by Mel Griffith
Now that we are halfway between elections and the Iraq war has settled into a slow grind, not much exiting is happening. As a result, there seems to be a national obsession with trivia. Everyone seems very concerned that Saddam may be embarrassed by being pictured in his underwear. Who cares? If he isn't embarrassed about murdering millions of people, reducing an oil-rich country to starvation, and stealing billions from the oil-for-food program, nothing will do it. Anyway, he has been previously pictured in swimming trunks, so nothing has been revealed.
There is also a lot of worry that some of the prisoners from the wars have been mistreated. Should we worry much if people who have been trying to kill all of us they can are a bit uncomfortable? One of the forms of "torture" some have been subjected to is having their beards shaved off. Since I shave most every morning, pardon me if I don't work up too much sympathy for the horror of it all. Our soldiers are required to shave every day, why should prisoners be treated better than them. Prison is not supposed to be a fun place.
Now that there is no hot war, some in Congress seem intent on damaging the Army's effectiveness and efficiency by bringing back old-fashioned ideas that demean the contribution of women to our defense. They want to dream up new restrictions on the employment of women in the Army. The Army already has a policy against women serving in combat units. The Navy and Air Force, which usually shoot at people from greater distances have no such policy. While women are banned from combat units, that doesn't necessarily mean that they are banned from combat itself in a place like Iraq where there are no front lines and any unit, whatever its intended mission, can find itself fighting. Although the present system is working quite well, some now want to ban women from any unit that might get into combat, which in a place like Iraq means just about everywhere. A number of women have been killed in Iraq and that is tragic, but no more tragic than the death of male soldiers.
A congressman trying to explain the supposed need for disrupting the functioning of the Army by moving women from where they are needed to where they are not, pointed out that parents feel safer when their daughters are in rear areas not exposed to "50 calibers and rocket grenades." He didn't explain how many parents feel safer when their sons are exposed to 50 calibers and rocket grenades. War is a dangerous business. There are many benefits to a military career, including good pay, health coverage and a good retirement, but one of the downsides is that it can be risky. Those who share equally in the benefits should share equally in the risk.
When there is a lull in important events, lots of minor concerns come out of the woodwork and this seems to be one of these times.