The cases illustrate the terrible problem the military faces in what Jaclyn Friedman calls
America’s culture of “toxic masculinity.” Friedman, chief of Women, Action and the Media, explains the term: “Men are trained to think that the way to be a man is to have power over and to dehumanize women.”
“Training” is exaggerated. But the military does have what the New York Times calls an “entrenched culture of sexual violence.” And, yes, an Air Force brochure advises assault victims not to fight off attackers. The brochure, issued at the Shaw Air Force base in South Carolina, reads: “It may be advisable to submit rather than resist.”
The Department of Defense (DOD) recently released a survey showing that 26,000 service members are assaulted annually. One of five women is attacked. The DOD estimates that 500 men and women are sexually assaulted every week—an incredible three an hour.
The Pentagon faces two huge obstacles: the great majority of sexual assault victims do not report the crimes out of fear of retribution and the absurdity of what the military calls justice.
Women usually will not report sex crimes because the attackers are usually their commanders. The “bosses” hand down bad reports, ending military careers. Women also fear that they will not get justice. They are right about that.
As Clemenceau, premier of France during World War I, observed: “Military justice is to justice what military music is to music.” Military prosecution is the prerogative of commanders.
Just one example out of many similar cases: a co-worker raped a Navy aviation commander. The rapist was not prosecuted and the woman denied re-enlistment.
The victims are expelled on phony charges of “personality disorders” but the offenders go free. This injustice needs to be fixed by Congress —presuming the civilian government still rules the military.
Among other Pentagon problems:
•The United States spends more on the military than all other nations combined.
•America has 1,000 military bases globally, most of them unnecessary.
•Congress whips up the military costs. Take a typical example: Rep. Howard McKeon of California. His 25th congressional district has a Navy weapons station, an Army fort, an Air Force base and a Marine training site for mountain warfare.
•Military waste is incredible. Just one example: Congress forces the Army to spend $436 million on tanks it doesn’t want.
The United States may be in Afghanistan for decades. Kabul wants Americans to stay well beyond the 2014 withdrawal date. A forever war. Another endless war is that on terrorism. Congress gave a blank check for presidents to declare wars after 9/11.
Yet America itself has often killed innocent victims with weapons of terror. Columnist Robert Scheer notes some cases:
“Dropping atomic bombs on Japanese citizens in Hiroshima and Nagasaki; firing drones that treat citizens as collateral damage; using anti-personal land mines; the ‘killing fields’ genocide in Southeast Asia; dropping 277 million cluster bombs on Laos; and pounding Afghanistan with 1,228 cluster bombs.”
Jake Highton is an emeritus journalism professor at the University of Nevada, Reno.