Tuesday, February 06, 2007

FACTS ON THE GROUND

There’s an article on Truthout by Sarah Rich called “Good Order and Discipline” (www.truthout.org/docs_2006/020607L.shtml). Ms. Rich is a social worker; her daughter is Suzanne Swift, a female soldier (an MP) who is presently pursuing some type of sexual harassment charges against the Army while also receiving some form of in-patient mental health care while also awaiting court martial. The alleged harassment (Ms. Rich slides into “molestation” here and there) has led to Ms. Swift’s desire for a discharge, while the commanding officer (a female colonel) of this MP unit seems to be going – as aforenoted - for a court-martial. Ms. Rich is not at all pleased.

Contemplating this scenario one is reminded of the tactical and strategic gambit called “creating facts on the ground”. To the best of my knowledge, the actual phrase was created – and the gambit deployed – by the Zionists in the post-World War 2 era.

The gist of its modus operandi was that this matter (giving “the land of Israel” as a self-governing haven in atonement and compensation for the Holocaust) was far too important to be left up to discussion, hemming and hawing and chin-stroking. Rather, the Zionist strategy should be to move Jews (again, I don’t like this fore-shortened term) onto the land immediately, regardless of the state of discussions; thereby, one creates “facts on the ground” that have to be taken into account no matter what one’s more abstract thoughts and ideas might be (or, more precisely, ‘have been’ before the aforesaid “facts” were suddenly created and injected into the equation).

The matter was actually not one of pure and utter urgency: there was little chance of the Third Reich coming back in 1946 or subsequently. But it was certainly a matter that would allow, indeed would demand, serious reflection and deliberation. After all, to set up such a state in the midst of unfriendly peoples who had been occupying the property and did not recognize the Judeo-Christian scriptures as a basis for this-worldly land-taking … this was a step fraught with long-term consequences.

With shrewdness and chutzpah the Zionists decided to go for an end-run around deliberation, not illogically assuming that a matter this complicated would not be decided for a long time, and quite possibly not in their favor. Better to force the issue by creating those “facts on the ground”, after which point they would sit at the discussion table armed with more than abstractions such as ideas and ideals.

It was a foxy maneuver, but in an eminently good cause, and in this world how much closer to perfection could you reasonably expect to get? In regard to its merits in the long-term nothing here is ventured.

But it cannot escape notice that in the same time-frame when the feminist Revolution (one of those Revolutions of the Identities discussed on this site) was being effected, this strategy of our newly-minted Israeli friends (we had tilted toward them after LBJ pretty much reversed JFK’s policy) was apparently adopted by the shapers of the Revolution.

The shapers themselves were urging numerous immediate and far-reaching changes whose claims to legitimacy were in many ways modest at best and might thus be debated and deliberated endlessly. So it apparently became the strategy – wherever possible – to create their own version of “facts on the ground”, the very existence of which would then give their wielders more leverage in the on-going revolutionary horse-trading to come.

It seems to me that one area where such ‘facts’ were created before the whole thing was carefully thought through was in this matter of placing women in the military. Not that there is no case to be made for it, certainly. Rather, that it was insisted from the very beginning that women were not simply to be given a place in the military, but had to serve in mixed-gender units with males. Which was a whole ‘nother issue altogether, but which was somehow bundled with the general ‘women in the military’ matter; somewhat like the old WW2 war-film gambit of a submarine getting into the enemy’s protected anchorage by hiding under a freighter authorized to pass through the opening in the anti-sub net.

It has been discussed elsewhere on this site (“Sex Offends Military Justice”), but Ms. Rich offers a couple of fresh opportunities for reflection.

The espousal of the facts-on-the-ground strategy is understandable. As said above, the proposed changes were large and deep and their claim to the status of justice and ‘reality’ was hardly adamantine or irrefutable; the discussions and deliberations involved in formal adoption (or quite possibly rejection) of the proposals could have gone on ‘forever’, or reasonably close to it.

But then bundled with the demands that women serve in the military and that they serve in combat, was a third demand that women serve only in mixed gender units, or on mixed-gender ships. There was not only very modest conceptual justification for this third demand, but it was gravid with almost insoluble problems. If supplying ‘feminine products’ – however widely or narrowly defined – was going to be a challenge to the military, then having to supply them to mixed-gender units would pose far more problems than to single-gender units. More importantly, and almost ‘classical’, was the matter of sex.

In the early-‘90s, this problem posed massive enough questions. Sex being almost hard-wired into the male of the species in order to ensure propagation, there were few ‘disciplines’ ever historically imposed upon (male) troops or accepted by troops that fully neutralized the distractions that accompanied even the most tenuous sexual opportunity. Indeed, absent any actual opportunities, imagined and fantasized ‘opportunities’ were substituted, and not infrequently to the point of obsession.

Such distractions always posed a problem for field commanders. You wanted your troops to be as ‘stoked’ as they could be, yet you didn’t want them distracted from the military mission and the ‘stoked’ energies thus wasted. And once troops under pressure encountered females – especially foreign and civilian – in the course of their operations, then all sorts of unlovely situations could arise.

It quickly becomes clear simply on the theoretical level that to mix genders among troops, especially in combat, was going to pose problems pretty much on the level of ‘making a jet fly in reverse’. But those were the salad days: the Soviet Union had just fallen, the U.S. had no peer-enemies and the whole world seemed happy, and the revolutionists might be forgiven for figuring that ‘now’ was as good a time as any to create “facts” which could be finessed later on, the whole thing not standing much chance of incurring its own worst possible consequences.

The brass saw that they were over a barrel. If they claimed the thing couldn’t be done, then ‘the women’ would mock their ‘can-do’ bravado and their assertions that in the U.S. military the impossible will take a few minutes and the difficult will be successfully accomplished immediately. And so, figuring uneasily that they should have some breathing space before ‘reality’ had to be faced out there in the actual world, the brass got on the bandwagon and allowed as how – shucks – this is a doable-do. Of course it is, glared ‘the women’: we would expect nothing less from our valiant generals. Congress was happy to avoid unpleasantness. Things moved along quickly.

Then came the sex-offense craze of the mid-‘90s. Date-rape, violence against women, sexual assault, sexual violence (a term Ms. Rich uses), molestation (ditto), sexual abuse (ditto). Attempting to surf these tricky and even dangerous new waves, the military – having yielded to all three of the major demands – now found itself trying to control sexual encounters in mixed gender units while simultaneously not utterly degrade the fighting spirit of the male troops, but in an environment now where any allegation had to be accepted at face value, and where such alleged encounters might even not-include actual sex.

If the matter has vexed and deformed civilian justice, it has created even more dangerous complications in the military. Not that military justice is any great shakes, but that the nation then entered a period where actual major and sustained ground combat became a reality. Suddenly, the revolutionary plan of exploiting its “facts” for maximum pervasive effect throughout the military while enjoying the leisure afforded by the post-Soviet world order was almost completely undercut.

And it can come as no surprise that there is now a rising chorus of complaint of ‘sex offenses’ in Iraq. It is anybody’s guess how much pressure troops are under in the failing and lethal maelstrom that has become Iraq and the life of the average solider in Iraq. To add that a sexual ‘incident’ can be made out of a look, a comment, or any number of non-material elements short of physical touching or violence … the consequences of this “facts on the ground” strategy, especially in its 3rd-level aspect of mixed-gender units or gender-mixed operating areas, are now home to roost.

If it seems hugely unwise to subject already-pressed troops (male or female) to the distractions of sexual possibility, it seems just about criminal to subject those troops (especially the males) to the classic tropes and slippery roads of the ‘sex offender’ script. They are in a battlezone with no ‘rear areas’, where everywhere is ‘the front’ and the enemy could be anybody out there beyond the wire. And to this we insist on adding the possibility that a look or a comment will subject them to charges? It can hardly be any wonder that combat-and-brass harassed unit commanders are setting the bar of formal action rather higher than the revolution would prefer; there is – as used to be said – a war on.

Ms. Rich exemplifies the problem clearly. In defense of her daughter’s cause she deploys just about every element of the classic civilian sex-offense script: “sexual violence” is not clearly described although variously appears to be untoward comments or a touch (but may be worse – it’s hard to tell); “rape” and “abuse” – vastly distinct on the spectrum are combined into a single phrase; “winks” and “nods” between “battle buddies” (so male) are involved; the damage to her daughter is “devastation”; the military is “an archaic institution” and has no honor and is hypocritical; the male troops are “sexual predators”; her daughter suffers “humiliation” and then in-patient acute psychiatric care; who will enforce the “civil rights” of those who voluntarily enlist; her daughter is only 19. A presentation as ‘classic’ and as familiar as any in Soviet Realism, and ably deployed.

If any of the foregoing recitation appears to tend toward the less-than-serious, I state right now that such is not my intention. I take this all very very seriously.

But I will not permit myself to slough off into the approved and conventional script patterns. It is gravely serious that this whole gambit of women and the military – in mixed gender units and at the front – was undertaken without adequate consideration as to what might happen in actual wartime conditions (as opposed to – say – ‘war’ as it was waged on the flying Marriott concierge-suite that was the USS Enterprise, NCC-1701D back in the day); it is gravely serious that feminists were willing to use young women – many of them needy in so many ways – as pawns to be made into the revolution’s “facts”; it is almost criminally serious that careerist generals and admirals allowed themselves to be stampeded into promising that they could suppress the male-urges of their often young and needy troops through the simple application of good old American military discipline; it is pathetically serious that politicians were happy just to be taken off the hook so that two seemingly irreconcilable ‘interests’ could be simultaneously mollified and pandered-unto without voters being alienated. Phooey.

And as always, who pays? It all flows downhill to the little people at the front, now male and female. They will be further empawned as ‘roles’ in this or that ‘script’ – the predatory rape-happy male, the helpless victimized female, the sleazy and insensitive and uncaring unit commander – while the hell that is a day in Iraq engulfs them all.

Like so much else in Iraq, and like so much that has happened within this country and this culture, that is now fraying under the pressure of Iraq, this sex-offense-Script-meets- War is an outmoded strategy that should have been reworked long before now.

The real travails of Ms. Rich and her daughter offer Us an opportunity how We might best arrange matters so that the lives of our staggering troops are not further burdened. To be a set of “boots on the ground” is task enough. The ploy of “facts on the ground” will have to wait.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Davidco said...

Women are dying of dehydration over there because they stop drinking water at 4:00pm to avoid the necessity of a solitary walk to the latrine at night.

I don't know what's worse: that this woman should be thankful she at least got her daughter back alive or that there are GI's behind the wire on American bases hovering around the womens' latrine waiting in the dark for an opportunity to rape a sister in arms.

5:14 PM  
Blogger publion said...

I also am upset. None of this needs to be happening. Either this women-in-the-military thing (in its 3 elements described in the Post) was not at all thought through or a) it was thought through but its full agenda was hidden from the public to get the “facts” onto “the ground” and b) it was never expected that there would ever be an acid-test like sustained combat, the results of which could not be hidden or spun. As with so many other gambits that were based on this gameplan over the past decades, the Eastern Front as it has devolved is now exposing them even as it refutes their assumption and plays hell with our weakened abilities.

My bet was that ‘the military’ as it was conceived in the very early ‘90s and even very late ‘80s was simply tooooooo tempting for the many sub-categories within the feminist fold: for the feminists a government agency was proving easier to intimidate into accepting its agenda than a civilian one – government entities were hierarchical and once you had captured the ‘head’, the rest would follow; the military had cachet and conferred social status; the military would provide jobs for many women – from the poor, young, and undereducated to those who aspired to high executive rank and those (an added benny) formerly known as ‘mannish’; the military had been traditionally male so a coup in this arena would strike a blow at the social pre-eminence of ‘males’ and of ‘patriarchy’. And – though far less emphasized – was that sub-cult of feminist dogma that saw women as more caring and even peaceful than testosterone-addled males: women would make the military a ‘kinder, gentler’ place. And since war would soon be nothing more than a matter of pressing buttons in well-appointed command bunkers, then such piffling objections as the fact that Nature had not equipped the female with the same brute body strength as the female were dismissed as the poisoned fruit of oppressors who just didn’t ‘get it’. And – as at Santa Anita – they were off.

The establishment of such “facts on the ground” required that in its early phases no actual ‘facts’ unsupportive of your agenda can be allowed into public view. Thus, for example, when the large amphibious forces set sail for the Gulf War, carrying heavily mixed-gender crews on (non-combatant) ships for the first time, lost almost one-third of its female ‘sailors’ through unexpected pregnancy; the order came down not to keep records that would notice such distinctions as ‘cause: pregnancy’. Additionally, it came down that high pregnancy rates (which were a surprise to nobody) would be ascribed as ‘failure in leadership’; this was a serious message aimed at commanding officers, couched in ‘code’: in effect Washington was telling all of the officers tasked with unit-commands and with fighting the war: if sex happens in your unit, we’re going to blame your inability to lead – which was a warning that if sex happened, your career was gone. The feminists – with or without a straight face – were forcing the (too-pliable) military bosses to claim that sex – that ancient Booncurse of humankind – was the result of a ‘failure in leadership’, and all that it would take to resolve matters was for ‘leadership’ to educate the troops into knowledge (and out-of sex). That this theoretical schema relied heavily on one of the Ur Dead White Males, Plato, was an irony lost upon the mind of the feminist revolutionaries.

Similarly, when the naval newspaper dutifully puffed the new female sailors, the reporter who wrote one article asked pre-emptively: What would you say to the objection that if you and a male shipmate who’s unconscious are trapped in a flooding compartment, you wouldn’t have the body strength to carry him to safety? To which, according to the article, the perky newcomer replied: Well, it’s true I wouldn’t be able to carry him, but … I’d be smart enough to think of SOMEthing. The article went out on that note, leaving unconsidered – astounding for a profession-oriented paper – the monstrous fact that a flooding compartment allows only moments for one’s actions to stave off death; also left unconsidered was what the parents and wives and families of male sailors might feel when they realized that up to half of their loved one’s crewmates would probably be unable to be of much help in a serious shipboard emergency.

And anyway, the whole party was made possible by two massive elements presumed to be static and invariable and permanent: a) America had the money to indulge in such a massive change regardless of the consequences, and b) America would never again have to fight sustained major ground combat or suffer its naval vessels to be attacked effectively on the high seas. And the fallback position – I bet – is that even if one or both of those factors changed significantly (almost impossible to conceive in the early ‘90s) such change wouldn’t happen for a while, long enough to establish so many “facts on the ground” that any thought of policy reversal – however logically and conceptually justified – would be impossible to carry out. And the game would – as they say – go on.

But – to agree for one of the very few times with our Chief Deciderer – 9/11 has changed all that; the ‘America’ that existed before 9/11, the ‘America’ upon the body of which the revolutionaries would conduct their invasive and forceful but speculative surgeries, is now gone.

What remains is precipitating out in the awful laboratory of our Eastern Front, leaching into the lives of everyone entrapped – like Laocoon and his … children – in it. Answer shall have to be made; events will force it.

9:49 AM  

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