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Owens on Obama's Pandering to Homosexual Interest Groups

"There are many foolish reasons to exclude homosexuals from serving in the armed services," writes Mackubin Thomas Owens in today's Wall Street Journal, but ". . . this does not mean that we should ignore the good ones."  The trouble with too much of the debate over the proposed revoking of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, is that it does precisely that.  Those in favor of permitting the service of openly gay individuals in the military are guilty of conflating opposition to the change with simple-minded anti-gay prejudice and they have never confronted (let alone answered) the serious arguments against them.  As Owens explains, the central and most imperative function of a military in a liberal society is to win the nation's wars.  All questions having to do the organization and regulation of that military must, of necessity, be subordinate to that over-arching aim.  There is no other (good) reason for us to maintain a military if it is not for this purpose.

Serious people--who otherwise have demonstrated no particular animosity to homosexuals and who have unquestionable experience in understanding what it takes to build a military capable of performing this function-- have argued, persuasively, that the presence of open homosexuals in the military is a problem for unit cohesion and, therefore, is a distraction from that all important function.  Their objections deserve a fair and open hearing, free from cheap cries of "homophobia" and simple-minded comparisons with racial bigotry from the peanut gallery.  The problem for cohesion, in this instance, has nothing to do with personal dislike on the part of soldiers or their commanders; it has to do with inherent and unchanging understandings of the nature of warfare and friendship.  We cannot insist that these things change just because we would like them to comport with some more "progressive" understanding of "fairness."  Well, I suppose we can petulantly "insist" upon it . . . but we do so at our peril; for nature is an even more stubborn thing than a liberal interest group. 
Categories > Military

Discussions - 28 Comments

We should note that the cohersion Mac affirms would be subverted in ordinary military life as well as on the battlefield. How could sexual discipline be enforced? Recall that the military punishes adultery and might proceed against fornication as well. Would openly gay roommates then be subject to bed checks? How would this work out at the military academies?

Having taught at the Air Force Academy, I noted that my military colleagues respected gay colleagues on the basis of their professional capabilities. That forbearance was possible because all respected the uniform. But with sexuality given public respect the uniform would lose respect.

Did Cheney get his multiple deferments by claiming he was gay? That would probably be a surefire method.

I'm sure there's a variety of thinking behind those who oppose openly gay people serving in the military. There's no need for "cries of 'homophobia'" (why the quotation marks? That's "a tell" - to use one of your favorite phrases, Julie). Just take a look at the practical, on-the-ground realities of Britain's experience:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8493888.stm

"Large-scale resignations from the UK armed forces were widely expected in some quarters, when the ban on gays was lifted - but in practice they did not materialise..."

"Fears that allowing openly gay soldiers to serve on the front line would lead to a breakdown of discipline and cohesion within units also proved unfounded."

If we have problems with women in the military : http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/28/us/28women.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1 -- because of male sexuality, aren't there also likely to be problems in this case? Even if the problem is what Craig and his friends defines as "homophobia," that's a problem with unit cohesion. The NYTimes article I offer is about the difficulty women have serving in the military with predatory males. However, I have also read articles and heard plenty of stories about women and men and the awkwardness of serving alongside someone with you had a sexual relationship, but no longer do. They're stuck; some feel jealousy, others betrayal, those around them get sick of the soap opera. Getting pregnant and discharged was the best way out for the females.

At the end of the NYtimes article, I found myself thinking that the logical conclusion of the author's thinking was that we should get aggressive men out of the military -- which made me laugh. In the same way, to suggest that we remove all the young men from the military who say they find homosexuality creepy, sickening, disgusting, yes, even homophobic, then who are we going to have left in the military?

My nephew's former "friend" joined the Army. Apparently he did not "tell", but did not have to, nor did he ask, unless he very sure. He worked as a mechanic - tanks, I think - was moved from unit to unit. He got to joking about it; no one seemed to want him. He served in Afghanistan, but came home early. I doubt he was respected for his warrior-like skills, though he is a big man. If he had been allowed to be openly gay, would his situation have been better? I doubt it.

If we have problems with women in the military : http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/28/us/28women.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1 -- because of male sexuality, aren't there also likely to be problems in this case? Even if the problem is what Craig and his friends defines as "homophobia," that's a problem with unit cohesion. The NYTimes article I offer is about the difficulty women have serving in the military with predatory males. However, I have also read articles and heard plenty of stories about women and men and the awkwardness of serving alongside someone with you had a sexual relationship, but no longer do. They're stuck; some feel jealousy, others betrayal, those around them get sick of the soap opera. Getting pregnant and discharged was the best way out for the females.

At the end of the NYtimes article, I found myself thinking that the logical conclusion of the author's thinking was that we should get aggressive men out of the military -- which made me laugh. In the same way, to suggest that we remove all the young men from the military who say they find homosexuality creepy, sickening, disgusting, yes, even homophobic, then who are we going to have left in the military?

My nephew's former "friend" joined the Army. Apparently he did not "tell", but did not have to, nor did he ask, unless he very sure. He worked as a mechanic - tanks, I think - but was moved from unit to unit. He got to joking about it; no one seemed to want him. He served in Afghanistan, but came home early. I doubt he was respected for his warrior-like skills, though he is a big man. If he had been allowed to be openly gay, would his situation have been better? I doubt that, too. His real problem was that even if not openly gay he was obviously gay and, clearly, no one knew what to do with him but keep moving him around.

Sure the military can "manage" gays, just as they are "managing" women, but if gays in the military become open, in a few years the NYT is going to be running articles about the difficulty of being an openly gay man and rules will be made to protect them. As Mac and Julie point out, that completely misses the point of having Armed services.

Don't worry, everyone. With the advent of new technologies like unmanned infantry vehicles (i.e. robots that can shoot) and unmanned aircraft, we'll soon have no need for soldiers who hate gay people in the field. They'll all be sitting in double-wides in Nevada fighting terrorists with a joystick.

I'm only half kidding. This stuff is coming, and it's literally changing the way wars are fought. Something really changes when you can kill people without the threat of being killed yourself. And, new technology means the military is becoming a more intellectual force every day; the need for homophobic grunts is shrinking rapidly, while the need for people with language skills and sensitivity to the needs of other cultures is increasing. If you don't take into account the changing nature of war in this argument, then you really are just homophobic.

Well Andrew, I have a sneaking suspicion that anyone who disagrees with any sort of argument (including this too-pat yet otherwise interesting one) you give on this issue will wind up being tagged by you as JUST homophobic.(b/c of course it goes without saying for you that any opposition to ending the don't-ask-don't-tell policy is at least IN PART homophobic, right?) So you should just get it over with at the start--you know, say something like, "here's why you homophobes are wrong on this issue."

And yeah, it's at heart a schoolyard slander. It clarifies nothing, and lumps together totally different phenomena, at least in the way it is used 95% of the time. But rhetorical bullies find the term irresistable, apparently. You casually apply it to all our battle-spirited grunts, without a second thought or qualification. Nice.

I don't know if Owens-like sanity will prevail on this issue or not, but I will say this: as the Obama administration and Dem Congress come up against the popular voice limiting what they can do on the big-bill economic issues, they are going to turn increasingly to small-fry cultural issues like this. There will be lots of them, so as to give the left something, and their import will either get lost in shuffle, and/or will tend to divide the currently unified-by-Obamanomics conservative front. It will not be like Clinton tacking right with school uniforms and extra cops--no, it will a thousand little droplets of leftist cultural acid like this, applied here and there. They will not be dramatic (see Scanlon's comments in this case) or even cumulatively fatal, but they will make life more illogically troublesome (e.g., in this case, a whole raft of new common-sense-denying procedures for our soldiers to have to follow) in any number of ways, and will weaken us in the long run.

C'mon Carl. Sarcasm.

"You casually apply it to all our battle-spirited grunts, without a second thought or qualification. Nice."

As a former soldier, I am insulted that all of these "serious people" believe that members of a non-conscripted military are not professional enough to handle fighting alongside openly gay members. I'll tell you up front that I'd rather have a gay man who is a great soldier in the foxhole next to me than some straight guy who's sloppy on the battlefield. I know who is going to save my life.

And I do mean all that stuff about technology changing the battlefield. Things are much different now than they were 20 years ago. And they'll continue to change.

Kate raises some important real-world points. Although I think a serviceman's homosexuality does not necessarily or in every case mean effeminacy or some inability to act valorously, if the warriors in his squad, platoon, company, etc. believe it to be so about him, then -- whether that belief is accurate or inaccurate -- it would affect unit cohesion, which, as Mac argues so well, is fundamental.

Perhaps the brass that testify before civil legislators fear that they can't make this objection in public, that it would offend the sensibilities of some (and maybe even raise gender-service issues as well). Or maybe the brass themselves don't credit or understand the objection (though some surely do -- consider the Marine Commandant's dissent from Adm. Mullen on the "openly serve" issue). And (apropos Andrew's comments) maybe the concern about masculinity or valor is less pressing the more technocratic the military becomes, or, if, in the case of a particular homosexual serviceman, his assignment were not likely to put him in combat -- if he were, say, a mechanic or translator or cook or clerk. But these would be particular exceptions that only prove the general rule about fostering a warrior culture. Kate's points are well taken about the likely downstream consequences to the armed forces of a general policy of open homosexuality.

Apart from the masculinity/valor issue, Mac Owens' argument about erotic attachments and their insidious effect on unit cohesion and mission effectiveness is a solid case, as it has been since he's been making in print since the Clinton years. And it has the virtue of being, I think, more palatable to civil officials.

Along the lines of what Kate wrote, I think that Mac's argument could have been a little stronger -- and would further refute specious allegations of bigotry -- if he noted the Armed Forces' general rules against *heterosexual* sexual attachments among its members in close quarters or in superior-subordinate relations. He's on-target about the power of eros to form its own powerful bonds and tensions.

Did you ever notice that the ones crying loudest to let homos into the military are guys like Craig who hate the military and want the Arabs to win the War on Terror? That should tell you something.

Something I just thought of after reading JQA: I mentioned the change in warfighting tactics due to technology. It's only been touched on here, but women, though not part of "official" ground combat units, are already very involved in combat operations. They are members of military police companies, transportation units and many other units that require them to tool up and operate in urban environments. They have been forced to become hardened warfighters, they have won medals for valor. We already are redefining what dissenters against my argument here consider the traditional definintion of the military. In the current conflicts, there have most certainly been relationships between intra-unit male and female servicemembers that are inappropriate. These "eros" issues are already existent in the heterosexual population of the military, so I think it's unfair to assume that homosexual relationships would make things worse. Statistically, there are a heck of a lot more heterosexuals anyway, meaning wouldn't there be a better chance of these problems happening in that population?

Also, there's not a shred of real evidence in Mac Owen's column that would back up his argument. It's all
anecdotes and broad philosophical statements.

So why, andrew, up the eros problems facing the military by ending the don't-ask policy?

For the record, I am against the policy allowing females in combat. Pilots included. A slight majority of my fellow citizens, a massive majority of elite opinion, and thus official policy, disagree with me on that. Well, we have to muddle through, and as you and Scanlon point out, our soldiers are pros who can muddle through much. And, as a result of that policy, we have witnessed acts of genuine heroism from our female fighters. I was very impressed by an exhibit recognizing their accomplishments in the Iraq War at an Arlington exhibit two years ago, and I am grateful to them, although I think they represent in the aggregate, a long-term problem for the military. The eros problems and the PC-esque rules problems really are big ones.

The tempting fallacy of "we already allow X, so how can we fairly prohibit Y?" is destructive, everywhere it is applied in our society. This is one of the reasons why a flat-out opposition to female combatants is unfortunately necessary, IMO, in our society. The women who would be superior pilots or whatever, would not cause eros-problems, not get pregnant on duty, not call in the lawyers to demand various accomodations, unfortunately pave the way for the usual run of humanity, given the way folks like yourself and lawyers use the "X already is, why not Y?" fallacy. You yourself admit that the eros problem is in full swing with the admission of female fighters. You don't draw the obvious conclusions from that, but instead argue that ending don't-ask would not increase the problem very significantly(actually, you quite illogically say that it would be "unfair" to think that ending don't-ask would make the eros problem AT ALL worse.) Uh, no, your only logical argument here would be that since ending it will make it worse, but only slightly so, it would be unfair to keep the policy.

But the deeper problems are that a) lots of slightly so's do add up, and that b) the admission of female fighters was a mistake to begin with, and one we ought to (very gradually) try to reverse.

Bottom-line, take the average young American heterosexual man considering enlistment, and explain to them how careful they're going to have to be regarding what they say about a) the many females serving with them and their possible faults, b) the few Muslims serving with them and their possible faults, and c) fairly numerous gays serving with them and their possible faults(i.e., be at risk of major discipline if they complain about "flamingly-gay" behavior), and he's liable to say," uh...er...no thanks."

And as for the not-average but still quite prevalent young American heterosexual man who, loaded or even overloaded with what scholars like myself call thumos or manliness, who probably really is more likely to be subject to genuine homophobia, he's likely to say, "HELL NO!" and then reconsider joining the local gang or local pack of ne'er-do-wells.

But hey, all fighting will be by machines, andrew thinks, and so the problem every society faces of channeling manliness towards something civilized and useful will have to be dealt with by some other means--virtual fight clubs, or some such thing, right?

Kate, I just read that story about your the basic non-acceptance of a gay serviceman you knew of. That's sad and unjust, and I would have expected better of most persons in our military.

But you do ask the correct question: how would it have been different w/o "don't-ask-don't-tell?" Would the distant treatment this guy got have been different? And I'll ask another: with the policy ditched, could a guy in this situation not call in the lawyers to question his being moved around, and based his case entirely on his sexual orientation? And if he had not been moved about, what about a case against the "hostile environment" or the defacto "harrassment" he was subjected to? You add up plausible cases like that, and you just know our servicemen and women are going to be subjected to a whole code governing and going into exacting detail about how they act towards gays.

In Carl's dark future, where gays, women and Muslims serve openly and proudly in the military, there are packs of rudderless "not-average but still quite prevalent young American heterosexual" males roaming the streets of Anytown, U.S.A., smashing windows, stealing stuff and causing a general ruckus.

Meanwhile, "average young American heterosexual man" who once considered joining the military but didn't because of objections to absurd sensitivity rules, now works in an office where his HR rep is now explaining to them how how careful he'll have to be regarding what he says about a) the many females working with him and their possible faults, b) the few Muslims working with him and their possible faults, and c) fairly numerous gays working with him and their possible faults (i.e., be at risk of major discipline if they complain about "flamingly-gay" behavior).

This is a cruel world, isn't it?

shoot, i missed a few pronoun substitutions. sorry.

I admit that andrew makes a rhetorical score. My imaginary average guy is unhappy everywhere. Ha-ha! Got me. But what does it amount to? Or point to?

First of all, it means that the argument is always going to be some version of "X is already here in part or in someplace, so why shouldn't X be here in total and everywhere?"

But let's get into the heart of my fears, as I am apparently such a fearful person. For andrew, there cannot be any fundamental difference regarding the military as an institution. "Morale," "manliness," "unit-cohesion," etc., these terms do not differ in kind from whatever terms a manager might use to describe what is needed for a smoothly functioning office: attitude, perseverance, cooperation. A foxhole = a cubicle. Taking an enemy hill = meeting a sales goal. Thus, whatever special needs the military really does have, given humans as they are, must be erased or systematically denied. The military must function just like a corporate or education bureaucracy.

How? With rules and lawyers you tightly control all the ways in which the humans typically most attracted to military service might make the ever-more equality-demanding rules more difficult to enforce. If such control is resisted these lawyers and rules show them to the door. But don't worry about the lawyers' fees or the enlistment drops too much, because machines don't sue and don't quit! (Nor do they get pregnant.) That is, soon enough, almost everything distinctive about the human activity of war can be done by machines. "We have the technology," goes the slogan. We can thus demand that the soldier accept that putting up with occasional sexual advances (sometimes even from superiors), is just something you gotta put up with. We can demand that he treat his gay co-warworker in a consistently friendly manner. Nor must he object to our fibbing-ly adjusting strength tests, nor pine for the greater morale and unit cohesion he reads about in historical accounts of previous militaries. After all, if the average recruit responds poorly to all this, we can either a) insert the electronic eye of behavior-monitoring everywhere, or b) just replace 'em all, gay and straight, conservative and liberal, women and men, with robots.

Oh, and in the meantime, as we fool ourselves with the prospects of lawyer-solutions and techno-solutions, we might lose some battles and wars. I do not, after all, fear the reign of machines in the long term--rather, I fear the way equality-dogmas, made more plausible by certain real-enough techno-substitutes, can make our institutions soul-less and weak in the short-term.

And besides, even 1,000 years from now, Seinfeld's joke about "not that there's anything wrong with it," will still be funny, because the majority of heterosexuals are never going to be 100% comfortable with gay sex. Homosexual activists and their liberal and libertarian allies need to deal with that fact, or at least, possibility--many have this dogmatic progressive expectation about the matter that really may prove to be wrong. Almost no conservative politician, pundit, or academic advocates returning to the pre-Stonewall days. And none should. But no sensible person denies the limits of human nature, nor denies that gays and heteros, guys and gals, military life and civilian life have real differences that cannot be undone or pretended away without very bad consequences for liberty and the basic workings of society.

andrew, to put it in your terms(which of course I don't quite accept), the average man is not as enlightened as you are about this and cannot be forced to become so. While a U.S. military of andrews (and I do thank you for your service, BTW) is not logically impossible, it is empirically impossible without screening recruits so that they have your tolerance.

So, we know the new policy will be resented by many, resisted by many...and we know that don't-ask-don't-tell is working pretty well with respect to military ends. Perhaps, by progressive logic, we need to force the issue at some point, bite the bullet and have the institutional equivalent of Stonewall Riots that will force everyone, recalcitrant or not, to adjust. But is that point now? And if a slightly more optimistic progressive logic is right, can't we just wait 40 years and the number of objecting heterosexual recruits will be fundamentally fewer?

And, again, is it not possible that gays (as per my Seinfeld observation) in the U.S.A. and Europe have obtained just about the maximum feasible level of public acceptance given the mutual suspicions and incomprehensions that differing sexual orientations are always going to stir? I.e., is it not at least possible that the progressive narrative about gay sexuality becoming increasingly accepted by everyone might turn out to be wrong? Shouldn't even progressives have a plan for that possibility?

Maybe a military with openly serving gays is part of the high-water mark of gay acceptance that really can be achieved. But if so, then HOW it is achieved legally, will likely have a big impact on whether it is truly effective socially. If this is forced on a largely unwilling U.S. military population by a Democratic president and Congress, the social acceptance of such rules might be actually hindered.

Kate, again you confound me. It's sort of hard to believe you even read my comment. How did my saying this:

"I'm sure there's a variety of thinking behind those who oppose openly gay people serving in the military. There's no need for "cries of 'homophobia'"..."

lead you to this:

"Even if the problem is what Craig and his friends defines [sic] as "homophobia," that's a problem with unit cohesion."

I thought I was being more than clear that I was happy to leave the whole issue of homophobia out of it (which should have pleased Julie and, presumably, you). I think there are some homophobes involved in these discussions, but I can't speculate as to percentages, and I can't read minds if one works to mask such sentiments, so we can just skip that element of it...

To repeat the quote from the article about the UK's experience with allowing gays to openly serve:

"Fears that allowing openly gay soldiers to serve on the front line would lead to a breakdown of discipline and cohesion within units also proved unfounded."

Kate, you said "At the end of the NYtimes article, I found myself thinking that the logical conclusion of the author's thinking was that we should get aggressive men out of the military -- which made me laugh. In the same way, to suggest that we remove all the young men from the military who say they find homosexuality creepy, sickening, disgusting, yes, even homophobic, then who are we going to have left in the military?"

First, having looked at the NYT article, I don't necessarily see the logical conclusion being that we "should get aggressive men out of the military" but that we must rein in those who could, without external restraints imposed, act out their aggression in immoral and/or illegal ways, be that aggression sexual or otherwise.

Secondly, if "we remove all the young men from the military who say they find homosexuality creepy, sickening, disgusting, yes, [they are] even homophobic" then I hope we'd have plenty of honorable straight men serving alongside the many closeted gays who already serve. You certainly don't paint a portrait of a noble group - and you've also, apparently, never heard of the US Navy (haha - see the Village People song; fear not, they're adored by hetero America, too). In any case, much like a team of firefighters, I don't think that their views of homosexuality are important - they need to work together with people to accomplish a (decidedly non-sexual) goal (although, admittedly, I think there are those strange war fetishists who do find erotic stimulation in acts of warfare, but that's a topic for another Freudian day).

It's also a bit sad that you encapsulate the article as "If we have problems with women in the military because of male sexuality..."

Sorry, but I don't think that there's anything inherent to my (hetero)sexuality that necessitates my sexually assaulting a woman or treating one with disrespect (because of her gender). No, the problem is unchecked sexual aggression, not male (hetero)sexuality.

Regarding Julie and Mack's insistence that "the central and most imperative function of a military in a liberal society is to win the nation's wars" it's worth recalling that the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy has clearly had a detrimental impact on our current wars (or the singular "War on Terror" if you prefer). See this Assoc. Press article (yes, you too, Hal Holst):

http://www.bookrags.com/news/military-discharges-gay-arabic-moc/

58 Arabic language experts given the heave-ho because they were gay. That HAD to help!! So, we want to win their hearts and minds and/or crush the "Islamofascists" - just as long as the gays aren't involved in any of the efforts?

(Also, the little story about the mechanic - your nephew's friend - was ridiculous - the only thing missing from it was a mention of the man being limp-wristed and lacking a firm handshake.)

They will have to patch Modern Warfare 2 if this happens, what will the armchair soldiers do while it updates. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mai66Nf4-XY

I don't think this is that big of deal. If they want to serve let them do it. I doubt the recruiting center is going to turn into a gay pride parade any time soon.

Interesting that no one commenting on the post stated the obvious. The enemy that we are fighting, Islamic Facist Terrorists, abhors homosexuality. Many Islamic-ruled country executed homosexuals without a second thought. How dangerous is it to openly-gay U.S. military personnel have to fight an enemy that kills their own homosexuals and does not tolerate homosexuality?.

Well, cowgirl, I think you win the contest in this thread for Most Ridiculous Comment - by a long shot. And that's saying something.

- Do you actually think that the "Islamic Facist [sic] Terrorists" who might happen to be shooting or bombing American troops are going to go to any special effort to target gay soldiers? It's not enough that they'd simply be American soldiers? Also, how do you think they might be ABLE to target them? Do you think that they'd be wearing rainbow "camo" or drive pink trucks and tanks? Please.... how absurd.

- Do you think it might be possible that the Islamic world's (or at least a significant portion thereof) hatred of homosexuals might be a good battlefield motivation for any gay soldiers involved in combat operations? I certainly think it would.

- It's not as if the US is entirely friendly to homosexuals, either, for that matter. Those of us with functioning gray matter can see the direction that certain Christian conservatives would like to take the country (I wonder when Lucianne Goldberg's son will address this one, and how well it melds with his "theory") - such as Family Research Council suggesting that we make laws against "homosexual conduct":

http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/heather/matthews-gets-family-research-councils-spr

I am sorry. I did not notice this thread had taken off when I stopped by last night. My family story stirred more notice than I expected.

I don't know where to start and have little time. JQA is correct, I was trying to raise the issue of the guy in the barracks, openly homosexual, and how other young men respond to that.

andrwe, a reason why some young men join the military, or at least some I know, is because they think stuff like sensitivity training will be at a minimum. They think the military is a place where their rude "guyness" will be less of a problem. They also, as in our young friend's situation, think a little more discipline than they previously had would be a very good thing.


This young man learned a lot about how to be discreet, he says. If he had had a "right" to be open about his sexuality, well -- there were many people who know him who were afraid someone would hurt him, as in beat him up. No one did. We were all quite relieved. We don't really know why he was moved around. Maybe he was a lousy mechanic. He was not in the service looking for his life's career. He had been at loose ends, as so many young men are at the age of 18-20. When he joined, he did seem to think the Army would be one long YMCA summer camp event. He did not enjoy his service, but he, and we, are proud of it. He got through it, which is the experience of many young soldiers, most that I know.

The military, to be effective, cannot always be worrying about individuals and their individual problems and therefore their catharses, their struggles, their loves, all have to be set aside as much as possible. Only as much as possible, because, being human beings, all bring those things (and more) with them. However, the less baggage in battle the better, and that has to include baggage of all sorts, doesn't it?

Carl, I'm am not a naive person. I know that there will never be 100 percent acceptance of gay sexuality by the population of the United States. There isn't even 100 percent acceptance that skin color does not determine a person's intelligence level.

This is the last time I'll mention the robots because I think you're making fun of me about it, and that's fine. I was trying to illustrate a point about necessity in today's military. We must not limit our access to any type of personnel asset we might need to fight the wars of the future. We've already seen a few hundred vital assets (linguists) mustered out of service for violations of DADT. We need smart humans in our military. Really smart humans. Now.

Carl, as a veteran (I’m assuming here, but you seem like you are), you know the military is about accountability-- to your buddies, to your NCOs and to your commander. You take care of your unit, and they take care of you, no matter what. With that comes a very close community. There is very little business in any unit that is private business. I'd venture to say that most soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen know which individuals in their units are homosexual. Do they continue to serve alongside them? Yes. Why? Because they do their jobs, and that’s what matters. What, then, changes if homosexuals serve openly? I would think, on the squad level, not much. I’d assume that if there was a sexual relationship developing between two soldiers, their NCO would counsel for fraternization and transfer one to a different unit.

I, for one, don't see gay soldiers walking up to their buddies and saying, "Hey, we're going on a convoy run today. I'm gay. Is that OK with you?" Come on. Like Brutus said, the military is not turning into a gay pride parade. Gay soldiers just want to quietly go about their lives with assurance that if someone does discover they are gay, they won't be ushered out of a job they love doing.

It’s like civilian life. If you’ve worked with someone who’s a homosexual, they don’t come into your office and announce how gay they are. Why would they? Would you come into someone’s office and announce how straight you are?

I’ve also seen some discussion here about our military losing some aggressive males if gays were able to serve openly. It’s an odd statement. What, exactly, precludes gay males from being aggressive? They are men, right? It’s likely that, in the event of an open sexuality policy, our combat units would continue to be staffed with aggressive males, both gay and straight. It’s sort of a self-selected group of people who like to shoot guns and kill people. I’m betting that those “flamingly-gay” men you mentioned earlier, won’t really want to become Army Rangers.

Yes, I do think that there should be a code that sets some sort of standard for how servicemembers are allowed to talk about others. Do you really think it's appropriate for someone to call a gay person a "Fa**ot?" Or, if the military was made up of only straight men, would it be appropriate for NCOs to permit their men to call women "bit**es?" Is that manly? I think not. These aren't "i'm just being a guy" words, but perjoratives. In my military experience, we weren't prevented from being vulgar, but I also don't remember people just taking part in gay- or women- bashing.

Has any branch of the military dispensed with gender-norming performance scores?

I do not see that you have produced a bibliography to yours, perhaps because you fancy the burden of demonstration lies with someone else.

About 4% of the male population is given to homosexuality to one degree or another. I doubt a disproportionately high share of these would be well-adapted to military service or that there are all that many who are well-adapted in this way who feel a burning need to make their sexual perversions a matter of public record. The collective benefit from allowing explicit homosexuality in the service likely approaches nil (quite apart from cost calculations).

It’s an odd statement. What, exactly, precludes gay males from being aggressive? They are men, right?

Whatever.

andrew, you've really over-simplified things. And I would not have brought it up, but since you played the experience card, have you ever been forward deployed? Stayed on a FOB, COP, OP? Ever done anything remotely related to combat? Operating in a non-garrison environment (and I have a sneaking suspicion you have not) brings a whole new host of issues with it. While I'm not suggesting we cut back on female envolvement, I am suggesting that we've got a good system which deals with many tricky issues and there is no reason to add to the complexity when things are working fine. (Unless, of course, you're throwing a political ally a bone).

Additionally, you're comments about technology show the lack of literature you've read about COIN ops, CT ops, and modern warfare in general: gadgets will never wholely replace boots on the ground. (Wasn't that the biggest fault found with Bush's Iraq invasion?) Yes, gay men and women can fly deadly gizmoes from a trailer behind Langley, but you need rough men operating in austere environments for long periods of time to gather intel and identify the best targets for them. You're trapped in the cruise-missile mindset of pre-9/11 when all of our enemies could be dealt with by blowing them up from hundreds of miles away. This is one of the great fantasies of the Left: that warfare, like everything, can be molded into perfection to the point that only the minimum number of bad guys needed to secure victory are killed. Thus you have the the Left's fetish with Special Forces, CIA, and tiny killer robots - they all leave a small footprint, make a precision strike, and leave minimal collateral damage or American casualties. Unfortunately, against many enemies and in many environments, you'll still need a rifle company filled with brutish, prejudiced, angry and emotionally insensitive young men to kick in doors and shoot bad guys in the face.

Sorry if this is incomplete, but I only get 30 minutes to use the computer.

Scanlon:

Your comment:
It's not as if the US is entirely friendly to homosexuals, either, for that matter. Those of us with functioning gray matter can see the direction that certain Christian conservatives would like to take the country (I wonder when Lucianne Goldberg's son will address this one, and how well it melds with his "theory") - such as Family Research Council suggesting that we make laws against "homosexual conduct":

Has got to be the most ridiculous and absurd comment posted in this thread.

Muslims slaughtered homosexuals. Again, they slaughter homosexuals and also stoned to death people who commited adultery. Why do you liberals always bash Christians and then stick up for people like Muslims who are completely against what you believe. Arguing with a Liberal is like arguring with Charley Mason. It is useless.

If the U.S. miltary allows gays to openly serve, it will just fuel the fire of the Muslims. Muslims hate gays enough to kill them - just ask the liberals' best friend the President of Iran.

andrew, first of all, I'm not a veteran, flattered as I am by your thinking so.

I accept and respect your reports. They are heartening, and I hope you're right about what is likely to take place on the squad level...after all, I do think Obama is going to win on this, and while strongly opposed, I don't see his likely victory as being a serious shake-up of our society. As I've said, it will be one acidic drip among others corroding the health of our institutions. But here's hoping it will work out better than I generally think if it goes through.

With the robots-stuff, I think it is a serious argument and was thus swinging hard against it. I wanted to underline the way it shows how the dogmatic egalitarianism of our time and our trust-in-technology penchant BOTH erase necessary distinctions. The perfect solider for the radical democrat is, I hold, the robot. You're probably not such a democrat...and anyways, capital-A Andrew is probably right about the impossibility of giving robots/machines the lion's share of war.

I also think he is right about the greater importance of unit cohesion in non-garrison type of deployments.

Finally, andrew, I agree with you that swearing like a sailor, particularly when it demeans gays and women, is in fact unmanly, and not something to be encouraged in the ranks. But that doesn't mean I'd want a "code" governing this beyond America's classic rules on soldiers' rights and disciplinary expectations. I would think good leadership at the officer level is what best discourages demeaning talk, but would do with an awareness that each soldier is going to have to know how to stand up for him or herself, or otherwise cope wisely and with self-respect, in a non-sheltered environment where there may be some bullying-prone characters who are going to act and talk rough, probe for psychological weaknesses, etc.

@Andrew I sent you a message on Facebook, though if you're deployed overseas on a gov't computer, you might not be able to access it.

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