West Point Cadets and Army Volunteers - Freedom Fighters


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Jan 30, 2007
America and China: The Eagle and the Dragon Part one: Freedom fighters


This is a long article - if you want to read only the part about West Point then scroll down a little more that halfway to just above the picture of the cadets in ACU's.

The writer's premise that the US is on a long decline; that we are in for a new world order...not sure I can agree with that...but his comments about the West Point Cadets, the Combating Terrorism Center, and the interview with Colonel Casey Wardynski, the developer of the Army's popular video game, America's Army, are all interesting.

Here is an exerpt:
Talking with these young cadets, I was struck by their commitment and good humour, but also by their thoughtfulness. They - and their teachers - were much less doctrinaire than I had imagined they would be. I was reminded that while it is soldiers who fight wars, it is politicians that declare them. (And the soldiers who will kill, or be killed. At West Point the names of graduates who have recently died in combat are announced in the mess-hall at lunch-times. This occurs, one instructor estimated, at the rate of 'one or two a month'.)

'One of the things we stress is that if everyone is agreeing we're not thinking critically about what's going on', Major Ahern told me. 'Day one, what we tell them is that we never say the President is stupid, but you can disagree with his policies - but you need to say why you disagree. Getting people to play devil's advocate is the only way to get them think critically.' One teacher in terrorism studies told me that he found more open debate at West Point than at Harvard, where he had previously taught. 'Harvard's a really liberal institution, and I'm a liberal myself, but I've found there's more of a willingness here to challenge and to question established norms of thought. In other universities people won't even dare to bring up more conservative views because it's not politically correct to do so.'

This, he thought, was partly to do with Sun Tzu's maxim 'Know your enemy'. The Art of War - the 6th century Chinese treatise on military strategy - is a key text at West Point.

'No one', as the director of the Combating Terrorism Centre, Lt Col Joseph Felter put it, 'has a bigger stake in learning about the threat than those of us who will be confronting it up close and personal.