for the following seven-and-a-half years. The Commission did not limit itself to depicting UMT as an "urgent necessity to keep America strong and safe from attack." So confident were its members of acceptance of their plan, they even divulged some of the actual objectives of UMT.
These were among the reasons given in the Report for the peacetime conscription of American youth:
Too often their early education has failed to impart to them a clear awareness of their implicit obligation to bear arms, to pledge their lives to duty and their country. . . . This denial to our sons of the facts of the world, and the proper interpretation of those facts has been shortsighted and unjust in the extreme, for it has too often left them unprepared, in military skills and mental outlook, to face the most basic of human challenges. . . .The underlying purpose of UMT, as the Report clearly indicated, was not to provide eighteen-year-olds with six months of military training and "guarantee an adequate reserve," but was rather to effect the military indoctrination of the entire youth of the nation. The plan represented, in the words of Edwin Randall of the American Friends Service Committee (Quakers), "the effort of the military to extend to peace time the same control over the country they are allowed in time of war."
Events, however, did not proceed according to plan.
The proposals of the National Security Training Commission met with a furor of popular protest. From every part of the country and every section of the population came expressions of intense opposition to UMT. The offices of congressmen were flooded with letters and telegrams demanding they take a stand against the proposed measure. Trade unions and parent groups, church bodies and fraternal societies, student and youth movements went on record as being adamantly opposed to the bill and joined in a nationwide campaign to prevent its enactment. (6)
When the Senate Armed Services Committee held public hearings on UMT in February 1952, representatives of organizations whose total membership numbered in the tens of millions appeared to testify against the bill.
"As far as youth is concerned," declared Dr. Joseph M. Dawson, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, "it means a bondage for his body, a worse bondage for his mind subjected to military education, contrary to our traditional ideals . . . and a still worse bondage for his soul under grievously unprotected environment to the fateful influence of warmaking.
Dr. Walter W. Van Kirk, head of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States, told the senators that UMT "would be a signal to the whole world that Congress has abandoned hope of a peaceful settlement of international differences."
The Chairman of the Senate Committee, Senator Richard B. Russell of Georgia, who was acting as one of the Administration's chief proponents of the bill, ruefully remarked: "I am deeply disturbed by the attitude of so many fine people."
Not only Senator Russell was disturbed. As opposition to the bill mounted, Washington correspondents reported that anxious Democratic Party bigwigs and White House spokesmen were threatening congressmen with loss of patronage if they failed to support the measure. Top Pentagon officers held backstairs conferences with senators and representatives to keep them in line.
On March 4, the bill came before the House.
Shortly before the vote was taken, copies of a cablegram from France were distributed among the tense congressmen. Signed by the Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the cablegram emphatically urged the passage of UMT.
But even Eisenhower's dramatic, last-minute appeal proved ineffectual. By a ballot of 236 to 162, the members of the House voted to reject the bill and send it back to the Armed Services Committee. (7)
A significant victory had been won by the forces of peace and democracy in the United States.
The victory, however, was far from decisive.
Day after day, the toll of death continued to mount in the blood-soaked hills and towns of Korea; and day after day, the grim crusade went on in America to convert the youth of the nation into professional killers.
As the Director of Selective Service Major General Lewis B. Hershey tersely put it: "What the nation needs are killers for survival."
Nor was military training the only method of conditioning young Americans to meet this need.
(1) This approach is not, of course, without precedent. For example. On November 23, 1936, in an address entitled, "The School as the Support of Military Power," the Director of Educational Problems in the Nazi War Ministry, Dr. Klug, declared: "Military education has nothing to do with being prepared for war, but is meant to serve the cause of peace,"
(2) "The military research program in educational institutions …." related the report in the section entitled Military Research, "is shrouded in such secrecy that it is difficult to define its scope." It's indicative of the magnitude of this program the report mentioned such facts as these: in 1947, out of a research budget of 5280,000,000, the Army had earmarked "$70,000,000 for fundamental studies in colleges"; in 1948-1941, the Office of Naval Research "spent approximately 520.000,000 on about 500 projects in colleges and universities"; in 1949, the Atomic Energy Commission "had a research program in the colleges which cost $81,400,000."
Some of the effects of these projects were indicated by the chairman of the Board of Trustees of Chicago University in an address in April 1949 in which he declared: "The University of Chicago is engaged in secret projects of vital importance to national defense. The university is under surveillance of professional investigators, agents of the FBI, and of military intelligence units."
On June 4, 1949, the Harvard Crimson reported that "the FBI has moved in on Yale University," and that for "every known agent of the FBI, there are several undercover agents and general informers in the area," The Crimson added that these agents "interfere directly with academic and political liberties inside the university."
(3) To illustrate how many American young men were poorly prepared for army life, Fontaine related: "The Air Force, says Colonel Carlos Alden, a psychiatrist, is losing somewhere between ten and twelve per cent of its recruits in the first six months as the result of psychological ill health. The other services probably have similar losses. . . . You can sum it up by saying they're emotionally immature -which is their parents' fault- and under the stress of military life they break down.
"Their breakdowns follow a definite pattern. They get uncontrollably homesick and cry all night in their bunks. . . . Recruits get what the psychologists call 'hysterical' blindness or deafness or dumbness. . . . Many others develop chronic backaches, kneeaches or headaches."
Fontaine advised parents with sons in the armed forces: "You can help your boy make his adjustment if you write him bright, chatty letters full of news. . . . Rear Admiral S. W. Salisbury, chief of Navy chaplains, told story after story of men who were broken by sniveling letters from home. . . . 'In Korea,' said Chaplain Craven, 'our outfit's morale sagged after every mail call.'''
Fontaine did not mention the fact that the failure of American soldiers to "adjust properly" to the war in Korea might be due more to the nature of the war than to the shortcomings of their parents.
(4) On April 17, 1952, the Air Force announced that since the start of the Korean war 979 U. S. fliers had been grounded at their own request. Of these, stated Brigadier General Lloyd Hopwood, deputy director of Air Force Personnel Planning, 306 simply "wrote a note and said I want to quit.' "
(5) On November 16, 1952, the New York Times Magazine featured an article by the young novelist, Clellon Holmes, about American youth which described the present young generation as "the Beat Generation." But despite the fact that such characterizations of American youth are commonplace today, there are many indications that steadily growing numbers of young Americans refuse to regard their lives as a lost refuse and are acting toward bringing about the sort of world they want to live in.
In every part of the county' there are youth organizations which are diligently working to help bring the Cold War to an end, find a peaceful solution to present international disputes and defend democratic rights and freedoms in their own land.
Typical of their actions was the National Student Conference for Academic Freedom, Equality and Peace, held in Madison, Wisconsin, on the week-end of April 25, 1952, which was attended by students from all parts of the country. A similar gathering was a conference held by Negro and white youth on December 31, 1952, in Columbia, South Carolina, with the aim of organizing a nationwide campaign against Jim-Crow segregation. Many major youth organizations are actively campaigning against the ultra-reactionary McCarran-Walter Bill: and the recently formed National Youth Committee for a Fair Immigration Policy has the support of almost the entire organized youth movement in the country.
At the 9th Annual Model Congress of High Schools in New York City, held on April 17-18, 1953, under the sponsorship of students at Hunter College, a resolution was passed urging that President Eisenhower of the United States and Premier Malenkov of the Soviet Union meet within ninety days to discuss "means to alleviate present world tensions." Other actions at the Model Congress included the passage of a law providing 800 million to a billion dollars yearly for aid to education; and a law providing Federal scholarships worth ten million dollars.
A dramatic proposal to advance the cause of peace came in May 1953 when Tile Crown, undergraduate newspaper at Queens College in New York City, and Tile Spectator, undergraduate newspaper at Columbia University, announced they were jointly sponsoring a plan for a group of student editors in the United States to visit the Soviet Union "to further international understanding." The plan had the backing of student newspapers in eighteen American colleges.
In the spring of 1953, the Young Adult Council of the National Social Welfare Assembly announced it was sponsoring a United States Assembly of Youth to be held on the campus of the University of Michigan during September 3-8, 1953. The theme of the Conference was to be "The World We Want." Among the organizational members of the Youth Adult Council sponsoring the Conference were American Unitarian Youth; Youth Division of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; National Council of the YMCA; and the U. S. National Student Association. One of the announced purposes of the Conference was to discuss "how the U. S. can meet national responsibilities for the creation of world peace with justice and well-being for all peoples."
(6) Among the organizations opposing UMT were the CIO, the AFL, National Farmers Union, National Council of Churches in Christ, American-Friends Service Committee, National Conference of Methodist Youth, American Peace Crusade, United Christian Youth Movement, University Wives for Peace, National Council Against Conscription, New York Board of Rabbis, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
(7) An interesting sidelight on the extent to which the passage of UMT had been taken for granted occurs in the Information Please Almanac of 1952, edited by journalist John Kiernan and published by the MacMillan Company. Issued in Decemher 1951, a few weeks before the bill came before the House, this Almanac described UMT as if it were already the law of the land. The article in the Almanac which deals with UMT reads in part as follows:
". . . Congress enacted a new and tougher draft law, gave its approval to the country's first universal military training system. The new law (was) approved June 19, 1951 . . . Universal Military Training will start when Congress sets up the system . . . it will not go into operation until special legislation is passed by Congress . . . Draft law is scheduled to end July I, 1955. . . . When drafting ends, UMT is to start"
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