Search Results For: rape military

Rape In The Ranks

Mar 4 2013 @ 7:44am

A disturbing look at a persistent problem in the military:

Research suggests that one out of every three women in the U.S. military is the victim of sexual assault, making military women twice as likely to be raped as civilians.

Read On

The Rape Uproar In India

Jan 5 2013 @ 12:49pm


William Pesek assesses the evolving political crisis sparked by the gang-rape and death of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi:

The immediate focus is on the six men accused of torturing a medical student so sadistically that they destroyed her internal organs. The issues of women’s rights, safety and respect have seldom been the stuff of headlines in the biggest democracy. It’s also a complicated issue prone to unhelpful generalities. But the rape cast a spotlight on something well-known to India watchers but given little heed globally: how badly India often treats its women, how sexual harassment is tolerated and the extent to which backward attitudes must be stamped out. Misogynistic comments from a variety of officials suggesting the victim may have encouraged the attack based on her dress and mannerisms don’t help.

But he thinks the outrage will probably transform the country's politics:

It is telling that so many young, urban men are among the aggrieved denouncing the rapes. That is a nod to the important role that gender equality plays in eradicating poverty. But these demonstrations are also shaking the conscience of middle-class Indians who sense that their leaders have lost their way. 

Max Fisher points to other consequences of the rape problem in India:

[Y]ou don’t expect to see violence against women translate into immediate and quantifiable national economic damage. But, in a sign of just how serious India’s problem really is, that may already be happening. A study across several cities found that a staggering 82 percent of Indian women say that they are reducing their working hours, leaving the office early because they don’t want to be traveling after dark, when the risk of assault could be higher. Some quit outright, afraid that commuting has become too dangerous.

Mira Kamdar explains how the rise of women in Indian society is making their lives more dangerous:

A woman who can be seen is seen as a woman available for violation. 

Rapid modernization and urbanization in India have made women, especially young women, visible as never before. More and more women are seeking education and employment. They go out to school, to work and to socialize with friends. They, like the young woman who was gang raped in Delhi, go out to movies. Increasingly, they go out with men, and, increasingly, they, instead of their parents, choose their life partners.

The young woman who was attacked had come to Delhi from a small village where her enlightened parents had scrimped and saved to educate her. She was studying to become a physical therapist. She was making her own life on the new exciting terms offered by India's changing society. While these opportunities have increased, they can't meet the volume of raised aspirations. Competition for slots in the better schools and for jobs remains fierce. The competition for women is also fierce. In India, girls are too often seen as temporary members of their families who will one day marry and join a new family. Male children are preferred, and sex-selective abortion, female infanticide and the sheer neglect of girls have made for a growing gender gap. Too many young men simmer with aspirations and desires that are simply not likely to be realized.  

Erika Christakis elaborates on the link between sex-selection and violence:

Growing evidence suggests that in countries like India and China, where the ratio of men to women is unnaturally high due to the selective abortion of female fetuses and neglect of girl children, the rates of violence towards women increase. "The sex ratio imbalance directly leads to more sex trafficking and bride buying," says Mara Hvistendahl, author of Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men. A scarce resource is generally considered precious, but the lack of women also leaves many young men without marriage partners. In 2011, the number of cases of women raped rose by 9.2 percent; kidnapping and abductions of women were up 19.4 percent. "At this point, we’re talking correlation, not causation. More studies need to be done….[But] it is clear from historical cases and from studies looking at testosterone levels that a large proportion of unmarried men in the population is not a good thing," says Hvistendahl.

Update from a reader, who caught an error in the post that we immediately fixed:

The 23-year-old victim did not commit suicide. She died from her injuries, which included brain damage, heart failure, internal organ failure (including her disembowelment at the hands of the attackers), and subsequent gangrene and sepsis. It took her the better part of two weeks to die after surviving multiple surgeries, getting on her feet once, and being transferred to a hospital in Singapore where doctors thought she had a better chance. As a result of her death, the six accused men are now being charged with murder in addition to rape and kidnapping. 

You were perhaps thinking of the 17-year-old gang rape victim who did commit suicide after being pressed to drop charges and marry one of her attackers. Her suicide took place while the world waiting to see if the 23-year-old medical student could beat the odds and recover. 

One of the more interesting and horrifying aspects of the case has been the employment of euphemism to cover it. I have noticed that most articles discuss the victim "having internal injuries" or "having some of her intestines removed", but most seem to suggest that these injuries resulted from her being beaten with an iron rod. Some may, but one or two stark reports have given the full truth, which is that after being penetrated by six attackers (a horror I cannot imagine), one or more inserted an iron rod into the woman and partially disemboweled her. I can't help but think that had such treatment occurred as part of a military operation, we'd be getting the graphic details in every report. 

My point here is that as horrific as the crime was, I don't think the reporting on it has been up to the task. If we can't bring ourselves to fully discuss the violence and torture that sometimes accompanies rape – if we can't discuss what such an invasion is capable of inflicting in terms of pain and injury – how can we possibly stop it?

(Photo: Indian students of various organisations hold placards as they shout slogans during a demonstration in Hyderabad on January 3, 2013. A gang of men accused of repeatedly raping a 23-year-old student on a moving bus in New Delhi in a deadly crime that repulsed the nation are to appear in court for the first time. Police are to formally charge five suspects with rape, kidnapping and murder after the woman died at the weekend from the horrific injuries inflicted on her during an ordeal that has galvanised disgust over rising sex crimes in India. By Noah Seelam/AFP/Getty Images)

Mitt Romney As Don Draper

Jun 5 2012 @ 11:52am

Judith Grey spells out the appeal of retro this year. Call me crazy (and they do) but I'm just not-so-sure bewildered Americans want a corporate suit cutting his own taxes while ramping up military spending and slashing entitlements. In fact, the more the Obama team emphasizes the cultural differences between the two camps, the better, I suspect, they'll do – especially with younger and minority voters.

Two big news items: the UN issued a comprehensive report on human rights abuses in the country and Arab League slapped economic sanctions on the regime. The emergence of the Arab League as a bulwark for democratic change in the region is a huge surprise to me. It should be an occasion for neoconservative cheering, surely. And hasn't Obama's "leading from behind" approach helped make that happen? By taking the US out of the equation as a global leader, Obama has allowed indigenous forces to do what needs to be done – and followed up with sanctions of his own. Colum Lynch is tweeting a summary of the UN Report, which Mark L. Goldberg labels "worse than you think:"

Testimonies were received from several men who stated they had been anally raped with batons and that they had witnessed the rape of boys. One man stated that he witnessed a 15-year-old boy being raped in front of his father. A 40-year-old man saw the rape of an 11-year-old boy by three security services officers. He stated: “I have never been so afraid in my whole life. And then they turned to me and said; you are next.” The interviewee was unable to continue his testimony. One 20-year-old university student told the commission that he was subjected to sexual violence in detention, adding that “if my father had been present and seen me, I would have had to commit suicide”. Another man confided while crying, “I don’t feel like a man any more”.

Could these harrowing facts help destabilize the regime? Maybe. But the Arab League sanctions are far more salient:

The Arab League sanctions cut real short term financial flexibility, predict to dramatic monetary losses, and show there is little future in investing in Syria.  Finally, the freezing of both government and personal assets of high level officials – a combination that had high impact in Libya – now poses a moment of decision to the elites regarding where continued support for Assad will lead.   In light of the bite of these sanctions, I suspect the next two to three weeks will tell us a lot about whether the elites supporting Assad will circle the wagons or will begin to defect as these sanctions leave them those two choices.

Daniel Serwer notes some evidence for pessimism. Matt Duss looks at the respective roles of Turkey and Iraq in enforcing the sanctions regime, and Micah Zenko cautions against an escalation to military action. Here's a night protest yesterday in Daraa:

This Syrian rebel taped his detonation of a security service car:

Finally, these two men - Ziad al-Masri & Abdu al-Hussain – were run over today by Assad's tanks:

The Rapes Few Talk About, Ctd

Apr 11 2011 @ 5:56pm

Contrary to what many believe, male-on-male rape in the military is usually inflicted by heterosexuals to assert "power, intimidation, and domination." Stephen H. Miller argues that confronting these rapes is an added benefit of repealing of Don't Ask Don't Tell:

A key argument by those opposed to letting open gays serve in the military was that it would lead to sexualized barracks (often with the none too subtle invoking of gays as sexual predators). In all likelihood, having open gays around will decrease the incidents of male-on-male sexual assault. Reporting and follow-up measures being put in place measures to protect straights from gays will have the effect of protecting both gays and vulnerable straights from the assaults of twisted, hetero bastards.

The Rapes Few Talk About

Apr 7 2011 @ 8:02pm

Jesse Ellison confronts male-on-male rape in the armed forces: 

What’s clear is that the Pentagon has only just begun to figure out how to treat men who have been sexually traumatized. Until 2006, sexual assault was classified as a women’s health issue, and even today, Pentagon awareness campaigns target women almost exclusively. Kathleen Chard, the Cincinnati VA psychologist who runs PTSD programs, says that more than 11 percent of the men she works with eventually admit that they were sexually victimized. Nationwide, there are just six programs like hers, and there is a single VA facility, in Bay Pines, Fla., that specifically treats male survivors of sexual trauma. When Matthews finally sought treatment for the PTSD caused by his rape, he says he had to wait six months for a space to open up. “I went to the group and there’s all these guys from the Korean War through Desert Storm,” he recalls. “And you say, ‘Oh, my God.’ ”

Do The Photos Show Rape?, Ctd

May 29 2009 @ 12:05pm

The Pentagon denies the story. Scott Horton says it's true (read his whole post):

The Daily Beast has confirmed that the photographs of abuses at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison which President Obama, in a reversal, decided not to release, depict sexually explicit acts, including a uniformed soldier receiving oral sex from a female prisoner, a government contractor engaged in an act of sodomy with a male prisoner and scenes of forced masturbation, forced exhibition and penetration involving phosphorous sticks and brooms.

These descriptions come on the heals of a British report yesterday about the photographs that contained some of these revelations—and whose credibility was questioned by the Pentagon.

The Daily Beast has obtained specific corroboration of the British account, which appeared in the London Daily Telegraph, from several reliable sources, including a highly credible senior military officer with first-hand knowledge who provided even more detail about the graphic photographs that have been withheld from the public by the Obama administration.

President Bush still does not know who actually controverted his policy on keeping Saddam’s military intact and instead disbanded it.  That’s an incredible admission — unbelievable! 

This from a revealing New York Times piece today on Bush biographer Robert Draper’s interviews with Bush (and in his forthcoming book Dead Certain:  The Presidency of George W. Bush):

Mr. Bush acknowledged one major failing of the early occupation of Iraq when he said of disbanding the Saddam Hussein-era military, “The policy was to keep the army intact; didn’t happen.”

But when Mr. Draper pointed out that Mr. Bush’s former Iraq administrator, L. Paul Bremer III, had gone ahead and forced the army’s dissolution and then asked Mr. Bush how he reacted to that, Mr. Bush said, “Yeah, I can’t remember, I’m sure I said, ‘This is the policy, what happened?’ ” But, he added, “Again, Hadley’s got notes on all of this stuff,” referring to Stephen J. Hadley, his national security adviser.

Those still in doubt about how Iraq’s military forces were disbanded and the incompetence and unaccountable idiocy that ran rampant during Bremer’s reign at the Coalition Provisional Authority, watch the dog fight between former senior CPA Office of Reconstruction special initiatives chief Paul Hughes and former Senior Advisor for National Defense in the Coalition Provisional Authority Walter Slocombe in the Sundance Special Jury Grand Prize winning No End in Sight

Hughes is the good guy in the film — and in the real life situation.  And Slocombe admits on film that he decided to disband the military — he just did it, without authorization from anyone.

And Bush still doesn’t get how this happened? or why?  And no one has paid a price. . .

Steve Clemons

What’s Next For Afghanistan? Ctd

Mar 29 2014 @ 7:33am

Jeffrey Stern notes that Afghan presidential candidate Ashraf Ghani’s running mate is a “brutal warlord” who boasts “one of the worst records of human rights abuses in all of Afghanistan”:

General Abdul Rashid Dostum tends to slip under the American radar because recently his interests have aligned with ours; his abuses have tended to be against people the US considers enemies, most recently, the Taliban. But he’s been responsible for massacres of prisoners, accused repeatedly of using mass rape as a weapon of war, and has a long list of other war crimes on his resume. And though some of the stories about Dostum are surely myths – it’s said that he eats 12 chickens and two quarts of vodka in every sitting – the war crimes allegations are serious, repeated, and furnished by multiple international organizations.

When news of the Dostum choice came out, casual Afghanistan observers in America who know and respect Ghani were confused; people I spoke to on the streets of Kabul were disappointed, and Ghani seemed to go from a new kind of candidate whose intelligence and commitment were unquestioned to a man on top of a ticket that didn’t look that much different from the other ones. There was, however, one obvious reason for Ghani to bring the warlord on board: Dostum is a figurehead for the Uzbeks, a small minority in Afghanistan, but one that tends to vote as a bloc. Including Dostum effectively guaranteed about a million votes.

Previous Dish on Ghani and the Afghan elections here.

Deadly At A Distance

Mar 8 2014 @ 8:32am

Behavioral scientist Nicholas Epley notes “a surprising problem for military leaders in times of war: soldiers in battle find it relatively easy to shoot at someone a great distance away, but have a much more difficult time shooting an enemy standing right in front of them”:

George Orwell described his own reluctance to shoot during the Spanish Civil War. “At this moment,” he wrote, “a man, presumably carrying a message to an officer, jumped out of the trench and ran along the top of the parapet in full view. He was half-dressed and was holding up his trousers with both hands as he ran. I refrained from shooting at him. It is true that I am a poor shot and unlikely to hit a running man at a hundred yards. … Still, I did not shoot partly because of that detail about the trousers. I had come here to shoot at ‘Fascists,’ but a man who is holding up his trousers isn’t a ‘Fascist,’ he is visibly a fellow-creature, similar to yourself, and you don’t feel like shooting at him.”

Orwell is far from alone.

Read On

2012 Chart Of The Year Nominees

Dec 20 2013 @ 5:15am

Below are the nominees we’ve selected for the 2012 Chart Of The Year. Please review them and then vote for your favorite at the bottom of the page.


The Top Ten International Defense Budgets (Mar 20):

Breaking news: the US defense budget dwarfs all others:


(Hat tip: Mother Jones)


Race/Age as a Percentage of The Total Population (May 3):


A reason Obama wins the youth vote:

Perhaps because Obama’s strength among young voters was first evident in Iowa, an extremely white state, discussions of race and age are generally held separately. Obama certainly did better among young whites than their parents and grandparents (54% among young whites v. 41% among all other whites), but much of Obama’s exceptional performance among young voters was due to the larger share of non-white voters. Indeed, even if Obama did as poorly among young whites as he did among whites over 30, Obama still would have won 58% of the youth vote. So long as non-white voters continue to offer overwhelming support for Democrats, the youth vote can be expected to offer overwhelming support for Democrats, as well.


Marijuana Use By Age (Aug 7):


Paul Waldman takes the long view on marijuana legalization efforts:

The public opinion data have parallels in what we know about who has used marijuana. According to the government’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health, majorities of every age group below 60 (with one anomalous exception) tell surveyors they have smoked pot sometime in their lives. Given that the surveys ask people to admit to illegal behavior, it’s almost certain that the actual numbers are higher, though just how much higher we can’t tell. While there are surely some people who have smoked pot but believe fervently that it should be illegal, the fact that half the electorate got high and survived suggests an ample constituency for legalization efforts.


Who Rejects the Right to an Abortion in Case of Rape (Aug 22):

Razib Kahn breaks down public opinion on abortion and rape. Note that no demographic group, not even biblical literalists or the extremely conservative, breaks fifty percent in denying abortion to rape victims:


How did a major political party adopt a policy position that is so so so far out of the mainstream? One word: fundamentalism.


Newspaper Advertising Revenue, 1950-2012 (Sep 12):


Mark Perry checks in on the decline of newspapers:

The blue line in the chart above displays total annual print newspaper advertising revenue (for the categories national, retail and classified) based on actual annual data from 1950 to 2011, and estimated annual revenue for 2012 using quarterly data through the second quarter of this year, from the Newspaper Association of America (NAA).  The advertising revenues have been adjusted for inflation, and appear in the chart as millions of constant 2012 dollars.  Estimated print advertising revenues of $19.0 billion in 2012 will be the lowest annual amount spent on print newspaper advertising since the NAA started tracking ad revenue in 1950.   


Growth of the Religiously Unaffiliated (Oct 9):


Pew finds that more and more Americans are religiously unaffiliated:

One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling. In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14%).

Alan Jacob asks:

The question I would ask is this: Has there been an actual increase in religiously unaffiliated people, or do people who are in fact unaffiliated simply feel more free than they once did to acknowledge that fact? My suspicion is that until quite recently a person born and baptized into the Catholic church who hadn’t attended Mass in fifteen years would still identify as a Catholic; but recently is more likely to accept his or her unaffiliated status.

Razib Khan adds:

There has always been a tendency for more people to hold to atheistic and agnostic positions than those who would admit to being atheists or agnostics. That gap is closing. Why? I have no idea, but I do think that people need to stop talking about how terrible the New Atheism is for secularists. I doubt this wave of secularization has anything to do with the New Atheism (it precedes it), but certainly the New Atheism has not turned people off to secularism.

And Ed Kilgore thinks politically:

[I]t’s important to remember that America remains far and away the most religiously oriented of advanced industrial democracies. But without question, the Democratic Party with its ever-strenghtening commitment to church-state separation and diversity is better equipped than a GOP in thrall to an ever-militant Christian Right to cope with the religious trends of the country as they appear today. 


US Weather Fatalities 1940-2011 (Oct 31):


Dylan Matthews tallied weather-related fatalities:

As Wonkblog’s Brad Plumer explained in a Monday post, it’s hard to attribute single weather events to climate change. But clearly something is causing the across-the-board rise in weather-related deaths, and global climate change, which worsens hurricanes and promotes heat waves and tornadoes, may be a prime culprit.

Fallows sees parallels between the global warming debate and the smoking causes cancer debate:

Of course no one can prove that this storm was “caused by” climate change and global warming. But the increasingly frequent occurrence of “unusual,” “extreme,” and “once per century” weather events — heat, cold, drought, flood — is in keeping with all warnings about the effects of climate change (as explained here). I’m not arguing the entire climate change case now, and don’t have special standing to do so anyway. I am saying that this reminds me of the mounting evidence about smoking and health, when I was a kid — the medical conventions my father went to in the early 1960s were full of smokers, those a decade later had practically no smokers — or about environmentalism generally in the ‘Silent Spring’ era. Denialism continues, until all of a sudden it is irrelevant.


Demographics of Romney and Obama Voters (Nov 9):

Screen Shot 2012 11 08 at 3 05 16 PM

Tom Scocca notes that 88 percent of Romney voters were White:

[W]hite separatism was not enough to break up the actual Obama mandate. Obama’s support was so broad that if white people had simply split 50-50, rather than favoring their ethnic candidate, the president would have won 58 percent of the popular vote.


Single-Mother Families and Violent Crime (Nov 27):

Cohen singlemomchart2 thumb 615x590 106252

Philip Cohen interprets it:

Violent crime has fallen through the floor (or at least back to the rates of the 1970s) relative to the bad old days. And this is true not just for homicide but also for rape and other assaults. At the same time, the decline of marriage has continued apace. 

He adds:

I’ve written before about the assumption that the rise in single-parent families was responsible for the violent crime bonanza of the 1980s and 1990s. (Romney and Ryan returned to this theme….) By my reading of the research, it is true that children of single mothers are more likely to commit crimes. But other factors are more important. 


Household Gun Ownership Rates by Party (Dec 18):


Nate Silver breaks down gun ownership by political affiliation:

In 1973, about 55 percent of Republicans reported having a gun in their household against 45 percent of Democrats, according to the General Social Survey, a biennial poll of American adults. Gun ownership has declined over the past 40 years — but almost all the decrease has come from Democrats. By 2010, according to the General Social Survey, the gun ownership rate among adults that identified as Democratic had fallen to 22 percent. But it remained at about 50 percent among Republican adults.

He writes that demographic data “suggest that gun ownership will continue to decline among Democrats while holding steady among Republicans, further increasing the partisan gap.” Relatedly, Enten takes a closer look at Democrats’ gun control views:

Those in favor of fewer gun restrictions are winning the battle because they are breaking into demographic groups that normally vote Democratic. Romney took only 36% of the vote in urban areas, but 46% of urbanites were for minor or no gun restrictions. More tellingly, Romney took only 18% of the vote among non-whites, but 32% of non-whites were for minor or no gun restrictions. This finding is confirmed in an April Pew poll. So, Democrats also have to reckon with a base that isn’t as anti-gun as you might think.


Which chart do you think was the best of 2012?

When you’re finished, use one of these links to vote for another 2012 award:

Hewitt Award
Malkin Award
Moore Award
Dick Morris Award
Yglesias Award
Poseur Alert Of The Year
Hathos Alert Of The Year
Mental Health Break Of The Year
Face Of The Year

Awards Glossary

I guess I should ask Tina Brown, who was inordinately fond of the expression. Maybe it was my balls she was putting “to” the wall? Anyway, it probably doesn’t matter what she meant. From a short history of idioms:

Many figurative expressions have literal origins, but few people stop to think about what they are. For example, the saying “it’s raining cats and dogs” apparently comes from a time when cats and dogs liked to hide in thatched roofs for warmth; when heavy rains fell, the animals would either fall through the roof or jump down in masses, according to etymologist and author Michael Quinion. It’s doubtful that Marvin Gaye knew the roots of his own lyrics, “I heard it through the grapevine”—a term that caught on in the mid-19th century in reference to the twisted vine-like wires of the telegraph and the jumbled messages that would result.

To be fair, it’s hard to believe there was once literal meaning to most phrases. It all seems so violent:

Read On

The View From Your Shutdown

Oct 3 2013 @ 9:48am

Oct 2, 2013 @ 9:30am

A reader writes:

I’ve been reading your blog since the fall of 2002, and today I thought I’d share my perspective on the shutdown. I work as a senior advisor at one of the military commands in Afghanistan.  I don’t work for DoD; I work for one of the foreign affairs agencies.  I’ve been in one of the more dangerous places in Afghanistan for about 15 months now.  We get shelled frequently by the Taliban.  I’ve loaded flag-draped caskets containing the bodies of co-workers onto cargo planes.  I have a wife and some beautiful children that I don’t get to see very much on account of my work.

Unlike my military colleagues, my agency has not been exempted from the shutdown.  I’m deemed essential personnel by virtue of my service in Afghanistan, meaning I’m basically required to go to work, but I’m working for an IOU.  In addition, the longer this goes on, the more likely it is that I won’t be able to take leave and see my family any time soon.

I think you’ve covered the utter betrayal of our government by Republican congressmen pretty well.  But I think you raise an important point when you say that anyone who sees this as some kind of good faith compromise between two sides is complicit in this shocking turn of events. What gets me as much as the cynical Republican strategy is my supposed friends who enable it. I’ve gotten into more than a few debates with friends who support this – and also go out of their way to thank me for my service.

What I’ve taken to doing is explaining to them the practical effects of the actions they support and then asking them if they’d like to fly out here and join me in volunteering, pro bono, for their country.  Suddenly their tone of certainty changes and it’s equivocation time.  It’s a complete act of cowardice by people who, by and large, have never done anything for their country.

Is it any surprise that people feel this way?  Generations of American politicians have made it into office by tearing down the very government they want to join.  When I joined the government over a decade ago, I was amazed at how many competent, dedicated professionals I came across, many of who could have taken much more lucrative jobs in the private sector (and many of whom left such jobs to join the government).  These are people who believe in America and believe in service.

But the joke’s on us, because decades of spiteful rhetoric has conditioned Americans to view us as a blight on the landscape, a detractor from (rather than contributor to) this country.  And now, with this, I have to say, I feel completely and utterly betrayed by the people elected to represent me.  I’ve never had a more disheartening moment in my decade-plus long career in the service of my country, and that includes the time I was living overseas when Abu Ghraib blew up. It’s sickening.

Oct 2, 2013 @ 7:09pm

Ctd …

A reader writes:

I am a big fan of the Dish, but I have never emailed you about a post until I read this one.  Not only are countless vacations being ruined by Congress, but countless small businesses in tourist towns are suffering as a result of the ridiculous actions of these Tea Party politicians.

I own and operate several hotels in Gettysburg, PA.

Read On

A Letter From Afghanistan

Oct 2 2013 @ 9:30am

A reader writes:

I’ve been reading your blog since the fall of 2002, and today I thought I’d share my perspective on the shutdown. I work as a senior advisor at one of the military commands in Afghanistan.  I don’t work for DoD; I work for one of the foreign affairs agencies.  I’ve been in one of the more dangerous places in Afghanistan for about 15 months now.  We get shelled frequently by the Taliban.  I’ve loaded flag-draped caskets containing the bodies of co-workers onto cargo planes.  I have a wife and some beautiful children that I don’t get to see very much on account of my work.

Unlike my military colleagues, my agency has not been exempted from the shutdown.  I’m deemed essential personnel by virtue of my service in Afghanistan, meaning I’m basically required to go to work, but I’m working for an IOU.  In addition, the longer this goes on, the more likely it is that I won’t be able to take leave and see my family any time soon.

I think you’ve covered the utter betrayal of our government by Republican congressmen pretty well.  But I think you raise an important point when you say that anyone who sees this as some kind of good faith compromise between two sides is complicit in this shocking turn of events. What gets me as much as the cynical Republican strategy is my supposed friends who enable it. I’ve gotten into more than a few debates with friends who support this – and also go out of their way to thank me for my service.

Read On

Readers bolster a recent thread:

Please don’t perpetuate the myth that Americans who opposed the Vietnam War treated servicemembers with disrespect, unable to tell the difference between supporting the war and supporting the troops. I’m a former Air Force officer, and this popular rewrite of history is bad for the military and bad for America.  The myth is so convenient and seductive.  It fosters military resentment against civilian society.  It can be brought out at any time to curb dissent, because no one wants to be lumped in with the mythical protester who spits on troops.

The opposite of this myth is much closer to the truth: the people who turned their backs on Vietnam veterans were those who supported the war but not the troops.  Vietnam veterans were shunned by older veterans, men who had served in WWII and the Korean War who made up the core of veterans organizations like the VFW and the American Legion.  They strongly supported the Vietnam War, but they treated the new generation of service members as unworthy of the brotherhood.  To the older guys, they were losers and long-hairs.

Consider the founding motto of the Vietnam Veterans of America:  “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.” This would be a very odd founding motto if the real problem was disrespect from anti-war protesters or Americans in general.  Jerry Lembcke’s 1998 book The Spitting Image debunks the whole myth about how Americans treated returning Vietnam vets.  Another good book on this popular misunderstanding is A More Perfect Military: How the Constitution Can Make Our Military Stronger.

Update from a reader:

You do know that Jack Shafer [herehere and here], Jim Lindgren, and others have demolished Lembcke’s work, right? In fact, Lembcke himself has even backtracked on many of the claims in his book when confronted by Lindgren’s evidence.

Another update from a defender of Lindgren:

He has never claimed that spitting never happened. One can not prove a negative, and, as Lembcke readily acknowledges, it is entirely likely that in the Vietnam era someone, somewhere has been spat upon. His point is that such incidents were rare, isolated, and could not have occurred nearly as often as people seem to think they did. Everyone has heard these stories. Forty years after the war they still turn up in newspaper articles every week – which is Lembcke’s point, that a handful of unconfirmed reports have passed into widely accepted myth and now serve to cast soldiers as victims, scapegoat the anti-war crowd, and assuage our collective guilt over a stupid war.

Another testifies to the generational divide among veterans that the first reader touched upon:

I demonstrated against the war when I was in college, then dropped out and eventually enlisted in the Marines from ’73-’75 (Ooo Rah!).  Afterward, I went back to school on the GI Bill and had a work-study with the VA to do veteran outreach.  Whenever I tried to contact organizations like the American Legion and the V.F.W.  in order to bring them together with the Vietnam vets or to solicit their political clout to take up issues that were important to the vets (Agent Orange, extending the period to use VA bennies), I got a blast of anger and disdain.

Read On