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All content © 2002-2005 Anne Zook

May 19, 2005
Wars, Prisoners, and Soldiers

I'm not sure it's precisely a smoking gun, but it sure is proving that pulling the trigger was never something we had any real input on. You think Bush will ever ever answer that letter? (I used to assume that the MSM didn't pick up stories like this because they knew something about them that we didn't. Now I just think they're frightened and irresponsible.)

Report: Muslim World Largely Anti-American. Some people are such ingrates. We've been killing Muslims for years now, to show them how cool freedom is. They don't seem to appreciate it at all.

The Newsweek thing. Colorado's Boulder Daily Camera gets to the heart of it. By focusing on Newsweek, we're all allowing the main issue, abuse and torture of prisoners in USofA hands to be lost.

From prisoner abuse to...child abuse, the military is under the microscope again. I'm waiting for the rest of the evidence to come in. I don't assume someone in the military is automatically more likely to turn into a child abuser. I'm more inclined to wonder if the increased abuse isn't, instead, a factor of the percentage of "displaced" and otherwise dysfunctional recruits the military accepts. There are a lot of problems around maintaining a huge standing army, especially in today's world.

And, speaking of armies, I haven't said a lot about this but that's not because I don't have an opinion.

I think if women are in the military, they should be treated like any other recruit. I don't approve of "reserving" non-combat jobs to keep women off the front line and I think it's insult to the women who have already trained and are already fighting alongside men to pass a law now to say they don't belong in the thick of things. They, like their male counterparts, signed up to be in the military. They can do the job. (The world moves fast today. They're backing off on the ban before I could even blog it. But it's still unequal treatment.)

(None of this, in my mind, contradicts my stance that the military needs to do something about the culture of silence around the number of rapes in the military. Contrary to what some of y'all might think, I don't believe men, even young ones, are mindless animals. The military has simply not adapted to the presence of women. They opened their ranks, but "adapting" takes more than that. You have to make cultural changes.)

Does anyone care that six people working on an anti-drug project in poppy-covered Afghanistan have died? It annoys me that no one talks about Afghanistan. You know how I feel. I think we were in such a hurry to go kill Iraqis that we didnít finish the job in Afghanistan. The token military force we left there is doing the best they can. Many Afghans of good intent are doing what they can. A little attention from the rest of us might make all the difference in the world.

Today's well, duh entry from Iraq:

One senior officer suggested Wednesday that U.S. military involvement could last "many years."

You know, I'm pretty sure some of us non-military, non-experts, as well as some of us amateur-but-expert civilian types said that we'd have to say for years. In fact, we said it repeatedly, when we were trying to explain the consequences of invading Iraq to the general and poorly informed public. (The problem with blogging is that you spend 65% of your time preaching to the choir, 30% of your time fighting spam, and 5% of your time talking into a void.)

Posted by AnneZook at 10:15 AM


Stories like the one you linked to are prime examples of sloppy media reporting -

I don't assume someone in the military is automatically more likely to turn into a child abuser. I'm more inclined to wonder if the increased abuse isn't, instead, a factor of the percentage of "displaced" and otherwise dysfunctional recruits the military accepts. There are a lot of problems around maintaining a huge standing army, especially in today's world.

There are several problems with the story:

1) More military kids die of child abuse..or at twice the average. That is simply NOT true. Unless, of course, they mean, on average, in two NC counties, for the period 1985-2000 (HMM..does that appear in the headline). The overall rate for DoD child homicides due to abuse is less than for the population as a whole. (WOW - How hard would that have been more any of the "reporters" who picked up this story to research?). I suspect I can go to any large company (WalMart, etc.) or geographic region and come up with a similar, misleading, set of statistics and generalize it to an entire group.

2) Note the article mentions both counties have higher averages than the state (but don't cite the number).. Wonder why? Probably because the number for Cumberland county is only slightly below Ft. Bragg/Pope AFB - meaning, at best, there is an issue not only at the military bases, but in those geographic regions writ large.

3) The article fails to mention the number from the study group does not match the official list from DoD records; in fact, the difference sends the military bases below the county averages. Who's right? I don't know - may depend on how each side counted - but the fact is not listed in the study.

4) The article fails to distinguish between whether the military member or the spouse (or both) were responsible. This fact is important if we're going to discuss "military" culture/recruiting as a factor. Also, what is left undiscussed is the Army units at Ft. Bragg underwent two long deployments (Panama/Desert Storm) during the period. Finally, the article fails to mention whether the study attempted to control for various factors between the communities.

Posted by: Col Steve at May 23, 2005 11:30 PM