As the performers got ready backstage, they carefully chose the right color or eye shadow to go with their costumes. Some chose brightly colored outfits while others went with a more traditional look. Sharing laughs and smokes, they each talked about their routines and what they expected the crowd’s reaction to be. Five minutes before the start of the show, each went through a final check and put on their high heels. Then slowly, as the lights dimmed the music began and the disco ball began to spin; the performers took to the stage, one by one. At first, they felt a little strange, but as the whoops and cheers of the crowd got louder, the dancers became more confident. The party was only getting started. Now, if you were a part of the audience that night, you would have been a part of history. No, you weren’t at some shady club off Times Square in New York City. This show was put on by the US Military. You see, for the first time ever, American soldiers on a military base in Okinawa were having a drag show that was sanctioned at the highest levels. That’s right. Instead of lifting weights or training for combat, they were donning make-up and lip synching to that classic 80s song- “It’s raining men”.
As Stripes reported, the — “service members here may have been the first to take to the stage and perform as drag queens on a military installation in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender troops.” Quoting a leader of the group — “We didn’t think there was much of a desire for an event like this on the island but it has actually blown up.” In fact, a spokesperson for the group said she — “had hoped to sell about 75 tickets…but an initial 200 tickets were plucked up almost immediately, so they issued another 200”. At the end of the performance, 400 tickets to the drag show were sold. So there you have it. A sold out performance. Of course, this cross dressing situation somewhat reminds us of that classic TV show M*A*S*H*, where Maxwell Klinger, dressed in women’s clothes, but he did that in hopes that he might be sent home from the Korean War, not as a way to «equal the playing field”. And while drag shows have been a common place in war zones where the soldiers look to relax and forget about the possibility of dying at any moment, this show and these performers were far away from any combat zone and were doing it as a fundraiser for an advocacy group looking to forward their cause in the US military. But, surely this strange situation is a one-off though, right?
Recently a cadet in the US Army ROTC program created a storm when he posted to an online forum — “So, check this out. Tomorrow morning our entire ROTC battalion is doing this “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event where we all walk a mile in our (uniforms) with bright red high heels in place of our boots to promote awareness of sexual abuse on campus. Attendance is mandatory and if we miss it we get a negative counseling and a “does not support the battalion mark» on our (permanent records)”. That’s right. America’s future military leaders are being forced to don women’s shoes in a bid to bring awareness to a social cause. And while the US military does suffer from tens of thousands of rapes and other sex-crime related cases a year, surely there is a better way to highlight this issue without violating many of America’s major religions commands to not cross dress. And let’s not forget the idea that the US military, and militaries around the world, are generally thought of as a fighting force that should attempt to avoid faddish political controversy. Not become a platform for social experimentation.
With these confusing examples in mind, is it any wonder that after more than a year of bombing Syria, the US military has been unable to defeat a one-time rag-tag group of men running around in the desert? That those terrorists were able to seize such large of amounts of territory without an air force and further their cause, while openly driving brand new Toyota’s in victory parades in captured cities? What happened to the guys that led the missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, or even Libya? Maybe the new pilots in charge of dropping the bombs on ISIL terrorists were instead thinking about the 1, 2 dance number that they were going to use for their next performance? or maybe they were worried about their eyeshadow not complimenting their dress? Or maybe there was something else at play here?
Recently, the Daily Beast ran a story that noted — “More than 50 intelligence analysts working out of the U.S. military’s Central Command have formally complained that their reports on ISIS and al Qaeda’s branch in Syria were being inappropriately altered by senior officials.” It went on to note that — “The complaints spurred the Pentagon’s inspector general to open an investigation into the alleged manipulation of intelligence. The fact that so many people complained suggests there are deep-rooted, systemic problems in how the U.S. military command charged with the war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State assesses intelligence. One defense official was quoted as saying- “The cancer was within the senior level of the intelligence command.”
While America continues to try to figure out what exactly it is doing in the Middle East and more specifically in Syria, the common man is suffering the consequences. Hundreds of thousands of people have died while even more have been displaced. Syria is in ruins while the surrounding countries have begun to groan under the pressure. Refugee camps in one country are filled to the brim and have begun to spill over into another. As a result, Europe is experiencing the largest human migration in recent history. Hundreds of thousands of people seeking better lives are wreaking havoc on an already fragile alliance. Borders once thought open forever are now being closed. The Express recently quoted Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, as “warning that the EU was now facing a "critical point" and that the migrant crisis hadn't even reached its peak.” The newspaper went on to note — “Mr. Tusk painted a bleak picture of the EU's future, saying the 28-member bloc was on the verge of breakdown with "recriminations and misunderstanding" pitting nations against one another.” He ended by saying — “The future of free movement was at stake, as the continent had lost control of its borders as well as a "sense of order."
With this depressing situation in mind, is it any wonder that the world is welcoming the presence of Russian military forces in Syria? That they are being seen as a stabilizing force? Although many things could be said about the Russian army, one thing that it could never be accused of is forcing their soldiers to dress like girls as part of their training.
America had its go at combating ISIL in Syria and beyond. It has failed. The Middle East and Europe are suffering the consequences of this disastrous foreign policy. Russia has now joined the fight and is putting a coalition together. Rumor has it that Chinese forces are sending aerial assets to the region within a few weeks. The only question is whether America will join the world in putting an end to the barbarism that is called the Islamic state. As President Bush once said, “..there is no room for neutrality in the war against terrorism. You are either with us, or against us”.
So, what do you think dear listeners, “Which side will America fight on, ISIL or Russia?”