Recently CUNY has hired former General and CIA director, David Petraeus. He is to teach this semester at the Macaulay Honors College. In addition to Petraeus’ hiring some campuses are reintroducing Reserve on the Call (ROTC) programs. These recent additions, along with many other measures have indicated a steady trend toward the militarization of the CUNY institution. The USA is the world’s foremost imperialist superpower with close to 761 known military bases worldwide. This militarization of CUNY is at the benefit of the ruling capitalist class (so-called 1%) at home, at the expense of the world’s majority.
Petraeus track record is that of a loyal head of the US imperialist system. In his 37 year military career he has been in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. He was part of a NATO (de)’Stabilization’ campaign in Bosnia. From the period of 2003 to 2008 he took top leadership positions of the US forces in Iraq. Petraeus oversaw the deadly white phosphorus bombing of the city of Fallujah (which produced more birth defects then Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which were atomically bombed). He also was responsible for inciting ethnic conflicts between Sunni and Shiite Muslims by setting up Shiite “death squads” to indiscriminately torture anyone. Anyone familiar with US involvement in Latin America knows how the CIA trained and funded “death squads” for US backed right wing military dictatorships. In Afghanistan he took command of US forces and intensified drone attacks which have killed mostly civilians by the thousands. In 2011 he then became director of the CIA but left his post due to an extramarital scandal. What he did in his bedroom is of no importance, but his crimes against humanity are what he should be scorned for.
Given Petraeus status as a war criminal it is truly appalling that CUNY would pull such a move. The US is a white supremacist capitalist-imperialist oppressor nation which has a military and economic foothold on oppressed nations worldwide. By allowing criminals such as Petraeus it gives legitimacy to the idea that the US deserves to militarily and economically dominate other countries. US imperialism has been involved in many nations of the world stretching from Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Greece, Colombia, Puerto Rico, and the Phillipines. In a multinational city such as New York City and nationally diverse campus such as Queens College our parents are the product of wanting to seek better opportunities away from our national homelands. There were no opportunities back home however because our countries were economically exploited for the benefit of US imperialism. In certain CUNY campuses (York, Lehman, City, Medgar Evers, and College of Staten Island) military recruiters in the form of ROTC is returning. Both the appearance of Petraeus and ROTC are an assault to the CUNY students who are mostly of a proletarian and oppressed nationality background. But this assault takes a deadlier turn by pitting proletarian youth of all nationalities in this city against working class people worldwide to fight wars of aggression. In response to this assault, a city wide student movement uniting faculty and community groups must be constructed in order to smash this militarization of CUNY.
I am part of RSCC (Revolutionary Student Coordinating Committee). RSCC is an anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist and proletarian feminist CUNY based organization which is fighting to revolutionize the content of our education. It is our view that the education of the current institution is for the purpose of reproducing this capitalist imperialist class society. It is fundamental for students and the community to take institutional control of the CUNY system to bring a revolutionary education to working class and oppressed peoples to understand the world in order to revolutionarily change it. We have recently launched a campaigned called Stop the Militarization of CUNY campaign and we encourage all who are interested to contact us. I’m also a member of Students Without Borders at Queens College, an anti-imperialist, anti-fascist student club which is opposed to wars of aggression. Both our organizations view Petraeus’ hiring, restoring ROTC, even at Queens College, with its stepping up on security personnel, cameras, ID scanners as slow methods of militarizing the campus wholesale. I will be completely honest with the reader. To stop the militarization of society will require a revolutionary struggle which this government has never seen before. But I view struggle as a protracted process increasing from lower to higher stages. A CUNY struggle which ousts Petraeus and ROTC will be a significant victory.
Luis Henriques is a student at Queens College.