The Pentagon is lifting its ban on women in combat. This means that women will have to register for Selective Service (along with men) when they turn 18.
For peace activists, and rational hawks, this is a great thing, because doubling the pool of people to be drafted means that we will be much more deliberative in any decision to engage in military conflict.
On the one hand it’s obvious that women who want to serve their country should be allowed to do so. I have no doubt that there are women out there that are heroic soldiers, good officers, and would make brilliant generals. However, it’s also clear that our society still largely holds to the idea of “protect the women and children”. So the thought that a draft would force women into combat is disturbing to many.
This makes me happy, because it means we would only engage in an nation-wide military conflict if it was absolutely necessary as determined through undoubtedly heated discourse by the public. Any countervailing force that protects the masses from falling into the trap of nationalistic fervor is a force for long-term progress.
Today was the first day after the end of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy, which means the law no longer discriminates based on sexual preference against the soldiers that put their lives on the line to defend our country.
However, I remember reading about the rampant racism that came to the forefront when slavery was abolished. It seems that it often takes decades (even centuries) for the view of the majority to catch up with the moral standard of the law.
Frankly, if I was gay and serving in the military, I would still not come out. That view is perhaps naïve and poorly thought out, since I know nothing of how difficult it is to hide such a fundamental truth from your fellow soldiers.
In either case, this is a good day, as a weight has been lifted off the shoulders of many brave men and women, who already have to carry a heavy burden.
First and foremost, I would like to honor our soldiers: the men and women who have fought and are fighting for this country. Many of them have been killed, and many more have been wounded. From my experience, so many of them are good men, some of the best that our society has to offer (though sadly it is the war itself that often seems to shape the strength of their character).
I am strongly opposed to our involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq on the grounds of it leading to more terrorism in the long-term not less, and I will defend that point to anyone willing to have the discussion.
But on this 10 year mark since the attacks of 9/11, I would like to do nothing more than list some statistics on the number of people killed or wounded on and off the battlefield since the tragedy of that day. Also, I add some other casualty statistics for an absurdly horrific context. These numbers are impossible to comprehend, and whatever your view, this information will mean something different, but I ask only that you sit and think about the suffering that fills every crevice of our civilization and how the decisions we make can help alleviate a little bit of it here and there.
People killed in 9/11 attacks: 2,819
Firefighters, cops, paramedics killed on that day: 366
American soldiers killed in Iraq: 4,474
American soldiers wounded in Iraq: 33,143
Iraqi civilians killed: 864,531
Iraqi civilians seriously injured: 1,556,156
American soldiers killed in Afghanistan: 1,140
American soldiers wounded in Afghanistan: 3,420
Women raped in U.S. per year: 90,000
Children that die from starvation per year: 3,000,000
Killed in WWII: 48,231,700
Killed by Black Death (14th century plague): ~100,000,000
The title comes from the quote written on Leonard Matlovich tombstone: “When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”
The “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy was repealed by the Senate, and today Obama is signing it into law, allowing homosexuals to openly serve in the military.
I think this policy was a disgrace, just like when 18 year olds could be drafted to go to war but would have to wait till 21 in order to vote (a policy changed by the 26th Amendment to the Constitution in 1971).
Despite my usual cynicism and skeptical outlook, this is a time to celebrate the progress of American social policy. Gay rights is at the forefront of the current leg of the civil rights movement in American. Even if you’re homophobic, or just don’t care about the issue, the repeal of this law is a sign that our country is moving closer and closer to the realization of the beautiful ideal represented by our constitution.
Raw Story report talks about an ICOS survey’s conclusion that 92 percent of Afghanis have never heard of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. To me, this is a shocking statistic.
There are others:
40% believe that US is on their soil in order to “destroy Islam or occupy Afghanistan”
43% could not name one positive aspect of democracy
61% said they didn’t think Afghan forces would be able to keep up the fight against the Taliban when Western forces withdrew.
Why is there such a lack of information? Because Afghanistan is one of the poorest nations on Earth. We cannot hope to progress in the “war on terror” (I hate that term) when most of the Middle East either doesn’t know our motivation or sees us as an occupying, greedy, power-hungry force.
Do our politicians, or the citizenry, comprehend the state of misinformation and poverty in Afghanistan? I don’t think so, because if they did, they would not sit idly by as our soldiers are shipped off to the graveyard of empires.
I’m calling my congressman. Here is the main number for Congress – the Senate and House – in Washington, DC: 202 225-3121
The article talks about how to increase your chances of surviving a nuclear attack. It also addresses the fact that, as a society, we consider a nuclear attack too horrific to think about. The result is that we are not prepared to deal with it on a personal level or a national level. The article covers the personal response, and that it’s best to not “flee” for a period of 24 hours, and instead recommends that you hide in the basement or other such shelter.
The subject of personal or city-wide response to a nuclear attack is important, but what to me seems significantly more important is the discussion of our government’s response. Given how we rushed into war in Afghanistan and Iraq without much discussion, I think NOW is a good time to talk about what happens if such an attack is executed by a terrorist organization on our homeland. What should the military response be? If we don’t talk about it now, I fear that the response would be too drastic and only escalate the conflict, potentially leading to millions more deaths.
Such an event is almost too horrible to talk about, but perhaps we should, so that the people that do survive can use their head and prevent the government from loosing theirs in a rash widespread military response on suspected “host” nations.
If you think that such an attack is extremely unlikely, unfortunately, I disagree with you. The strategy and technology of destruction is always one step ahead of an effective defense. In my mind, major terrorist attacks in the world are inevitable as long as there are people living in financial and moral poverty somewhere on Earth.
The fact that the risk exists is enough of a motivation to deliberate on a effective policy of a political and military response in the case of such a tragedy.