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Author: TriSec    Date: 06/12/2018 09:54:03

Good Morning.

Since I'm a day late and a dollar short here in the AAV offices, I was reading the Sunday Globe yesterday afternoon. I ran across an interesting take on the role of the military in modern society.

Consider for a moment the ongoing schism between red and blue states. I don't think we can call it an ideological divide anymore - this is becoming a vast fissure dividing communities, families, and businesses. Reversing the trend seems to be beyond the efforts of mere citizens like you and me.

But consider this - one aspect of America that has remained integrated, progressive, and indeed purple and unified has been the military. (The Globe has a rather impressive paywall - your access may vary.)

THE UNITED STATES of the early 20th century was a nation stewing in bigotry.

In the South, lynch mobs enforced a dehumanizing racial caste system. Black people who escaped to the North as a part of the “Great Migration” confronted another kind of racial animus. And waves of immigration from new parts of Europe and Asia only added to Anglo America’s anxiety — layering an ugly nativism on top of the country’s white-black tensions.

But then, World War I arrived. And the country was forced to sideline the hate — at least for a time. An army of millions had to be raised. Quickly. And it couldn’t be assembled without substantial numbers of African Americans and immigrants.

“It was in this crisis,” writes Richard Slotkin, author of “Lost Battalions: The Great War and the Crisis of American Nationality,” “that American leaders rediscovered the ideals of civil equality.”

The Committee on Public Information declared the country a “vast, polyglot community” that aspired to something “higher than race loyalty, transcend[ing] mere ethnic prejudices, more binding than the call of a common ancestry.” And some 350,000 black soldiers went on to serve with the American Expeditionary Forces in France.

Those soldiers faced discrimination on the battlefield. And their service hardly meant the end of racial strife at home. Competition for jobs and housing among returning veterans led to a series of race riots in the “Red Summer” of 1919 that left hundreds of blacks dead.

But the war, as Slotkin writes, aroused an activist spirit among minority groups, who pressed for an end to Jim Crow and challenged the real estate “covenants” that locked Jews and other ethnic groups out of the most desirable neighborhoods.

After World War II, President Truman moved to racially integrate the armed forces in 1948. And while the military responded slowly — there were still segregated units at the start of the Korean War — it did integrate, in time.

Generations of black people and white people worked in close proximity. And over time, a quiet revolution in race relations took hold. Enmity between black and white didn’t disappear entirely. Far from it. But it dissipated. And the military moved closer to racial equality than, perhaps, any major institution in American life.

The late Northwestern University military sociologist Charles Moskos may have distilled it best: The military, he used to say, is the one place in American society where black people routinely boss white people around.

RACE, OF COURSE, is different from region.

And it’s hard to pin down what we mean, even, when we talk about the divide between the “South” and the “Northeast,” says Meredith Kleykamp, a University of Maryland sociologist who studies the military.

But, she suggests, we seem to be talking about politics and class. The South is more conservative and blue-collar, the Northeast more progressive and better-off.

Nothing that happens in the military is going to change that basic dynamic; no one expects anything like the flattening of racial hierarchies that’s occurred in the barracks and on the front lines.

What’s required — what’s already happening on a small scale — is something far more modest. The day-to-day, humanizing chatter of co-workers. The red state-blue state banter that happens almost nowhere else in the country.

Except - we have probably already passed "peak military" in that regard. A pinnacle of sorts was reached under the previous administration, and because anything with Obama's name on it must be destroyed, the current office holder is diligently working to undo everything that was achieved. Only time will tell what direction this will go.

Of course, the news of the day is the dictator's meeting in Singapore. At previous summits, there was often an uneasy tension between our president and our enemy. President Reagan previously seemed to achieve a level of familiarity with the Soviet Premiere that had long-term repercussions for that regime, still yet to be resolved. It's unclear what the "special bond" reported here will achieve.

Singapore (CNN) Nearly five hours of unprecedented and surreal talks between US President Donald Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un culminated on Tuesday with fulsome declarations of a new friendship but just vague pledges of nuclear disarmament.

"We both want to do something. We both are going to do something. And we have developed a very special bond. So, people are going to be very impressed. People are going to be very happy," Trump said at the conclusion of the landmark summit during a formal ceremony.

The document he and Kim signed said the North Korean leader "reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula." In exchange, Trump agreed to "provide security guarantees" to North Korea.

But there was no mentioning the previous US aim of "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization." And Kim's commitments did not appear to go beyond what he already pledged to do in April when he met South Korean President Moon Jae-in along their countries' border.

Tuesday's summit was the result of an extraordinary gamble for both Trump and Kim, the rogue kingdom's despotic leader. Trump hailed the talks as a historic, and personal, achievement.

"We learned a lot about each other and our countries," Trump said after sitting next to Kim and signing the document, which was bound in a leather binder. "I learned he's a very talented man."

He said he would "absolutely" extend an invitation to the White House to Kim, who also heralded a new era.

"Today, we had a historic meeting and decided to leave the past behind," Kim said through a translator. "The world will see a major change."

Later, during a solo news conference after the summit, Trump said he does indeed "trust" Kim.

"I do," he said when asked by CNN's Jim Acosta if he trusts Kim. "I do. I think he wants to get it done."

Trump also said during the news event that the United States will stop the "war games," an apparent reference to joint military exercises with South Korea that North Korea has long rebuked as provocative.

Trump also said he hopes to eventually withdraw US forces from South Korea, but said "that's not part of the equation right now."

"I want to get our soldiers out. I want to bring our soldiers back home," Trump said. "But that's not part of the equation right now. I hope it will be eventually."

Trump also said ending the "war games" would save the United States "a tremendous amount of money."

And indeed - it is always about money, isn't it? I'm no diplomat, but my reading the vagueness of this agreement, it seems to me that North Korea got everything it wanted, while we (and South Korea) got nothing. That President of ours is a terrific deal-maker, isn't he?

And now turning to our veterans today, we sometimes have the illusion of "one big happy family" within the military. (So to speak - hear me out.) Soldier, Sailor, Airman, or Marine - they should all be the same, despite the specialties of their branch of service. Except, they're not. I was somewhat astonished to read the following story, but if you remember the virtual takeover of the Air Force Academy by Evangelical Christians, this story probably isn't really that surprising after all.

If the policy were different, Lt. Jones might be transferring to the U.S. Air Force now, knowing the service is short on pilots.

But Jones, who has served in the Navy since 2010, will extend his career there instead of joining the Air Force Reserve. The reason? The Air Force does not allow its pilots to take a popular medication designed to prevent HIV infection. The Navy does.

Critics say the Air Force's policy represents an overly conservative approach that borders on homophobia, since the medication is commonly used by gay, sexually active individuals. Meanwhile, Air Force leaders say they need time to rewrite older policies.

While airmen who have been denied a prescription see the move as the Air Force indicting them under the assumption they are living a promiscuous lifestyle not in keeping with service values, Air Force officials say current policy is based on safety concerns.

Jones, an E-2 Hawkeye pilot who asked that his first name not be published for privacy reasons, doesn't have human immunodeficiency virus, but the pill -- commonly known as Truvada and used as a pre-exposure prophylaxis treatment (PrEP) to reduce the risk of HIV -- is banned in the Air Force for those who fly.

For Jones and others who spoke with Military.com, it's become a choice between maintaining a safe and healthy lifestyle and fearing the worst; choosing between their well-being and their careers. It's an impossible choice for many, and these service members hope they will not be forced to make it for long.

The Air Force may make a decision for its rated community to use PrEP this fall, officials recently told Military.com.

In the meantime, the stakes remain high. One pilot said his career was brought to an end over his use of PrEP. Others say they were shamed or subjected to intrusive questions by health care providers over their pursuit of the drug.

"I've weighed my options," said Jones. "In the Navy, my prescription is already taken care of and I have that established. If I go Air Force ... I'm not willing to put my safety or my health at risk if they're ignorant to something that's actually really beneficial for a lot of people."


15 comments (Latest Comment: 06/12/2018 21:00:22 by livingonli)
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