President Obama is shocked/shocked that more and more members of the military appear to be confused about precisely which sorts of violent, antisocial behaviors are patriotic, and which are criminal. Here he responds to the grim 411 that sexual assaults in the military are up over 30% since 2010:
“I want [the victims of sexual assault] to hear directly from their commander in chief that I’ve got their backs. I will support them. And we’re not going to tolerate this stuff and there will be accountability. If people have engaged in this behavior, they should be prosecuted. [...] I don’t want just more speeches or awareness programs or training but, ultimately, folks look the other way. If we find out somebody is engaging in this stuff, they’ve got to be held accountable — prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period. It’s not acceptable.” [USA Today]
Obama can hardly be astonished that a couple of half-assed sensitivity training courses have failed to eradicate the military epidemic of moral turpitude; “this stuff” is necessarily endemic to the armed forces. That’s because a high moral purpose is absolutely antithetical to the systematic perpetration of deadly force, which perpetration is, after all, the whole raison d’être of the whole flippin military. To wit:
As I suggested in yesterday’s post, the United States appears to have created a warrior class with a culture distinct from that of the general fun-lovin’, happy-go-lucky populace. Despite lofty romantic narratives alluding to honor and quiet heroism and national pride, military culture is ultimately grounded by mores that place a higher value on group cohesion through dominance than on compassion, justice, or truth. These mores are necessary both to foster the required fierce sense of tribal unity, and to permit the execution of the required acts of intimidation and aggression — acts that would be considered psychotic under any other circumstances. Mounting body counts on all sides obfuscate the very concept of “greater good.”
The thuggy, murdery, cannon-foddery nature of the wars becomes more difficult to ignore, while simultaneously the sexual assault rate climbs: coincidence? I think not. It’s nice that the president “has [the victims'] backs,” but if he thinks that it’s even possible to extirpate violent behavior from a tight-knit culture based on violence, that dude seriously needs to answer the clue phone. As these relentless wars drag ever onward, it is to be expected only that fewer and fewer members of the military will be able to survive such extreme cognitive dissonance with their moral compasses intact. Warfare debases all humanity.