The Training of Future American Pilots

Revolutionary Worker #1190, March 9, 2003, posted at

We received the following article from A World To Win News Service:

24 February 2003. A World to Win News Service . A recent article in The New York Times (21 February) reveals that it is common for women training to be officers at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado to be raped by male fellow cadets and that officials usually tolerate this behaviour.

The article reported, "Several former cadets at the Air Force Academy said academy officials had undermined the cadets' cases when the women reported being raped or abused. Some women said senior personnel had been unsupportive and encouraged them to remain quiet about their experiences lest they bring dishonor to the academy and themselves." The article continues, "Many women at the Academy said the culture in which 84 percent of cadets are men and where few were punished for sexual misconduct was so powerful that it effectively discouraged women from reporting offenses." According to one cadet who left the Academy in 2001 after she could no longer cope with this atmosphere, "I probably knew a hundred women... 80 experienced a sexual assault, and probably 40 of them were raped."

A woman serving as an Academy health counselor told freshman cadets that she had been raped twice and that, "It will probably happen to you. You have two choices: pretend it didn't happen, or report it." But, she warned, if they did report it, "Your entire life at the Academy is over, and you'll probably get kicked out."

Over the same period the Academy investigated just 20 cases, leading to the dismissal of eight male cadets. A raped cadet recounted that "investigators discovered that she had been drinking and socializing at an inappropriate time, a violation of rules that she said were used to undermine her credibility." In other words, in the Christian West just like under the rule of Muslim mullahs, if a woman is raped it is her fault.

"Rape is acceptable" at the Academy, a male cadet bluntly told a local television station that first broke this story. Noises from the Air Force that it was going to investigate itself "very seriously" should be considered in light of some experience. A decade ago, when drunken pilots at a US Naval air force convention rampaged in a hotel and raped every woman they could catch, little was ever done about it. Rape in the US armed forces is not really news.

"Mostly I am just disgusted with the academy," another woman cadet said. "I wanted to stay. I worked so hard to get in, but they made my life hell. They made me feel like I did something morally wrong." What this article did not conclude is that the oppression of women experienced by these female cadets is a cornerstone of the oppressive society all these cadets, men and women, are being trained to enforce. They will become a military elite that routinely orders the delivery of "death from above" to peoples all over the world. "Might makes right" is just as much the mission of the American armed forces as it is the motto of these cadet rapists.

It has been said that relations within an army and between soldiers and the people are a reflection of what kind of society that army serves. For American troops, the encouragement of rape is part of the way that soldiers are trained to become minor predators in an army led by the biggest predators. Rape and other crimes against Korean women and young girls have been a constant feature of the American occupation there for the past half century. Prostitution, a by-product of American military bases that is particularly hated by the people of the Philippines, is once again being organized on a mass scale as US troops return there. Other reactionary armies are no different. The Indian army and armed police commit rape on a mass scale in Kashmir, Bodo Land, Bihar and Dandakaranya, where they are fighting rebels and revolutionaries. Systematic rape is a standard weapon of the Royal Nepal Army, and is applied against women captives and peasants and poor women in general as part of the Nepalese ruling classes' rule by terror.

The experience of revolutionary armies is completely different, because these soldiers are fighting for a different kind of society where all relations between people are based on equality and men no longer dominate women. Take Nepal, for example. The People's Liberation Army led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is the opposite of the Royal Army in every way. These soldiers are led to organise the people, take part in productive labor along with the people and fight the ruling classes to protect the people.

Thousands of women are fighting as soldiers in this army. Many companies and other units are led by women. In general, men and women serve in the same units. A woman battalion section commander, Comrade Anup, was interviewed in the revolutionary newspaper Janaawaj (30 January) about charges of sexual exploitation in the PLA that were being raised by the Nepal reactionary media to try to discredit the Maoists. "That is not happening. If you talk about my experience, I have been working in this military unit since 2000. In many temporary formations, I have been the only woman." (This is because men still outnumber women in the PLA.) "If our discipline were as the reactionary claims, we would have degenerated. But there is no reality on Nepal TV and Nepal Radio." Since the old social system in Nepal is still not completely overthrown, its relationships and values are sometimes reflected among the people. But where the people rule and their rights are established, the new system -- that is, the revolutionary society in embryo -- never undermines or dismisses "women's cases" or "discourages" them from taking action against predators. When asked about cases of rape or sexual abuse (such as men having sex with women over whom they have authority, or polygamous men with more than one wife), Comrade Anup answered, "As they (men) have come from this society, it cannot be said that nothing like this has happened. When there are thousands of people in a unit, for one or two people to degenerate is not unexpected. The Party resolves the problem and punishment is given according to whether force was used."

Backward norms and predatory values cannot be completely wiped out until the predatory and unjust system itself is overthrown. But even if the American or other reactionary armed forces leaders wanted to reform their troops--and they don't in any basic way--they could not. No armed force can be a people's army except in the context of a revolution to change the whole social system.

US President Bush has declared that the day of the American invasion on Iraq will be the day of liberation of the Iraqi people. People can imagine what kind of liberation his rapist armed forces will bring the Iraqi people.

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