There, that title ought to tickle the search engines.
Today, I'm writing about SEX. That's right. SEX. Close your eyes if you aren't over 18.
Specifically, I want to talk about sex in the United States Armed forces.
While nearly everyone in America is nearly killing themselves to be the loudest in extolling the virtues of the men and women of United States Armed forces, we haven't been paying attention to a serious issue that has been true of armies since time immemorial, and remains true today, even in the nearly-perfectly-virtuous US armed forces. That issue is the quasi-sponsorship of prostitution and human trafficking that is funded and fueled by American servicemen stationed in various parts of the world.
Ask any man that has spent time in the armed forces... especially any man that has spent time stationed in Okinawa, Japan; South Korea; Thailand; or Vietnam. Let's not forget Germany; Britain; Holland; Italy; Greece; Portugal, and many other countries. Go ahead and ask. If you do, you'll find out that our service men (with their naturally high libidos) have been boinking with the best of them, creating a flourishing sex trade, wherever they put down stakes.
For many years this behavior was not only tolerated but winked at by high-ranking officers as well as senior Non-commissioned officers. During my time in the service (1981-1989), it was common to hear things like "what happens in Okinawa stays in Okinawa".
It is common for people to respond to this situation by saying: "Oh, its just young, fit, horny men acting the way young men do... what's the problem?" Well, for starters, the problem is the fact that prostitution, in most of the places that I mentioned, is illegal. Another problem is that incredible increase in human trafficking (for the sex trade) from eastern europe. Another problem is the exploitation of desperately poor women. Another problem is the spread of disease. Another problem is the toll taken on marriages & families. I could go on, but you get my drift, right?
Well, guess what? Your Generals and Admirals don't care. Your national leaders don't care. The American people, in large part, don't care.
What do they care about? Gay people serving in the military.
Yes... prostitution is ok. The moral turpitude of our soldiers in ok. Male and female service members swapping partners more than they change their skivvies is ok. The rampant swinging or "wife swapping" that happens in married quarters on base is ok (not making that up, I know, first hand)... but for the love of God, if a soldier is gay, that is going to wreck the morale of the armed forces and damage good order and discipline to the point of making our Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, unable to wage war.
As comrade Shakespeare would have said: "That would be scanned"
There are reports that say that the number of women that contract venereal diseases in the United States Marine Corps is something near 40 percent higher than the national average... Using the logic of the homophobes, I guess that Marines infecting one another is alright, as long as these ladies aren't infecting each other.
All of this leads me, rather erratically, I know, to a discussion of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that has been failing since it's inception. I won't parse the policy here, because you probably already know what it is... if you don't, follow the link and find out.
I think that this is a stupid and discriminatory policy that not only prevents patriotic people of different sexual orientation from serving openly in the armed forces, but hurts the readiness of the American armed forces in general by removing a significant segment of the young, available pool of warfighters.
Unfortunately, as wrong as this policy is, it is still policy, which brings me to the case of Lt. Colonel Victor Fehrenbach, late of the United States Air Force, and Lt. Dan Choi, late of the United States Army. These two officers recently came out (and in Fehrenbach's case, was outed) and have become the poster people for the gay community's efforts against "Don't Ask", Don't Tell".
The gay community is in an uproar, as they should be, about this policy, but have taken to attacking President Obama for not getting this policy overturned quickly enough. I'm sure that if I were gay, I would want this done immediately. Having said that, I understand that things like DADT are best handled later in an administration rather that the very beginning.
Sure, you can say that my attitude towards all of this is poor, or that I am unsympathetic because I'm not gay, and I suppose, depending on your own personal perspective, you might be right, but hear me out on this. Politics isn't about ruling by decree. It's about trying your best to do what you CANdo, as best you can. Most Americans want President Obama to succeed. Most want him to do the best that he can do to lead this country, and I think that with a fairly thin majority in the Senate, the President has to be careful that he doesn't spend all of his political capital repealing DADT.
Since the repeal of DADT would give the GOP a hefty stick to beat him with in the 2012 election, you can expect that there won't be a huge amount of movement on the issue until he wins re-election.
Which brings us back to Lt. Colonel Fehrenbach and Lieutenant Choi.
These worthy gentlemen, whom I believe to be Patriots, and good officers who are both committed to service, should have known what they were getting into. In Choi's case, he had to have known, smart guy that he is, that coming out would be his military undoing. There is no way that he didn't know that he wasn't going to get the boot, and that going public with his dismissal wasn't going to save his army career. Bad policy or not, the policy is current and firmly in place for the time being.
It isn't the place of a junior officer to try to change policy by grandstanding. Good luck in the civilian Mr. Choi, I wish you all the best in your future, which, no doubt, will be bright.
In the case of Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, things change a bit. From what I understand, he was outed by someone. That's a shame. A shame because Fehrenbach was compliant with the policy, and his career, which has been stellar, from what I understand, has been destroyed two years short of his eligibility to retire.
For all of the trauma to gays in the armed forces that the examples of these men typify we cannot... or at least certainly should not be shocked that the DADT policy was not the first thing on the President's agenda.
This doesn't make Barack Obama a back-stabber. It doesn't mean that he has no intention to deal with this issue, but timing, as is frequently said, is everything.
So there you have it friends... our soldiers are cavorting with prostitutes, giving each other the clap, screwing each other's spouses, and even prostituting themselves on our ships and in the barracks... but as long as these liasons are hetero (and still technically illegal), nobody cares... as long as they aren't gay.