“What is the morality of our declining to fully support and cooperate with the national defense effort, that it enable us to sleep serene in our virtue at night while leaving others to defend us? If we do not like the policies of our country we have plenty of ways of seeking redress…

…Failing to honor and support those in our midst who are prepared to give their lives is a profound abdication of our obligation of citizenship. I look forward to a day when the word “patriotism” will be heard more frequently on this campus. I look forward to a continuation of close and strong relations between this university and our national defense effort, including crucially this university and the military. I look forward to a day when that support is unconditional and not based on a judgment about the policies that are being currently pursued.”, “Notable & Quotable: Lawrence Summers at Harvard”, The Wall Street Journal, September 23, 2015

Opinion

Notable & Quotable: Lawrence Summers at Harvard

‘If we do not support the military, we put at risk the traditions of freedom upon which our country depends.’

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The ROTC returns to Harvard University, Sept. 20, 2011. PHOTO: BOSTON GLOBE VIA GETTY IMAGES

From remarks by Lawrence H. Summers, former president of Harvard University, on Sept. 18 to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society at Harvard:

I did not support the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy regarding gays in the military, and believe it should have been repealed long before it was. I believe the invasion of Iraq was a grave mistake and that the United States’ participation in Vietnam was catastrophic. But none of those judgments led me, in any way, to back away from support for the military itself and for those who served in it. I do not believe that the support of this university, or any other university, for the military should be contingent on the political decisions of those who exert civilian control over it.

If we do not support the military, we put at risk the traditions of freedom upon which our country depends. So I am glad that we are in a current moment of rapport between the university and the military. But I have a continuing concern that that rapport is contingent and dependent on a current set of policy decisions of which members of this community approve. And I believe that that is fundamentally inconsistent with our obligations as an institutional citizen in a democracy.

I do not believe that it is for us to decide, as this university has in the recent past, that the military is not permitted to recruit on our campus. I do not believe that it is for us to decide, as this university has, that its resources cannot be extended on behalf of citizens who choose to participate in the military. I do not believe that it was moral or right, as was the case before I became president, that Harvard University students who participated in ROTC were precluded from listing their service in the college yearbook, because the college disapproved of the military’s policies as discriminatory.

What is the morality of our declining to fully support and cooperate with the national defense effort, that it enable us to sleep serene in our virtue at night while leaving others to defend us? If we do not like the policies of our country we have plenty of ways of seeking redress. Failing to honor and support those in our midst who are prepared to give their lives is a profound abdication of our obligation of citizenship.

I look forward to a day when the word “patriotism” will be heard more frequently on this campus. I look forward to a continuation of close and strong relations between this university and our national defense effort, including crucially this university and the military. I look forward to a day when that support is unconditional and not based on a judgment about the policies that are being currently pursued.

Posted on September 23, 2015, in Postings. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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