The New York Times reports today: “Fresh from announcing an expanded American military presence in Australia, a plan that has angered China, President Obama came to this remote northern town that will be the base of operations and told American and Australian troops it is the ‘perfect place.'”
CATHERINE LUTZ, Catherine_Lutz at brown.edu
Editor of the book The Bases of Empire: The Struggle Against U.S. Military Posts, Lutz said today: “The United States has a vast and expensive network of roughly 1000 military bases around the world. To add another in Australia flies in the face both of organized calls from many quarters to reduce that number as well as the certainty that this will stimulate further military competition and spending by China in response. U.S. military base expansion in Guam has faced much local resistance including lawsuits and protests largely because of land taking, disruption of sacred sites and concerns about environmental damage. In Okinawa, Japan, one of the main issues has been abuse of local women by U.S. Marines posted there.” Lutz is a department chair at Brown University and co-director of the “Costs of War” study done there.
The Hill reports today: “Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) is introducing a bill Thursday that would create a new office for investigating and prosecuting sexual assaults in the military.”
Also, AllGov.com reports today: “A federal judge in Virginia is expected this week to rule whether 28 current and former military personnel can sue the Department of Defense for not taking action to curb rape in the armed services. Filed against former defense secretaries Robert Gates and Donald Rumsfeld, the lawsuit contends that Pentagon leaders allowed the violation of soldiers’ constitutional rights by failing to curb sexual assaults. The 28 plaintiffs consist of 25 women and three men, all of whom allege they were raped or sexually assaulted by fellow soldiers, and that the Defense Department failed to do anything after the attacks.”
HELEN BENEDICT, benedict.helen at gmail.com
Author of The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq, Benedict said today: “One of the most pernicious aspects of rape in the military is the prevailing culture of blaming the victim. Victims are treated as whiners, liars, seducers, and traitors — as everything a soldier should never be. They are mocked, ostracized and even punished for trying to seek justice. Until this culture changes, rapists will continue to be protected in the military, and victims will continue to be denied justice. Proof of this lies in the numbers: According to the Department of Defense, 19,000 incidents of sexual assault occurred in the military in 2010, yet only 13.5 percent of those were reported. Various VA studies show that close to one in three women are sexually assaulted while serving, while fewer than one in five sexual predators in the military are every tried in court.” Benedict wrote the piece “The Scandal of Military Rape” for Ms. Magazine.