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Of Issues of War and Peace Part 1 Women in Combat

Defense SecretaryLeon Panetta’s recent decision to lift the ban on women in combat has sparked some heated debate, it seems mostly on Twitter.  My personal account has been besieged by people who don’t object to the new policy because women cannot handle the role but who think it is horrible that we are going to subject women to “capture, torture and rape.”  My answer was that no one -- male or female -- should be subjected to these things but that was met with; “that’s how it has always been.”

Earth to these people -- so have women, even when not in combat positions. This really is an issue of fairness.  Men who serve in combat are eligible for promotions and accommodations that their female counterparts are not.

Why should we allow women to serve in combat?

  1. Women are already serving in combat positions.  Shocking but true.  While they have been barred from certain positions such as artillery, armor, infantry and others (1994 rule), American women are already serving in many combat position.  Most European countries have no such restrictions.  More than 20,000 women have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, 800 have been injured and at least 130 killed.  This was all BEFORE the restriction on this was lifted.

  2. Objection: women are not physically able to serve in combat. Another message from reality; not all men are physically fit enough to serve in combat.  No one wants to see people who are not able to serve be put in that position.  The stanard should be fitness, not gender.

  3. Fairness is important.  By allowing women to serve in positions -- and no one is forcing anyone to do so, we give them access to hundreds of thousands of jobs.  We also make them eligible for the same accommodations and awards their male counterparts can get now.

But that’s not why my Twitter account was a magnet for all the vitriol this week.  How  horrible a person I must be to want to subject women to such horrible things as capture, torture and rape.

I am not even going to go into the huge, global problems of human trafficking of women and girls or the need for laws such as the Violence Against Women Act in the US -- proof that being female is enough to make those things threats.

Rape is already a weapon on war and women do not have to be in the military to be victims.  Don’t believe me?  Check this out.  If you really think keeping women out of combat positions will keep them safe from rape (and if you think they can be raped without being captured and tortured, you clearly are unaware of what rape is), you are at best wrong and at worst delusional.

How about you do some research into the recent conflict in Rwanda?  The current conflict in Congo (will write more about that next Monday).  And want to go further back?  Check out the book, The Rape of Nanking.  These are just a few examples.

Yeah, keeping women out of combat roles is the way to protect women from rape in war.  And if you really want to read my personal experience with this (not in war) you can read this.