Posted by: quiscus | July 4, 2012

July 4, 2012

1. “Why Women Should Not Enlist

Just the other day, I saw a girl running along the side of the road. She looked like she was about high school age. She was wearing a ‘USMC’ t-shirt. And I thought, ‘If she joins then she’s going to have to accept rape and the destruction of her life.’ I cannot in good faith recommend for anyone to join while the way the organization is set up now. I would not wish that on anybody – Lt. Ariana Clay, who was raped during her time in the Marine Corps.

Really, truly, why would women want to join the military?

I’m not so much of a “a bubble-headed, antiquated hippie,” that I cannot understand why men join up – I come from a family of earnest, decent men who volunteered for the Army. I’m just curious about the women.

This is meant facetiously, in part. I know why they join, too. Just like the men, their reasons are varied and most always valid: they are looking for better personal opportunities and income to raise a family, status, pride in self, family history, love of country, an education, a chance to escape an intolerable life back home.

But are they aware there might be a wicked tradeoff involved, suddenly rendering those noble goals insignificant if not nearly unattainable as a result?

Antiwar wrote about the increase of sexual assault and rape against women in the military as recently as May. But as shocking new reports this week reveal, the problem is more widespread than it was reported even a month ago. The U.S Air Force has acknowledged that it is investigating at least 12 male boot camp instructors who allegedly assaulted, harassed and/or raped their female recruits at the Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, which turns over some 36,000 recruits a year for the Air Force. One in five of the recruits are women but 90 percent of the trainers are male.

“The Invisible War” gives these victims a chance to set the record straight – and give the rest of us a dose of reality. Carl Prine, a former U.S Marine and Army National Guardsman who served combat duty in Iraq in 2005 and now writes about military issues for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and his own blog, Line of Departure, appeared ready to explode in a June 18 column:

“After viewing the scathing documentary The Invisible War, I was so sickened by the [U.S Marine Corps’] leadership and their treatment of rape victims at Headquarters Marine Corps that I swore an oath: If I ever sire a daughter, she’ll never wear the Eagle, Globe and Anchor,” he wrote.

The Marines won’t deserve her. They also don’t deserve your wives or daughters, your sisters and girlfriends. It’s an all-volunteer force, and until the Corps rediscovers the meaning of honor, courage and commitment, convince your women to stay away from the institution I once loved.

It’s rare for any work of art to fundamentally reorient an adult man’s conception of an American institution, but that’s the strength of The Invisible War. For 1 ½ hours it remorselessly indicts – rightly – a toxic culture within the armed forces that tolerates the systematic violation of more than 16,000 women and men annually. Our commanders let sexual predators hunt their victims, escape justice and then return them to unsuspecting hometowns nationwide to perpetuate their crimes, all while piously pledging hollow promises to never tolerate that sort of misconduct.

The movement to protect these women need more people like Prine, i.e strongly empathetic observers with both X and a Y chromosomes who can make the case about the evils of this insular, misogynistic culture without being called a “bubbleheaded hippie” or a “feminist harpie.” They can also help figure out why it is happening and maybe try to work to fix it before we get into more wars that demand we send young kids into the meat grinder unprepared for both the enemy across the line and the one within.

Like, does the military attract predators? H. Patricia Hynes explored this question in a January Truthout article entitled, “Why do Soldiers Rape?” While not coming to any solid conclusions, Hynes offered some possible theories beginning with the tolerance of sexual harassment and ambivalence against females starting in boot camp, which “sets the stage” for sexual violence. Also, the recruitment of bad apples (including sexually violent individuals attracted to military life) via lowered standards and insufficient psychological screening.

Why do soldiers rape? The answer may start with the convergence of an early life of abuse which turns the abused into an abuser, a military culture that glorifies violence and is saturated with hostility toward women from basic training to the battlefield and barracks, and a military leadership that permits, encourages or participates in sexual abuse. Which is to say that soldiers rape because they are socialized in physical and sexual violence, and because they can get away with it.”

2. “The Western Welfare State: Its Rise and Demise and the Soviet Bloc

The single biggest blow to the welfare programs as we knew them, which were developed during the four decades from 1940’s to the 1980’s, was the end of the rivalry between the Soviet bloc and Western Europe and North America . Despite the authoritarian nature of the Eastern bloc and the imperial character of the West, both sought legitimacy and political advantage by securing the loyalty of the mass of workers via tangible social-economic concessions.

Today, in the face of the neo-liberal ‘roll back’, the major labor struggles revolve around defending the remnants of the welfare state, the skeletal remains of an earlier period. At present there are very few prospects of any return to competing international welfare systems, unless one were to look at a few progressive countries, like Venezuela, which have instituted a series of health, educational and labor reforms financed by their nationalized petroleum sector.

One of the paradoxes of the history of welfarism in Eastern Europe can be found in the fact that the major ongoing labor struggles (in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and other countries, which had overthrown their collectivist regimes, involve a defense of the pension, retirement, public health, employment, educational and other welfare policies – the ‘Stalinist’ leftovers. In other words, while Western intellectuals still boast of their triumphs over Stalinism, the real existing workers in the East are engaged in day-to-day militant struggles to retain and regain the positive welfare features of those maligned states. Nowhere is this more evident than in China and Russia , where privatizations have meant a loss of employment and, in the case of China , the brutal loss of public health benefits. Today workers’ families with serious illnesses are ruined by the costs of privatized medical care.

In the current world ‘anti-Stalinism’ is a metaphor for a failed generation on the margins of mass politics. They have been overtaken by a virulent neo-liberalism, which borrowed their pejorative language (Blair and Bush also were ‘anti-Stalinists’) in the course of demolishing the welfare state. Today the mass impetus for the reconstruction of a welfare state is found in those countries, which have lost or are in the process of losing their entire social safety net – like Greece , Portugal , Spain and Italy- and in those Latin American countries, where popular upheavals, based on class struggles linked to national liberation movements, are on the rise.

The new mass struggles for welfarism make few direct references to the earlier collectivist experiences and even less to the empty discourse of the ‘anti-Stalinist’ Left. The latter are stuck in a stale and irrelevant time warp. What is abundantly clear, however, is that the welfare, labor and social programs, which were gained and lost, in the aftermath of the demise of the Soviet bloc, have returned as strategic objectives motivating present and future workers struggles.

What needs to be further explored is the relation between the rise of the vast police state apparatuses in the West and the decline and dismantling of their respective welfare states: The growth of ‘Homeland Security’ and the ‘War on Terror’ parallels the decline of Social Security, public health programs and the great drop in living standards for hundreds of millions. ”


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