A mother first: Alexis Hutchinson with her 11-month-old son Kamani (left); below, Kamani with his grandmother, Angelique Hughes. (Oakland Tribune photos.)
Her son needs her at home. The Empire demands her services in its war on Afghanistan. Since nobody is able to provide the child with a suitable home while she's away, the mother quite sensibly decided that her first duty was to her child.
So Alexis Hutchinson of Oakland, California, an Army Specialist -- and, what's infinitely more important, a single mother to her11-month-old son, Kamani -- may wind up in prison. Her son, who was kidnapped and briefly detained by Child "Protective" Services -- may wind up in foster care.
Alexis, who (unfortunately) is not a Conscientious Objector and is willing to be deployed abroad, initially left her toddler with her mother Angelique, who was already tending to a sick mother and sister, and caring for a physically handicapped daughter. Thus it's not surprising that Angelique found it impossible to provide adequate care for Kamani as well. So Alexis was left, once again, with the choice of either abandoning her child, or going AWOL.
To her considerable credit, Alexis chose to defy her orders and look after her child.
As Lew Rockwell of the Ludwig von Mises Institute might put it: This is a dilemma only because soldiers in the U.S. Government's "professional" military, unlike employees in practically any other field of work, aren't permitted to change jobs at will.
It's also useful to remember that the employment contract signed by those who enlist in the imperial military is binding only to one party -- the employee -- and can be revised by the employer at will. Alexis' predicament resulted from a moment of bureaucratic whimsy: Initially told that she would be granted an extension to make suitable child care arrangements, she was told at the last moment that this decision had been rescinded and that she was to report for deployment irrespective of her child's needs.
In their demented drive to regiment the world, those at the helm of the all-devouring Leviathan State ruling our country aren't content merely to destroy families in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. In the service of their murderous designs they're more than willing to rip them apart here on the homefront as well.
Alexis Hutchinson is just one of many enlisted mothers -- most of whom joined the military out of economic desperation -- who have seen their families become collateral damage in the Empire's "Long War."
According to a report compiled by the group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, more than 30,000 single mothers have been deployed to those countries since 2001. In what it probably regards as a gesture of sacrificial generosity, the Army permits new mothers to spend four months with their newborn children before returning to the business of killing other peoples' children abroad.
Many enlisted mothers become single parents due to the Army: The divorce rate for female soldiers is triple that experienced by male enlistees. The pressures are particularly acute for those families in which both parents are in the military.
In 1990, shortly before the first phase of the endless Iraq War began, there were an estimated 65,000 single parents in the U.S. military, and -- according to Newsweek -- an even larger number of two-soldier families. By 1998, two-soldier "service couples" accounted for an estimated 140,000 active-duty military personnel.
Most of the two-soldier married couples appear to be part of the National Guard and Reserves, which are bearing the brunt of the prolonged deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. This wasn't the case in either Vietnam or the 1991 Gulf War.
What's really important: With her husband already deployed to Iraq, Army Spec. Simone Holcomb, mother of a blended family of seven children, refused a second tour because it would have meant the destruction of their family.
In late 2003, Army Spec. Simone Holcomb of Colorado Springs, who had already served a tour in Iraq, learned that she was to be deployed there again, this time with her husband Vaughn serving in the war zone as well.
This created an impossible situation for the couple's seven children, two of whom were the husband's by way of a previous marriage.
With both parents scheduled to be sent abroad, Vaughn Holcomb's ex-wife filed for custody of his children. If both Vaughn and Simone obeyed their deployment orders, they would lose not just those two children -- which would be bad enough, of course -- but all of their children, who would be declared wards of the state because of child abandonment.
As Simone's attorney Giorgio Ra'Shadd pointed out, "when mom gets on the plane [for Iraq], they'll be waving goodbye, turning around, and going into the hands of Colorado state troopers or Denver police because there's no one to care for them."
Accordingly, Holcomb -- in order to defend her children from be evil intentions of the government that employed her -- went AWOL. Owing chiefly to PR calculations, the Pentagon backed down, reassigning the medic to stateside duty at Ft. Carson.
Holcomb's dilemma was the product of a policy decision made more than a decade earlier.
In 1992, the first Bush administration, immediately after what it depicted as an unqualified victory, "appointed a commission to study the issue of deploying parents, especially mothers, to war zones," reported the March 9, 2005 Sacramento Bee. "The panel recommended that single parents with preschool-age children not be allowed to deploy in times of armed conflict, and that in two-soldier families, only one of the parents be allowed to go overseas."
That recommendation, notes the Bee, was defeated by the Bush 41 administration:
"In a letter to congressional leaders, then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Colin Powell said that barring single parents, or one parent in a military couple, from war zones would `weaken our combat capability by removing key personnel.... It's important for us to remember that what we are asked to do here in the Department of Defense is to defend the nation. The only reason we exist is to be prepared to fight and win wars. We're not a social welfare agency.'"
Actually, a good case can be made for the proposition that the U.S. military is the nation's largest social welfare agency.
A little more than a decade ago, Allan Carlson of the Howard Center on the Family, Religion, and Society pointed out that each day the military bureaucracy is responsible for the care of "some 200,000 children in some 800 centers, making the Pentagon the nation's largest child care provider."
In words that would thrill any totalitarian social engineer, Maj. Gen. John G. Meyer, Jr., former Commanding General of the U.S. Army's Community and Family Support Center, describes the transaction at the center of the military's child care philosophy: "Supporting the care and development of children is a responsibility the military readily assumes in exchange for the loyalty of their parents in uniform."
Appropriately, Meyer spoke those words in the presence of then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, perhaps the most famous exponent of the view that children are best raised by the State and only incidentally the concern of their parents. As Dr. Carlson points out, the "collectivist tone" of Pentagon rhetoric regarding child care is entirely appropriate:
"Since the first Army Family Action Plan, issued ominously in 1984, the focus has been on dissolving real, autonomous families in the DOD's employ and blending the human parts into `The Total Army Family.' This vaguely totalitarian notion actually assumes the primacy of post-family or non-family bonds. As one Army document explains: `We want soldiers, of all ranks, feeling they belong to a " family".... Building the "family" requires a professional sensitivity toward and caring for one another.'"
As is the case with any other collectivist welfare state, the Total Army Family -- with the State acting as both "breadwinner" and "caregiver" -- is designed to abet early marriage, early divorce, and illegitimacy. An estimated 40 percent of military pregnancies involve unmarried personnel; single mothers qualify for superior housing and medical benefits.
While "it is true that our military social engineers have not quite yet achieved the grand sweep of the Lebensborn program of National Socialist Germany, where state child-care workers tenderly raise the illegitimate offspring of SS troopers," they "have achieved something very close to the family policy goals of Swedish socialism," comments Dr. Carlson. The military has operated as an instrument of social change, "in particular ... eradicating belief in differences between the sexes, and building new family forms under complete control of the state."
Just ten years ago, social conservatives loudly declaimed against putting women into combat roles. Now little if any protest comes from that quarter as single mothers are dispatched to the front, and children are left without parents as "service couples" are sent on simultaneous deployments abroad.
Casualties of a needless war: Jessica Lynch (l.) stands next to single mother Lori Piestewa, who was killed in the ambush in which Lynch was injured and taken prisoner. Below, Piestewa's father Terry holds her daughter Carla (center of photo) while they, with her son Brandon (f.g.) take part in a 2004 memorial.
One of the first casualties of the current Iraq conflict was Private First Class Lori Piestewa, a single mother who was driving the Humvee that was ambushed by Iraqi troops.
Although nowhere near as famous as the woman sitting next to her at the time of the ambush -- Jessica Lynch -- Piestewa meant the world to Brandon and Carla, the two small children she left with their grandmother at Arizona's Hopi Indian reservation.
"Grandma, my mom has been in heaven too long," Carla, at the time three years of age, said a few weeks after her mother was killed. "It's time for her to come home."
With the possible exception of the Battle of Midway, nobody presently among the living can recall a U.S. military conflict that involved the actual defense of the united States. It's difficult to see how a government -- how a country -- capable of sending mothers into combat zones could be considered worthy of defense.
In May 1997, I spent the better part of a week at Ft. Bragg in the company of several friends who were active-duty Green Berets. During my first evening there I stayed up until an obscenely late hour listening as my friends commiserated with each other over the institutional insanity they dealt with every day. One of them made a passing reference to dealing with a female military bureaucrat "in a maternity BDU."
It was my misfortune to be drinking something when mention was made of a "maternity BDU," and the term induced an explosive spit-take.
The following morning I tagged along with one of my friends to an auditorium to attend an "Equal Opportunity" (read: affirmative action) lecture. Midway through that tedious event, a young woman about three rows in front of us wearing what appeared to be a standard-issue BDU stood up and left, apparently in search of the rest room. As she passed I noticed that she was visibly gravid -- easily six or seven months along -- and that her attire had been designed to accommodate the condition of impending motherhood.
Nonplussed, I turned to my friend.
"Is that a maternity BDU?" I asked, astonishment dripping from every syllable. After he wearily nodded in affirmation, I exclaimed, "I thought you made that up."
My friend assured me that his imagination wasn't sufficiently perverse to invent such a thing. And my imagination is inadequate to the task of devising an explanation for the fact that there are people in this country still willing to fight on behalf of the government that rules us.
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Dum spiro, pugno!