General Anthony Cucolo is in charge of a task force of 22,000 U.S. soldiers in northern Iraq. He made headlines this week when he listed pregnancy as a reason for court-martialing soldiers- then later relented and said he would never send anyone to jail for such an offense, but just wanted to underline the fact that it is a serious issue.
The way it works is, if you are a female U.S. soldier in a foreign war zone, and you announce that you are pregnant, you get a free ticket home. period. The problem with that, of course, is that if you really do not want to be in Iraq, pregnancy is one way to get out of it. But to be fair, Cucolo supervises 1682 female soldiers, and out of that number only a handful have become pregnant. If the pregancy turns out to be from sexual assault, then there will be no disciplinary actions taken against the woman, because it is not her fault. Note that, in case the sex was consensual, the disciplinary actions will also include the male soldiers involved. Two men under Cucolo’s command received letters of reprimand, and one, a Sergeant, received a letter of reprimand that will remain in this permanent file, because in having sex with a female private he broke a rule on fraternization and because he was married to another woman at the time. Are you aware, by the way, that soldiers in Iraq are prohibited from having “sexual contact of any kind” with Iraqi nationals? This has little to do with sex between U.S. soldiers, but it is a common sense rule which if followed would reduce resentment in the Iraqi populace, which in general is extremely conservative in sexual matters. Obviously, it would not be a good idea to add “they are degrading our women” to the list of reasons why a Sunni insurgent in Iraq would plant an IED.
I do not have a problem with any of this.
It is interesting the way fertility wanders into politics. In the USA, the biggest issue is obviously abortion. In other countries, controversies have erupted when governments either pushed fertility too far- for example Romania under the Ceaucescu dictatorship, when women were forced to have many babies that they could not feed, filling up orphanages- or tried to put limits on fertility, for example China’s one child policy. The world concensus these days is that female humans do not really want to have more children than they can feed, though their husbands are sometimes too stupid to share the wisdom of their wives. When a woman has access to contraception, goes the logic, she will use it, and she will generally use it properly, unlike her husband. The problem is that many of the females in the human race have no access to contraception. But that’s really another story.