Thursday, April 24, 2008

Which party is it that supports the troops?

Some good ole boy GOP Congressman by the name of Paul Broun has decided that the best way he can think of to support the troops is to ban the sales of Playboy and Penthouse on U.S. military bases. Given the fact that the troops seeing combat today probably have less access to women than any expeditionary force in history, this seems like a rather uncharitable proposal.

Better yet, Broun's proposal has caused quite a kerfuffle in GOP circles, pitting libertarians against god-squadders, and bringing to light the difficulty of any simple notion of what it means to "support the troops." Over at the National Review, Lisa Schiffren weighs into this debate by rather sensibly suggesting that people stop kidding themselves about what life is necessarily like in any army capable of effective fighting. But then she closes her post with the following charming anecdote of how the military used to deal with, ahem, male urges back in the good old days of the first Gulf War:
Back in 1991, during Desert Storm, I worked at the Pentagon. I was, at first, taken aback to see routine message traffic cross my desk discussing explicitly the logistical arrangements for "R&R" for the troops. How were the boys at bases in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and how were they going to get action? The problem, I still recall, was that the normal ports of call in nearby Africa were having problems with AIDS, which was still newish. Whichever country was the traditional port was very miffed at losing the business, because those soldiers at the bars and brothels were a big source of hard currency. Almost anywhere in a reasonable distance was under the sway of the mullahs. I bet you're wondering how the military solved this problem. My recollection is a little hazy, since this was something I followed mainly for entertainment (as did my Special Ops colleagues). But I believe the government of Romania made an offer. Eastern Europe was just emerging from the Soviet boot, and a bunch of those countries really wanted the business. Romania was judged to have better resort infrastructure than most. And I also believe that one of the less religious Gulf emirates decided that it would allow a few huge "party ships" to dock just offshore. I suppose we transported our troops to Romania. I don't know who brought the hookers to the ships. Everyone winked and nodded, and the troops carried on.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In 1917, while America was rolling up red light districts near military bases, the French had thriving legalized houses of prostitution to service their troops. Secretary of War Newton Baker heard about this and remarked, "Don't tell Wilson. He'd cancel the war."