Saturday, October 15, 2005

Women at War

Without Reservation

A biweekly column by Karen Kwiatkowski, Ph.D., Lt. Col. USAF (ret.)

posted 14 June 05

Women at War recently spotlighted "Women at War." This eye-opening collection of news reporting reminds us that we have both men and women on foreign battlefields that have "no rear battle areas, no forward line of troops."

Our Congress may debate what constitutes "combat," yet generally agrees that military work in occupying a country, dealing with nationalist insurgencies, and nation-building – whether performed by low-paid servicemembers or contractors at $250K a year – is in fact combat and combat support.

American liberals and neo-conservatives alike often perceive women in combat and combat support positions as a natural extension of the Civil Rights movement, a glowing example of the success of the feminist movement in America.

Interestingly, Christian traditionalists and political conservatives, who typically hold the line on both just war and the proper role of women in society, find themselves presented with a born-again President and a neo-conservative administration that embraces neither.

Images of women dead, dying, and permanently scarred by their battlefield experiences – most recently and most extremely in the American experiments in Iraq and Afghanistan – tend to jar us from our slumber back home. Dreams of an American-sponsored "liberation" are rudely broken when we watch our mothers and sisters buried, or embrace them while trying to ignore their missing limbs or faces.

The ongoing experience of women at war, in particular in Iraq and Afghanistan, should do more than tug at our heartstrings. It should launch new conversations among U.S. citizens and taxpayers.....