I recently met a writer of some repute who had been in the army during the first Gulf War. We got to talking about the film and he was moved to share some of his own prostitute experiences. He told me that the U.S. military provides prostitutes for its troops, and that the prostitutes in question are paid for with tax dollars.
I had never heard of such a thing, but then again, I don’t know a lot of people in the military. Still, I was shocked to hear it. It’s one thing for the U.S. government to tolerate American soldiers having sex with prostitutes, it’s quite another thing for the U.S. government to actually pay for it.
I couldn’t help thinking of the far right’s perpetual attempts to cut arts funding in this country, and their insistence that the arts should be funded exclusively by private philanthropic organizations. In that case, perhaps the far right should set up private philanthropic organizations to provide complimentary hookers to our military personnel as well.
I remember visiting my friend Johanna in Hamburg and having dinner with her, her boyfriend, and his friend. The friend was very talkative and engaging. He asked a lot of questions about the nuances of English, which I was pleased to answer. That’s always fun, thinking about aspects of your language as an outsider.
Anyhow, over dinner he started railing into me about U.S. foreign policy and America’s atrocities. Living in France a year, I developed a tough skin and came to terms with my sliver of responsibility for what the U.S. government does and has done in the world. He didn’t seem to accept this. He kept extending his list, as if I had something to do with it.
He told me that the U.S. ran brothels in Vietnam for the troops. This I didn’t know, and didn’t quite believe. This post from Caveh reminded me of it and I looked into it. This article on Reference.com about Comfort Women claims it to be so. It’s clearly a copy of a Wikipedia article, but the current Wikipedia article makes no mention. Evidently, there’s some dispute over the facts. This other article from a questionable source is probably most responsible in saying, “Allegedly, there were also brothels for the use of U.S. soldiers inside certain camps during the Vietnam War.”
I’m guessing they did, which is bad, but not the worst thing ever in war. The German friend disagreed, saying something to the effect of “it’s the worst war crime in the 20th century.” I was stupified, as were my friend and her boyfriend. She cried.