BUZZSAW WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR? MARCH 2011
Combat Consumerism Militarization in your everyday life
From Sea to Shining Sea U.S. military bases abroad
War Games Beyond G.I. Joes
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BUZZSAW : The Militarization Issue
Buzzsaw presents... The Militarization Issue Whether you are in uniform, in politics, in protests or in blissful ignorance of war, you are militarized. Militarization is the process by which the military and war-related themes come to dominate a society. The effects of militarization are often so prevalent that they can be difficult to see unless you take a conscious step back. This special issue of Buzzsaw, in addition to the corresponding event series, is meant to encourage people to critically examine militarization in their everyday lives. It’s been 50 years since Dwight Eisenhower coined the term “military-industrial complex” in his farewell address. In part of his famous speech, he said, “We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.” We at Buzzsaw think that Ike was a bit of a prophet, even if his administration’s policies are partially responsible for our current situation. Much of the militarization we experience every day has become normalized and, contrary to his warning, taken for granted. Buzzsaw had a similar issue five years ago, called “War is Complex,” but even a few years have brought about drastic changes in the ways citizens experience and interact with the effects of the military. The people of the United States are increasingly involved in wars, but at the same time, most citizens continue to become increasingly detached from those same wars (see “The American Population is Disconnected From War”). The past five decades have seen the unprecedented expansion of military spending and activities. The United States has troops around the world, both waging a new form of warfare and serving as a permanent presence in “peacetime” countries (see Jacquie Simone’s article, “Overseas Base Overload”). Meanwhile, the mainstream media largely ignores anti-war protests, as explained in Alyssa Figueroa’s article, “Passing on Pacifists.” The military’s heightened role in society has translated into repercussions for gender politics, as many women in the military endure sexual assault during their service (“The Battle Behind the Barracks,” by Hayleigh Gowans). Militarization is even evident in less political aspects of culture. From children’s toys to video games to movies, Americans have had a longtime fascination with war entertainment. Children are being exposed to war themes early on through their popular toys, as examined in Karen Muller’s article, “Operation Toybox.” Films also have significant links to militarization—in fact, the interview with author David Robb shows that the Pentagon sometimes plays a role in assisting and editing blockbusters. In these ways and more, even seemingly innocuous entertainment shapes the ways we view war. Journalism is supposed to stir debates among “an alert and knowledgeable citizenry” and stimulate a questioning of accepted ideas. This issue is not necessarily a call to action, but we hope it is a call to active thinking. - The Editors
News & Views Upfront Ministry of Cool Prose & Cons Sawdust Layout Art Website SeeSaw Production
Jacquie Simone Adam Polaski Alyssa Figueroa Carly Sitzer Emily Miles David Lurvey Chris Giblin Lucy Ravich Anika Steppe Emily Miles David Lurvey Andrew Rivard Zachary Anderson, Dylan Van Arsdale, Kristina Korpus, Danny Gessner, Karen Muller, Sarah Parker, Marc Phillips, Quinton Saxby, Carly Smith, Abby Sophir, A. Maureen Tant, Francesca Toscano Jeff Cohen Abby Bertumen Kelly Burdick Bryan Chambala Sam Costello Thom Denick Cole Louison James Sigman
Buzzsaw is published with support from Campus Progress / Center for American Progress (online at CampusProgress.org). Buzzsaw is also funded by the Ithaca College Student Government Association and the Park School of Communications. Our Press is our press. (Binghamton, NY) Buzzsaw uses student-generated art and photography and royalty-free images. Views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of the editorial staff or of Ithaca College. Feedback and contributions should be sent to email@example.com. Front & back cover by Anika Steppe Center spread by Zachary Anderson Upfront divider by Justine Griffin Ministry of Cool divider by Colleen Cunha Prose & Cons divider by Katie Shaw Sawdust divider by Jon Schuta
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Image by Anika Steppe
check us out at: WWW.BUZZSAWMAG.ORG
WRITE US Our magazine exists to inspire thoughtful debate and open up the channels through which information is shared. Your comments and feedback are all a part of this process. Reach the editors by e-mail at:
Table of Contents Image by Justyne Griffin
News & Views ...............................4 Current events, local news & quasi-educated opinions.
Upfront ..........................................6 Selected dis-education of the month..
Ministry.of.Cool............................32 Arts, entertainment and other things cooler than us.
Prose & Cons ...............................48 Short fiction, personal essay and other assorted lies.
Sawdust .......................................50 Threatening the magazine’s credibility since 1856.
> Small Soldiers on the Small Screen by Alexa D’Angelo A look at the implications of the constant violence in children’s shows on today’s youth.
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> From Soldier to Civilian by Adam Polaski A soldier’s struggle to transition out of the military and resist the urge to fight > *As always check out Ministry of Cool’s blog The Cool, which will feature special theme-related cover such as Isabel Braverman’s post on protest music then and now and Maureen Tant’s analysis on war movies.
> Revolution 2.0 by Mimi Niggel An inside look at the role that social media has played in the recent uprisings in the Middle East.
> Finding Peace After War by Megan Devlin The role of veterans support centers in post-war life
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50 Years of the Military-Industrial Complex
We now stand 10 years past the midpoint of a century that has witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved our own country. Despite these holocausts, America is today the strongest , the most influential and most productive nation in the world... Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense. We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence—economic, political, even spiritual—is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex . The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together...
BUZZSAW : The Militarization Issue
As one who has witnessed the and the lingering sadness of war, as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years, I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.
Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made.
But so much remains to be done...
-Dwight D. Eisenhower Farwell Address, January 17, 1961
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U.S. Federal Budget Discretionary Spending Fiscal Year 2011 :
Compiled by Jacquie Simone
Source: National Priorties Project
llllllllll RRRRRR llllllllll llllllllll llllllllll ccccc llllllllll llllllll 58% health: 5%
Obamaâ€™s Proposed Budget
Environment, Energy and Science: 6%
Income Security and Labor: 2%
$553 billion International Affairs: 4%
> for defense, not including wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
Source: Center for Responsive Politics
> for Iraq
Total Amount Defense Industry Lobbyists Spent in 2010
$1 Trillion $$$$$$$$$
> for Afganistan
Projected Annual Defense and Security costs by 2030 given current rate of increase
> for Education
Active members of the U.S. armed forces
1.4 Million Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
$8 billion > For Clean Energy Research Source: National Priorities Project
Biggest 2009 military spenders, in b i l l i o n s of U.S. dollars : Source: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
United States $661 billion
France: $63.9 billion
News & Views
Russia: $53.3 billion
China: $100 billion
U.K. $58.3 billion
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BUZZSAW : The Militarization Issue
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It Keeps Going, and Going, and Going How the war in Afghanistan is designed to be perpetual By Isabel Braverman
an enemy. It cannot be defeated. It’s a tactic. It’s about as sensible to say we declare war on night attacks and expect we’re going to win that war. We’re not going to win the war on terrorism.” Odem’s words of discouragement were not enough to dissuade political leaders from going to war. Solomon said that what happened on 9/11 was used as a “license to kill for the U.S. military in the perpetuity of Afghanistan.” But it’s not so much Afghanistan that is the problem—it’s American politics. The government gets us to believe that war is necessary. They do this by saying that we can’t just withdraw and end the war because we are needed there, and we trust that Congress will stop it if the war is wrong. They also tell us it’s not about capital gain but human rights—our soldiers are noble, and the other soldiers are bad. President George W. Bush made us believe going to Afghanistan was justified by repeatedly using his favorite word, “evil,” to describe the terrorists responsible for 9/11. In a time of war, a nation is united against a common enemy. The government uses war to boost support and consumerism. It instills a fear that makes us buy, buy, buy and listen to those in power. Government’s partnerin-crime, the media, hold similar responsibility for this shaping of patriotism and consumerism. “[Media] is the central part of the war effort—any war effort,” Solomon said. “Especially in a country with important elements of democracy, it’s necessary to persuade a significant number of
people that a war is justified.” But what is justified about the War on Terror when the budget is going to military efforts and not humanitarian aid? It’s self-justifying in making people believe it is going on for so long because our presence there is necessary. The Obama administration, hoping to keep its promises, has given certain dates that are just as vague as the war. We are told that 5,000 to 10,000 troops will be withdrawn in July 2011, but it seems the more likely year is 2014. “This is a long-term war. Because of the war mentality and all those forces, it seems like it could continue. It will take a lot of force and a lot of people to reframe the options in Afghanistan,” Solomon said. “There needs to be changed discourse of policy in the United States because yes, it’s about Afghanistan, but even more, it’s about U.S. domestic politics.” ____________________________________ Isabel Braverman is a junior journalism major who wished it was true that nothing lasts forever. E-mail her at ibraver1@ ithaca.edu.
It’s not a matter of whether the war is real or not: Victory is not possible. The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous.” This quote appears at the end of Fahrenheit 9/11, and although Michael Moore mistakenly attributed it to George Orwell, it has an eerie significance in our world. It says that we are in a state of perpetual war, suggesting that the idea is to keep people inspired to reach a goal that cannot be attained. Despite Moore’s mistake, the quotation holds a decidedly Orwellian message. In Orwell’s book 1984, three nations are constantly at war. Replace Oceania with America, Eurasia with Afghanistan and Eastasia with Pakistan, and you’ve got yourself another literary classic. The thing is, this story doesn’t just describe a fictional scenario: It’s real. The first step in understanding why we have perpetual war is to understand what it is. Put simply, it is a war that seemingly has no end. Norman Solomon, author and filmmaker of War Made Easy, defines it as “war with no end on the horizon. It’s a mindset, and a state of mind, and a state of the state.” In our current state of warfare in Afghanistan, there can be no plausible or foreseeable victory. Even the name itself, “War on Terror,” is vague. It suggests reaching a place of victory to avenge the crimes of 9/11 when victory is unattainable. But what is the so-called terror we are fighting? It is only through understanding that we can move forward. That brings up the question hanging over the head of every American: Where are we going with this conflict? Even after nine years of war, political leaders are still not sure. Despite this, some leaders seemed to know what they were getting themselves into before invading Afghanistan. According to Soloman’s article “Why Are We Still at War?,” in November 2002, a little more than a year after 9/11 and in the beginning stages of the war, retired U.S. Army Gen. William Odem said, “Terrorism is not
Image by Sam Pinto
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Standing at Attention
A day in the life of a West Point cadet By Abby Sophir
The sun is still hidden behind the rolling hills of West Point, N.Y. when sophomore Cadet Patrick Collins’ alarm sounds. His room is simple and standard. Uniform furniture—beds, desks and a washstand—sit on a cold, tile floor. Two closets built into white walls display identical wardrobes. Personal possessions are, for the most part, stored under the beds, hidden from sight. Without having to think, he pulls on a pair of thick, grey pants. He buttons a black, short-sleeved shirt and neatly tucks it in—the uniform of the day.
The Plebes are back at attention. They count down the minutes—five, four, three, two—until formation. The Corps of Cadets, or student body, runs on Plebe minutes.
An orderly ocean of cadets covers the concrete quad that is overlooked by the barracks. “We have formations before
breakfast and lunch five days a week,” Patrick says. “Basically, they are to take accountability. It’s to make sure everyone is going to the meals, everyone’s showing up, people aren’t skipping out.” He lines up in his 10-person squad. Four squads make up a platoon, and four platoons form a company. “There’s eight companies in a regiment. Once everyone is standing there, the regiment gets called to attention,” Patrick says. From there, all regiments, approximately 4,550 cadets, file into one titanic, Hogwarts-like mess hall. He sits down at an assigned table of 10. “You’re put at your meal table within your company, and typically you’re going to sit at that table for at least half a semester to a full semester,” Patrick says. “It encourages you to really get to know
BUZZSAW : The Militarization Issue
Freshmen, known as “Plebes” at the military academy, line the barrack hallways. They come to attention in unison to inform the sophomores (“Yuks”), juniors
(“Cows”) and seniors (“Firsties”), still in their rooms, that breakfast formation will take place in precisely 10 minutes. They return to standing quietly along the wall. Before breakfast formation, Patrick makes his bed, clears the clutter from his desk and arranges his books into height-descending order from left to right on the shelf. Room inspections occur daily.
Image by Anika Steppe
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the people you live and go to school with. You get to meet new cadets by sitting down with them twice a day and sharing a meal.” The meal is served family-style. Plebes at the table are responsible for pouring drinks, announcing the menu for the meal and cutting the dessert into the correct number of slices. A large tray of food brought to the table by waiters and waitresses is passed around from youngest to oldest. Nobody eats until everyone has been served. “Some tables choose to be hot, and some choose to be more relaxed, but there’s always entertainment, whether it’s people giving off movie quotes or telling jokes,” Patrick says. “When you do it twice a day, every day, it’s easy to get used to the family-style meal. But meals in the mess hall are definitely a special experience.”
He takes a seat in Advanced International Relations, his first class of the day. The morning schedule is made up of four 55-minute blocks. He, like all other cadets, will graduate with a Bachelors of Science in a major of his choice and will have a required, extensive core curriculum under his belt.
After an exhausting practice, he picks up dinner from the mess hall before heading back to his room. Back in the company area, where all cadets from his company reside, he changes out of a worn-in uniform into other issued clothing. After a full day of classes and athletics, he sits down at his tidy desk to begin doing homework. Life at West Point is tedious. Of his original class of around 1,300 cadets, between 20 and 25 percent will drop out before their four years are over. Weekends offer a break from the hectic workweek but are far from the typical college experience. “Plebes don’t really get out that much. They get one to three passes
per semester when they get to leave campus after class on Friday and come back Sunday night. Basically, Plebe year sucks. And every year after that sucks a little bit less,” he says, laughing. Each year at the Academy, cadets get more passes and privileges. By senior year, he will be allowed to have a car and leave any weekend. On campus, alcohol is strongly prohibited in the barracks. Juniors and seniors who are 21 or older are allowed to drink in designated areas on campus and anywhere off campus. Freshmen and sophomores, no matter their age, may not drink within several miles. “Weekends when you’re not on pass, they’re fairly quiet. People go work out, go hang out and watch movies with their buddies, stuff like that,” Collins says. “I know at normal colleges people make lifelong friends, but I don’t think you get nearly the same intimacy or closeness at other schools that you get here—the struggles that you go through together academically and physically, the challenges that you have to meet.” Not only are most cadets forced to spend most weekends at the Academy, but they are required to attend military training in the summers as well. All incoming cadets attend Cadet Basic Training, nicknamed “Beast” for the physical and mental toughness it demands. Their second summer at the Academy, everyone goes to Cadet Field Training at Camp Buckner. This summer, Patrick will spend time shadowing a second lieutenant at Fort Bliss, Texas. “People typically get one and a half to two weeks minimum of vacation, but nobody’s gonna get more than three weeks,” Patrick says. “Even when it’s summertime, there’s a lot of training to be done.”
He crashes in bed. His room might be simple and standard, but a day in the life of a West Point cadet is anything but. _______________________________ Abby Sophir is a freshman televisionradio major. E-mail her at gsophir1@ ithaca.edu.
Patrick is back in formation, ready for lunch. After another family-style meal, he has an hour break before heading to afternoon classes. “Although the curriculum is really challenging and it requires a lot of credit hours, there’s nothing like the classroom experience at the Academy,” Patrick says. In a normal semester, cadets take around 20 credit hours. This semester he is taking a “light load,” with only 17.5. “In terms of the workload here at school, they definitely do a great job of giving you more work than you have time to do,” Patrick says. “A big thing here is time management and having the ability to prioritize. You can’t get everything done that they ask of you on a daily basis.”
He heads to the locker room for rugby practice. Daily practices last three to four hours. Although rugby is a club sport, not a varsity sport, the team is highly competitive and is currently ranked fourth in the nation. Unlike at most colleges, the lasting ramifications of athletics are significant. “Coaches of intramural and competitive-level teams assign physical grades for the semester,” Patrick says. “Those physical scores go into your physical grade that’s part of your class rank.” His tone becomes solemn as he discusses class rank, a constant stressor for cadets. It is made up of three categories: academic, military and physical, weighted in that order. Upon graduation from West Point, all cadets are commissioned as second lieutenants in the U.S. Army and must serve a five-year active duty commitment. “First semester of senior year, you pick your branch—what kind of service you’re going to be doing when you graduate,” he says. “Second semester you pick your post—where you’re going to be serving. Both branch choices and post choices are selected in order of class rank.” “So yes, class rank is very important here,” he reiterates for emphasis.
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Covert Culture Studies How the Human Terrain System challenges tenets of anthropology By Jenni Zellner or the past five years, the Human Terrain System has been employing anthropologists and sending them to Middle Eastern countries in order to obtain information about the countries’ peoples that could be valuable to the military. According to the program’s official website, the HTS program employs anthropologists with the purpose of “improv[ing] the understanding of the local population and apply[ing] this understanding to the Military Decision-Making Process.” Anthropology is built on a foundation of respect for different cultures and is purely for the use of learning and understanding cultural diversity. Using anthropologists to collect information for government purposes violates two basic tenets of anthropology: transparency and peaceful interaction. However, the HTS program also begs the question—can the rules of professional ethics be bent in times of strife? Is it acceptable to toy with the lines of right and wrong for the greater purpose of protecting one’s country and bringing peace? Although representatives of the HTS program agreed to give more information regarding their program, when presented with these questions, they did not maintain contact. While some may think these codes can be demoted to guidelines, anthropologist Megan Callaghan, a professor at Bard College, disagrees. “The American Anthropological Association [AAA] … has a Code of Ethics that includes voluntary informed consent and a commitment to do no harm to research participants,” she said. “It’s difficult to see how an anthropologist involved in Human Terrain System could obtain informed consent. How can you be confident that individuals perceive participation as voluntary when you are acting on behalf of the military in the middle of a war? This is probably the most
fundamental problem of HTS in terms of disciplinary ethics.” Voluntary informed consent means that the subjects of an anthropological study have been informed of the study and do not object to their actions or statements being recorded. If anthropologists are instructed to conceal their true purpose, they are in violation of the AAA’s ethical codes and, as a result, are essentially special government agents. “At a minimum, anthropological research must fulfill the requirements of the Institutional Review Board,” Callaghan explained. “Generally speaking, you have to demonstrate that you have thought carefully about the kinds of risk your project might entail, that you will take
brigade.” The HTS website gives a detailed breakdown of the members of each “team,” which includes a mix of military and civilian personnel. Each nine-person team consists of a leader, two social scientists, three research managers and three human terrain analysts who are particularly knowledgeable about the location. Anthropologists are issued military weapons before entering the country they plan to study. By providing the teams with weapons, the anthropologists’ promise to uphold peace is as good as broken. If anthropologists are violating their own regulations for their field, are they really practicing anthropology? While the HTS website gives an extensive list of the duties of each individual, not a single member seems to be in charge of maintaining peace or respect for the subjects, nor is there any kind of overarching implication that peace is valuable to the HTS teams. Despite its anthropological violations, it is important to recognize HTS’ positive aspects. To make contact with foreign parties, it is necessary and respectful to be educated in their culture. This is a key point of the HTS program. However, if the HTS program chooses to use the information they gather against Middle Eastern peoples, then any merit the program has is lost. In order for the HTS program to be perceived in positive light, it is important for them to convey how the information they collect is being used and whether or not it is for any unethical purpose. Otherwise, to secretly survey a group of peoples without their consent and at their own expense, and subsequently call it anthropology, is without a doubt unjustified and wrong. ____________________________________ Jenni Zellner is a sophomore English and anthropology major who wears her notebook on her sleeve. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BUZZSAW : The Militarization Issue
It’s difficult to see how an anthropologist involved in Human Terrain System could obtain informed consent. How can you be confident that individuals perceive participation as voluntary when you are acting on behalf of the military in the middle of a war? - Megan Callaghan measures to minimize risk when possible and appropriate, and that you will clearly communicate risks to potential participants so they can decide whether or not they want to be included in your research.” But these risks have not been conveyed to the subjects in the HTS program, who may not even be aware they are being studied. Anthropologists who participate in the HTS program are put through extensive training before entering the field. According to the HTS website, “All HTS deployable personnel train in Leavenworth, Kan. Baseline training for deploying personnel consists of approximately four and a half months of instruction on the subjects, like area-specific orientation training, field research methods and techniques, military staff planning and procedures, and MAP-HT Toolkit use. Training culminates in a capstone exercise intended to simulate how HTTs plan and operate in support of a deployed
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Buying Into War How our daily consumer choices are linked to the military By John Vogan
abandon all material possessions. There are more practical ways of dealing with the matter. First, there’s the age-old philosophy of buying local whenever possible. Nick Turse, the author of The Complex: How the Military Invades Our Everyday Lives, suggests approaching the challenge from both ends of the spectrum—giving up commodities that may come from the largest war profiteers, as well as from the smallest companies, which draw relatively small portions of their profit from the military. Because their customer bases aren’t quite as massive, these smaller companies would be especially sensitive to protests such as boycotts and letter writing campaigns. “Aside from supporting businesses locally, the best answer is just refusing to participate in war,” Murphy added, asserting that people should be fully aware of the numerous effects of the military. Perhaps t h e
most effective approach to ending the complex is the most direct one: a widespread public outcry denouncing such aggressive military action in the first place. If a majority of Americans make it clear that they do not want their military acting above and beyond what seems reasonably necessary, the Department of Defense would have no choice but to scale back on military operations, which would therefore lessen the need for supplies from companies. Only then can you enjoy your cereal guilt-free. _____________________________________ John Vogan is a freshman journalism major who loves Cheerios but hates war. E-mail him at email@example.com.
Hartung raised several crucial concerns the country is currently facing, including an inflated defense budget being allocated to an industry that has become densely concentrated among only a few major arms and technology companies. “We used to have a separate firm called Lockheed, we had Boeing ... Martin Air, McDonnell, Douglas, Rockwell,” Hartung said. “Those are now two companies: Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The concentration of the ‘90s ... has given us a smaller number of firms chasing a bigger pie.” Many people expect large weapons contracts. On Feb. 22, for example, Boeing was awarded two contracts in the same day—one for $5.7 million and the other for $20.5 million. The situation is further complicated, however, when even seemingly non-military companies, like food businesses, also receive military contracts. This makes it more difficult to avoid the reach of the military in everyday life. “It’s all about business,” said Jim Murphy, who coordinates Chapter 38 of Veterans for Peace in Ithaca, warning that war has become lucrative for many companies. Part of the reason for this profit motive is that politicians are becoming more closely connected to private businesses. Murphy points out that political figures are often prompted to make concessions for companies that perpetuate the complex, particularly those who give sizable campaign contributions, in order to safeguard their own self-interest. So what are the solutions? The military comprises thousands and thousands of serving soldiers with basic needs. Should we be blaming and targeting these companies simply for providing the same necessities to serving men and women of the military as the rest of us? Even if we were to blame these companies for their military affiliations, it would be impossible to boycott them all. That’s not to say you should
Image by Georgie Morley
s the military-industrial complex continues to grow, even a bowl of cereal is militarized. General Mills, the maker of cereals like Cinnamon Toast Crunch, profited $930 million from 2005 to 2009 through the Department of Defense. If you use Land O’Lakes milk on that cereal, you’re supporting a company that received $79 million from the DoD. The list continues: Hormel Natural Choice Meat ($179 million from the DoD) and Sara Lee bread ($68 million from the DoD in 2006 alone). American consumers are linked to the military in hundreds, if not thousands, of ways. With more than 700 U.S. military bases worldwide and roughly a quarter million deployed military personnel, it’s easy to understand why the Department of Defense must rely so heavily on companies that also dominate civilian life. If they can adequately provide for 300 million American consumers, it makes sense that they would also be called upon to provide food and supplies for those serving overseas. As a result, the lines between private companies and the military are increasingly blurred. Every day at 5 p.m., the DoD website announces approximately 10 new contracts that have been awarded to companies, each valued at $5 million or more. Contracts under $5 million are not announced on the website, so the actual number of contracts is difficult to ascertain. Virtually no one is exempt from an indirect association with the military. Even at Ithaca College, where a majority of students are liberal and hold pacifist views, there is an ATM for HSBC, which ranks No. 16 out of “The 25 Most Vicious Iraq War Profiteers” on businesspundit.com. After the fall of Sadaam Hussein in 2003, HSBC took control of 70 percent of the newly created Iraqi national bank, which generated $91 million in assets. William D. Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation, focuses specifically on problems of the militaryindustrial complex. Hartung spoke in early January at the organization’s forum, “The Military-Industrial Complex Revisted: Eisenhower’s Warning 50 Years Later.” During the discussion,
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Lone Rangers on the Front Lines
Journalists balance access and freedom in war reporting By Gena Mangiaratti hen Hart Seely, reporter for the Syracuse Post-Standard, traveled to Iraq in the fall of 2005 as an embedded reporter with the U.S. Army’s 1-71 Cavalry, his days were totally immersed in the lives of the troops. He got up with them, ate with them, rode with them on convoys through the streets of Baghdad. They did their best to keep him out of the line of fire. At the end of each day, after the soldiers had gone to bed, Seely stayed up past midnight to write the story of everything he had seen—and file it by 5, 6 or 7 p.m. Syracuse time. As with all soldiers and embedded reporters, Seely wore extensive body armor for protection that included a bulletproof vest, a helmet and goggles. There were moments when he faced close to as much danger as the soldiers. He recalls riding through the streets of Baghdad and seeing an improvised explosive device (IED) that had gone off, leaking. “When those things go off, it doesn’t matter whether you’re a reporter or anybody else,” Seely said. From Operation Desert Storm in 1991 up through the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, journalists covering the war from press pools were limited to daily military briefings. According to Maj. Chris Perrine, a Pentagon spokesman, after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Pentagon began embedding journalists with military units following a long effort to get as much information to the American public as quickly as possible. The Department of Defense documents state embedded reporters live and travel alongside the military in order to provide “in-depth coverage of U.S. forces in combat and related operations.” Seely was with the troops when, after searching a house in an Iraqi neighborhood, shots were fired at their convoy. He remembers the biggest member of the troops yelling one word: “Run.” He ran until the men got him safely back in their truck. They told him not to come out. The troop commander
BUZZSAW : The Militarization Issue
told him that the men were to under no circumstances let anything happen to him or the photographer, the Syracuse Post-Standard’s Li-Hua Lan. Too Close, Too Far Away Upon return to Syracuse, Seely faced the constant question from others: “What do the Iraqis think of the war?” He said he couldn’t begin to answer this question, as traveling alongside U.S. military members made it difficult to gather information from Iraqi civilians. “I had opportunities [to speak with civilians], but it would all have been done under enormous duress,” Seely said. “I mean, you’re talking about armed military guys surrounding some poor civilian while I interviewed him. I actually sort of did that a couple times, but I just felt so bad for the people and I didn’t feel as though I was getting anywhere.” Todd Pitman, Bangkok bureau chief for the Associated Press, has been an embedded reporter in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He said that while being embedded has been the only way for reporters to get to the frontlines in some parts of the war, this type of reporting has constraints. In addition to always being surrounded by U.S. military, he has found that one obstacle to gathering information from Iraqi civilians is that in traveling alongside military units, a reporter cannot control the amount of time spent speaking to civilians in a given area. “Being embedded is not ideal,” Pitman said via e-mail. “You are constrained very much by what the military wants you to see. You do not have much freedom to move around. You move when they move.” Pitman has found that the number of civilians an embedded reporter can speak with depends on the location, how often the reporter goes out on patrol, as well as whether civilians have fled the fighting. “But it is always worth it to talk to civilians,” Pitman stated. “This is another major aim of being embedded — to talk to people you could not reach
otherwise. I have also found that in both Iraq and Afghanistan, civilians would often speak openly, sometimes criticizing the Americans even while the Americans stood by and listened. I’m sure they would say even more if the American troops were not around, but we didn’t have that luxury.” In the years following the invasion of Iraq, journalists—some professionals, others just concerned individuals with equipment—have traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan to report on the war without being embedded. These reporters, referred to as “unilateral, ” “unembedded” or “independent,” are not attached to military units, and are able to move independently through civilian neighborhoods. Independent journalist Jeremy Scahill, national security reporter for The Nation Magazine and author of Blackwater, has been an unembedded reporter in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Scahill explained how embedded reporting can be limiting in gathering information from Iraqis, as the only civilian contact is with armed soldiers nearby. “The testimony of those civilians is often crafted with that factor in mind,” Scahill said via e-mail. “The chances of it being tailored or tainted is very strong—either for fear of reprisal or to curry favor with the occupation forces.” Scahill stated that ideally, news organizations should use both embedded and unembedded reporters in covering war, making clear the restrictions involved in embedding. “Embedded journalism is one very small aspect of reporting and should always be viewed through the lens of what it is: providing a controlled and sometimes censored version of what is happening on the battlefield,” Scahill stated. “It necessitates making agreements with military and government entities that place their pursuit of the mission—whether just or unjust—over the pursuit of the truth.” Perrine acknowledged that the information gathered in embedded reporting is very close-range and its content depends on a reporter’s
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location. “There’s sort of a trade off between, do you want to have a broad perspective and understanding of what’s going on in the whole operational campaign, or do you want to have first-hand knowledge,” Perrine said. “And if you have first-hand knowledge, it’s going to be limited to where you are.” Mark Finkelstein, blogger on Newsbusters.org and former host and producer of the Right Angle, embedded in Iraq in November 2006. Besides the troops, he was able to interview the deputy prime minister and also the chief spokesman to the prime minister in their offices. “I was actually quite shocked at how much freedom I had,” Finkelstein said. “I just asked whatever questions I wanted, and I got to spend about a half hour with each individual alone. It was very free and open.” Though he was able to speak with civilians, most were part of the effort of rebuilding Iraq, as opposed to Iraqi citizens on the streets. A Voice to the Voiceless Having noticed the lack of coverage in the U.S. media of the Iraqis perception of the war, independent jour nalist Dahr Jamail, author of Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an
without serious incident. “Generally, getting anything close to factual information from the U.S. military, U.S. government apparatuses in Baghdad or the Iraqi occupation government was nearly impossible,” Jamail stated. “However, getting clear, on the ground information from Iraqis, and often from U.S. soldiers, was easy. It was simply a matter of being willing to go out and talk with people—which of course is something that most journalists who embed never do with Iraqis, for obvious reasons.” The Entirety of the War Pitman said that regardless of the constraints that come with embedded reporting, it is still worth it. “You see how the war plays out beyond the headlines, how troops really interact with civilians You see what goes on behind the scenes. You also see the fighting and sometimes the bloody aftermath. And some of that is not what the military wants you to see. So I believe that despite the obstacles, we are still able to accurately depict the realities on the ground and tell those stories independently.” Seely was embedded in Iraq for six weeks in the fall of 2005. In the summer of 2006, he returned to cover the same people he had embedded with the first time. After about two weeks—at the end of the soldiers’ deployment, he returned home with them on the same plane. Having written for the Post since 1979, he said he decided early-on to treat the embedding like he would cover any local story: focusing tightly on everything that folded out in front of him and watching how the events of the war affected the soldiers. “I felt as though I could never cover the entirety of the war,” he said. “All I could do was take a snapshot of the people and the places that I saw everyday and write about it that night, and therefore I did that every single day.” Because no reporter can cover the entirety of the war, news organizations should strive to send an equal number of embedded and unembedded reporters to a conflict, in order to relay as much information to the public as quickly as possible, and from both sides of the war. ____________________________________ Gena Mangiaratti is a sophomore journalism major who was not embedded in the making of this article. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq, traveled to Iraq in November 2003. He stayed there for nine weeks and focused much of his reporting on Iraqi civilians. He returned to Iraq in 2004 and covered both sieges at Fallujah. Previously, he had been a mountain guide in Alaska, and in following the mainstream coverage of the Iraq War, became increasingly frustrated with the dishonesty he perceived in the media’s justification of the war, Jamail told Democracy Now! in 2007. In an e-mail interview, Jamail explained his motivation for speaking with the civilian population of Iraq. “The purpose in my goal of focusing my reportage largely on Iraqi civilians was to give a voice to the voiceless,” Jamail stated. “What was largely lost [in the media] was how the Iraqi people felt about what was happening in their country, and even more, how they were affected. Thus, I decided … to report on what I felt was the most important aspect of the entire occupation: How the Iraqi people were affected by the invasion and foreign military occupation of their country.” Following both battles of Fallujah, Jamail interviewed civilians who were able to flee from the siege, as well as Iraqi non-governmental organizations. An article by Jamail in 2004, following the Second Battle of Fallujah, stated that according to a Red Cross official in Baghdad, “at least 800 civilians” had been killed in Fallujah. U.S. media outlets only reported the deaths of around “1,200 insurgents.” “Unembedded journalists are able to mingle among civilian populations and report on their reality in a far more independent and honest manner,” Scahill stated. “They are also able to do their reporting free of military or government censorship and to report facts that may be inconvenient to government or military forces.” As an unembedded reporter in Iraq, Jamail put himself in the position of an average Iraqi walking through the streets of Baghdad. Without protective armor, he was open to the same dangers. He stated that in the nine months total he reported from Iraq, he has been shot at, had car bombs detonating nearby and was once briefly detained. Yet, he considers himself lucky to have done his reporting
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Still Don’t Tell
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal does little for transgender community By Daisy Arriaga-Lopez e are told that serving in the armed forces is one of the most honorable things a U.S. citizen can do. We are told that each American has an option of whether or not to serve. But what happens when there’s a law telling you that you’re not allowed? The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, created in 1993 during the Clinton administration, eliminated the possibility for individuals who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual from serving openly in the military. On Dec. 22, 2010, President Obama signed legislation that repealed the DADT policy. However, while the repeal made strides in advancing equality for gays and lesbians, it seems to have done little for transgender people. The “T” in “LGBT” seems to be ignored. According to the Support Plan for Implementation, a government document issued Nov. 30, “Transgender and transsexual individuals are not permitted to join military services. The repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ has no effect on these policies.” Despite this statement, Harper Jean Tobin, policy counsel for the National Center for Transgender Equality, said that nothing officially bans transgender people from serving. She said, “The ban on open service for transgender people is not mandated by any law passed by Congress. It is the result of archaic military rules that treat transgender people as mentally and medically unfit—rules that are based on outdated, unfounded stereotypes.” According to the Associated Press, transgender recruits are deemed ineligible for service because of “mental conditions”—namely, gender identity disorder, or GID, which, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), is “a conflict between a person’s actual physical gender and the gender that person identifies himself or herself as.” Autumn Sandeen is a transgender Persian Gulf War veteran on the Provisional Board for GetEQUAL, an organization that aspires to empower the LGBT community. Sandeen advocates for the transgender community, which is so often separated from the LGB movement. Currently her main focus is changing the discharge code weight for those who are discharged for
BUZZSAW: The Militarization Issue
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being transgender. “If you come out as transgendered in the military, you are going to be discharged,” she said. “There is no question about that. You are subject to getting a discharge with a discharge code that stands for personality disorder.” This is a dishonorable discharge and affects the individual’s record for life. The classification of a “personality disorder” is also given to pedophiles—and to any condition “where you are a danger to others,” Sandeen said. Other conditions that fall under “personality disorder,” according to the NCBI, are obsessivecompulsive personality disorder, paranoid personality disorder and schizoid personality disorder. If a person has had sexual reconstructive surgery, they are not allowed to serve in the military. Sandeen expressed that the government has a fear of this biological unknown, saying, “They don’t want to directly address it.” Some individuals say they have experienced discrimination for being trans in the military. Some of them belong to the Transgender American Veteran Association, an organization that works to ensure that trans veterans are provided with the proper medical treatment for their conditions and advocates for social rights, including the ability for transgender individuals to serve in the armed forces. The veterans that TAVA serves range from individuals who were transgender before entering the service to those who sought surgery afterward. Denny Meyer, media relations director for the T r a n s g e n d e r American Veteran Association, stated, “T ransgender veterans want to be treated w i t h
respect and dignity. … A veteran has earned their benefits, period.” Transgender individuals receive hormone treatment on a regular basis, which is a costly medical expense. The treatments are covered by the benefits of the Veterans Association. However, it is up to the discretion of the primary care physician to decide whether or not the patient will receive the treatments. This is where the biases of the physicians affect the veterans. Meyer explained that the doctors in these Veterans Association Medical Centers are constantly being rotated, so each time trans veterans walks in for their treatment, they stand the chance of being turned away. The United States is one of the few countries that has experienced a clear conflict in allowing people who identify as part of the LGBT community to serve. Meyer said, “Canada, which is the most progressive country of all for gay rights, even will allow a transgender person serving in the military to go, ‘I’m transgender, I’d like sex reassignment surgery,’ and the Canadian military will provide it!” He continued, “In Israel, one of the most conservative countries, they have transgender people serving in the military.” There is still some confusion about why transgender people cannot serve in the military. “Transgender people do not serve wearing dresses and high heels. … They wear combat gear just like everyone else,” Meyer said. It should not matter what your sexual orientation is or what your anatomy indicates. It is incredible that being transgender supposedly indicates a mental disorder. If individuals are willing to risk their lives to serve, why should it matter who they love or what their gender history is? Tobin echoed this sentiment, saying, “Just like GLB service members, they are fit to serve, and it is wrong to force them to live a lie in order to serve their country.” ___________________________ Daisy Arriaga-Lopez is a sophomore journalism major who wants to transcend hatred. E-mail her at darriag1@ithaca. edu.
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Camouflaged Gender Politics
Sexual identities and the guise of equality in the military Image by Garen Whitmore
By Chris Zivalich gay men whose “manliness” we instinctively reject or women whose bodies we’re convinced are too “fragile” to engage in combat— we masculinize them to alleviate confusion. On the other hand, women and LGBTQ people are let into the military and expected to conform to its masculine standards, yet they are still cruelly reminded of their differences. Women continue to be raped or sexually harassed, and words like “fag” haven’t disappeared from soldiers’ vocabulary. Masculinizing, thus, doesn’t mean we completely forget who LGBTQ people or heterosexual women are, assuming they have developed different sexual interests or genitalia—instead, it means we permit them to commit masculinized acts that authorize domination, a practice our society accepts as some sort of “law of mankind.” Consequently, we witness women torturing prisoners in Iraq, and soon men of all sexualities will be releasing drone attacks on Pakistan. Our rules for masculinity legitimize this violence, aggression and domination as a form of human nature and, therefore, legitimize the need for a military. Because we continue to value these principles, military activity becomes naturalized. The military is the epitome of aggression and is perceived as a normal means of social control. We can now allow a gay man to engage in warfare because his performance of masculinity at that very moment is held above all others. In fact, we call this “equality.” As a result, we do not contest the misappropriation of terms like “freedom” under these circumstances because we perceive such changes as actual freedom. Still, the military fundamentally denies equality by waging wars, dropping bombs and piling up body counts. This isn’t a system welcomed with joy. It doesn’t bring freedom to those whose lives take place in militarized spaces. So why would it bring freedom to those
who can now create such spaces? In the end, our perspective demands rewiring. Even though the concept of “equality for all” seems applicable to the military, we cannot continue to buy that narrative. We should not conceive militarization both in the United States and abroad as a structure in which gender is somehow liberated by new policies. If we let our protest subside simply because of the inclusion of women or gay people in the military, we ignore why a military is used and honored in the first place. In order to encourage and explore more complex thinking on this subject, we have to critique the military as a reinforcement of these masculine ideals that harm and endanger society. ____________________________________ Chris Zivalich is a junior journalism major. E-mail him at czivali1@ithaca. edu.
The recent repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” was lauded by progressives, LGBTQ activists and even a good portion of soldiers and military personnel. After years of discharging those found guilty of violating the controversial policy, everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, is now allowed to join the military without checking their dignity at recruitment center doors. This moment for the gay right’s movement has been compared to the integration of females into the military as another example of progress toward “liberation.” It appears as though gender boundaries are disappearing and that equality under militarized structures provides freedom for women and the gay community by allowing them to handle its intensity. But are we really “liberating” gays or heterosexual women by letting them serve in a system that perpetuates death and domination? By labeling it a step forward for someone to join the military, aren’t we assuming the military is capable of instituting freedom—that it, in fact, could somehow provide space for equality even though it regularly takes lives, destroys infrastructure and dismantles entire communities? The reason for this complicity with the military arguably stems from our complicity with masculinity and the behavior it encourages. After all, we tend to think of masculinity as an expression of anger and protection, one with “natural” roots in testosterone: “Boys will be boys” is a phrase applicable to everything from bullying to wrestling. The military, as the most aggressive branch of political power, embodies this notion of masculinity. But despite the “manly nature” of war and militarism, women make up 14 percent of active service in the U.S. military. And while it is unclear how many soldiers identify as something other than heterosexual, there are plenty of individuals in the armed services who otherwise are not considered masculine simply because of their sexual identity or behavior. This creates tension. When we see people in the military whose characteristics contrast with our concept of masculinity—including
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The Battle Behind the Barracks The prevalence of rape in the military By Hayleigh Gowans rom the American Revolutionary War, all the way the current wars, women have had roles in the U.S. military. Originally, women were used as nurses, to help heal wounded and sick soldiers. After World War II, the military started to allow women into more active roles. Women are now allowed to fill 91 percent of all military roles. Today, women make up about 14 percent of the U.S. military. In the recent “War on Terror,” about 193,000 women have been deployed. Although women have played a vital role to the U.S. military from the beginning, they are often not respected for their hard work. According to recent studies, a majority of military women report being sexually harassed, and a significant amount even report being raped. A study done in 2003 by the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Medical Center and University of Iowa discovered that of 556 female veterans surveyed from the Vietnam to Persian Gulf War eras, almost 80 percent of women reported being sexually harassed. Of these women, 30 percent reported an attempted or completed rape, which is twice the rate of rape in civilian women. Since the beginning of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, reports of women being raped have shot up by 26 percent. Still, current figures from the Pentagon say that between 80 percent and 90 percent of sexual assaults against women in the military go unreported. Helen Benedict is a professor of journalism at Columbia University and also the author of
BUZZSAW: The Militarization Issue
The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq. Benedict found that the culture of the military was vey masochistic and the male bonding in the military is designed to exclude and sexualize women. “They’re like a bunch of frat boys with guns,” Benedict said. “They’ve been trained to kill, and they’ve been trained to disrespect women.” She also found that because of the culture of loyalty in the military, many women wouldn’t report being sexually abused because they would be seen as snitches and exiled from the group. Benedict became interested in the topic of women’s treatment in the military when she was at a meeting for veterans in the Iraq War, where she met her first woman soldier. “I went up to her and said, ‘Are you a veteran too?’ And she said, ‘Yes, but nobody believes me, and you know why? It’s because I’m a woman,’” Benedict said. “When I asked her about what it was like to be in combat in the military she said, ‘Well the first thing you have to understand is that if you’re a girl in the military, there are three things to a guy that you can be know as: a bitch, a whore or a dyke.’ So when I heard that, I just had to
write about it.” The premise of her book follows the stories of several women who served in the Iraq War. She found that the main problems women faced while in the military were constant inferior treatment by their male comrades, sexual harassment and rape. She also believes that women need to start a web of support for each other because many of them are going through the same thing. Survivors Take Action Against Abuse by Military Personnel (STAMP) is one of these support groups. STAMP is an organization that Dorothy Mackey started in 1997 as an international group to support people who suffer from Military Sexual Trauma (MST), which are psychological effects from sexual harassment and abuse from another military member. U.S. military personnel can call and receive support from STAMP. Mackey’s group has dealt with more than 7,600 cases. Mackey studied forensics and criminal justice at the University of Akron in Ohio. She went into the Air Force in the early 1980s as a lieutenant through the ROTC and left the military as a captain and tenured officer. Mackey said that in her nine years in the 1980s and early 1990s of being in the military, she was raped three times. Most of these times, she was under the influence of drugs that were slipped to her by fellow comrades, people whom she said she had trusted. When she first was entering the military, she was assured by the people at the ROTC that crimes against women, like being raped by other soldiers, were not widespread, and anyone who violated laws against abuse of comrades would be held accountable for their actions. Mackey said this was not the case. “I went on under a false belief system, which was brainwashed into
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Testimonials from the sexual assault court case against Rumsfield and Gates: >>> During one work day, Plantiff Seaman Kori Cioca’s superior thrust his groin into her buttocks as she bent over to pick up some trash. He called her a “fucking whore” and laughed. Cioca and another shipmate who had witnessed this incident went together to report the incident to Command. Cioca requested a transfer, but Command denied the request despite the harassment. >>> Plantiff Sergeant Rebekah Havrilla saw her rapist during military training and went into shock. She immediately sought the assistane of the military chaplain. When Havrilla met with him, he said,“it must have been God’s will for her to be raped“ and recommended that she attend church more frequently. >>> In a hotel room on port, one shipmate of Plantiff Petty Officer Amber De Roche ripped off her clothes and held down while another shipmate raped her; then they switched. This sequence was repeated several times. Thereafter, one of the rapists placed her in the shower, washed her, removed her from the hotel room, and put her out on the street. >>> Plantiff Seaman Panayiota Bertzikis’s Command forced her to live on the same floor as her rapist in the barracks. Command also forced her to work with her rapist, and was told that they should use the time to “work out their differences.” >>> Plantiff Damage Control Firearm Apprentice Nicole Curdt was forced to perform oral sex on a member of her Command. Command told her she was not permitted to speak to the media or to anyone else about the events on the ship. Command gave her a document described as a “direct gag order.” >>> When Plantiff Specialist Andrea Neutzling learned that her rapists were circulating a video of the rape, she reported the rape to Command. She was told that they did not believe she had been raped because she “did not act like a rape victim” and “did not struggle enough.” >>> When Plantiff Private Stephanie Schroeder reported rape to Command, Command laughed at her and said, “Don’t come bitching to me because you had sex and changed your mind.“ These testimonials were edited for length. For more testimonials or to read the litigation for this case please visit: scribd.com/doc/48879866/military-rape-and-sexual-assault-litigation.
everyone of us, that this was an ethical two men and 15 women, who consist and honorable system,” Mackey said. of both veterans and active-duty “I walked into the officers’ club where service members, who now suffer from I witnessed young military women psychological trauma from abuse they who were being trafficked to senior received from military personnel. The officers ... And these guys would have suit claims that these two men have sex with enlisted women on the base. continued to run military institutions And it was not something that these that allow for the abuse of military women wanted.” members by other personnel. Mackey said that in almost all cases Jessica Kenyon is a former private where senior officers were found in the U.S. Army and is one of the guilty of sexual abuse of women on plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Although she base, they weren’t was only enlisted from punished, only forced 2005 to 2006, she was Mackey said that in her assaulted and raped to honorably retire. Mackey wasn’t able nine years ... of being before she even got out to leave the military in the military, she was of training and then because she was while on base raped three times. Most again under a nine-year legal in Korea. Kenyon’s of these times, she was emotional contract with them. trauma When she was told under the influence of inspired her to found that her commander organization, drugs that were slipped the was retiring but not Benefiting Veterans, in to her by fellow comrades, 2009, and it has dealt being prosecuted for sexual trafficking of people whom she said with 2,500 cases. It the women on the originally started she had trusted. base, Mackey said she out as an advocacy was disgusted. center for people who “I was really quite in shock, but we suffered from MST but soon grew to were forced to march in a retirement include counseling services. for this pervert,” she said. “But he Kenyon said she was one of the first was never really retired. In fact, he people to actually agree to become was promoted to the Pentagon. Now a named plaintiff, because others when I saw that, when I witnessed feared retaliation. Kenyon has written that, everything in me turned deadly a report on how the regulations that cold. It frightened the hell out of me are set up in the military are flawed because I was under contract. And because they allow for loopholes when you’re under contract, you just for rapists to not be punished for can’t walk away from the military. the rapes they commit while in the It is a legal binding contract. You go military. Although this is not the first AWOL, you go to prison.” lawsuit of its kind, she feels that it is Mackey’s case of sexual abuse while the most thought-out one. she was in the military has gone to “They made it very clear that the U.S. Supreme Court, but no one there are some legal hoops to jump has been able to help her prosecute through,” Kenyon said. “But I expect the men who raped her. This is that when we get our day in court, it because there are certain laws and will be a long process.” acts that give soldiers immunity from Hopefully, their suit is successful being reprimanded when he or she in cracking down U.S. military abuse commits a crime. One of these is the against women. However, because Intra Military Immunity doctrine, current military regulations allow which states, “Members of the armed abusers to go unpunished, it will be forces may not bring an action against a rough battle. Women in the U.S. the government or armed service military must be respected and receive personnel for injuries during activity the same support from the military as under the control or supervision of a their male counterparts. Supporting commanding officer.” these women and being advocates However, a recent lawsuit brought for their cause will help shed light to the United District Court of Eastern on the corruption that is happening. Virginia may help make it easier to We cannot go on running a military punish someone who has committed that “fights for our freedom,” while a sexual crime on a military base. oppressing its female members. On Feb. 15, the suit, brought against ____________________________________ Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Hayleigh Gowans is a freshman former Defense Secretary Donald journalism major. E-mail her at Rumsfeld, includes the testimonies of email@example.com.
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Overseas Base Overload
Examining the U.S. military’s extensive network of bases By Jacquie Simone very day, children pass the bases on their way to school. The native language is often heard alongside English as U.S. military personnel walk through the streets. The noises of the local area are interrupted by the thunder of jets taking off and landing. This is not in a war zone in Iraq or Afghanistan: This is in one of the many permanent U.S. military bases around the world. The U.S. military is like a bad houseguest: Long after the main event is over, it continues to linger around indefinitely. The military personnel stationed at these bases fulfill a variety of functions, from logistical operations to actually flying to other countries from the bases. The Pentagon says there are 662 U.S. military installations in other countries around the world, with more than half of those in Western Europe and Northeast Asia. This number does not include bases in Afghanistan or Iraq, nor does it include any other bases related to the intervention in the Middle East, meaning that there are hundreds of bases separate from our current wars. In fact, there have not been armed conflicts anywhere near many of these permanent U.S. bases in decades. This extensive network of bases raises questions of sovereignty, necessity and the possibility of an American empire. Even though the United States often reaches agreements with the host country’s government, the general population is usually not part of the negotiations. This has proven particularly devastating for indigenous peoples. When the United States brokered a deal with the United Kingdom during the Cold War to establish a base on the Britishcontrolled island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, the native Chagossian people were forced from their homes and barred from returning. Today,
they are still fighting for the right to return to the land that had historically been theirs but was turned into the ironically named Camp Justice, now known as Camp Thunder Cove. Meanwhile, many U.S. aircrafts take off from the island for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. The military justifies the existence of these bases by claiming that they are in strategically significant locations. They might not be within warzones, but the network of bases ensures that the U.S. military is never too far from a potential
in their communities,” Dietz said. “While the practice of joint use results in the Pentagon listing fewer overseas bases, it won’t necessarily reduce the presence of U.S. forces.” Dietz observed such tensions between local populations and the military during her time in Okinawa. The U.S. government took control of Okinawa for 27 years following World War II, and their justifications for maintaining the bases have shifted throughout the decades; originally, they claimed they were needed for the containment of communism, and now the bases are considered strategic points to manage threats from North Korea and China. Dietz said there has been an organized movement against the 38 bases in Okinawa since the U.S. military started to expand their presence there in the late 1940s. She specified that protesters told her they opposed “the policies of the military and U.S. government, not individual service members or individual Americans.” The protesters have a variety of goals, with motivations such as regaining control of land, preserving the environment or generally calling for independence from U.S. influences. “Some seek to end their own role in facilitating U.S. and their own country’s wars and militarism, while others seek to end their dependence on an economy organized chiefly to maintain U.S. bases,” Dietz said. The military usually ignores these protests, claiming that such controversies are domestic issues that should be handled by the host government. In Okinawa, Dietz said, the local government is unwilling to engage in regular conversations with citizens about the negative impacts of U.S. military bases, so protesters have little means of effecting change. However, Capt. Caine Goyette of the U.S. Marines said he never sensed any discontent from locals while he lived in Okinawa for three years. “I never had one bad experience with
BUZZSAW: The Militarization Issue
Foreign military presence impacts social, cultural and economic institutions and relations at all levels. It always constrains, sometimes profoundly, local control over everyday life, as well as over a community’s and a country’s ongoing relations. - Kelly Dietz conflict. Critics of the bases argue that modern technology has already made it easy for the military to travel long distances quickly, so there is no real need to maintain a permanent presence in another country in case a nearby conflict erupts. Kelly Dietz, who teaches politics at Ithaca College, was born on a U.S. base in Muenchweiler, Germany. She later spent a year and a half researching the colonial dimensions of the U.S. military presence in Okinawa, Japan. She said the actual number of U.S. military forces overseas is far greater than 662: The Pentagon often counts several bases in the same area as one and U.S. soldiers regularly train with other countries’ militaries. In addition, the United States has joint use agreements, in which U.S. forces are stationed at other countries’ military bases. “One of the rationales for this is to address what the Pentagon calls the ‘political sensitivities’ of local populations toward having U.S. bases
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“Since there is only one other hospital on Guam, the Naval Hospital served the community’s health care needs, especially trauma and emergency, as much as the civilian hospital did,” Epling said. He commented that although there were some tensions about the greater issue of U.S. relations with Guam, the majority of interactions between military personnel and locals were positive. “The Guamanians are very friendly and welcoming,” he said. “Even today, when there’s a lot of argument about the impact of a military buildup on Guam—it is of vital strategic
Image by Brie Bard
importance—we were greeted by people who had no reason to even talk to us, in an exceedingly friendly manner.” Guam is a U.S. territory, so the military is just one way in which American politics and culture influence the island. Many people in the United States and Guam accept that the U.S. military has a right to be on the island, since it is technically part of the United States. The existence of bases in other countries that are independent of
U.S. control, such as Germany and Japan, is more complicated and raises questions of sovereignty and even imperialism. The U.S. military usually does compromise and reach agreements with host countries, but some still find it strange that a country could have bases in another independent nation. The continued presence of a military base can drastically affect the local culture. Goyette said that the military gives all service members training in Okinawan customs and courtesies so that they do not offend residents or experience as much culture shock. Even so, he said he could see evidence that the areas around the bases had adopted certain American characteristics. “I think the island is Westernized because we’ve been there so long,” he said. Meanwhile, Dietz said the effects of the military presence on Okinawans are evidence of “how empire ‘works’ today.” She said the agreements between countries might make the network of bases appear legitimate, but that they have significant implications for American policies and local identities. “Foreign military presence impacts social, cultural and economic institutions and relations at all levels,” she said. “It always constrains, sometimes profoundly, local control over everyday life, as well as over a community’s and a country’s ongoing relations.” Whether the extensive network of overseas bases is seen as normal military strategy or evidence of a new form of imperialism, many American civilians do not consider the hundreds of bases around the world where their flag is flown. We might not have to walk past the bases everyday, but all U.S. citizens are caught up in the complicated web of military bases and are implicated in its global repercussions. ________________________________ Jacquie Simone is a senior journalism and politics major who thinks it would suck to have the military as a houseguest. E-mail her at jsimone1@ ithaca.edu.
anybody,” he said. “From what I saw there, we were very welcome.” He said the media often created hype about tensions, but in reality the few protests that did occur were small and ineffective. Additionally, he said the main resistance to the bases came from mainland Japan, not Okinawa. Often, people in areas surrounding U.S. bases eventually become supportive of the military presence once their local economies come to rely on the base. The initial protests and resistance might give way to acceptance, as local business owners strive to make the most of the situation and profit from the steady influx of soldiers and their families. After the bases have been in place for a while, the threat of base closures would upset the entire local infrastructure. In this way, the military-industrial complex stretches far beyond our national borders. Goyette said the military presence significantly supports the Okinawan economy, so locals realize that their livelihoods would be jeopardized if the U.S. military did not have bases there. “We lived right in the community,” he said. “We ate in all their restaurants and shopped in all their stores.” Dietz said the economic benefits are exaggerated, and even the military-related funds directly from the Japanese and U.S. governments are not bolstering the Okinawan economy significantly. “For the last 30-plus years, the economy has remained stagnant,” she said. “Unemployment is highest and incomes are l o w e s t compared to the rest of Japan, w h i c h l e a d s many to question the claim that the bases are an economic benefit.” The military presence affects more than just the local economy. Retired Lt. Cmdr. John Epling, who served as a doctor in the Navy and was stationed in Guam for two years, said the military presence can also provide services to the local residents.
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Logging into Cyber War The world braces itself for new technological weapons By Shaza Elsheshtawy n July 2010 news broke out of a vicious, complex computer worm –Stuxnet— infecting staff computers at Iran’s Bushehr nuclear plant. Known as a cyber super weapon, the worm targeted Iran’s nuclear centrifuges, which are an integral piece of equipment in uranium enrichment, by causing them to stop functioning properly, thus severely delaying the progress of Iran’s nuclear program. The complexity of the worm has some experts speculating that it was planted by a nation-state. In fact, The New York Times reported that the worm planted in the Bushehr plant might have originated from Israel, a country that has similar nuclear centrifuges to Iran, does not look favorably on their nuclear program, and has reportedly tested the effectiveness of Stuxnet before. The unsettling thing is that this was not the first time a nation has been vulnerable to a cyber attack. During the 2008 Russian invasion of South Ossetia, Georgia, the country’s government agency websites were hit with “Distributed Denial of Service” (DDoS) attacks. DDoS attacks send waves of false requests to a website’s Internet server so it becomes overwhelmed and shuts down. ProRussian websites provided the DDoS software and instructions to any Russian nationalist that wanted to launch an “attack” of their own on Georgia. In 2007, Estonia was also the target of cyber attacks launched from Russia. Russian nationalists used computer worms and viruses to disable the websites of government ministries, banks, companies and even Estonian newspapers. The consequences for the Georgian government were not terribly severe, disrupting only some email and a few websites. For Estonia, however, the consequences were more worrisome. Estonia’s government relies heavily on the Internet—in fact, in 2000 the Estonian Parliament declared
BUZZSAW: The Militarization Issue
Internet access a human right. This heavy reliance on the web meant that some vital government organization operations, such as telephone access to emergency services, stopped working due to attacks launched from nationals in another nation. Jason Healey, director of the Cyber Conflict Studies Association, argues that while none of these cyber attacks have caused any significant longlasting destruction, newer viruses like Stuxnet are noteworthy. “Stuxnet really was sophisticated,” Healey said. “It used multiple, previously unknown methods to gain access to its target, which would have been significant enough on its own. What was unprecedented was the level of specific research that went into making sure that it would only affect a limited number of computers in the world.” Unlike the DDoS attacks launched against Russia that merely shut websites down, Stuxnet affected something physical—the Iranian nuclear plant centrifuges. This is significant and unprecedented because if Stuxnet can target a centrifuge, then it could possibly target a weapon. The use of these “weapons” could lead to an unfamiliar and intangible form of conflict between nations. There have been land wars, sea wars and air wars, but the prospect of a cyber war in the 21st century is not too far-fetched. The threat of cyber conflict
has emerged as a pressing global security concern. President Obama has even referred to cyber attacks as “one of the most serious economic and national security threats our nation faces.” It is generally unknown what these threats mean for international and even homeland security. Perhaps the world and the United States might not be well equipped for these threats. Healey says the world is not completely prepared for such a danger. He says nations are still working on protecting against physical, traditional threats. And to make matters worse, unless they are specifically being looked for, the viruses often go undetected. What nations need to do, he argues, is to not worry about stopping the attacks and instead start focusing on circumventing and detecting basic cyber threats. “It’s like trying to make a ship that won’t sink,” Healey said. “At some point, if someone is willing to throw enough missiles at it, then it is going to come down because you are never going to make an unsinkable ship. What we can do is continue a lot of basic things to keep off the most simple attack and to increase our chances of detecting and stopping them at an advanced level.” T h e United States has taken some measures to protect against a cyber attack. One such measure is the Department of Homeland Security’s Computer Emergency Readiness Team
Image by Marissa Osowsky
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BUZZSAW Militarization Week
March 7-10, 2011 Join us for a week of events to bring the discussion beyond the pages of Buzzsaw. Monday, March 7 Restrepo, Oscar-nominated documentary about a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan Film Screening with IC Human Rights 7 p.m. Williams 225 Tuesday, March 8 “Military Propaganda and Other PR Ploys” with John Stauber and Lisa Graves of the Center for Media and Democracy Presentation with Park Center for Independent Media 7 p.m. Emerson Suites Wednesday, March 9 War and Peace?: The Lasting Effects of Militarization Panel Discussion with Progressive Discourse Project 7 p.m. Williams 225 Thursday, March 10 The Art of War Gallery Night with art, protest music and food 7 p.m. Klingenstein Lounge
(US-CERT). According to their website, US-CERT is responsible for providing support and defense against cyber attacks on the United States, and it is also a way for citizens to communicate with the government about cyber security. Despite the few government measures that have been taken to circumvent cyber threats, and despite President Obama’s reference to cyber attacks as the most serious national security threat today, the plausibility of nations and militaries engaging entirely in cyber war is hard to imagine. Healey says this is because the world has simply not experienced one yet. The cyber attacks that have made headlines have not yet taken lives or left collateral damage, so it is hard to consider them as real wars or conflict. “We haven’t had a real cyber war,” Healey said. “People die in a war, and there is collateral damage and a lot of other things. We have seen what wars are in the real world, and nothing that has happened in the cyber world has even come close in relation to the kind of death and destruction that you see in war time.” While the world has not experienced cyber conflict as it has traditional, kinetic conflict, major international security alliances have engaged in discourse on the issue. In June 2010, NATO was involved in the Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence Conference on Cyber Conflict held in Tallinn, Estonia. The conference brought together cyber security experts from governments, militaries and academia from across the globe to discuss ways to approach cyber threats. Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves gave the opening address for the conference. Ilves highlighted the necessity of a holistic, multilateral approach to these threats. “Before we can talk about the hardware and software side of cyber defense and cyber warfare, we have to develop a conceptual consensus,” he said. “As much of our critical infrastructure is also transnational, we require a transnational approach.” Whether the threat of cyber conflict is extremely plausible or over-hyped, and whether the world is prepared for such a conflict or not, the capabilities of computer viruses have evolved immensely. As seen with Stuxnet’s effect on Iran’s Bushehr nuclear plant, these viruses have the potential to affect large-scale physical machinery. The best approach to the cyber “threat”—real or not—is certainly not to ignore it. The threat requires multilateral discourse and cooperation. It is only a matter of time before simple DDoS attacks and even more sophisticated viruses such as Stuxnet evolve into true cyber “superweapons” that can cause significant harm to people and the environment, not just nuclear centrifuges. _____________________________________________ Shaza Elsheshtawy is a sophomore journalism and politics major who wants to make the world a safer place, one click at a time. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Be All You Can Be... Again
How soldiers are being held against their will to serve their country By Moriah Petty
et’s time travel back to December 2001, when the “War on Terror” was rapidly widening in scope. President Bush had declared a state of national emergency, which rapidly became the justification for an onslaught of questionable decisions by the American government. The military was searching for an infusion of new troops, so Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld decided it was time to get creative. Holding a national draft was out of the question, but recruitment alone could not fuel the amount of armed forces the Pentagon was looking for. So, they found a loophole called stop-loss. First used in the Persian Gulf War, stop-loss (nicknamed the “backdoor draft” by critics) is when the military involuntarily extends a soldier’s term of service as defined by their enlistment contract. The extension time is entirely dictated by the Department of Defense, but the typical time frame is six months. A second stop-loss order was enacted in January 2002, followed by three more in November 2002, November 2003 and June 2004. By 2008, Robert Gates replaced Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense. Gates openly opposed the policy, and in March 2009, he made a public statement addressing the issue: “Our goal is to cut the number of those stop-lossed by 50 percent by June 2010 and to eliminate the regular use of stop-loss across the entire Army by March 2011. We will retain the authority to use stop-loss under extraordinary circumstances.” The first goal was met, but March 2011 is upon us, and it is unclear if Gates’ decision will take effect or if it will make any difference in the long run. The military will retain the right to impose stop-loss orders on any servicemen they choose since paragraph 10(c) of every enlistment contract states, “In a time of war or of national emergency declared by the Congress, I may, without my consent, be ordered to serve on active duty, for the entire period of the war or emergency and for six months after the its end. My enlistment may be
BUZZSAW: The Militarization Issue
extended during this period without my consent.” According to reports from the Pentagon, approximately 1 percent of soldiers have been affected by the policy during the “War on Terror.” Considering the size of the American army, this is equivalent to 120,000 servicemen and women. One soldier affected was Andrew Johnson from Warwick, N.Y. Johnson served five years of duty, stationed abroad in Iraq and Korea. But a few months before he was meant to get out, he received stop-loss orders, and his service time was extended for an additional year and a half deployment back to Iraq. Johnson was already questioning the motives behind the American presence in Iraq and Afghanistan and looking forward to being released from his service obligations and ending his participation in the war. Looking back on when he received stoploss orders, Johnson said, “The light at the end of the tunnel all of a sudden went out, and I didn’t know what to do.” J o h n s o n considers himself very lucky because he could be released on medical discharge. Others he knew were not. “Once you’re in, they pretty much own you—they do own you,” Johnson said. “Your options are pretty limited … your back’s up against the wall.” Fellow soldiers suffering from brain damage or PTSD diagnosed by an Army physician were redeployed instead of getting treatment. When placed in this no-win situation, it is common for soldiers to go AWOL or try to get kicked out deliberately. According to Johnson, the problem is that those who leave the service early
for any reason other than honorable discharge are denied the GI benefits package including health care from the Veterans Association. Johnson is currently a member of the organization Iraq Veterans Against the War, and names stop-loss as one of his motivations for joining the group. After completing his end of a bargain, he felt betrayed by the government for which he had served honorably. “You sign up to… support and defend the Constitution of the United States. That’s part of the enlistment contract,” Johnson said. “But I felt like my rights were being violated. It is hard to risk your life to fight in the defense of the freedoms in the Constitution when you feel as if your have lost all your rights as a citizen.” When the policy repeatedly came under scrutiny, Rumsfeld defended his decision to stop-loss troops with the justification used in a 2004 interview on the CBS news program, Face the Nation: “I am telling you that the fact is that everyone serving on active duty is a volunteer and they volunteered k n o w i n g precisely what the rules were. And they’ve known that stop-loss has been a part of that policy or rule throughout a very long period of time.” The policy certainly brings down morale and combat readiness of troops while hurting the Army’s reputation on the home front. Despite Rumsfeld’s best efforts, a handful of soldiers over the years have protested the arbitrary extension of the service time, some even in court appeals. One of the most prominent cases was Santiago v. Rumsfeld which reached the Court of Appeals in 2005.
Santiago was very surprised to receive notice two weeks before his 2004 discharge date that his service time had been extended until 2031, beginning with a oneyear tour of duty to Afghanistan.The reason provided for this 27-year extension: “administrative convenience.”
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Photo by David Lurvey
repair their relationship with betrayed soldiers but its does not help the fact that what happened to them “was completely unfair.” Goldberg commented that in his opinion the payment is not adequate compensation for the sacrifice it demands. He knows soldiers who were stop-lossed then killed in that final tour of duty. In addition, the payment cannot possibly compensate for the lasting damage of the psychological impact of redeployment. An army survey found that soldiers who serve multiple tours are 50 percent more likely to suffer from a mental health problem and have extra difficulty settling back into their home life. Secretary Gates wants to recognize that the soldiers were mistreated and make amends with those who served loyally and felt betrayed by the government. “It wasn’t a violation of the enlistment contract, but I believe that when somebody’s end date of service comes up, to hold them against their will, if you will, is just not the right thing to do,” Gates told USA Today in March 2009. For the many critics who wonder if Gates’ decision to end stop-loss for the duration of the war will actually go into effect in March, due to the current state of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, it is quite likely that it will. However, the
enlistment contract remains unedited, so if the Pentagon decides that the country has once again encountered “extraordinary circumstances,” the policy can be reestablished. The decision to go to war has to be made by Congress, but our current military action remains a “state of national emergency” declared by the president. The courts are meant to be the third branch that checks Congress and the White House to ensure they do not overstep their authority. But when the issue was brought up during the Santiago case, the judge stated that stop-loss fell under the president’s “authority as Commander-in-Chief to protect and defend the country from attack” and it is not the court’s job to second-guess the duties of this position. Stop-loss is highly unpopular among troops, the American public and prominent members of Congress, yet the Army was able to circumvent the system of checks and balances the country was built on because military action is prioritized by the government. ____________________________________ Moriah Petty is a freshman TV-R major who wants to stop stop-loss. E-mail her at email@example.com.
In 1996, Emiliano Santiago was 18 years old, and he enlisted in the National Guard. He signed up with a recruiter visiting his high school in Oregon, who glossed over the details of the contract. Andrew Johnson had a similar experience of enlisting as a high school student. “You sign this master contract that you don’t really look at and can’t take home,” he said. “When I signed up, I didn’t know any of this. They don’t tell you anything.” Santiago was very surprised to receive notice two weeks before his 2004 discharge date that his service time had been extended until 2031, beginning with a one-year tour of duty to Afghanistan. The reason provided for this 27-year extension: “administrative convenience.” The courts found the military’s contract to be legal, and Santiago lost the lawsuit. The Portland lawyer who argued the case named Steven Goldberg said that since “they didn’t have the guts to do a draft,” they chose to use stop-loss despite the fact that “even within the military, there was ambivalence.” Goldberg believes the case brought on some positive change but pointed out that without any decisive legislative action there is no way to prohibit the policy from being used again. In 2008, recruitment numbers began to climb once again, and there was no longer need to stop-loss troops. Secretary Gates was also able to implement financial reparation for service extension to belatedly provide bonuses for soldiers, who involuntarily served longer than their original commitment. Under the Retroactive Stop-Loss Pay program, enacted in October 2009, a compensation of $500 is rewarded for each additional month of service to any soldier who has been stop-lossed over the course of the war. Andrew Johnson says that he appreciates the gesture the government is making to attempt to
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The Homefront Military Campaign Advertising and recruitment in post-draft American society By Matt Honold ilitary recruitment is a touchy subject, no matter who you ask. Indeed, involvement in armed combat has always been subject to the scrutiny of the masses; yet while the particular means and ends of our country’s fighting forces may come into question, it cannot be denied that America must maintain a strong military. For the majority of our nation’s history, the armed forces have been a volunteer force. That’s where you come in. You might be like millions of eligible citizens who have wondered what it’s like to serve in the military. You might be willing to take the first step. If so, then those familiar commercials that depict soldiers in uniform, in school and in action have done their job. With your interest in enlistment, those men wearing Army camouflage and handing out fliers in the halls of your high school didn’t look out of place for no reason. From 1940-73, the task of generating enrollment was much easier: They used the draft. Selective service
was necessary during WWII and continued to be supported through the initial stages of the Cold War, including the Korean War. However, with our country’s highly unpopular involvement in Vietnam, involuntary enlistment became a heated moral issue, opposed by most Americans. As the war was waning, President Nixon ended the draft, and it hasn’t been used since. Instead, the military now depends on strategic marketing. That is, they create interest in enlistment with advertisements and rely on recruiting officers to offer the opportunity. In 1970, when the Gates Commission announced that the military would be ending the draft within a few years, 42 private firms were offered the Army’s advertising contract. In those two years, the worth of the Army account grew from $3 million to $18 million, and the military had begun to utilize the American free market to generate recruitment. In 1999, the Department of Defense upped its advertising game by creating the Committee on the Youth
Population and Military Recruitments, which aimed to create a larger pool of potential military recruits by examining the goals and values of American youths to create the most effective incentives for enlistment. The CYPMR determined two main points: College was becoming increasingly popular among high school graduates, and the idea of service to one’s country was becoming less popular. Hence, the military issued new marketing campaigns in order to appeal to the core values of individuals, such as “Army of One” in early 2001—just before 9/11. The attacks of 9/11, as well as wars, in Afghanistan and Iraq, were cause for a newfound patriotism across the country. Since then, military advertising and recruiting has been more present than ever. If you live in America and own a TV, you should be fully aware of the military’s marketing efforts. You may also be familiar with the sight of uniformed recruitment officers in high schools and at colleges. Officers such as Capt. Caine Goyette, who has headed the Central New York Marine
( The Evolution of the “Go Army” Advertisement ) >>>1980s
BUZZSAW: The Militarization Issue
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Image by Marc Phillips
the military. … But the officer recruitment effort since 2008, a b o u t are allotted recruitment quotas based pay is good, the lifestyle is good, and it on the yearly numbers determined increases your marketability to future by Congress. Because it is not employers. … It is completely a winrepresented by a military academy, win program.” He added that Marine the Marine Corps relies mostly on the Officer Candidate School, a 10- to 12week summer training program, is work of 70 rewarding, paid and recruitment “Just consider it. There are a lot of pre- offers the security officers, aiming for conceived notions about the military. But of a job after without any about 2,800 the pay is good, the lifestyle is good, and college commitment. recruits it increases your marketability to future Opposed to the this year work of recruiters employers. It is completely a win-win compared to (and usually of the about 560 program.” military in general) sought by - Capt. Caine Goyette are a group of the Navy. concerned citizens “A big part of the job is finding students who are who call themselves the “counter interested,” said Goyette, pointing out recruitment.” Judy Alves is part of that there’s no way to tell if anyone this movement. She tries to expose has the drive and perseverance of a and debunk recruitment methods she successful officer until they are put considers dishonest and misleading. to the test. Recruits may enter the For example, the U.S. signed a United Marines at the enlistment level with Nations treaty in 2002 banning the a high school diploma or at the officer recruitment of anyone younger than training level if they have or plan to 17 years of age but still employs the complete a four-year college education. Junior ROTC as a “pre-recruitment” Officers may then choose to be trained organization. The military also uses as pilots, lawyers, ground officers or “bribes,” Alves said. “This was seen in the DREAM Act, a bill that failed in a number of other specialties. Capt. Goyette would tell any college to pass in December but would have student who’s thought about joining offered conditional legality to illegal U.S. the Marines, “Just consider it. There residents in exchange for enlistment. are a lot of preconceived notions She also stated that with the No Child
Left Behind Act, “The Department of Defense and the Department of Education got married,” collecting information on high school students to be used by recruiters. Alves and her colleagues work to inform schools and parents about the recruitment methods of the U.S. military, especially probing organizations like Joint Advertising Market Research & Studies (JAMRS), which collects information on teens for use by the military. They are working to make sure that no military recruit is lied to about scholarships and other incentives or the fine print of a military service contract. The military is right for some and seems wrong to others. Advertisers and recruiters may indeed be targeting and fooling teens into service with false notions or misleading incentives, and the wars they are sent into may be unjust. But on the other hand, the military is simply doing what it needs to in order to maintain its numbers and its presence in the world, and not one citizen is required to assist this effort against his or her will. __________________________________ Matt Honold is a sophomore writing major. E-mail him at mhonold1@ ithaca.edu.
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The American Population
How we choose apathy over awareness about international conflict By Kyle Allen hen the average American young adult walks down the street, they have a peculiar nature about them. From their ears, long white wires dangle into a sweatshirt pocket or backpack, their face buried in a text message. The daily concerns and struggles America’s youth faces: what television shows to watch or what musicians to pay attention to. This type of lifestyle is undoubtedly a positive element of society, but it comes at a price that few are conscious of on a daily basis: Americans appear increasingly apathetic toward international wars. News anchors cover America’s conflict in the Middle East from the comfort of a desk and chair instead of out in the field showing civilian casualties. As a result, the information seems to fall on deaf ears. Many young adults are more concerned with eating their Dunkin’ Donuts for breakfast and driving to the daily grind of jobs the industrialized world has spawned. The poorly named “War on Terror” has been going on for nearly a decade, and Americans are losing interest in the conflict. If U.S. citizens are truly detached from war, what has caused this separation, and who is to blame? Many U.S. citizens lack a solid idea of where conflicts take place and the reasons for them. “Why don’t people think more about foreign policy? Most don’t know where these places are in the first place,” said Angela Keaton, the developmental director for AntiWar. com. “Generally, unless you know someone who’s in the military, you never have to think about the places we’re at war with. [The troops] might as well be on Mars.” They are also unaware of the number of Iraqi civilian casualties, which a CRS Report for Congress estimated to surpass 100,000. Furthermore, Americans rarely hear about soldiers who must live with serious disabilities as a result of war. “I’d like to see [the media] focus a lot more on making Americans aware of
BUZZSAW: The Militarization Issue
how many come back just missing an arm or missing a leg,” said Kyle Gleik, a 32-year-old former staff sergeant for the U.S. Army who served in Iraq. “I don’t think they focus enough attention on that—that changes your whole life.” However, if information highlighting America’s military force abroad is (with some effort) available, shouldn’t more Americans be knowledgeable of or angry with the country’s actions? In a recent poll in The Washington Post, 92 percent answered that they believe Americans are disconnected from the country’s wars. Americans are aware that they are unaware, but they have no incentive to change. In a way, Americans are afforded the luxury of being shielded from violent realities. “Here’s the bargain that the U.S. government makes with the people of this country,” Ithaca College Politics Professor Naeem Inayatullah explained. “You don’t have to pay any attention to international politics, and what you get to do instead is try and live out your lives as you see fit.” Just as a luxurious lifestyle distracts Americans from war, so too does economic hardship. The current recession keeps Americans focused on working, paying bills, raising a family and enjoying entertainment. As long as people are struggling in their “pursuit of happiness,” it is difficult to be concerned about international affairs. Americans’ detachment is so severe that national debate is focused on whether or not to cut Social Security benefits without much mention of cutting military spending as an alternative. They cannot see the connection between the cost of war and their own monetary loss. “If everyone could be more thoughtful about this, they’d ask the question about who is paying for the occupation in the Middle East? The American taxpayer,” Keaton said. “Every day they’re paying for the warfare state.” It is hard to be connected to war. We are lucky to live in a country where
bombs seldom fall. As a result, we have not experienced how devastating bombing can be and therefore cannot understand the consequences of bombs being dropped in other places in their country’s name. Most Americans cite 9/11 as an exposure to such travesty, but there is no way that attack compares to a predator drone aircraft dropping its payload while the pilot is comfortable in a control room thousands of miles away. In his article “America Detached from War,” writer Tom Engelhardt said that drone warfare “certainly fits the skills of a generation raised on the computer, Facebook and video games. That our valorous warriors, their day of battle done, can increasingly leave war behind and head home to the barbeque.” Drone warfare is detachment: A button is pressed here. People die there. Though Americans are detached from war, it’s not entirely their fault. The American government allows for a lavish way of life that enables its citizens to focus attention away from foreign policy and international violence. The government also frames its debate around domestic issues, which encourages Americans to stay focused on their daily concerns. Even the way the United States conducts battle serves to distance Americans from the brutalities of war. Although our country’s system inspires apathy, this negligence does not have to be permanent. “Apathy is not a kind of stupidity or ignorance or lack of effort,” Inayatullah said. “Apathy is actually a committed desire to make sure that you don’t know certain things.” Americans have the potential to be conscious of its armed forces, but they must be willing as well. So, remove those earbuds, look up from the cell phone screen and inform yourself. ____________________________________ Kyle Allen is a sophomore writing major who thinks everyone should stop, hey, what’s that sound? Everybody look what’s going down. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Is Disconnected from War Why overcoming our apathy about conflicts abroad is impossible By Shaun Poust
Drugs and the War in Iraq may not be taking place either. By “from an existential perspective,” I mean from the perspective of our everyday lives. And insofar as the various “wars” going on are, for us, only information—photographs in the newspaper, sound-bites on television, Youtube videos and history books (for context, of course)—they are no more real than fictional events. For us, they “are” no more than fictional events “are.” What does it mean when something that is undoubtedly real is as real to us as something fictional? It means that we do not understand precisely how we are part of the world—which means, at the same time, that we understand neither ourselves nor the world. If many real events are no more real for us than fictional events, then what is the function of reading groups, film screenings or rallies related to these real events? Are they substantially different from reading groups, film screenings or rallies related to Twilight? Are we sure that they are not substantially the same, even though they feel different? Could the true function of both be the release of libidinal energy—and nothing more? We cannot meaningfully connect the United States’ military operations in Afghanistan, for instance, to what is going on in our everyday lives. Rationally, we know that they are in fact connected, but we lack what literary theorist Frederic
Jameson calls the “cognitive mapping” necessary to place them in relation to one another, for we cannot locate ourselves within the global geo-political space. Even if we had sufficient cognitive mapping to rationally connect what is going on in Afghanistan to our own actions— what we buy, who we vote for, etc.— there would remain a disjunction between our sense of those actions and the role they play on a global stage. Buying certain things, voting for certain people—these actions feel different from the atrocities we understand they contribute to on an abstract level. I want to suggest that this disjunction may be irreducible. The impossibility of reconciling the significance our actions have from our perspective(s) with the significance they have objectively, from the perspective of the whole system of socio-political relations of which they are a part, seems to me characteristic of more than just the “wars” going on today. What about ecological crises? Financial crises? It is as if we engage the micro and the macro with different senses. Perhaps we see the macro—probably on a screen—but feel the micro. Cognitive mapping—that is, locating ourselves within the global geo-political space—remains the first task. But the first step toward cognitive mapping is the recognition of the disjunction between our sense of our actions and the role they play on a global stage. In other words, the first step toward cognitive mapping is the recognition of its impossibility. To put it succinctly: We are in a bubble. We are so lost that we do not even know we are lost. We may be able to get out of the bubble. We may be able to be found. Perhaps. But have we admitted that we are in a bubble, that we are lost? Do we know these things? Do we feel them? ____________________________________ Shaun Poust is a junior journalism major who is rolling a rock up a hill. Email him at email@example.com.
n 1991, French thinker Jean Baudrillard published a collection of essays on the first Gulf War entitled The Gulf War Did Not Take Place. Baudrillard argues that what was called “the Gulf War” was not “war” according to any of the usual definitions of the word because 1) The conflict was one-sided. Only 148 U.S. troops died in combat, less than one percent of the estimated 56,000 Iraqi troops that died in combat (not to mention the many more civilian casualties) and 2) The United States’ experience of the war was almost entirely electronic, with citizens updated by the minute on CNN and soldiers themselves controlling attack drones far away from the battlefield. For Baudrillard, the Gulf War was the simulation of war on one hand, the crudest imperialist brutality on the other. We could say that Baudrillard’s thesis has to do only with words, in which case he would merely be emphasizing the ideological function of the use of the word “war.” Understood this way, we could apply Baudrillard’s logic to the War on Terror, the War on Drugs and the War in Iraq—but it is nothing new to point out that these are understood better as policing endeavors and “the crudest imperialist brutality” than wars. The novelty of Baudrillard’s thesis is apparent only from an existential perspective. For us in the United States, existentially, the Gulf War may not have taken place. Furthermore, existentially, the War on Terror, the War on
Image by Jess Hock
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BUZZSAW: The Militarization Issue
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Passing on Pacifists The lack of anti-war coverage in the mainstream media By Alyssa Figueroa
n February 2003, while more than 10 million people worldwide participated in United for Peace & Justice’s coordination of “The World Says No to War” demonstrations, the “Save Martha” campaign to save Martha Stewart from going to jail received more coverage on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC than the anti-war protests—and only four people turned out to the “Save Martha” rally.
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Whether it’s cable news or the leading newspapers, media in all forms have failed in providing the U.S public with the information they need to evaluate the government’s actions. After their big blunder facilitating the Iraq invasion by reporting the existence of weapons of mass destruction, the media still have yet to learn. Today, despite the fact that majority of the American people are against the war and there’s a growing curiosity as to how much of the U.S. taxpayer’s money is going to the war, the media continue to leave out voices in these crucial discussions. People who are critical of the war are not hard to come by, yet the media have a tendency to only allow those who rule to frame the debate, just as they did at the start of the war. The time period consisting of one week before and one week after General Colin Powell presented his case for the Iraq invasion to the U.N. on Feb. 5, 2003,was both a crucial period and a time when 61 percent of the U.S. population questioned going to war. Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), a media watchdog group, conducted a study on anti-war voices in the media during this period. FAIR observed interviews from CBS, NBC, ABC and PBS, and out of 393 interviews conducted on these networks, only three interviews featured an antiwar voice. During this time, MSNBC canceled their highest rated show, The Phil Donahue Show, as a leaked internal memo revealed the network believed Donahue would be a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war ... He seems to delight in presenting guests who are anti-war, antiBush and skeptical of the administration’s motives.” Today, the treatment of anti-war critics in the media has not improved. Media outlets have
continuously administered confusing polls resulting in distorted results, while simply phrased questions (“Do you support the war?”) continuously show that approximately 53 percent of the U.S. population opposes the war in Iraq. Anti-war critics are rarely invited to TV talk shows or quoted in newspapers. For example, in June
2010, an article in the Los Angeles Times about the growing controversy over the war in Afghanistan’s withdrawal plan featured a debate between U.S. military officials and Sen. John McCain—both dubious about withdrawing troops. “Much of the media merely covers wars by quoting the Pentagon and other members of the establishment, and there’s really little of the other side presented,” said Eric Garris, managing editor of AntiWar.com, a non-profit, non-partisan site devoted to providing anti-war views that receives around three million page views a month. A few years ago, the government hacked the site and shut it down for a day. Garris added, “You’ll often have a so-called ‘debate’ on Afghanistan, and the debate is whether we should send 20,000 or 50,000 more troops.” Michael McPhearson, co-convener of United for Peace & Justice, a coalition of pro-peace groups, former executive director of Veterans For Peace and a field artillery officer in the Gulf War, said the anti-war movement is “generally invisible” in the mainstream media. He said he has been displeased with the media’s continuous lack of coverage of the anti-war movement. McPhearson said even when the movement is covered, it’s not reported on fairly. For example, he said, when protests are covered, “The news will go out and sensationalize our image using the hippie or tie-dye to portray us.” Peter Hart, FAIR’s media activism director, said that protests are portrayed as distractions from real issues. Reporters, he said, feel they need to cover whatever politicians currently want to argue. “Protests in general are seen as some kind of unfair intervention in the political aspirations of Washington,” he said. Although protesters or other war critics seldom get
BUZZSAW: The Militarization Issue
“Media coverage gives oxygen to any sort of movement.The fact that anti-war opinions are rarely expressed in the media doesn’t empower people to participate.” - Peter Hart, FAIR
Image by Anika Steppe
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invited into a TV studio to give their input, when the rare opportunity arises they are “often outnumbered,” Garris said. “You’ll have a panel with three pro-war guests with slightly different views on the war and then one anti-war.” McPhearson said it is upsetting to see how much coverage the Tea Party receives, despite the fact that there was little coverage of the anti-war protests in 2003, in which hundreds of thousands of protesters lined the streets. When it comes to protests, Hart said, “The Tea Party has been a huge exception to the rule: Two dozen agitated conservatives could show up at a town hall meeting… and it will be live on CNN.” McPhearson said activist participation has declined over the years because of frustration and disappointment in the continuing wars in spite of protest. Hart said, “Media coverage gives oxygen to any sort of movement. The fact that anti-war opinions are rarely expressed in the media doesn’t empower people to participate.” McPhearson said, however, people’s dissatisfaction with the current state of the economy is growing. Though domestic problems are one of the main reasons why Americans cannot focus on protesting, he hopes that maybe they can connect military spending with the problems at home. He wishes they make this connection even though media discussion of spending cuts “focuses on domestic cuts, and they don’t even bring up the military budget.” Some media critics, like Hart, believe that because corporations own the mainstream media, their interest is in business more than journalism. “Their interests are corporate,” Hart said. “So whether it’s a direct interest of having military contracts, which was the case with GE [owning NBC] … or because news that is too critical of the U.S. government is news that could get you in trouble with viewers or advertisers. … there’s a sense that rocking the boat is not what you’re in
the business to do.” Garris believes the media would make money presenting various viewpoints, just like Mother Jones and Salon.com. He blames the lack of coverage on journalists’ laziness and fear of losing access. “If a journalist tried to present a more broad explanation of the position,
“Protests in general are seen as some kind of unfair intervention in the political aspirations of Washington.” - Peter Hart, FAIR they have to do more work,” he said. “They can’t just call up their friends at the Pentagon or the think tank, get some quotes and put out the story,” he said. “The other problem is access—if they critique too much, they may lose access to Pentagon representatives or not be able to embed reporters.” McPhearson, however, believes there is an even bigger reason for the media’s lack of anti-war coverage. He said Americans believe both them and their country are exceptional, while some even feel their lives are worth more than Iraqi or Afghani lives. “The anti-war movement challenges this belief,” he said. “We’re running around the world killing lots of people, and we have to ask ourselves, ‘Why are we doing this?’” McPhearson added that people are uncomfortable questioning their beliefs, and since media is a business, discomfort is not an enticement to get viewers to watch their show. The media do not “want people to think they’re unpatriotic, so they tend to stay in this conservative viewpoint instead of really challenging our country,” he said “You don’t get better if you don’t challenge yourself
to get better. But I think it’s hard for the majority of people to face the challenges and look at their own life and say, ‘Well, what do I have to do to make a difference?’” He added that people might be willing to change their ideas if they were confronted with received information on the war from all sides. “I think the news media is supposed to provide people with that information that challenges them,” McPhearson said. “Instead, they reinforce the status quo and policies put in place by the ruling class.” At FAIR, Hart and his colleagues work hard at critiquing the media in hopes that the media will do its job of challenging its audience. “If you ask a lot of journalists, they say, ‘Nobody tells me what to write or what I can’t say,’ and in a lot of cases that’s true. But they’re not pushing to do things that would offend anyone or upset an advertiser,” Hart said. “We have to make this appeal to journalists. If journalists don’t see themselves as tools of the large corporations and believe that they stand for higher values, this is a test… in how much you believe in those ideals, how much you’re willing to fight for them.” Perhaps, because the media is so heavily affected by and interwoven in the economic, societal and political structures in our society, media coverage critical of these structures is ultimately lacking. Although it is impossible to know whether the media can ever truly revolutionize these structures, we still need to push for media to critique them. “The media is powerful as an institution in our democracy,” Hart said. “It’s not necessarily that you believe that it has the ability to bring about social change, but [that] you believe it has an important, essential role, and by wishing to make it better you’re understanding that a better media is going to lead to a better democracy.” __________________________________ Alyssa Figueroa is a junior journalism and politics major who wishes the war debate wasn’t brought to you by the following sponsors. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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BUZZSAW: The Militarization Issue
Ministry of Cool
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Q & A : David Robb By Carly Sitzer The Film Liaison Office is a branch of the Department of Defense that serves as a link between the Pentagon and Hollywood. To ensure positive portrayal of the military in films, the Film Liaison Office works with producers to prescreen film in exchange for the use of miltary equipment as props. Though the office maintains an unknown factor of the Hollywood film-making process, David Robb, author of Operation Hollywood, is reponsible for extensive coverage of the relationship. Robb sat down with Buzzsaw to talk about his research on the Film Liaison Office. ___________________________________ Buzzsaw: Could you walk through the process that producers go through with the Film Liaison Office? David Robb: They have to give them three copies of the script, and the film liaison offices will look at it and see if there’s anything in it for them. What they want is a script that will show the military in a positive light because they want people to see it and then join the military. They want to make the military look good, so if it’s a really negative story, they are not going to assist it at all. Or if it’s a script that they like, but there’s something they don’t like they say, ‘Okay, we’ll do it, but you have to take out this line or change this character, change this dialogue or this story point.’ Then they make notes, and if the producers agree to make those changes, then they work together and they’ll supply them with the things that they want—the tanks, the planes, the submarines, the military bases.
DR: Basically, they give it to them for free. If you want to go out on an aircraft carrier, they’ll take you
B: Can you explain how you first came across this and explain why you thought it was so important to write your book about it? DR: Well, I had heard about it for years, and every once in a while a story would come out about in the papers. So I always thought what it would take to make the book, though, was more than just calling the producers and saying, ‘Hey, what did you have to change in your script in order to get the military’s assistance?’ I needed actual documents. So when I started finding documents, I found that the Pentagon had donated some documents to the Georgetown University’s Special Collections Library. So I went to Georgetown and found pages of scripts and recommendations and negotiations between the producers and the Pentagon on hundreds of films. Then I went around to each of the military branch film offices in Los Angeles, and asked if I could look at their files, and everyone said “no” except the Marine Corps. The Marine Corps let me stand in their office, small room, floor-to-ceiling shelves with nothing but scripts and documents of films they worked on. So they let me copy everything that they had, the Marine Corps were the only ones that weren’t afraid. They said they had nothing to hide. Really, the Army, Navy and Air Force did not want this kind of thing coming out— the kind of thing that they do. B: I’m not surprised. It doesn’t seem
fair that they have that much control. DR: They think it’s great, because it’s their job to get positive portrayals of the military into the values of millions of people. It’s been going on since World War II. They especially target children; I found all sorts of documents that one of their prime targets for the message in movies and televisions shows is children because they are the future recruits. They made deals with the Mickey Mouse Club, the old Lassie TV show: They need positive portrayals of the military so that the kids will see it and want to join when they grow up. I believe that it’s unconstitutional, because the Supreme Court has held in numerous rulings that the government cannot favor one form of speech that it likes and not give the same benefit and favors to speech that it does not like. It can’t give tax breaks to newspapers that write positive things about them and then not give those tax breaks to newspapers that write bad things about them. But that’s what they do with the movie industry: If you are willing to play ball and say good things about the military, they’ll roll out the red carpet and help you and save you millions of dollars. And if you want to say something negative, that’s true, they won’t help you and it can cost you millions of dollars doing a computer-generated image of the submarine instead of doing the real thing. B: Why do you think so few people are aware of what’s going? How does the secrecy benefit the pentagon, and how does it benefit Hollywood? DR: Let me say first that the benefit to Hollywood is that they get lots
Ministry of Cool
B: Does the government give it to the studios for free?
out there and they’ll let you film. If you want to put your camera in one of the planes and fly up in the air, they’ll charge you for the gas. They don’t charge you for the plane, the pilot or their time, but you have to pay for the gas. It’s a form of the Pentagon subsidizing films that they like.
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of free stuff and access to free stuff, and they know that audiences like to see stuff that’s real. And the military benefits because it gets free advertising—product placement that the audience is not aware of. It’s not a secret, because I wrote a book about it, but the fact that so few people know about it is just sad. I think that if people knew about it, they’d just be outraged. If they knew that their children were being targeted for subliminal advertising, which is also illegal, in film and TV shows. There are all kinds of TV shows. If you want to see recent movies that have been helped out, go on to IMDb and type in Phil Strub, and you’ll see all the pictures he’s worked on. They are talking about cutting back the military budget, and I think they should start with the film office and eliminate the office altogether. The police departments around the country don’t do this. We’ll take you out in our car if you change your script: Doctors don’t do this when they want assistance from doctors— they don’t say, ‘We need to see the script to help you.’ Hollywood loves heroes. Hollywood needs heroes,
The lasting implications, I believe, on the American people is that it’s made America over the last 50 years of having the people bombarded with positive images, paid for by the military, has made us a more war-like people. When Hitler invaded France and was bombing England everyday and rolling over Denmark and Europe and Poland, we didn’t enter the war until we were attacked ourselves at Pearl Harbor. The people then wouldn’t let Roosevelt go to war. The people were very much against war. There is a steady drip, drip, drip of having the military put into film and television products. It’s had a very bad effect on the American people. People now are ready to go to war at the drop at a hat—we’ll invade countries that didn’t invade us or anything! Or fight wars against wrong people. B: Is there anything else that I forgot to ask or that you want to mention that you think is important? DR: Just that, if you look at the films that the military assisted, every film they made are films of
whose scripts are being changed by the government. It’s important to remember the producers can always say no. There are plenty of people who said, ‘No, we’re not going to do that.’ They can’t stop you from doing a film they don’t like, they just won’t help you, and it’ll cost you. Sometimes studios won’t even make the picture if the military won’t agree to help them because it costs too much. There are films that were never made because the military won’t help them. B: Is there anywhere to view a list of the scripts that they used? DR: The list is so long, my book was just a fraction. The documentation was just really shocking, where they made them take out lines. If I were to show a whole list, it would be in the hundreds, many hundreds of pictures. I would just advise people when they see a film, if they use the military, at the very end there’s always a thank you at the end saying, ‘thank you to Phil Strub’ or ‘Thank you to the Department of Defense
The lasting implications, I believe, on the American people is that it’s made America over the last 50 years of having the people bombarded with positive images, paid for by the military, has made us a more war-like people.
BUZZSAW: The Militarization Issue
and they don’t have to be bribed to make doctors heroes, lawyers heroes or police heroes. And they don’t need to be bribed to make the military heroes: There will be plenty of military heroes without this bribery. B: What do you think the lasting repercussions of having this relationship will mean for the industry? DR: Well, there was a time a few years ago when they were talking about getting rid of Phil Strub’s office and having only the branches do it themselves. Hollywood executives, including Jack Valenti, the head of the MPAA, wrote dozens of letters saying that they want to keep Phil Strub: They want this. They like this in the film industry.
detriment. There was a film, The Great Santini with Robert Duval. It was nominated for a Best Screenplay Oscar. I found the documents and they made him take out what the producers thought was the funniest—this was sort of a black comedy film, serious with some funny elements—they made them take out what was the funniest scene in the whole film because they thought it was detrimental to recruiting. It didn’t win, but who knows: If you take the best scene of a picture that won Best Picture, is it still the Best Picture? I don’t know, I just know that America—which its job is to protect the creative and economic rights of its members, those are the two stated goals—has done a terrible job. They’ve done nothing. They’ve done nothing to protest this for its members
for the assistance in the making of this motion picture.’ People should watch and see films that they think what they’re seeing is propaganda, which is what it is. If they watch all the credits, at the very end, down with the MPAA sign and the little Fuji Films, see if what you’ve just been watching was the vision of the writers, directors, the actors and the artist or the vision of the military you’ve been looking at. And you can always tell—if it’s really positive, you know that there’s been military assistance. And if it’s all negative, it didn’t get military assistance. But people should know that what they’ve been seeing has been meddled with by the military. To read the full interview, visit www.buzzsawmag.org.
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Operation Toy Box
Military-themed toys under fire By Karen Muller ap guns, G.I. Joe dolls, green plastic army men and other fake weapons: they are known as classic artifacts of the American childhood, but to some, they represent a potentially dangerous trend among children and the toy industry. These playtime staples were born out of a patriotic culture that holds its military with high regard, but today, these toys are under fire for the idea that they seem to glorify violence and are aimed at young children.
This controversy isn’t new; since the launch of the first gaming systems, violent video games, such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto, have been criticized for content also—entire court cases have sprung from the controversy. Still, some researchers argue in favor of the games, claiming that there are positive, cathartic benefits attached to occasionally playing such video games. As media, video games are regulated by the Entertainment Software Rating Board, who determines what content is appropriate for which age bracket. However, there is no concrete equivalent system for rating children’s toys, and according to many parent groups, violent and militarythemed toys are not appropriate for any children. Regardless, such items
have remained popular, and have been a mainstay in the toy industry for decades. In 1964, the first G.I. Joe doll was created without political or militaristic intentions in mind, but rather, as the male-toy counterpart to Mattel’s wildly successful Barbie doll, which had risen to popularity years earlier. The male doll was a quick success, so Joe’s presence extended into a series of comic books, movies, video games, and other variations of the original figurine. Children were fascinated with the dolls, so other toy companies began to capitalize on the idea. If young children were turning to war play to emulate their heroes—specifically, war heroes—then the industry was prepared to make it easier for them, with new variations of war toys. Small, plastic army men also reached the height of their popularity by the ‘60s. The ‘70s marked the true beginning of the military toy controversy; outrage over American involvement in the Vietnam War led to a decline in sales of war-themed items. G.I. Joe dolls were even recreated as peaceful astronauts and deepsea divers, in an attempt to stay ahead of public opinion. Along with the anti-war movement, and Americans becoming less comfortable with symbols of war, parents began to show disapproval of violently-themed toys, ranging from tiny plastic soldiers to more realistic-looking toy weapons. The trend became even more pronounced in the late 1980s, shortly after the FCC began to allow the advertisement of items linked to television shows, including ads for toys that targeted children. In the ‘80s, television became more violent,
as did related toys, so concerned parents and teachers spoke out. Joanne Sheehan, representative of the “Stop War Toys” campaign and parent, acknowledged the challenges that rise when raising a child in a war-toy-free household. “When my son Patrick was 4, five of the top six selling toys were war toys. Most kids he played with [had] them and their parents didn’t see a problem with them,” she said. “It can be a challenge to be different…Kids want things they aren’t supposed to have.” Sheehan explained some parents
Image by Chinny Udokwu
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War Toys saw some considerable changes after 9/11. Did you know that…
> Topps Co. added a line of “American Hero” cards, which featured heroes like George Bush, Rudy Giuliani and John Ashcroft.
> Dragon Models launched Tora Bora Ted, a doll that can allows children reenact the taking of Osama’s mountain aerie.
> Dragon Models introduced Amy, a U.S. National Guard that worked for Homeland Security, who came with a flashlight and assault rifle.
BUZZSAW: The Militarization Issue
> Hasboro began selling an Israeli Defense Force soldier doll.
> Ever Sparkle manufactured a “Forward Command Post,” which featured a dollhouse decorated with machine-guns and sandbags, rather than couches or beds.
believe forbidding children to play with military toys seems to only increase their allure, but added she hasn’t found this to be the case. Furthermore, she disagreed that such games encourage children to experiment with the roles of “good guy” and “bad guy,” claiming it is not a healthy way to teach children about identity or emotions. This sentiment is common today. Parents and protesters alike have developed concern that playing with war toys desensitizes children to concepts of violence and loss. The very idea that children simulate violent acts, just for fun, is disturbing. Another concern that has been voiced recently is that some military-themed toys may be used to indoctrinate young people, as a sly and ethically questionable recruitment technique. However, according to Nancy Carlsson-Paige, author and expert on early childhood education, “war play” or use of these military-themed toys, can actually prove valuable to a child’s development. According to her research, through playing the role of an army hero or superhero, children are able to experience a feeling of confidence and competence. Additionally, by participating in pretend fights, children learn about boundaries, and what kinds of behavior are socially acceptable. The benefits Carlsson-Paige expects from war play entirely contradict the message that non-violent toy proponents want to send. While the fear of desensitization is common among anti-war-play protesters, in an article that she wrote about war play, Carlsson-Paige claims exposure to the reality of violence is exactly what children need. She wrote on her website, “Young children see and hear about violence in the world around them—in their homes and communities and in the media they see. … War play can be a helpful vehicle for integrating and making sense of this violence. For example, a child might see soldiers fighting on television news, and bring this image into ‘war play’ in an effort to understand it or make it less scary.”
This opinion is far from mainstream; Promoting Cultures of Peace for Children, a Canadian non-profit, has designed a creative solution to encourage children to embrace an environment of peace, rather than one of war play. Susan Ruzic, a representative of the organization, explains that the group’s major campaign, “Acts of Transformation: War Toys to Peace Art,” asks young children to surrender violently-themed toys, which are used to create peacethemed art. The process of doing so gives the kids a feeling of direct involvement with the movement of turning violence into peace, as well as a chance for creative expression. Ruzic explained the message is generally well-received, “The children who surrender their toys to make peaceful transformations are very happy to do so, once they understand the connections that glorified violence on TV and in video games have to actual schoolyard bullying.” While asking children to turn in their toys sounds like it could be a difficult task, Ruzic said the organization usually gets through to the kids, and can make a great impact on their outlook toward the need for peace in the world. “Children who have violent video games and toys at home, and whose parents often play those games at home with them, are usually surprised to hear that someone would want to surrender these toys to make something peaceful. But after mentioning to them that these toys are violent and do not help people to learn peaceful problem solving skills, they think about it and agree that they would like to have more peace in their lives.” _______________________________ Karen Muller is a freshman IMC major who will kick your butt in Call of Duty. Email her at email@example.com.
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The Influence of the Military in Fashion
How politics branded fashion over time By Jenni Zellner
ashion is extremely prevalent in society. Regardless of how invested you are in fashion, it is present in all tenets of daily life. Although trends in fashion have been influenced by different things at different times, the military is something that began to affect fashion in the 1940s and continues to today. In fact, the military has had such an effect on fashion that different military influences can help distinguish different eras. According to Lily Sheehan, Ithaca College English professor with a specialty in fashion, the meaning or message of military fashion is linked to the circumstances. “It depends on the context and how it is deployed. Certainly military-influenced fashions help to make visible the ways the military permeates our society,” she said. “But the purpose of wearing a style could vary from protesting militarism to promoting nationalism—or the wearer could be unconcerned with such issues altogether.” In the 1940s, uniforms became commonplace not only because of soldiers, but also because of women joining the war effort by serving as nurses or other positions in the military. The uniform is by far the most noteworthy form of dress, for its presence during battle and every day life, yet its purpose is most perplexing. “In some ways, uniforms aren’t necessary for war,” Sheehan said. “Of course, camouflage can have practical uses, but that does not explain the presence of uniforms in all parts of the military. Uniforms manifest and enforce practices and ideas of conformity as well as hierarchy and distinction, all of which are key to military institutions. It seems necessary or natural to wear them, when they are actually a cultural construct.” Although a military uniform is capable of creating unity, it can subsequently
Image by Clara Goldman
Ministry of Cool
create restrictions, or e v e n the idealistic view that war is a game rather than a life or death conflict. Additionally, families were expected to ration food and household items, or sacrifice them entirely. The rations affected various parts of everyday life in many ways, fashion was one of these ways. For example, nylon became scarce, as the nylon was a necessity for parachutes, therefore women weren’t able to wear stockings made of nylon. Patriotism played a significant part in wartime fashion, even for materials that weren’t rationed. Sheehan explained women were expected to set an example, and as a result, fashion took an overwhelming tone of drabness and austerity. “Fashion became a political issue in that spending money on dress was seen as unpatriotic. People were encouraged to invest in war bonds,” she said. As a result, signs of war were not just found in propaganda posters or in newspapers, they became relevant in the smallest activity of getting dressed. Because of this
overwhelming influence, debates about fashion reinforced patriotism and strengthened support for the war. Although in past eras, militaryinspired fashion may have had specific connotations—whether they were for the war, against the war or just affected by the war—Sheehan does not think this is applicable for today’s society. “Today, wearing a military-style jacket from Urban Outfitters, for example, doesn’t signal that you’re supporting the occupation of Iraq,” she said. ‘The consumption of those styles likely has more to do with a desire to follow fashion than a wish to express patriotism.” In other words, fashion has become so convoluted with military influence that you may not need to think about the message you’re sending when you wear those combat boots. __________________________________ Jenni Zellner is a sophomore English & anthropology major who says don’t ask, don’t tell about her camoflauge. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Our School is Da Bomb A complete history of the IC bombers By Dylan Clark ome to Ithaca and you’ll find a gorgeous natural landscape with an active ultraliberal community and citizens who aren’t afraid to brandish their pacifist beliefs. On the South Hill lies Ithaca College, a school that inherits the city’s progressive image, as seen in its recognized advancements in campus sustainability. Its sports teams, all affectionately known as the Bombers, have won... wait a second, Bombers? How did a far-left school in an even further-left town end up with a martially geared name like Bombers? Mike Lindbert, associate director of inercollegiate sports, explained the official story: The name was coined in the early ‘40s by Harold Jansen, a popular sports reporter for the Ithaca Journal, in an article about a heroic comeback during an IC basketball game. “We were down several points with a few minutes to go, and the team decided they were just gonna have to start throwing up some long shots, and they were making them,” he said. “We ended up winning that game, and the reporter started talking about the By Ithaca College Bombers.” And so Bomber Nation was born. But that’s not the only theory abound. The Bronx Bombers, the New York Yankees, and Joe Louis, the Brown Bomber, both champions of their respective sports during the
and an “overwhelming majority” of students chose Cayugas. Then, before a decade had passed, Bomber fever had struck, and our campus has been infected ever since. No one knows for sure what triggered such an abrupt nominal change. Lindberg guessed that the name Cayugas “just didn’t catch.” He explained that there needs to be meaning for a nickname to be accepted. So what does it mean to be a Bomber, then? According to Lindberg, “It’s about dedication, it’s about service to a greater good, it’s about community, it’s about being a team, it’s about the sacrifices and commitments that you make, and having the courage to do the things you need to do in order to stand up for what’s right.” Sounds like a military recruiter’s pitch for joining the service, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Sports and war do share some inherent values. Look at the football field during Cortaca, and tell me it
Bedlam Productions, 2010
BUZZSAW: The Militarization Issue
‘40s, have also been theorized to have inspired the name. The Ithaca College archives also suggest the country’s growing Air Force at the time was a possible influence. World War II was happening during that time, so it’s logical that a war-related name would come into favor during a conflict that most of the country fully supported. Lindberg, however, disagreed with this hypothesis. Regardless of how we got the name, it is noteworthy that we had a name before we were the Bombers. Prior to adopting the controversial name, our sports teams were called the Cayugas after a local American Indian population of the same name (which is why the name would never fly today— in 2005, the NCAA implemented a rule that forbade schools from using ethnicbased nicknames and mascots). The Ithaca College archives state that in 1937, a poll was conducted to choose a name for the school’s team,
Image by Georgie Morley
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“It’s about dedication, it’s
about service to a greater good, it’s about community, it’s about being a team, it’s about the sacrifices and commitments that you make, and having the courage to do the things you need to do in order to stand up for what’s right
Ministry of Cool
doesn’t remind you of a warzone. That’s part of the reason Bombers is a fitting name for a sports team. Plus, it has all the qualities a good team name needs: Intimidation, fearinducing imagery and controversy. When a Utica Pioneer looks at agame schedule and sees that his or her next opponent is the Ithaca College Bombers, he’s gonna be shaking in his cleats. If instead the name was the Love Doves, the Blazing Monks or the Civilly Disobedient Delinquents, he’d probably be on the floor laughing instead. But the intimidation factor isn’t the only reason having a name pertaining to war can be a good thing. Consider a college-seeking high school student browsing Ithaca College’s website. They will come across the name “Bombers” and might immediately think of the dedication, service and sacrifice that members of the armed forces hold in high esteem. This student already knows what being a Bomber is all about. On the other hand, the name’s militant nuance might instead bring to the student’s mind offensive images of lost lives, broken families and the countless other anguishes that war leaves in its destructive wake. Here lies the origin of the name’s controversy, but this way of thinking is unreasonable. Would that student condemn Snoopy’s memorable WWI fighter pilot character for the same reason they reject the name “Bombers?” I sincerely hope not. Even in the context of war, it is extremely flattering to be named after
the men and women who put their lives on the line in order to ensure that I can exercise my basic rights. There are parts of the world where you can be abducted from your house in the middle of the night for doing so much as vocalizing disagreements with your government, and thanks to the men and women of the armed services, the United States isn’t one of them. But beyond any issues with any implications the name might carry, we’ve been the Bombers for decades now, so the name is strongly tied to the school’s identity. My dad can’t go anywhere in his Ithaca College sweatshirt without random passersby yelling “Go Bombers!” If you look at the Ithaca College Mascot Search blog, you will find a plethora of comments from alumni infuriated over the fact that IC is looking for a new mascot. It takes little imagination to envision the massive controversey that would ensue if the administration decided to actually change the team’s name. It’s highly unlikely that the name will ever be changed regardless of whatever opposition exists. “The school stands by it,” Lindberg said. Even during the school’s recent mascot search, a name change was never a part of the question. “When we started the initiative of bringing in the mascot, first thing that was said was ‘we’re the Bombers.’ This is who we are: Now we need to find a way of bringing in more of the campus community to embrace what we understand the Bombers to be.” If you’ve got beef with the name because you don’t like its militaristic connotations, you have two choices: Either lighten up and embrace the Bomber spirit or get used to it, because the name’s roots are simply too deep to consider changing it. ____________________________________ Dylan Clark is a freshman psychology major who is rooting for the Ithaca College Love Doves. Email him at email@example.com.
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Love is a Battlefield
The culture of relationships while in the military By Lindsey Ahern eing in a relationship is difficult. It’s even harder when your significant other is based in another state or, even worse, another country. Many couples go months at a time when either one or both of them are a part of the military. For many, the time apart is rough, especially without being able to communicate on a regular basis. They receive little time to communicate with each other by letters, Facebook, Skype, etc., but it is required for the Army to provide a way to communicate back home; letters are sent for free and, as a result of recent changes, they can either share Internet for free or purchase their own private Internet connection. Even so, when they do have the time to communicate, it sometimes doesn’t work out because of time differences or conflicting schedules. Pfc. Jordan Ashlee and his girlfriend, Katelyn Causey, have had this struggle for about six months and will face it for at least six more. Both hail from New Jersey, and Jordan is currently stationed in Karbala, Iraq. Katelyn studies at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. With their busy schedules, they find it difficult to communicate regularly. “ [ O u r communication] depends on what I’m doing,” Ashlee said. “Once a month, I go out for a week to be on quick reaction force, so for that week we don’t really talk. When I’m back we usually
BUZZSAW: The Militarization Issue
just communicate through messages [on Facebook] or phone calls late at night for me and early mornings for her.” Many soldiers look forward to receiving any communication with their loved ones. “Talking to her is what gets me through this whole experience,” he said. “It makes the time go by faster, and I know it won’t be too long until we are reunited again.” Some couples are not as lucky as Ashlee and Causey. For Pfc. Ryan Steel, his experience is that relationships while overseas are tough. Steel entered the military with his girlfriend of two years, Maria. “When I left, things were really hard, but we knew it was going to be,” Steel said. “I just didn’t think she’d make it this hard for us.”
Steel said Maria couldn’t handle the lack of communication between the two of them. She was used to being able to call or text him at any given moment. While he was stationed in Iraq, however, Steel was lucky if he got to communicate with his girlfriend on a daily basis in any form. “When I did get to talk to Maria, she would complain about not being able to talk more instead of enjoying the time we did have to talk to each other,” Steel said. “It wasn’t making my situation any easier knowing she was so unhappy with our relationship.” After about three months of being overseas, Maria decided she couldn’t deal with the distance and the struggle anymore and broke it off with Steel. He was heartbroken, but he understood it was for the best. He knew she wasn’t supportive, and that only made his time overseas more difficult. Being away from someone for a long time is hard, and being involved in a long distance relationship is even harder. But for many couples, absence truly does make the heart grow fonder. “I can’t wait to come home just so I can see Katelyn again,” Ashlee said. “This experience has made me appreciate her so much more. I’m really the luckiest guy in the world.” ________________________ Lindsey Ahern is a sophomore journalism major who likes a man in uniform. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image by Katie Shaw
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The good, the bad and the way too bloody By Anne Northgraves
ar. What is it good for?
It may be many things, but war is a particularly good subject for films. There’s inherent conflict, danger and discovery. What exactly defines the perfect war film? Forrest Gump goes to Vietnam, but the feel-good classic isn’t exactly a movie focused on the struggles faced by those fighting in and architecting conflicts. A real war film is about those battles, the nitty-gritty of what it takes to be in the thick of things and the lives of the people down in the trenches. So what makes an actual war movie good or bad? There’s no set formula for the perfect war film. But by taking a critical eye to some of the most famous war movies, some interesting patterns emerge about the place of melodrama and romance (generally bad), blood and gore (appropriate good, excessiveness bad), historical accuracy (blatant disregard, bad), personal journeys (primarily good) and greater themes (good when not preachy). THE GOOD Three Kings: Anyone who saw this first teaming of Mark Wahlberg and director David O. Russell knew to expect great things from last year’s drama The Fighter. The plot to steal Saddam’s gold was so simple, it was easy to predict that everything would go wrong. What was a happy surprise is how Three Kings touched on the soldiers’ feelings of impotency, wanting to do the right thing when they’re told, and portraying the consequences of so-called “victory” with humor and thoughtfulness.
Gettysburg: With a runtime of more than four hours, Gettysburg feels like it lasts as long as the three-day Civil War battle it portrays. But those four hours are filled with incredibly realistic battle—not overly stylized, not blood-baths of action, but real strategy that makes the historical facts seem new. This is balanced with the moments of quiet reflection between the fighting, when tough soldiers lament the division among old friends. More than 140 years after the events, Gettysburg captures the interesting psychology and visuals of warfare. The Hurt Locker: What makes The Hurt Locker the most aesthetically successful film about the current Iraq War is that it doesn’t take sides—proor anti-war, American or Iraqi. The depictions of conditions for civilians and soldiers are disturbingly accurate in this rough, dangerous world. This provides the adrenaline rush that is the only escape for some soldiers. THE BAD The Patriot: There are a few things to like about this Mel Gibson Revolutionary War film, like John Williams’ amazing score and a strong performance by the late, great Heath Ledger. But the things to dislike about The Patriot as a war film are too prominent to ignore. For one there’s the total disregard for historical accuracy. The film squanders the potential for real exploration of the struggle between loyalty to the past and hope for the future. And the realism of the battle scenes proves less effective when countered by the family melodrama. Kingdom of Heaven: How does a movie about bloody battle become boring? Look no further than Kingdom
Image by Kennis Ku
of Heaven, the story of a Crusades soldier defending Jerusalem in between existential pondering about the futility of fighting. The twisted allegiances and extreme convictions that drove the centuries-long religious campaigns are explained rather than shown, causing the audience to lose interest in the climactic fight for the holy city. At least Orlando Bloom looks more masculine than he was as the blond Legolas. 300: The stunning images of 300—rippling muscles, grotesque monsters bathed in blood and sunshine, slow-motion overload— recalled a comic book brought to life. But war isn’t meant to be pretty. Nor is it meant to feature pointless voiceover, orgies and a paradoxically non-threatening androgynous giant god-king as an antagonist. Pearl Harbor: This movie could be indicted as a bad war film solely for the numerous historical inaccuracies—like making the base’s leader Admiral Kimmel look like an idiot who was golfing during the attack. But director Michael Bay outdoes himself by also making a just plain bad film. One of the worst days in American history is not the focus, but serves mostly as the backdrop for a maudlin love story. And the central triangle between Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale and Josh Hartnett is forced, predictable and lacks any chemistry. This is by no means a complete list, and its sure to stir up some debate. But isn’t that at least one thing war is good for? ___________________________________ Anne Northgraves is a senior cinema and photographer major who wants to remind you this isn’t Sparta. Email her at email@example.com.
Ministry of Cool
Apocalypse Now: A fictional story, adapted from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Apocalype Now is about a traumatized soldier sent deeper into the jungle and the depravity of human nature in search of a colonel gone rogue. The film captures the true insanity of war. From the innocent eagerness embodied by Laurence Fishburne’s child soldier and the death of that innocence, to the Jonestown-esque Commune that Colonel Kurtz builds
around the crazy ego war has made of him, no other film has been able to so effectively put the audience through the psychological disturbance that is war.
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Celebrity Does Not Equal Creditable
Celebrities continue to give their opinions on politics and war By Francesca Toscano elebrities are reliable sources for a variety of topics, such as beauty, fashion and how to end up in rehab. However, there are subjects that many stars should not have an opinion on: rocket science, brain surgery and, in an age of reality television and autotune, talent. Nevertheless, celebrities continue to comment on the most tumultuous and controversial topics. Even more depressing, generations of mindless followers believe them without understanding the subjects themselves. War has been a subject of debate for many years so various celebrities have been compelled to share their opinions with the public. And we’ve been compelled to listen. Shakira, Colombian vocalist and sex symbol, is renowned for her sultry voice and hips that don’t lie. She is less
BUZZSAW: The Militarization Issue
is disheartening. Shakira and Richardson are only two of countless celebrities who have shared their input on the war. Queen Latifah, Tom Cruise, Barbara Streisand, Avril Lavigne, George Clooney, Dave Matthews and Jane Fonda are some of the other celebrities that have made their opinions known. Many of these stars are highly respected in the realm of celebrities, and therefore it is suspected that the motivation behind the celebrities’ standpoints might have been somewhat tactical. Michelle Courtney Berry, an Ithaca College lecturer in the strategic communications department and a public relations consultant, believes celebrities have the ability and power to bring awareness to wartime issues. “Although the public tends to not give credit to celebrities for influencing
with their cause and/or speeches. I’ve found that clients who pursue anti-war agendas who speak first of peace above politics have the most appealing message strategies.” Berry’s assertion is accurate, as many celebrities’ influences have positively affected the public’s political understanding. For example, the non-profit Rock the Vote campaign, which has featured numerous celebrities including Robert Downey Jr., Christina Aguilera and Madonna, educates America’s youth of the importance of voting and understanding all governmental practices. On the Rock the Vote website, the benefits and detriments of war are listed, which encourages visitors to make their own educated decisions. However, without the endorsement of many of the celebrities, the Rock the Vote
Many of these stars are highly respected in the realm of celebrities, and therefore it is suspected that the motivation behind the celebrities’ standpoints must have been somewhat tactical.
known, however, for her involvement with the Iraq War. Shakira stated, “I think that the leaders know the exit to conflict, it’s just that sometimes they don’t want to use them. They just want to continue playing their little game of power.” Although Shakira’s effort to end the War on Terror is honorable, her credibility is virtually non-existent. Similarly, former Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson has also input regarding the Iraq War: “I just think we are a little bit of an arrogant nation. ... What has our government done to provoke 9/11 that we don’t know about?” Although the Backstreet Boys were an iconic boy band, their ability to harmonize does not necessarily translate into political authority. Richardson’s bold statement could be effective in opening the public’s eyes to governmental corruption, but it provided no explanation or evidence. The fact that Americans would listen to Richardson before political experts
non-celebrity opinions, and we tend to want to believe that we form our own opinions that are not impacted by ‘star power,’ the sheer influence of celebrities to urge citizens to call their elected representative is undeniable,” she said. Berry explained that an opinion of the military can also benefit the celebrity. “[Celebrities] can also boost their brand if their activism is aligned with a public cause that neutralizes strongly held public opinions, particularly when celebrity power mobilizes to raise money for a good cause. After 9/11, dozens of stars mobilized to put on a telethon that raised $150 million for victims’ families.” After opening for both Maya Angelou and the fourteenth Dalai Lama, Berry found a similar strategy behind the power within their antiwar messages. “In both cases, my beliefs about spirituality and peace were aligned
campaign would not have become as recognized as it is today. The fact that celebrities can have no understanding of politics, but they have the power to bring others to action is a paradoxical matter that can be both frustrating and inspiring. When “celebrities” like Kevin Richardson make blunt and somewhat ignorant statements about the war, it is disappointing that followers will blindly take on the celebrity’s opinions without a personal understanding of the issue. However, if stars can use their power to bring recognition to the issues and allow the public to come to their own decisions, celebrities can truly make a difference. _________________________________ Francesca Toscano is a freshman IMC major who thinks Kevin Richardson should quit playing games with her heart. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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RAW FROM THE SAW Restrepo
Bedlam Productions, 2010
By Isabel Braverman
In these times of bipartisan journalism seeing a piece of honest journalistic work is rare. It is even rarer to see it make an impact. However, Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger’s film Restrepo accomplishes both. The film follows a group of soldiers in the Korengal Valley in eastern Afghanistan, a place CNN dubbed the deadliest place on earth. The title refers to Juan “Doc” Restrepo, a soldier who was killed in the earlier months of his platoon’s deployment. It also became the name of the outpost they built later. The film instantly draws you in with home video style footage of Restrepo joking around with his buddies before they go to war. It then cuts to a scene in which their tanks are bombarded with bombs, and the sound cuts out. The atmosphere is instantly eerie as we see destruction happening but cannot hear anything. Hetherington and Junger do not take a stance on whether they are for or against the war in Afghanistan. They let the soldiers tell the story and have the viewers decide for themselves. There is no narration, only interviews of the soldiers interspersed between footage from the valley. The interviews are tightly shot on just the soldier’s faces to draw in the audience. As they recount stories you can tell by their widened eyes and tightly clenched jaws that they are trying not to cry. They are American soldiers. They are strong. There is strength in their bodies and their bond with each other. Despite the seriousness of their mission, there are scenes of the soldiers wrestling and dancing
to techno music with each other, playing guitar and video games and talking about their families and home life. But life is not all fun and games. The Korengal Valley is isolated and Capt. Kearney, leader of the group at outpost Restrepo, describes them as fish in a barrel. They are constantly under fire, and they shoot back into the vast valley, but at what? They refer to their target as the “bad guys,” but we’re never quite sure who that is. They raid houses that are potential Taliban hiding spots, but are usually only the homes of regular civilians. The raids create tension between the soldiers and the locals, which is apparent in the weekly “shura” meetings with the valley elders. The elders are old men with long beards, usually dyed red, and turbans. You can see the frustration in their worried looks and frantic hand gestures when what they want to say is lost in translation. One question: what is being accomplished? Although the war is a heated topic, the story is centered on the soldiers. Whether you support the war or not, you feel sorry for the guys there. While their mission might seem unclear, one thing’s for sure: They are coming back to America with a lot on their minds. Through a smile, one soldier tells how he can’t sleep anymore and all sorts of sleeping pills won’t help. He’d rather stay awake than sleep through the nightmares. The guys agree that building outpost Restrepo was one of their biggest accomplishments, and both the outpost and the man behind it served as a beacon of hope in this powerful film.
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Radiohead The King of Limbs
TBD Records, 2011 By Emily Pfeffer
“Open your mouth wiiiiiiiiiide,” lead singer Thom Yorke lulls his first words in “Bloom,” the opening track off Radiohead’s new album King of Limbs. In fact, the whole album, which had an early release on the band’s website last Friday, is one big lull of jittery beats. From the soft trills of piano in “Codex” to Yorke’s hypnotizing falsetto in “Lotus Flower” and “Give Up the Ghost,” it’s as if each track tries to out-chill the last. Minus the inclusion of “Feral,” which seems to be Radiohead’s stab at dubstep. I can’t say I’ve completely jumped on that bandwagon, so drummer Phil Selway’s head-snapping drum beats and Yorke’s over-mixed moaning didn’t quite do it for me. The track following “Feral” is the one getting all the hype. “Lotus Flower” already has a video featuring York
By Quinton Saxby
spastically dancing to the twitchy rhythm, but it won’t be long into listenin’ before people start to admire other beats such as the Arabian mix in “Little by Little” and the hush of “Codex.” It can’t go without saying that Yorke sang it right in “Little by Little,” slurring, “I’m such a tease and you’re such a flirt.” This album feels somewhat incomplete and anti-climatic. At just barely 38 minutes, fans are left feeling teased. Nonetheless, Selway wraps up the 8track album with a little bit of funk in “Separator.” The constant beat sounds right with the haunting plucks of guitar and Yorke’s echoing voice. The busy song has lyrics that instill hope in Radiohead fans for their future: “If you think this is over, then you’re wrong.” Perhaps this brief album has more limbs to come.
Kiss Each Other Clean
BUZZSAW: The Militarization Issue
First, a plea to any truly loyal, protective Iron and Wine fans—do not panic, Sam Beam has not sold out. We might be a little surprised at first at his breaching Fleetwood Mac territory, but I think we would have all lost something if Sam Beam were forced into covering Postal Service’s “Such Great Heights” for the rest of his career. We should thank our lucky stars this is not the case; I know I am in the minority in saying this, but this is a horrible cover. Iron and Wine’s new album is retro chic. Kiss Each Other Clean harkens back to a time of pop acoustic rock filled with saxophone riffs, angelic harmonies and the occasional sappy ballad. This album, although it pays homage to the strange obsession the ‘80s had with corny sax breakdowns and breaks new ground, all because of Sam Beam’s risky but mature song writing. I think Beam has the answer to our indie music crisis: better harmonies, more lyrical depth, more collaboration. Oh, also, we should listen to a LOT more Fleetwood Mac for inspiration. Notable tracks on this album include “Godless Brother in Love” and “Half Moon,” because they offer interesting, complex harmonies. We find lyrical depth in “Walking Far from Home” and “Your Fake Name is Good Enough for Me” (the last and the best track on the album). There is a growing interest in pop folk and the
complex, perfectly tuned harmonies this hybrid genre incorporates. (See both the Avett Brothers and Fleet Foxes for pure examples of this new trend). But Iron and Wine seems to be in the vanguard, surpassing these other acts because Beam knows how to seamlessly incorporate harmonies without making them the “be all, end all” of a track. I do not think it would be going too far to say that this album borders on the mystical, at least lyrically. There are some religious undertones within the strange and ethereal melodies, but the lyrics are a little too cryptic to trace any real religious sentiment, Christian or otherwise. The closest we might get to some form of religious revelation comes in the last track, the strongest song on the album, a two-part, seven-minute anthem. As a closer, this track illustrates Beam’s talent as well as his burgeoning ambition. His talent always points in a new, intriguing direction. Sam Beam has, in a way, gone electric. But we should not feel accosted by Iron and Wine’s sudden increased use of electric guitar and strange instrumentation. Instead, we should be grateful that a modern singer-songwriter is not afraid to make creative decisions that are risky and could lose him some fans. I think the fans who stick around will not be disappointed.
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Ministry of Cool
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Spermiceyed By Eric Shun f all life’s experiences, I seem to have truly interesting ones, in regard to my sex life anyways. For those of you who are uncomfortable with gay sex, two guys being intimate, or the misadventures involving two men who will end up in bed with each other, please, save us all the trouble and turn the page. For the rest of you, enjoy. A year or so back I went to a party one of my fellow employees had thrown. At the time I was only 18, and my colleagues were between 23 and 30 years old. Imagine spring break for people out of college who have kids… yeah. Fortunately, not only was another gay guy there, but he was closer to my age. His name was Max; a really cute guy with amazing green eyes, tan skin and short brown hair. As the night went on I could see him looking over at me every now and then. Neither one of us, however, made a move. Toward the end of the party, when everyone had either gone home or claimed a room for his or her own fun exploits, I was left sitting on the couch with Max. Before long, he leaned in to kiss me while I leaned toward him into an embrace. Every second we kissed drew us closer and closer together. I could feel him tense up and then relax every time I would lightly bite his lower lip. It didn’t take too long for most of our clothes to be stripped, or maybe torn, off our bodies. I ran my fingers down his chest, the muscular chest followed by a toned stomach. I closed my eyes as he nibbled on my ear, making me melt. Taking away my sense of sight allowed me to focus more intently on my sense of touch, reveling in every tingle and lingering touch that I was experiencing. I could feel goose bumps
BUZZSAW: The Militarization Issue
as our clothes were strung across the floor and we grinded into each other, our hands exploring each other’s bodies, our kisses becoming more intense as the seconds continued to tick away to what seemed like hours. Our bodies became intertwined. Nothing else mattered, only the raw power of the human body and the force of two bodies lost in a tangle of power and carnal pleasure. When I could feel that tingling sensation, reaching what the French call “la petite mort”—this is where my life comes back to reality. It just so happened that—and I note that this has only happened once in my life—my climax hit an unexpected target: my eye. For those of you who have never experienced this, it burns! It’s an intense sensation that’s similar to getting sunscreen all up in your eye (random fact: It hurts worse if you have contacts, since the protein dries out the contact almost instantly). Needless to say that it surprised me, and hurt, so I kind of screamed a bit. I’m sure Max thought I screamed because he was some sort of sex god, but I screamed loud enough for the guy sleeping upstairs to rush out of his room and come running down the stairs to see what was wrong. The only thing that Max and I had time to do was put on boxers. So as the nowawake man ran in and asked what was wrong, I stood there in boxers and held my hand over my right eye because, let’s be honest, it’s awkward trying to explain why there is manjuice all in your eye and dripping down. The guy stood there for a second, half understanding that he had in fact walked in on an intimate experience. So after an awkward moment or two, the guy went back to sleep, and Max
just started laughing. Max and I ended up going to the roof of the house and we sat there as we watched the sunrise. That is, after I went to the bathroom to wash my face. It was my first time watching the sunrise—I seemed to have a couple firsts that night. I was, however, unaware of the after effects of having sperm in your eye until the next morning. Not only did I go home to my parents, grandparents and the rest of my family to spend quality time at my house, but also my eye was completely red and swollen. To make it worse, I had hickeys all over my neck, had barely slept, and was a little hung over. Now, personally, I’m what you would consider versatile (for those of you who are unaware of what that is, basically I can be the pitcher or the catcher depending on the guy), and in this case, this guy was a pitcher who was very well endowed. So I was not able to sit comfortably at all that day. Upon my arrival, I was asked a series of questions: “What’s wrong with your eye?” “Is that a rash on your neck?” or “Rough night?” to which I would gracefully reply, “I don’t want to talk about it.” Be forewarned: Roses are red, Violets are blue, Watch where you aim, Cause it may just be you. Trust me. ___________________________________ Eric Shun is going to wear safety goggles next time.
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Restaurant Review : By Ryan Sharpstene ust a few minutes’ walk from the College Avenue parking lot, I stumbled upon Mexeo, fit tightly in a building at the end of Dryden Road. A mix of modern ambient music and the fiery scents of Southwestern cuisine greet customers when they pass through the main door. The building itself is small—it reminded me of a storefront delicatessen found along the streets of New York. There are two counter bars and two tables for seating—approximately 15 total could fill the restaurant. And those lucky few who can squeeze into Mexeo are in for a delicious meal. Local food reigns supreme at Mexeo. Hanging above the main counter is a large white marker board with the original sources of all ingredients used in cooking. Just below the board, two employees cook and prepare all dishes right behind the counter, which is painted to resemble the state flag of Texas. While you wait, you are treated to the simple performance that is the browning of tortillas, chopping of vegetables and simmering of meat. Contemporary art canvases line the walls and offer a colorful balance to the tan interior. The place appears cluttered with various objects, including a 1970s mini fridge, yet it is in no way distracting or uninviting. The casual environment means that the hours it is opened vary, so call ahead before heading over.
homemade and not particularly spicy. It was a suitable appetizer or side dish for the lunch-like menu. The Frito pie was a surprise. Though I am not entirely sure what I had expected, I almost regretted my selection when a basket of FritoLay’s corn chips topped with chili, cheese and cilantro was before me. However, The Rio chili that topped the corn chips had the perfect blend of spiciness and tanginess. There was plenty of meat so that the corn chips would not get soggy immediately. The fresh cheese and cilantro garnish were nice toppings to the dish. One can either dig into the “pie” with their hands or choose a compostable spoon to scoop up more than a few chips at a time. The carne asada taquito consisted of steak meat, onions and cilantro rolled in a pan-cooked flour tortilla. While a corn tortilla would have been nice, the dish was enjoyable. The onions were fresh, but there seemed to be too many, and the steak meat was a little over-cooked. Though two are recommended, the dish only costs $3 for one taquito. The restaurant has variety of different sauces for a little extra flavor and spice. Of the two entrees, I preferred the Frito pie—while messier, there was more taste. We knew it was our time to leave when a group of the cook’s friends arrived and crammed between the few tables toward the counter. Including a tip, the bill came to $16. While a little steep for what was basically a healthy fast food lunch, it was well worth the experience. Mexeo is a fantastic stop-in or takeout restaurant for a Tex-Mex craving or a unique Ithaca afternoon lunch. I recommend this Collegetown eatery to the diner who is looking for a quick, casual lunch. Mexeo is located in Collegetown at 213 Dryden Rd. ___________________________________ Ryan Sharpstene is a sophomore journalism major who rmakes a mean Frito pie. E-mail him at rsharps1@ ithaca.edu.
Ministry of Cool
Photo by Emily Miles
Formerly the Vietnamese Xeo Café, Mexeo is owned by its head chef, Sebastian Villa. The restaurant has only been open since October, and its menu has expanded over the months. Behind the limited menu is a philosophy that combines traditional Mexican cuisine with the owner’s Southern Texan background. A sign on the wall informs customers not to expect “traditional ‘Mexican’ food”– elaborate toppings and burritos are not going to be found. The dishes are simplistic, focusing on a few good ingredients rather than a cornucopia. Guests are welcome to choose from five different types of taquitos: one beef, one steak, one pork and two vegetarian. Other dishes include a Mexeo platter consisting of taquito filling, rice, beans and a tortilla; the Frito pie; Rio chili, made with either pork or beans; and chips and salsa. Soup is offered on Sundays, and a soda assortment is available, including bottles by the Ithaca Soda Company. Mexeo also full-heartedly embraces sustainability by only offering patrons compostable and reusable utensils. Feeling daring and curious, my friend and I ordered the Frito pie and a carne asada taquito. I also asked for an order of the chips and salsa and an Ithaca Root Beer. Patrons place orders at the main wooden counter and pay after. While it was “Souper Sunday,” the cook informed us the posole, or spicy pork soup, was unavailable on this particular Sunday. Despite this setback, no more than five minutes after ordering, our food was ready and on the main counter for pick-up. The chips and salsa, plenty for two or three, featured a basket of fresh organic blue corn chips that crisped and crunched perfectly. Salsa, served in a miniature glass bowl, was
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s n o C & e s Pro
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By Greg Burns
january third tet offensive mistakes, this is bullshit, this is horror this is ground beef violence, fought in the forever wet. in the dark and the ghosts and the ghosts, dropped jellied gasoline and sprayed death into the thick green, into the antique jungle, and tired hills. and now your children live in the decay of it, in the dissapeared limbs, in the unexploded. and the ghosts, and the ghosts.
Untitled Not Looking in 1968 I wonâ€™t be looking when they carry them off the Hercules Jet careful not to smell, not to admire the rigidness of that nineteen year oldâ€™s arm. In 1968, the way is not to look only cry, wait for the salute on the tarmac.
Prose & Cons
Image by Sally Russell
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BUZZSAW : The Militarization Issue
T S U AWD
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Lost Files From the DADT Board Shocking Excerpts Unearthed From the U.S. Military’s Past By Anne Nothgraves ith the recent repeal of the U.S. military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, a lot has come to light about how the armed forces had been dealing with the policy since its inception in 1993. Now, Wikileaks editors have unearthed an internal document used for suspected violators of “DADT.” Here are several excerpts from the memo to recruitment agencies, which seems to be a twisted guide on how to appear “less gay” for the military based on misguided stereotypes: “Any establishments you used to frequent, even if you had only the slightest interaction with service providers who might not even work there anymore, you should not go to. They may have footage of you on a security camera pushing around your tiny dog in a baby stroller or talking about your love of rainbows. The
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“A new wardrobe is a necessity. Not that you’ll be seen in civvies all that often as a soldier, but you should never break character. And acting comes naturally to you, as gay people are inherently theatrical. But to stay on point, everything previously in your wardrobe must be put into a pile and burned. Don’t even take them to a vintage store—knowing what a vintage clothing store is is gay, too. When you go out shopping for new clothes, make sure to buy the opposite of anything previously in your closet. No matter how small the degree of gayness, if you bought it while thinking in a queer way, then it is indicative of homosexuality. For men, that means no skinny jeans or scarves. Women, no shapeless tops. Show your breasts so that guys will hit on you… “You must order meat. Lots of meat. No straight people watch their health when eating. Don’t even order poultry—that’s a wimpy meat. Steaks, burgers, fries and anything with trans fats. If there is something green on your plate, send it back to the kitchen. Unless you’re a woman, and in that case, do not order anything besides a salad—you must care about your figure and weight. Or, just let the men in your company order for you. You are going to be a subordinate in rank anyway, and soldiers must always defer to their superiors. “Oh, and men, you should only apply to branches of the military other than the Navy. Because that just invites the comparison.” ___________________________________ Anne Northgraves is a senior journalism major who is disturbed to her that the military is currently working on a new guide for how straight and gay soldiers should conduct themselves. E-mail her at email@example.com.
Image by Lucy Ravich
extra hours it will take you to go to new businesses and the sadness from missing familiar haunts will be more than made up for with the certainty that your gayness will not be found out. Such places include, but are not limited to hairdressing shops, Whole Foods grocery stores or even normalpeople places like McDonalds or tobacco shops… “No personal care items of any kind. Not even deodorant. Not all men who use deodorant are gay, but all gay men use deodorant. Do you think that army barracks smell like Old Spice or Axe? No. They are sweaty cesspools of B.O. And lesbian ladies, that means no Birkenstocks or combat boots. Yes, even when you are running obstacle courses during military training. There is nothing more quintessentially straight than a lady running in that foolish, halting manner all women do in five-inch pumps…
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Sgt. Pepper Sick of Lonely Heart, Joins match.com By Alex Palombo fter being single since 1967, Sgt. Simon Pepper has announced via his Twitter (@ Sgt_Pepper) that he is tired of being a lonely heart and plans to create a profile on the popular dating site match.com. “Sometimes being on your own is a good thing, but enough is enough,” Pepper tweeted. “I need somebody to love.”
a Native American, in 1981. It was later revealed Hammer had been sneaking through the window of the Pepper’s two-story colonial since 1976 to rendezvous with his lover. Heartbroken and alone, Pepper said he sat in his basement high as a kite, writing silly love songs, trying to fill the hole in his chest. He bounced from woman to woman, briefly dating a woman named Rita in the late ‘80s
Pepper, the 64-year-old Army sergeant known for his Nehru jackets and rose-tinted glasses, first got noticed in 1967 with his Lonely Hearts Club band—a group of rockers with busloads of LSD, bhangras and groupies. He said that while he has had enough anonymous sex to last him a lifetime, he wants someone more permanent in his life. “Since I broke up with my ex-wife Prudence, I’ve been feeling so low,” he said. “These girls do nothing for me. I just need to get back out there. I haven’t dated since 1973, and I haven’t felt content since 1981.” Pepper has been single since his ex-wife ran off with Silver Hammer,
but never settling down. “It just didn’t work out,” Rita said. “I couldn’t handle his pessimism, and I couldn’t put up with those technicolor nightmares he calls clothes.” Pepper said he’s never tried online dating before, but after stalking his old high school girlfriend Eleanor on Facebook, he feels ready to join the new generation and find love on the web. “A bunch of my mates have tried it after their marriages failed, and they’ve found love,” Pepper said. “It just seems like this is the way things are headed these days: If you can’t meet a girl at a bar, you need to put yourself online.”
BUZZSAW : The Militarization Issue
Image by Sally Russell
Pepper’s friend Brian Cray said that he’s sick of Pepper’s misery and hopes that by joining match.com, he’ll be less of a downer at parties. “My wife and I like to have dinner parties, and we always invite Pepper,” Cray said. “But he’s the only single one, and he always brings down the mood. He drinks too much, whines about how lonely he is and just ruins the mood. He’s an absolute buzzkill.” Cray’s friend Anne Gregory agrees. She said she loves Pepper’s sense of humor and intelligence, adding that he is a polite and considerate fellow. But every blind date she sets him up on crashes and burns. “I’ve set Pepper up with a bunch of my friends,” she said. “But they never work out. He gets so eager ‘that this girl will be the one, that this one will last forever,’ and then they all leave him. I know he’s just looking for someone to settle down with, but I just hope he finds someone soon because I’ve run out of desperate single friends to set him up with.” “The only thing I’m afraid of is meeting someone perfect online and then finding out she’s not as she seems,” Pepper said. “I don’t want to meet a beautiful blonde who’s perfect for me only to discover she’s missing a leg and did German porn or something.” ____________________________________ Alex Palombo is a senior journalism major who has a strong compatability rating with Sgt. Pepper on match.com. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Military Sets Up Recruitment Centers in World of Warcraft By Samantha Towle
heals!” before either being lured back to the base with a Mountain Dew or being killed by confused and disturbed enemy soldiers. Despite these drawbacks, there are many adamant supporters of this new program, specifically Sarah Palin. This feared and powerful WoW player is best known for repeatedly publicizing her love for the game’s “rogue” class. “I had no problem switching from playing World of Warcraft to dealing with n00bs in the reality server,” Palin insisted. “Many of the same concepts still apply, you know. When I was sick of my Alaskan governor character, I simply went rogue and engaged stealth mode until my new successful author character had leveled up enough to take on dps with America.” At this point in the interview, Sarah Palin excused herself to go pwn a moose in order to loot its corpse for gold and gear. The military has also implemented many new terms into everyday military speech. “Instead of Commander in Chief, President Obama will be referred to as Guildmaster Obama,” Gates declared in a press release regarding the new recruitment program. “When wearing night vision goggles, many can now refer to themselves as “Night Elves,” and instead of being promoted to a general, soldiers will receive a certificate ensuring that they are now a member of the hero class. All other members of the military will from thenceforth refer to that hero as a ‘Sir Death Knight.’ And finally, if desired, terrorists may also be called ‘terr-orcists.’” When asked for his opinion on the new program, Guildmaster Obama said, “This is a new major content patch for America, but once we work through the interface changes and bug fixes, I am confident that America will once again return to the epic l33t h4xor that it was before the Bush expansion pack.” ____________________________________ Samantha Towle is a freshman cinema and photography major who refused to pwn n00bs for Guildmaster Bush but might reconsider for Guildmaster Obama. E-mail her at email@example.com.
Ithaca College hates snow fun It doesn’t take much to recognize how miserable February at Ithaca College can be. We try to make the best of it, but the fact is, it’s constantly freezing out and it snows about five to seven days a week. Most of us carry a sickly, pasty complexion into the nominally warmer spring months, unless you frequent TanFastic (and if you do, your friends are right to make fun of you). This is all not to mention the fact that the semester is in full swing throughout February, with no scheduled days off and no end in sight to the course work. To stay sane, students need to be allowed to blow off some steam and entertain themselves. That’s why we here at Buzzsaw find it ridiculous that Public Safety broke up the all-campus snowball fight that was organized during the afternoon of Wednesday, Feb. 2. Instead of being happy that students had decided to leave their computers and various other glowing screens behind for a couple hours to actually have a memorable experience, the college looked at the event as a liability, I guess thinking some malicious asshole would pack ice and rocks in his snowballs and really hurt someone. However, the event had been all in good fun, and Public Safety broke it up anyway, even reportedly knocking down the snow penises that students had worked hard on erecting after everyone had decided to leave. That pretty much sounds like the Anti-Snow Fun Gestapo to me. But the bizarre thing is that it’s not about safety. If it were, we’d have the day off during and right after large snowfalls. Instead, we receive Intercom e-mails every time a considerable snowstorm comes along, reminding us that Ithaca College will never close under any circumstance, ever. To get to class on Friday, Feb. 25 in about a half foot of snow, I personally needed help from a random resident on my street to push me out of my parking space before I swerved my way up the hill to campus. With the college administration’s determined, defiant attitude toward the weather, I thought the roads might be in better shape on campus, but this was not to be. It was pretty much as bad as the rest of Ithaca, maybe worse, and the vast majority of open parking spaces were covered with embankments of snow that drivers struggled to get over. Any idiot could tell you it’s more dangerous to drive in half a foot of snow than it is to participate in a snowball fight. What we can take from these things is simple: Ithaca College hates your snow fun. But as a proposed compromise for the future, we only ask that the administration be more consistent: baby us with snow days and broken up snowball fights or continue your Cal Ripken-esque streak of campus openage while letting intense snow battles rage on for as long as students wish. But for now, it just looks like the administration is trying to make a tough winter even more unpleasant. -Chris Giblin
ast Friday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced the government’s plans to introduce military recruitment centers to the world of Blizzard Entertainment’s immensely successful online role-playing game World of Warcraft. Military recruitment officers are hoping that this new tactic will convince the players of this mystical fighting game to take their love for combat to the real world and stop “wasting the thousands of dollars their parents paid for their college education when all they do is sit in their rooms and play that stupid game.” As of Dec. 31, 2010, approximately 1.47 million citizens were active members of the United States military, according to the Statistical Information Analysis Division of the Department of Defense. This number is dwarfed in comparison to the 11.5 million Americans who spend day after day playing WoW on their computers. These astounding numbers have convinced many U.S. officials that tapping into this virtual resource is the way to go. Of course, the transition from virtual warfare to fighting in the “physical realm” will take some time and special training. U.S. officials are currently working with Billy Greugen, a 28-year-old WoW player fluent in both “l33t” and the cryptic language of “WoWspeak.” “There are a couple key concepts that h4xors need to understand before they shift from pwning n00bs in WoWscape to going AFK and engaging in actual human quests,” Greugen said in an interview. “For instance, IRL, it is not acceptable to decide to play as a ‘character’ on the side of the enemy because ‘they have cooler races and better guilds.’” Arguably the most troubling problem that has appeared in the real life beta tests of this program has been the WoW players’ misconception about the use of magic in battle; specifically, the fact that it does not actually exist. There have been countless occasions in which, upon receiving an injury in battle, former WoW players have run in circles shouting, “Heals! I need
Buzzsaw Asks Why...
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Group of Self-Proclaimed Vietnam War Reenactors Not Welcomed in Saigon By Mariana Garces carefully groomed garden was destroyed, and another retired area man was left confused and yelling inexplicably at inanimate objects. While these occurrences would not normally disrupt a neighborhood, citizens of Ithaca are up in arms over a recent trend in war reenactment that has crept into local backyards like a sweaty, hell-bent Martin Sheen clenching a machete between his teeth. Having grown tired of violent video games such as Halo and Call of Duty, many men are drawn to the real-life role-playing, not only for the racial epithets and drug use, but also for the brutal warfare. Vietnam War reenacting is growing in popularity in many East Coast rural and suburban towns. Everyone knows someone touched by the Vietnam War in some way, and usually that means knowing a person who avoids talking about the U.S military failure like the plague. Much like Civil War reenactors, these men dress in uniform, carry weaponry of the time, and try to be as true to the sacrifice and devastating struggle as they can without actually risking their lives. Fundamentalist reenactors who founded the new movement even encourage such realistic behavior as draft dodging and going AWOL midskirmish. The group faced some opposition after being found in people’s backyards. Last month, there was chaos at the Oak Hill Manor, a retirement home on Hudson Street, when Vietnam veterans at the home were confused by the violently realistic reenactors. The reenactors jumped out of potted ferns and lit small fires around the property as one member of the platoon played The Doors over a boom box, all the while claiming “Charlie” was hiding inside. Later that week, a young girl was ambushed while walking her dog. The dog was stolen as
BUZZSAW : The Militarization Issue
part of the mission, and the girl was interrogated for hours about her possible connections to communist allies. Parents of the girl and the president of the Neighborhood Watch demanded the reenactors take their faux guerilla warfare elsewhere. The reenactment group says it feels stifled by the community and wishes they were less hostile toward their style of “making history come alive.” The platoon is now fundraising through popcorn sales for a trip to Ho Chi Min City (formerly Saigon), where radical members of the group believe their craft can be most accurately performed. Terry Robbins, 26, who laments the fact that he was born after the Vietnam War ended, vehemently defended the group. “We really just want to get back to our roots, man,” he said. “Saigon is the only place where we can be ourselves.” Despite the common comparison of the highly unpopular Iraq War to the Vietnam War, many young people still find an appeal in the reenactment trend. Robbins admits that part of the reason he joined the platoon was to relive parts of his favorite Vietnam War films like Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket and The Deer Hunter.
Unfortunately for the ambitious platoon, a representative from the Ho Chi Min City People’s Committee released an official letter to the group in response to their recent intention, saying the city wants nothing to do with the reenactors. Head chairman Quan writes: “The city is not the same place plagued with violence and unrest that it was nearly 40 years ago. There is no place for such aggression here, even if it is for ‘fun,’ as you crazy Americans claim. Not to mention we are the most densely populated city in all of Vietnam, and our metropolitan ways of life will not be conducive to such reckless guerilla warfare, even if it is just pretend.” While the Vietnamese government will continue to forbid any visits by reenactors, the platoon says it will stick to its guns stubbornly and keep nobly fighting for the right to wage war until the time comes that they must surrender to an inevitable communist takeover. ____________________________________ Mariana Garces is a a sophomore journalism major who saw more fucked up shit in one day in ‘Nam than you’ll see in your whole life. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image by Sam Pinto
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