As I think about going to hear retired Colonel Ann Wright this evening knowing that she wrote a definitive book about why the war on Iraq was wrong, and further sacrificed her own military career to protest US military policy. I’m thinking about the domestic and sexual violence that has come home to affect the families of returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, while they suffer from the violence that they have been forced to inflict and to witness in those conflicts. Sometimes the violence takes the form of self-termination when the PTSD and inability to readjust to civilian life become too much to bear.
But what I’m thinking most about today is the sexual violence that our young women soldiers are experiencing while they are fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan or stationed in Kuwait. And sometimes in addition to being raped and assaulted they are also being murdered by their brother soldiers and by US military contractors.
Ann Wright has also documented this situation in an article, “Is There an Army Coverup of Rape and Murder of Women Soldiers?” Published in April of 2008, on the Common Dreams Website. http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/04/28/8564/
I became interested in this issue after reading and hearing about the rape and murder in Iraq of a beautiful 19 year old soldier named Lavena Johnson but in reading the article I discovered that a similar scenario may have played a part in the death of another lovely young woman whose picture I carried in the 2007 Albany event called Remembering the Fallen. Her name was Melissa Jennifer Hobart and she died in Iraq at the age of 22, in June of 2004, leaving behind a 3 year old daughter and many other people who loved her.
So I’ll be going to hear what Ann Wright has to say tonight about the mistake of invading Iraq and the consequences of bringing the war back home, literally and figuratively. If you want to read more about this you can visit the blog on the Times Union Website at http://blogs.timesunion.com/wagingpeace and read more about what the training to kill other humans can produce, when it breaks down the social bonds that begin with mother and child and take years to nurture and develop.
This is a very troubling topic because it deals not only with the visible and direct consequences of war but with the pervasive and destructive results of teaching our young people to hurt and kill others without protecting them (and us) from the consequences of such programming.
Just one more reason to try to solve our conflicts through negotiation, diplomacy and other non-violent means.