This is not your grandfather’s – or great-grandfather’s – military. This is the United States military in 2013. American soldiers are equipped with weapons that just a short while ago belonged in science fiction – night-vision goggles, killer drones, heat-seeking missiles… Congress has poured billions – make that trillions – into modernizing America’s fighting force, and some of the cash has filtered through the corrupt and wasteful military-industrial bureaucracy to produce dramatic results.
But it seems some American politicians are still living in a bygone era when it comes to the military. You might recall that President Obama felt constrained to remind Mitt Romney (in one of those presidential election debates) that the United States armed forces no longer rely on horses and bayonets. Or big, bad battleships for that matter.
Of course Mitt is a Republican, and I expect Republicans to be stuck in a time warp. They keep yelling that they want their America back. And if that America ever existed outside of TV and the movies, it was a long, long time ago. Before my time, even.
When Republicans in Congress nod-nod, wink-wink at the epidemic of rape being reported in the military, it doesn’t surprise me. I expect them to subscribe to boys-will-be-boys folklore. After all, didn’t that “conservative” billionaire take Andrea Mitchell’s breath away by suggesting “gals” should practice birth control by keeping an aspirin tightly wedged between their knees?
Men, you know, “have needs.” That’s why such phenomena as camp followers emerged, right? I mean when you collect a whole army of men and send them off to war, with no access to their wives or the other “little ladies” that God put on earth to meet their “needs,” something’s gotta give, right? It’s no wonder that a Japanese mayor suggested US servicemen stationed in Japan should seek relief from that country’s sex workers. Didn’t the Japanese rely on sex slaves back in World War II to give their fighting men “relief”?
But this is America. This is 2013. This is not the place or time for primitive notions about male “needs.” When somebody’s daughter, somebody’s wife, some kid’s mother, enlists in today’s armed forces, she is certainly not signing up as a camp follower or sex slave. She is volunteering to put her life on the line for her country. Just like any male GI Joe.
That might be a difficult concept for some Republicans – especially male Republicans – to grasp. But I expect Democrats to be more enlightened.
Especially a Democrat with the stature of Senator Carl Levin (photo above). He is among the longest serving members of the senate, and one of the most distinguished. It was not just disappointing to read that he shot down Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s proposal to reform antiquated rape investigation procedures in the military, it was shocking and disillusioning.
As head of the senate’s Armed Services Committee, Levin should have backed Gillibrand’s initiative to remove sex assault cases from the military chain of command. Evidence emerging from senate hearings have made it clear the existing procedure simply doesn’t work. Twenty-seven of Levin’s fellow-senators were for reform, including four Republicans. But Levin balked at this breach with tradition.
Levin will be 79 this month, and he is calling it quits when his current senate term ends. That might help to explain his antiquated perspective. But, hey, I’m even older… I was 79 in March. And even a codger like me, a male codger at that, can see how outrageous it is to allow our daughters, wives and mothers to be exposed to rape when they join the armed forces.
Shame on you, Senator Levin! It’s high time for America to protect its women from sexual battery – even when they join their country’s armed forces.
Especially when they join their country’s armed forces!