Weekend reading recommendations
Here are two interesting articles on a wide range of topics. I recommend reading them in full, esp. the first two.
Here are the two main features; excerpts appear below.
- “We’re in the fast lane to polygamy“, Mark Steyn, Macleans, 8 April 2009
- “Wars Abroad Continue at Home“, Ann Jones, posted at TomDispatch, 31 March 2009
Three other interesting articles, no excerpts provided:
- “GM in bankruptcy“, The Deal magazine, 12 December 2009 — The best analysis I’ve seen of the possible dynamics of GM’s bankruptcy.
- “The Brokest Generation“, Mark Steyn, National Review Online, 14 March 2009 — “Our kids are the ultimate credit market, and the rest of us are all pre-approved!”
- “U.S. Judge Dismisses Case of Former Senator Stevens“, Bloomberg, 7 April 2009 — Misconduct by prosecutors is a major problem. If it brings down a US Senator, what chance do you or I have? For analysis of this see “Policing the Prosecutors“, Clarice Feldman, American Thinker, April 2009.
Quote of the Year:
Now we’re being told the federal government has to pick up the tab not just for Henrietta Hughes’s house and GM’s unsustainable benefits and California’s runaway budget, but also for “older investors” seduced by Madoff’s promises of soaraway returns. Why should AIG bonuses be exempt from a federal cash-cow predicated on rewarding failure? As long as there’s one last feedstore clerk somewhere in Idaho putting in an honest day’s work we can all stick it to, who cares?
(1) “We’re in the fast lane to polygamy“, Mark Steyn, Macleans, 8 April 2009 — Excerpt:
Madame L’Heureux-Dubé and her fellow progressives think that women’s rights and gay rights are like the internal combustion engine or the jet plane – that once you’ve invented them they can’t be un-invented. Yet tides rise, and then ebb. Forty years ago Nigeria lived under English common law. Now half of it lives under sharia, and the other half’s feeling the heat.
(2) “Wars Abroad Continue at Home“, Ann Jones, posted at TomDispatch, 31 March 2009 — Another in a series of articles about the price paid by the men and women in our Armed Forces. For more information see:
- Suicides skyrocket among US soliders (26 March 2009).
- America’s national defence strategy and machinery
- An Army near the Breaking Point – studies & reports
- “Defense Task Force on Domestic Violence“, 28 February 2001 — Last report of the 3 year project
Introduction by Tom Engelhardt:
Some costs of war are, however, far harder to notice, no less tote up, though no less real for that. Ann Jones is a TomDispatch regular, as well as the author of Kabul in Winter (a beautifully written reminder of just how long America’s war in Afghanistan has been going on) and of Women Who Kill, a contemporary classic to be reissued this fall by the Feminist Press. (That invaluable press, by the way, issued in two volumesthe vivid, on-the-spot writings of the Baghdad blogger Riverbend, who, among millions of Iraqi refugees fleeing abroad, has not been heard from since October 27, 2007.) The following essay on war and women has been adapted from Jones’s new introduction to that book.
Wake up, America. The boys are coming home, and they’re not the boys who went away.
On New Year’s Day, the New York Times welcomed the advent of 2009 by reporting that, since returning from Iraq, nine members of the Fort Carson, Colorado, Fourth Brigade Combat team had been charged with homicide. Five of the murders they were responsible for took place in 2008 when, in addition, “charges of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault” at the base rose sharply. Some of the murder victims were chosen at random; four were fellow soldiers — all men. Three were wives or girlfriends.
This shouldn’t be a surprise. Men sent to Iraq or Afghanistan for two, three, or four tours of duty return to wives who find them “changed” and children they barely know. Tens of thousands return to inadequate, underfunded veterans’ services with appalling physical injuries, crippling post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and suck-it-up sergeants who hold to the belief that no good soldier seeks help. That, by the way, is a mighty convenient belief for the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs, which have been notoriously slow to offer much of that help.
Recently Republican Senator John Cornyn from Texas, a state with 15 major military bases, noted that as many as one in five U.S. veterans is expected to suffer from at least one “invisible wound” of war, if not a combination of them, “including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and mild traumatic brain injury.” Left untreated, such wounds can become very visible: witness, for example, the recent wave of suicides that have swept through the military, at least 128 in 2008, and 24 in January 2009 alone.
To judge by past wars, a lot of returning veterans will do themselves a lot of damage drinking and drugging. Many will wind up in prison for drug use or criminal offenses that might have been minor if the offenders hadn’t been carrying guns they learned to rely on in the service. And a shocking number of those veterans will bring the violence of war home to their wives and children.
… In April 2000, after three soldiers stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, murdered their wives and CBS TV’s “60 Minutes” broke a story on those deaths, the Pentagon established a task force on domestic violence. After three years of careful work, the task force reported its findings and recommendations to Congress on March 20, 2003, the day the United States invaded Iraq. Members of the House Armed Services Committee kept rushing from the hearing room, where testimony on the report was underway, to see how the brand new war was coming along.
What the task force discovered was that soldiers rarely faced any consequences for beating or raping their wives. (Girlfriends didn’t even count.) In fact, soldiers were regularly sheltered on military bases from civilian orders of protection and criminal arrest warrants. The military, in short, did a much better job of protecting servicemen from punishment than protecting their wives from harm.
… The military does evaluate the mental health of soldiers. Three times it evaluated the mental healthof Robert H. Marko (the Fort Carson infantryman who raped and murdered a girl), and each time declared him fit for combat, even though his record noted his belief that, on his twenty-first birthday, he would be transformed into the “Black Raptor,” half-man, half-dinosaur.
… Our women soldiers are a different story. The Department of Defense still contends that women serve only “in support of” U.S. operations, but in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan “support” and “combat” often amount to the same thing. Between September 11, 2001, and mid-2008, 193,400 women were deployed “in support of” U.S. combat operations. In Iraq alone, 97 were killed and 585 wounded.
Like their male counterparts, thousands of women soldiers return from Afghanistan and Iraq afflicted with PTSD. Their “invisible wounds,” however, are invariably made more complex by the conditions under which they serve. Although they train with other women, they are often deployed only with men. In the field they are routinely harassed and raped by their fellow soldiers and by officers who can destroy their careers if they protest.
… Shortly after Sgt. William Edwards and his wife, Sgt. Erin Edwards, returned to Fort Hood, Texas, in 2004 from separate missions in Iraq, he assaulted her. She moved off base, sent her two children to stay with her mother, brought charges against her husband, got an order of protection, and received assurances from her husband’s commanders that they would prevent him from leaving the base without an accompanying officer.
She even arranged for a transfer to a base in New York. However, on July 22, 2004, before she could leave the area, William Edwards skipped his anger management class, left the base by himself, drove to Erin Edwards’s house, and after a struggle, shot her in the head, then turned the gun on himself.
The police detective in charge of the investigation told reporters, “I believe that had he been confined to base and had that confinement been monitored, she would not be dead at his hands.” Base commanders excused themselves, saying they hadn’t known Erin Edwards was “afraid” of her husband. Even if true, since when is that a standard of military discipline? William Edwards had assaulted a fellow soldier. Normally, that would be some kind of crime — unless, of course, the victim was just a wife. …
Give Peace a Chance
The battered women’s movement once had a slogan: World peace begins at home. They thought peace could be learned by example in homes free of violence and then carried into the wider world. It was an idea first suggested in 1869 by the English political philosopher John Stuart Mill. He saw that “the subjection of women,” as he called it, engendered in the home the habits of tyranny and violence which afflicted England’s political life and corrupted its conduct abroad.
The idea seems almost quaint in competition with the brutal, dehumanizing effectiveness of two or three tours of duty in a pointless war and a little “mild” brain damage.
We had a respite for a while. For nearly a decade, starting in 1993, rates of domestic violence and wife murder went down by a few percentage points. Then in 2002, the vets started coming home.
No society that sends its men abroad to do violence can expect them to come home and be at peace. To let world peace begin at home, you have to stop making war. (Europe has largely done it.) Short of that, you have to take better care of your soldiers and the people they once knew how to love.
About the Author
Ann Jones is a journalist and the author of a groundbreaking series of books on violence against women, including Next Time She’ll Be Dead, on battering, and Women Who Kill, a contemporary classic to be reissued this fall by the Feminist Press, with a new introduction from which this post is adapted. She serves as a gender advisor to the UN.
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