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The Minnesota Daily

Serving the UMN community since 1900

The Minnesota Daily

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Leave recruiters out of protests

The recruitment office and those who work there are not responsible for Iraq War policy.

Last week, 200 people marked the 5th anniversary of the war in Iraq with a protest, marching around campus and ending at the Army National Guard recruitment offices on Washington Avenue. There, as the Daily reported, 16 protesters were arrested for entering the recruitment office, disrupting their work and refusing to leave.

We wholeheartedly support the right of these individuals and other anti-war groups to protest, and thank them for drawing attention to a subject most Americans seem to prefer not to think about. But the Army recruitment office should not be conflated with the civilian leadership that began and executed the Iraq War so ineptly. The recruitment office exists to ask people to serve their country, and to be treated as somehow responsible for the policies created by people like President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, people that we the voting public were foolish enough to elect twice, is unacceptable.

No one is more aware of the terrible cost of this war than those in uniform. Because of the all-volunteer military, few Americans have any connection to the war other than what they read in the newspapers or see on television. But a survey conducted by Foreign Policy magazine of 3,400 active and retired officers found that 60 percent felt the U.S. military is weaker than it was five years ago, and 88 percent felt the Iraq War in particular had stretched it dangerously thin. And captains, generally regarded as the most important rank in the Army, are leaving in droves largely because of the stress multiple extended deployments have put on their families.

The health of the military is tied up with the health of the nation, and these are statistics that should alarm all of us. The recruiters office may have been picked as a focal point for the protests because of its proximity to campus, but recruiters are not creating the policies and should not be the target of derision for serving their country and following the orders handed down to them by the people we are ultimately responsible for electing and putting in charge of military.

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