Helen Benedict

Unequal mercy: The West's approach to refugees

Helen Benedict, The Increasing Persecution of Refugees

There’s a reason — beyond all the obvious ones — that we should be more focused on refugees. Sadly enough, as journalist, novelist, and Columbia University Professor Helen Benedict makes clear in her first TomDispatch piece, such reasons are already anything but lacking. In fact, from the start, refugees in flight proved to be pure gold for Donald Trump and what became the Trumpublican Party. From the moment he first rode down Trump Tower’s golden escalator to declare to a crowd, many of whom his campaign had hired, that he was running for president, he was already smearing desperate refugees at our borders. (“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”) And he would never stop smearing people in wrenching flight from their homes as “animals” and their existence here as “American carnage.”

Sadly enough, this may be Donald Trump’s world, since, in the years to come, as this planet broils, ever more of humanity will be all too literally driven from their homes, like Pakistanis last July when one-third of their country was flooded. Brutal storms, staggering heat, you name it and it’s going to turn ever more of us into refugees. In fact, millions of people globally are already being displaced and, by 2050, it’s estimated that 1.2 billion human beings — yes, you read that right! — could become climate refugees.

As it happens, so many of us in this country are only here because our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, or great-great-grandparents fled nightmares in other countries. My own grandfather arrived here in the 1890s at age 16, alone, in the steerage of a ship, with the equivalent of 50 cents in his pocket. With that in mind, this seems like an all-too-reasonable moment to ignore the Trumpublicans and try to give a little thought to just how badly refugees are being treated globally — if, that is, they aren’t Ukrainians.

So, my suggestion: join Benedict, who’s been covering the global refugee crisis for years, including those fleeing from our all-American wars of this century. Most recently, she’s been reporting from Greece, where she met Syrian writer and refugee Eyad Awwadawnan. The two of them wrote the just-published book, Map of Hope and Sorrow: Stories of Refugees Trapped in Greece, about how refugees are being abused not only there, but all over the West. Today, she considers how differently Europe and the United States have been treating white, Christian Ukrainian refugees than those from anywhere else. If, to steal a phrase from President Joe Biden, how we deal with refugees reflects “who we are and who we want to be,” then, as Benedict makes clear, we need to do a whole lot better and — given the planet we’re on — soon. Tom

Unequal Mercy: The West's Approach to Refugees

Almost anyone would agree that war is horrifying and peaceful countries should do their best to help its victims. The widespread eagerness to welcome fleeing Ukrainians after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded their country last February is a heartening example of such aid. But behind that altruism lies an ugly truth: most of the countries embracing Ukrainians are simultaneously persecuting equally desperate refugees from elsewhere.

Such unequal mercy would be no surprise from nations like Ukraine’s neighbors Hungary and Poland, controlled by nationalist parties that have rarely welcomed anyone not white and Christian. However, the same thing is happening in Western Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia, and here in the United States, the very democracies sworn to protect those fleeing war and persecution and that, in the case of America, sometimes turned those people into refugees in the first place. Our Global War on Terror alone has displaced an estimated 37 million people since we invaded Afghanistan in 2001.

One of the worst examples of this unequal mercy is taking place in Greece, a major gateway to Western Europe for anyone fleeing the Middle East or Africa. Between February and mid-April of this year, some 21,000 Ukrainians made it to Greece — more in three months than the total number of asylum seekers who entered the country in all of 2021. There, the Ukrainians were instantly granted temporary protection status, giving them access to medical care and jobs, subsidized housing and food allowances, schooling for their children, and Greek language classes for adults.

This is an admirable example of how all people who flee danger and war should be welcomed. But I’ve been visiting Greece for years now to research my new book, Map of Hope and Sorrow: Stories of Refugees Trapped in Greece, and I know a lot of refugees there who have found no such generosity. Most are Syrian, Afghan, or Iraqi, but some are Kurdish or Palestinian, while others come from African countries, including Cameroon, Eritrea, Gambia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Somalia, and the Republic of Congo.

They, too, escaped war, violence, and other kinds of persecution. In fact, the Syrians, just like the Ukrainians, fled Putin’s bombs when he was helping Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, hold onto power. Yet unlike the Ukrainians, these refugees are forced to languish for years in inhumane, slum-like camps, while their children are denied schooling. They are routinely turned away from hospitals, doctors, or dentists, and are all too often treated with disrespect, even hatred, by landlords, employers, and regular citizens. That hurts. As my friend and co-author, the Syrian writer and refugee Eyad Awwadawnan, whom I first met in Greece, put it, “I think the world should do all it can for Ukrainian refugees, but we are getting a clear message from the Greek government that we are worth less than they are.”

Doomed to Helplessness

During my visits to Greece between 2018 and 2022, I witnessed many examples of its appalling treatment of refugees. At one point, in a camp on the Northern Aegean island of Samos, I found more than 3,000 people living in shipping containers or tents in and around an old military base, surrounded by piles of garbage swarming with rats. They had no potable water, the few toilets were broken, the food mostly inedible, and there was no security for women, children, LGBTQ+ people, or anyone else particularly vulnerable to bullying, assault, or rape. Thousands more asylum seekers were similarly trapped on other islands with nowhere to go and nothing to do, while yet others were locked up in Greek prisons for merely exercising their right to seek asylum. In our book, Eyad and I describe the way people are arrested and imprisoned simply for steering their boats to Greece, or for coming from the wrong country.

Since its New Democracy government took power in 2019, well into the anti-immigrant, Muslim-bashing administration of Donald Trump here in the United States, the Greek government has been ratcheting up its mistreatment of Middle Eastern and African refugees even further. One of its first acts was to evict everyone granted asylum from subsidized housing or camps, while also withdrawing all financial aid. In this way, they were flung into a homeless, jobless void — that is, into forced helplessness. Winning asylum is supposed to mean winning international protected status as a refugee, but in Greece it now means the opposite — getting no protection at all.

Then, in June 2021, just before the Taliban took over Afghanistan, the Greek Minister of Migration, Notis Mitarachi, announced that all new arrivals from Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Somalia, and Syria would be denied the chance to apply for asylum and deported to Turkey, which he deemed a “safe third country,” a legal term for a safe haven for asylum seekers. Yet as human rights groups have made clear, Turkey is anything but safe for those in flight from war or persecution. Not only does Turkey refuse to recognize Syrians as refugees, but it never signed onto the part of the U.N. 1951 Refugee Rights declaration banning refoulement, the term used for returning refugees to a country where they may be subjected to persecution. This means that Turkey can legally send refugees back to the nations they fled, no matter what dangers await them there.

Last April 16th, Greece upped its persecution even further by closing the housing it offers vulnerable people, such as victims of torture, trafficking, and rape, and sending them to live in camps where there is no security at all.

None of these policies apply to Ukrainians.

At sea, matters are even worse. The Greek authorities and Frontex, Europe’s border and coast guard agency, have been pushing refugees back out to sea instead of rescuing them. They have left families and children abandoned on flimsy rafts or inflatable boats, or on tiny islands without shelter or food. During the pandemic, Greece and Frontex treated some 40,000 refugees this way, causing at least 2,000 to drown — abuse that’s been well-documented by human rights groups. Yet Greece’s immigration minister has denied that any of this is happening.

No less shocking is the way Greece has criminalized the rescue of refugees at sea. Volunteers who go out to search for and rescue the capsized boats of desperate immigrants are being arrested and charged with human trafficking. Sara Mardini, a Syrian professional swimmer portrayed in Netflix’s new movie The Swimmers, is one of these. If convicted, she faces 20 years in prison.

Hard as it may be to grasp the idea of making it illegal to rescue drowning people, Greece is far from alone in engaging in such behavior. Just this month, Italy, Malta, and Cyprus banded together with that country to call for the European Union (EU) to take measures against civilian sea rescuers. Of course, the train drivers and airplane pilots who brought Ukrainians into the rest of Europe are never similarly targeted.

The Greek government has justified all this unequal mercy with chilling language, declaring Ukrainians “real refugees” and everyone else an “illegal migrant.” In just that spirit, last month, Greek authorities forced Afghans in a camp outside Athens to cede their housing to Ukrainians and instead live in filthy and derelict shipping containers.

That government has long claimed that it is not at fault for treating refugees so badly because it lacks the money and personnel to handle so many of them. But the minute those 21,000 Ukrainians arrived, the same officials suddenly found themselves able to help after all.

Greece is not entirely to blame for such violations of international law, because many of them are underwritten by the EU, which has been pumping money into the country to keep refugees out of Western Europe since 2016. Recently, for example, the EU paid $152 million to the Greek government to build five remote prisons for asylum seekers. I saw the prototype for them on the island of Samos: Camp Zervou, a collection of white metal shipping containers on a bare patch of land in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by a double layer of hurricane fences topped with barbed wire and surveilled by closed-circuit cameras. It is hot, bare, and hideous. Such prisons will not, of course, hold Ukrainians.

Breaking Hearts and Laws

Greece is hardly the only country meting out all this unequal treatment. The persecution of non-white refugees seems to be on the rise not just in countries with far-right governments, but in those previously known for their liberality. Along with this persecution, of course, goes the same sort of racist, anti-immigrant rhetoric Donald Trump (not to speak of the Republican Party as a whole) continues to use about those crossing our own border.

Take the United Kingdom, for example. The new Conservative Party Prime Minister Rishi Sunak just offered France $74 million to increase its border security by 40% with the goal of arresting more “illegal migrants” and smugglers to stop them from crossing the English Channel. (An asylum seeker, by the way, is not an “illegal migrant.” The right to cross borders to seek asylum is enshrined in the 1951 Refugee Convention.) That same $74 million could have been put toward legal and humanitarian services for asylum seekers, helping them find safe ways to apply for protection in either France or the United Kingdom, and so depriving smugglers of business without throwing those refugees into even further danger.

Within France itself, while President Emmanuel Macron quarrels with the British over who is to blame for the rising number of refugees trying to cross the Channel, Jordan Bardella, the new leader of the country’s increasingly popular far-right party, has rested his entire platform on closing France’s borders to “drastically limit” immigration. He has made it clear that he’s talking about Muslims and Africans, not immigrants like his own Italian parents.

Meanwhile, in Italy, Giorgia Maloni, the new right-wing prime minister, has just issued a decree forbidding male refugees from getting off rescue boats or setting even one foot on Italian soil. Similarly, Sweden, once a bastion of progressive ideas, elected a new government this past September that cut its refugee quota from 5,000 people a year to 900, citing the white supremacist trope that non-white, non-Christian refugees will otherwise “replace” traditional Swedes.

I could go on: France, Greece, Italy, Malta, and Spain are fighting over who will (or won’t) take stranded boats of refugees, pushing those desperate seagoers from shore to shore like so much litter. The Danes are sending Syrians back to Syria, even after they’ve lived in Denmark for years. Australia is incarcerating asylum seekers under horrifying conditions in detention centers and on isolated islands. And Britain has locked thousands of refugees in warehouses, passed laws denying them basic services like health care and housing, and tried to implement a policy of forcibly deporting some of them to Rwanda.

Here in the U.S., we’re not doing much better. True, President Biden has managed to curtail some of the worst of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, undoing the former president’s Muslim ban and raising the number of refugees allowed into the country every year, but his efforts have been inconsistent. Just this October, shortly before the Democrats barely held onto the Senate in the midterm elections, he expanded the Trumpian Title 42 border policy to include Venezuelans, who, only a week or so earlier, were being welcomed into the country. That policy uses Covid fears to force asylum seekers to stay in dangerous, sometimes deadly camps in Mexico, while rendering it virtually impossible for them to even apply for, let alone win, asylum in the U.S. (Biden originally promised to do away with Title 42 altogether, but the Supreme Court blocked his effort. After declaring that he would continue the fight, he now appears to have reversed course.)

Ukrainians are, however, exempted from this Mexican purgatory as a way of “recognizing the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine” (to quote the Department of Homeland Security). Some Afghans are similarly exempt, but only those who worked with the U.S. during our devastating 20-year war in their country. Everyone else is kept waiting for months or even years for their asylum decisions, many of them in detention, regardless of the humanitarian crises they also fled.

All the unequal mercies described here are not only breaking hearts, but laws. A little history: In 1948, Eleanor Roosevelt and the newly formed United Nations created the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in reaction to the shocks of the Holocaust and the mistreatment of Jews seeking asylum. Three years later, the U.N. held a convention in Geneva to create a bill of refugee rights, which were ratified into law by 149 nations, including Australia, Britain, Canada, Greece, most of the rest of Europe, and the United States. (Some countries didn’t sign on until 1967.) The idea was to protect the dignity and freedom of human beings everywhere, while never again spurning refugees in the way that had sent so many Jews back to their deaths.

The Geneva Convention defined refugees as people forced to flee their countries because of “a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group” and who “cannot return home or [are] afraid to do so.” It gave them the right to international protection from discrimination and persecution; the right to housing, schooling, and the chance to work for a living; the right not to be criminalized for simply seeking asylum; and, most importantly, the right not to be subjected to refoulement — and be returned to the countries they had fled.

Thanks, in part, to that convention, when people are driven to flee their countries, they head for the safety and dignity they believe they will find in the West, a belief we are now betraying. To rectify this, the EU’s governing arm, the European Commission, must insist that Europe’s unequal treatment of refugees be replaced with humane, accessible processes that apply consistently to all asylum seekers, regardless of where they come from. The same should be done in Australia, Britain, and the United States. After all, the way we treat refugees today speaks volumes not only about how humanitarian we are, but about how we are likely to act in the future when climate change forces ever more people to flee their homes just to stay alive.

On the other hand, should we continue to favor white Christian refugees over everyone else, we will not only shred the promises and values enshrined in our democracies, but fertilize the poison of white supremacy already festering in the very heart of the West.

Why Are Women Still Treated Like Second-Class Soldiers?

Editor's Note: This article is adapted from The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq (Beacon Press).

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The Plight of Women Soldiers

Army specialist Mickiela Montoya was standing silently in the back of a Manhattan classroom while a group of male Iraq war veterans spoke to a small audience about their experiences as soldiers. It was November 2006, and she had been back from Iraq for a year, but was still too insecure to speak out in public. Anyway, the room was full of men, and Montoya had learned that a lot of men aren't much interested in listening to military women.

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Why Soldiers Rape

Editor's note: This article is adapted from "The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq," to be published by Beacon Press in April 2009.

An alarming number of women soldiers are being sexually abused by their comrades-in-arms, both at war and at home. This fact has received a fair amount of attention lately from researchers and the press -- and deservedly so.

But the attention always focuses on the women: where they were when assaulted, their relations with the assailant, the effects on their mental health and careers, whether they are being adequately helped, and so on. That discussion, as valuable as it is, misses a fundamental point. To understand military sexual assault, let alone know how to stop it, we must focus on the perpetrators. We need to ask: Why do soldiers rape?

Rape in civilian life is already unacceptably common. One in six women is raped or sexually assaulted in her lifetime, according to the National Institute of Justice, a number so high it should be considered an epidemic.

In the military, however, the situation is even worse. Rape is almost twice as frequent as it is among civilians, especially in wartime. Soldiers are taught to regard one another as family, so military rape resembles incest. And most of the soldiers who rape are older and of higher rank than their victims, so are taking advantage of their authority to attack the very people they are supposed to protect.

Department of Defense reports show that nearly 90 percent of rape victims in the Army are junior-ranking women, whose average age is 21, while most of the assailants are non-commissioned officers or junior men, whose average age is 28.

This sexual violence persists in spite of strict laws against rape in the military and a concerted Pentagon effort in 2005 to reform procedures for reporting the crime. Unfortunately, neither the press nor the many teams of psychologists and sociologists who study veterans ever seem to ask why.

The answer appears to lie in a confluence of military culture, the psychology of the assailants and the nature of war.

Two seminal studies have examined military culture and its attitudes toward women: one by Duke University Law Professor Madeline Morris in 1996, which was presented in the paper "By Force of Arms: Rape, War, and Military Culture" and published in Duke Law Journal; and the other by University of California professor and folklorist Carol Burke in 2004 and explained in her book, Camp All-American, Hanoi Jane and the High-And-Tight: Gender, Folklore and Changing Military Culture (Beacon Press). Both authors found that military culture is more misogynistic than even many critics of the military would suspect. Sometimes this misogyny stems from competition and sometimes from resentment, but it lies at the root of why soldiers rape.

One recent Iraq War veteran reflected this misogyny when he described his Marine Corp training for a collection of soldiers' works called Warrior Writers, published by Iraq Veterans Against the War in 2008:

The [Drill Instructor's] nightly homiletic speeches, full of an unabashed hatred of women, were part of the second phase of boot camp: the process of rebuilding recruits into Marines.

Morris and Burke both show that military language reveals this "unabashed hatred of women" all the time. Even with a force that is now 14 percent female, and with rules that prohibit drill instructors from using racial epithets and curses, those same instructors still routinely denigrate recruits by calling them "pussy," "girl," "bitch," "lady" and "dyke." The everyday speech of soldiers is still riddled with sexist insults.

Soldiers still openly peruse pornography that humiliates women. (Pornography is officially banned in the military, but is easily available to soldiers through the mail and from civilian sources, and there is a significant correlation between pornography circulation and rape rates, according to Duke's Morris. And military men still sing the misogynist rhymes that have been around for decades. For example, Burke's book cites this Naval Academy chant:

Who can take a chainsaw
Cut the bitch in two

Fuck the bottom half

And give the upper half to you

The message in all these insults is that women have no business trying to be soldiers. In 2007, Sgt. Sarah Scully of the Army's 8th Military Police Brigade wrote to me in an e-mail from Kuwait, where she was serving: "In the Army, any sign that you are a woman means you are automatically ridiculed and treated as inferior."

Army Spc. Mickiela Montoya, who was in Iraq for 11 months from 2005-2006, put it another way: "There are only three things the guys let you be if you're a girl in the military: a bitch, a ho or a dyke. One guy told me he thinks the military sends women over to give the guys eye candy to keep them sane. He told me in Vietnam they had prostitutes, but they don't have those in Iraq, so they have women soldiers instead."

The view of women as sexual prey has always been present in military culture. Indeed, civilian women have been seen as sexual booty for conquering soldiers since the beginning of human history. So, it should come as no surprise that the sexual persecution of female soldiers has been going on in the armed forces for decades.

  • A 2004 study of veterans from Vietnam and all wars since, conducted by psychotherapist Maureen Murdoch and published in the journal Military Medicine, found that 71 percent of the women said they were sexually assaulted or raped while serving.

  • In 2003, a survey of female veterans from Vietnam through the first Gulf War by psychologist Anne Sadler and her colleagues, published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, found that 30 percent said they were raped in the military.

  • And a 1995 study of female veterans of the Gulf and earlier wars, also conducted by Murdoch and published in Archives of Family Medicine, reported that 90 percent had been sexually harassed, which means anything from being pressured for sex to being relentlessly teased and stared at.

  • A 2007 survey by the Department of Veterans Affairs found that homelessness among female veterans is rapidly increasing as women soldiers come back from Iraq and Afghanistan. Forty percent of these homeless female veterans say they were sexually abused while in the service.

    Defense Department numbers are much lower. In Fiscal Year 2007, the Pentagon reported 2,085 sexual assaults among military women, which given that there are about 200,000 active-duty women in the armed forces, is a mere fraction of what the veterans studies indicate. The discrepancy can be explained by the fact that the Pentagon counts only those rapes that soldiers have officially reported.

    Having the courage to report a rape is hard enough for civilians, where unsympathetic police, victim-blaming myths, and the fear of reprisal prevent some 60 percent of rapes from being brought to light, according to a 2005 Department of Justice study.

    But within the military, reporting is much riskier. Platoons are enclosed, hierarchical societies, riddled with gossip, so any woman who reports a sexual assault has little chance of remaining anonymous. She will probably have to face her assailant day after day and put up with resentment and blame from other soldiers who see her as a snitch. She risks being persecuted by her assailant if he is her superior, and punished by any commanders who consider her a troublemaker. And because military culture demands that all soldiers keep their pain and distress to themselves, reporting an assault will make her look weak and cowardly.

    For all these reasons, some 80 percent of military rapes are never reported, as the Pentagon itself acknowledges.

    This widespread misogyny in the military actively encourages a rape culture. It sends the message to men that, no matter how they feel about women, they won't fit in as soldiers unless they prove themselves a "brother" by demeaning and persecuting women at every opportunity. So even though most soldiers are not rapists, and most men do not hate women, in the military even the nicest guys succumb to the pressure to act as if they do.

    Of the 40 or so female veterans I have interviewed over the past two years, all but two said they were constantly sexually harassed by their comrades while they were serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, and many told me that the men were worse in groups than they were individually. Air Force Sgt. Marti Ribeiro, for example, told me that she was relentlessly harassed for all eight years of her service, both in training and during her deployments in 2003 and 2006:

    I ended up waging my own war against an enemy dressed in the same uniform as mine. I had a senior non-commissioned officer harass me on a regular basis. He would constantly quiz me about my sex life, show up at the barracks at odd hours of the night and ask personal questions that no supervisor has a right to ask. I had a colonel sexually harass me in ways I'm too embarrassed to explain. Once my sergeant sat with me at lunch in the chow hall, and he said, 'I feel like I'm in a fish bowl, the way all the men's eyes are boring into your back.' I told him, 'That's what my life is like.'

    Misogyny has always been at the root of sexual violence in the military, but two other factors contribute to it, as well: the type of man who chooses to enter the all-volunteer force and the nature of the Iraq War.

    The economic reasons behind enlistment are well understood. The military is the primary path out of poverty and dead-end jobs for many of the poor in America. What is less discussed is that many soldiers enlist as teenagers to escape troubled or violent homes.

    Two studies of Army and Marine recruits, one conducted in 1996 by psychologists L.N. Rosen and L. Martin, and the other in 2005 by Jessica Wolfe and her colleagues of the Boston Veterans Affairs Health Center, both of which were published in the journal Military Medicine, found that half the male enlistees had been physically abused in childhood, one-sixth had been sexually abused, and 11 percent had experienced both. This is significant because, as psychologists have long known, childhood abuse often turns men into abusers.

    In the '70s, when the women's movement brought general awareness of rape to a peak, three men -- criminologist Menachim Amir and psychologists Nicholas Groth and Gene Abel -- conducted separate but groundbreaking studies of imprisoned rapists. They found that rapists are not motivated by out-of-control lust, as is widely thought, but by a mix of anger, sexual sadism and the need to dominate -- urges that are usually formed in childhood. Therefore, the best way to understand a rapist is to think of him as a torturer who uses sex as a weapon to degrade and destroy his victims. This is just as true of a soldier rapist as it is of a civilian who rapes.

    Nobody has yet proven that abusive men like this seek out the military -- attracted by its violent culture -- but several scholars suspect that this is so, including the aforementioned Morris and Rutgers University law professor Elizabeth L. Hillman, author of a forthcoming paper on sexual violence in the military. Hillman writes, "There is the possibility that the demographics of the all-volunteer force draw more rape-prone men into uniform as compared to civil society."

    Worse, according to the Defense Department's own reports, the military has been exacerbating the problem by granting an increasing number of "moral waivers" to its recruits since 9/11, which means enlisting men with records of domestic and sexual violence.

    Furthermore, the military has an abysmal record when it comes to catching, prosecuting and punishing its rapists. The Pentagon's 2007 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military found that 47 percent of the reported sexual assaults in 2007 were dismissed as unworthy of investigation, and only about 8 percent of the cases went to court-martial, reflecting the difficulty female soldiers have in making themselves heard or believed when they report sexual assault within the military. The majority of assailants were given what the Pentagon calls "nonjudicial punishments, administrative actions and discharges." By contrast, in civilian life, 40 percent of those accused of sex crimes are prosecuted.

    Which brings us to the question: Do the reasons soldiers rape have anything to do with the nature of the wars we are waging today, particularly in Iraq?

    Robert Jay Lifton, a professor of psychiatry who studies war crimes, theorizes that soldiers are particularly prone to commit atrocities in a war of brutal occupation, where the enemy is civilian resistance, the command sanctions torture, and the war is justified by distorted reasoning and obvious lies.

    Thus, many American troops in Iraq have deliberately shot children, raped civilian women and teenagers, tortured prisoners of war, and abused their own comrades because they see no moral justification for the war, and are reduced to nothing but self-loathing, anger, fear and hatred.

    Although these explanations for why soldiers rape are dispiriting, they do at least suggest that the military could institute the following reforms:

    • Promote and honor more women soldiers. The more respect women are shown by the command, the less abuse they will get from their comrades.

    • Teach officers and enlistees that rape is torture and a war crime.

    • Expel men from the military who attack their female comrades.

    • Ban the consumption of pornography.

    • Prohibit the use of sexist language by drill instructors.

    • Educate officers to insist that women be treated with respect.

    • Train military counselors to help male and female soldiers not only with war trauma, but also with childhood abuse and sexual assault.

    • Cease admitting soldiers with backgrounds of domestic or sexual violence.

    And last -- but far from least -- end the war in Iraq.
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