Category Archives: Military

Counterpoint: Sometimes Intervention is Necessary

(Responding to Brad Warbiany’s post here)

After reading Brad’s arguments opposed to interventionism, I found many more areas of agreement than I expected. Brad makes the point that he does not favor isolationism or pacifism and points out that force is sometimes justified, though he does not explain the circumstances where he believes force or “intervention” is justified. I believe that the real question Brad, myself, and many others are grappling with is this very question, not so much if the U.S. should adopt either an interventionist or non-interventionist foreign policy. To offer these as the only two choices is to fall prey to an either/or fallacy. Rather than generally arguing in favor of intervention, I will instead argue for intervention under very limited and specific circumstances.

Under most circumstances the U.S. should neither intervene militarily nor otherwise be involved in the internal affairs of other sovereign states. It is probably safe to say that the U.S. has significant policy differences with every other country on the planet but very few of these differences require any kind of military action or other intervention. If I were to hazard a guess, I would guess that in 95% of these cases, the U.S. should not use military force. But what should be done about the other 5%? At what point should the U.S. use military force against Iran, North Korea, or other states which harbor terrorists who are credible threats to our national security?

Brad is mostly correct in his assessment that America’s intervention in other countries over the past 60 years has been an abject failure. Misadventures in Cuba, Vietnam, South America, Africa, and the Middle East come to mind as being among some of the most obvious examples of failed and/or unjustifiable interventions. Indeed we are now dealing with the consequences of the U.S. support of the Taliban in the Afghan War and Saddam Hussein during the Iraq/Iran war and we will continue to deal with the consequences for the foreseeable future. But is it really fair to say that every intervention has been a failure or has not yielded some positive results for the U.S. and the world?

Consider that over this same span of time that we witnessed the fall of the Soviet Union and successfully drove Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. Both of these required intervention on the part of the U.S. and the world is better off for it.

I would further argue that interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan have also delivered some positive results which have been downplayed by the MSM and those who oppose these interventions. In the case of Afghanistan, the Taliban was driven out of power and has given the Afghanis their best opportunity to pursue freedom. Roughly 1/3 of the Afghan people and 40% of eligible women participated in the 2004 elections with minimal violence.

In Iraq the U.S. deposed a dictator and his heirs. Since that time Iraq has had several elections (with much greater participation than we could expect in our own elections) and wrote a constitution supported by 79% of the Iraqis (however imperfect). More recently, even the Sunnis who have been part of the insurgency have begun to join forces with the coalition to fight al Qaeda elements in Iraq. Even the bipartisan Iraq Study Group Report , which on balance paints a grim picture, admits that only 4 of Iraq’s 18 provinces (home to 40% of the Iraqi population) are considered “highly insecure.” The report also cites “encouraging signs” of improvement in the Iraqi economy, especially in regard to its currency reserves, consumer imports (especially computers, cell phones, and appliances), and opening of new businesses (especially in more secure areas).

This isn’t to suggest all is well in these two crucial fronts in the war against Islamofascism—far from it. But if the troops were to leave now, most if not all of the progress would be lost and our brave men and women who have died in these missions would have died in vain. To make matters worse, the Islamofascist terrorists would become emboldened and focus their energies on U.S. soil.*

Many on my side of the debate have made the mistake of responding to the other side by falsely suggesting that hindsight is 20/20. Hindsight is no closer to 20/20 than foresight. To say that hindsight is 20/20 in regard to were we are in the war against Islamofascism is to suggest that we know for certain what would have happened had the president and the congress opted not to go to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. In the same way we do not know what would have happened had the U.S. stayed out of World War I, limited U.S. involvement in World War II to Japan, or opted not to drop the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we have no way of knowing what would have happened if the U.S. kept Saddam Hussein in power. For all we know, Europe could have emerged from the first World War more peacefully (and thereby avoid the second World War), Nazi Germany may have been defeated without the help of the U.S., the Japanese may have surrendered after a few more U.S. victories, and Saddam Hussein may have decided not to reconstitute his WMD program and limit his rein of terror to his own people. It is also possible that Europe would have remained at a perpetual state of war, that Hitler would have taken over Europe and eventually the world, that the U.S. may have suffered up to 500,000 casualties (at least by some estimates) in taking Japan’s mainland, and that Saddam Hussein would have reconstituted his WMD program to destabilize the Middle East even further. The possibilities of what might have happened in any of these cases are almost infinite.

Those who argue in favor of non-intervention in the Middle East or elsewhere fail to realize that there are potential negative consequences for non-intervention as well as there are for intervention. Ron Paul seems to believe that had the U.S. never intervened in any capacity in the Middle East, we would not be targets of the Islamofascists. Rudolph Giuliani believes the Islamofascists simply hate us for our freedoms. Paul and Giuliani are both right and wrong. I believe Paul is right in terms of the ways the Islamofascists have used past interventions in the Middle East to stoke the flames of hatred of Western culture; Paul is wrong to suggest that such flames of hatred did not already exist toward Western culture prior to U.S. interventions. Giuliani is right to suggest that the Islamofascists hate us because of our freedoms but is wrong when he suggests that the U.S. has never interjected itself in the Middle East (whether justified or not) to the detriment of ordinary people in these countries.

The reason why we have this “reverse King Midas” phenomenon is due to the politicians running the war instead of the generals. Our government is composed of what Thomas Paine referred to as “sunshine patriots and winter soldiers” (meaning individuals who are gung ho about fighting for a cause when things are going well but defeatist when things are going poorly). Politicians (arm chair generals) have further placed the troops in impossible situation of acting as police officers rather than soldiers (cops Mirandize, soldiers vaporize). Overly burdensome rules of engagement (i.e. no attacking “holy sites” even when these sites are used as fortresses by the enemy), a failure of President Bush to better manage the expectations of the American people (he should have stuck to his “long, hard, slog” line and should have continued to warn everyone that this war would likely last decades rather than his two terms in office) and a lack of clarity of the mission have contributed greatly to the challenge of defeating Islamofascism. Things were not always this way. American interventionism helped beat back the forces of Nazism, Fascism, and Communism to make the world much more like the world we “wished it to be” (to borrow a phrase). Clearly, something has changed since that time, but there is no reason why we cannot relearn how to make the world safer for America and the world.

To end on yet another point of agreement with Brad, I also believe that we should be looking for ways to decrease foreign intervention whenever possible. Intervention, especially military intervention, should always be a last resort. But intervention should never be taken off the table entirely.

*I concede Brad’s point about the argument myself and others have made: “either we fight them over here or we fight them over there.” This too is an either/or fallacy and I should take this moment to clarify my point. My point is we have to be vigilant on both fronts. If we abandon the fight “over there,” then it stands to reason that the terrorists will concentrate their activities “over here.”

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Abandoning Our Friends and Strengthening Our Enemies

Most who are critics of the war in Iraq focus on the consequences of keeping a U.S. presence in place but seem not to be too concerned about what would happened if all coalition forces pulled up the stakes and went home. They believe that America has lost respect from the world community and perhaps that is true. But riddle me this: How much respect will our friends and our enemies have for us if we leave Iraq in the hands of Al Qaeda, Iran, and other warring factions? Regardless of how one feels about how the war started or about the Bush Administration’s handling of the war, does the U.S. not have some obligation to make things right or at least try? Are we really prepared for the bloodbath which will undoubtedly occur if we were to leave? Or are we just willing to lay the whole mess at the feet of George W. Bush and absolve all those in the House, the Senate (many of whom are running for president), former President Clinton (who was the first to make regime change in Iraq the policy of the U.S. because he too believed in the threat of WMD), and others who initially supported the war but went running for the tall grass when things got tough of any sort of responsibility?

War critics argue that coalition forces are no longer welcome in Iraq but is that really the case? They also believe that if we abandon our bases in the Middle East then suddenly the Islamofascists will no longer want to harm us.

Fredrick W. Kagan of the American Enterprise Institute makes the arguments that the MSM and others simply are not willing to consider if Iraq were to be abandoned. First, he deals with how our enemies would respond to a precipitous withdrawal.

America has vital national interests in Iraq. The global al Qaeda movement has decided to defeat us there–not merely to establish a base from which to pursue further tyranny and terror, but also to erect a triumphant monument on the ruins of American power. Al Qaeda claims to have defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, and its recruiting rests in part on that boast. If America flees the field of battle against this foe in Iraq, al Qaeda will have gained an even more powerful recruiting slogan. That is why al Qaeda fighters from across the Muslim world are streaming into Iraq and fighting desperately to retain and expand their positions there. Al Qaeda does not think Iraq is a distraction from their war against us. Al Qaeda believes Iraq is the central front–and it is. To imagine that America can lose in Iraq but prevail in the war against jihadism is almost like imagining that we could have yielded Europe to the Nazis but won World War II.

Al Qaeda is not our only enemy in Iraq, however. Iran has chosen to fight a proxy war against us there, determined to work our defeat for its own purposes. Iranian weapons and even advisers flow into Iraq and assist our enemies, both Sunni and Shia, to kill our soldiers and attempt to establish control over Iraq itself. This Iranian support is not the result of a misunderstanding that could be worked out if only we would talk to the mullahs. It is the continuation of nearly three decades of cold war between Iran and the United States that began in 1979 with an Iranian attack on the sovereign American soil of the U.S. embassy in Tehran. The states of the Arabian Gulf are watching closely to see who will win. If Iran succeeds in driving America from Iraq, Iranian hegemony in the region is likely. If that success is combined with the development of an Iranian nuclear weapon, then Iranian hegemony is even more likely. Dominance of the Middle East by this Iranian regime would be very bad for America. And a nuclear arms race in which Arab states tried to balance against Iranian power would also be very bad for America.

Before you dismiss this as “a neocon argument,” what do you honestly believe will happen once the troops leave? Do you really believe Al Qaeda is going to go back home and make no attempts to set up a base of operations in Iraq?

Beyond this, what will happen to those brave Iraqis who have counted on the U.S. for the second time? The Kurds felt betrayed after the first Gulf War when the U.S. encouraged them to attempt a coup on Saddam Hussein. The U.S. did nothing to help and many Kurds were killed in the process. Who could blame them for not trusting the U.S. if she were to abandon them a second time? Kagan predicts a much worse scene if coalition troops leave them vulnerable.

For the fact is that the democratic government of Iraq is an ally–and a strong ally–against al Qaeda. Against al Qaeda, Iraqi leaders from government, civil society, the military, and the police are implacable. Even the Sunni Arabs, who once provided al Qaeda safe haven and support, have turned against the terrorists. Thousands of Sunni Arabs in Anbar, Salahaddin, Diyala, Babil, and even Baghdad have reached out to the Coalition and the Iraqi government, offering to fight the takfiris, as they call al Qaeda. Anbar Province, whose Marine intelligence officers had virtually given it up only last year, is now lost to al Qaeda. Thousands of Iraqis have died fighting al Qaeda. When al Qaeda attacks recruiting centers, health clinics, government buildings, and military and police outposts, the Iraqis do not run home. They run back into the battle, to fight harder. But they continue to need our help. If we abandon them, al Qaeda terrorists will barbarically punish those who have opposed them. They may even so terrorize the people that they are able to establish a home in part of Iraq. That is certainly their aim. We cannot allow them to succeed.

[…]

[T]o my amazement, we also saw children in those streets who did not glare or run or stand dourly as the occupiers passed. Instead they smiled and waved, asking for candy or just saying hello. Even in the worst places in Iraq, we have not lost the children. They still look to us with hope. They still expect us to deliver them from death and violence. They still believe that we will honor our commitments to their parents.

What will happen if we abandon these children? Death will stalk them and their families. Al Qaeda will attempt to subjugate them. Shia militias will drive them from their homes or kill them. And they and their neighbors, and everyone in the Middle East, will know we left them to their fate. Everyone will know, “Never trust the Americans.” Everyone will warn their children, “The Americans will only betray you.” We will cement our reputation as untrustworthy. We will lose this generation not only in Iraq, but throughout the Middle East. And we will have lost more than our reputation and our ability to protect our interests. We will have lost part of our soul

To those of you who wanted the troops to leave yesterday I ask you again: are you really prepared to deal with the consequences of leaving Iraq prematurely?

Related Posts:
Is Islamofascism a Legitimate Threat to Liberty?
Peace on the Enemy’s Terms
Placing the Blame Where it Truly Belongs

Protecting Life, Liberty, and Property

In the United States, today is Memorial Day.

On this day, we remember all those who have fallen in defense of this country; its constitution, its principles, its people, and its sacred freedoms.

They have given their lives so that we may remain free; so that we may pursue life, liberty, property, and happiness.

Let us remember that this is not some bank holiday, or a day just for beer and barbecue; this is the day we reserve for the dead.

Remember them.

Honor them.

Celebrate what they have won; what they have protected. Enjoy your day, don’t dwell on death; but remember the cost, and thank them.

To absent companions, and fallen comrades.

Christopher J. Byrne IV (Capt. USAFR, RET.)

Recessional

God of our fathers, known of old,
Lord of our far-flung battle-line,
Beneath whose awful Hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget lest we forget!

The tumult and the shouting dies;
The Captains and the Kings depart:
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
An humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget lest we forget!

Far-called, our navies melt away;
On dune and headland sinks the fire:
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget lest we forget!

If, drunk with sight of power, we loose
Wild tongues that have not Thee in awe,
Such boastings as the Gentiles use,
Or lesser breeds without the Law
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget lest we forget!

For heathen heart that puts her trust
In reeking tube and iron shard,
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding, calls not Thee to guard,
For frantic boast and foolish word
Thy mercy on Thy People, Lord!

— Rudyard Kipling

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

The Pentagon’s Public Relations Disaster

Every war has it’s heroes, and in the case of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the two heroes that received the most accolades from the Pentagon were Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch. Tillman, you will recall was the NFL star who left his football career behind to join the NBA where he died a hero under fire from the Taliban. Lynch, of course, was a supply clerk with a Maintenance Company who was captured in an ambush after her convoy made a wrong turn. Lynch was held prisoner for a week before being released in a raid by American forces.

In the official stories released by the Pentagon, they were lauded as heroes. Now, it turns out the Pentagon was lying through its teeth:

Military and other administration officials created a heroic story about the death of Cpl. Pat Tillman to distract attention from setbacks in Iraq and the mistreatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the slain man’s younger brother, Kevin Tillman, said today.

Testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Mr. Tillman said the military knew almost immediately that Corporal Tillman, an Army Ranger who left a career as a pro football player to enlist, had been killed accidentally in Afghanistan in April 2004 by fire from his own unit. But officials chose to put a “patriotic glow” on his death, he said.

Mr. Tillman said the decision to award his brother a Silver Star and to say that he died heroically fighting the enemy was “utter fiction” that was intended to “exploit Pat’s death.”

In addition to exploiting Tillman’s death, it’s pretty clear that Pentagon officials were lying about it as well. For more than a year after the incident, they stuck to the story that Tillman was killed by the Taliban when it was known fairly quickly that it was in fact friendly fire that resulted in his death. The fact that they withheld the truth from the American public and, more importantly, Tillman’s family in order to preserve the elaborate tale of heroism woven by some PR Officer somewhere is, quite frankly both cynical and deceitful.

And Lynch’s story similarly turned out to be much less than initially thought:

Former Pvt. Jessica Lynch leveled similar criticism today at the hearing about the initial accounts given by the Army of her capture in Iraq. Ms. Lynch was rescued from an Iraqi hospital in dramatic fashion by American troops after she suffered serious injuries and was captured in an ambush of her truck convoy in March 2003.

In her testimony this morning, she said she did not understand why the Army put out a story that she went down firing at the enemy.

“I’m confused why they lied,” she said.

(…)

Ms. Lynch said she could not know why she was depicted as a “Rambo from West Virginia,” when in fact she was riding in a truck, not fighting, when she was injured.

(…)

For her part, Ms. Lynch said in her testimony that other members of her unit had acted with genuine heroism that deserved the attention she received. “The bottom line is the American people are capable of determining their own ideas of heroes, and they don’t need to be told elaborate tales,” she said.

Yes, but when you are fighting a war that seems to depend more on public relations than on strategy, creating a fake hero every now and then makes perfect sense.

John Murtha Calls For A Draft

Not this shit again. Another liberal Democrat calls for slavery.

I’m one of the original co-founders of The Liberty Papers all the way back in 2005. Since then, I wound up doing this blogging thing professionally. Now I’m running the site now. You can find my other work at IJ Review.com and Rare. You can also find me over at the R Street Institute.

Bush vs. Congress: Let The Confrontation Begin

Following on the heals of the House of Representatives, the Senate has approved, by a narrow margin, an Iraq War spending bill that sets a deadline of roughly one year from today by which American forces must be out of Iraq:

WASHINGTON — The Democratic-controlled Senate ignored a veto threat and voted Thursday for a bill requiring President Bush to start withdrawing combat troops from Iraq within four months, dealing a sharp rebuke to a wartime commander in chief.

In a mostly party line 51-47 vote, the Senate signed off on a bill providing $122 billion to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also orders Bush to begin withdrawing troops within 120 days of passage while setting a nonbinding goal of ending combat operations by March 31, 2008.

As with the House vote the margin in the Senate is far short of what would be needed to override a Presidential veto, and it is unlikely that any of the 46 Republicans plus Joe Lieberman who voted against the bill would cross over and vote to override and expected veto. The bill is dead in the water.

I generally support the idea that the United States needs to start thinking about an exit strategy in Iraq, and that we need to do so sooner rather than later. I also think that the war itself, and the way it’s been handled since virtually day one, have been a colossal series of mistakes. But the way the Senate has gone about doing this is totally unconstitutional. First of all, Congress simply doesn’t have the authority to order the President to follow a specific military strategy. They authorized the use of military force and the President is Commander in Chief. As CiC, he has the authority to decide military strategy. Not only that, he is the head of a co-equal branch of government and is not subservient to Congress.

There really is only one way for Congress to exercise authority over America’s policy in Iraq. They would have to exercise the power of the purse and vote to defund the war. By all indications, the Democrats on the Hill have neither the political courage nor the support among their own members for such a move. Additionally, polling seems to indicate that while the public wants American troops to come home, they would not support cutting off funding to those troops as long as they are there.

Both practically and politically, the opponents of the war are in a very difficult position unless they can convince the President to change his mind. Given what we’ve seen from George W. Bush over the past seven years, that seems highly unlikely.

U.S. Military Unprepared For Another Conflict

Thanks principally to the War in Iraq, the U.S. military is woefully unprepared to respond to a serious military crisis elsewhere in the world:

Four years after the invasion of Iraq, the high and growing demand for U.S. troops there and in Afghanistan has left ground forces in the United States short of the training, personnel and equipment that would be vital to fight a major ground conflict elsewhere, senior U.S. military and government officials acknowledge.

More troubling, the officials say, is that it will take years for the Army and Marine Corps to recover from what some officials privately have called a “death spiral,” in which the ever more rapid pace of war-zone rotations has consumed 40 percent of their total gear, wearied troops and left no time to train to fight anything other than the insurgencies now at hand.

The risk to the nation is serious and deepening, senior officers warn, because the U.S. military now lacks a large strategic reserve of ground troops ready to respond quickly and decisively to potential foreign crises, whether the internal collapse of Pakistan, a conflict with Iran or an outbreak of war on the Korean Peninsula. Air and naval power can only go so far in compensating for infantry, artillery and other land forces, they said. An immediate concern is that critical Army overseas equipment stocks for use in another conflict have been depleted by the recent troop increases in Iraq, they said.

“We have a strategy right now that is outstripping the means to execute it,” Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, Army chief of staff, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

This is, of course, entirely unsurprising. We’ve got more than 100,000 troops in Iraq, and thousands more in Afghanistan. After four years of rotating deployments and a situation on the ground in Iraq especially that is active and threatening, troops and equipment are getting burned out.

What happens, then, if a crisis breaks out in Korea, or if China starts threatening Taiwain, or (more likely than the other two) the situation in Pakistan finally reaches a boiling point and we’re faced with the possibility of radical Islamists with ties to al Qaeda acquiring a very significant stockpile of nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them throughout the Middle East ?

Well, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has the answer:

Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked last month by a House panel whether he was comfortable with the preparedness of Army units in the United States. He stated simply: “No . . . I am not comfortable.”

“You take a lap around the globe — you could start any place: Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Venezuela, Colombia, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, North Korea, back around to Pakistan, and I probably missed a few. There’s no dearth of challenges out there for our armed forces,” Pace warned in his testimony. He said the nation faces increased risk because of shortfalls in troops, equipment and training.

In earlier House testimony, Pace said the military, using the Navy, Air Force and reserves, could handle one of three major contingencies, involving North Korea or — although he did not name them — Iran or China. But, he said, “It will not be as precise as we would like, nor will it be on the timelines that we would prefer, because we would then, while engaged in one fight, have to reallocate resources and remobilize the Guard and reserves.”

And it’s not just the troops that are the problem:

The troop increase has also created an acute shortfall in the Army’s equipment stored overseas — known as “pre-positioned stock” — which would be critical to outfit U.S. combat forces quickly should another conflict erupt, officials said.

The Army should have five full combat brigades’ worth of such equipment: two stocks in Kuwait, one in South Korea, and two aboard ships in Guam and at the Diego Garcia base in the Indian Ocean. But the Army had to empty the afloat stocks to support the troop increase in Iraq, and the Kuwait stocks are being used as units to rotate in and out of the country. Only the South Korea stock is close to complete, according to military and government officials.

“Without the pre-positioned stocks, we would not have been able to meet the surge requirement,” Schoomaker said. “It will take us two years to rebuild those stocks. That’s part of my concern about our strategic depth.”

“The status of our Army prepositioned stock . . . is bothersome,” Cody said last week.

Some might say that we’ve been lucky over the past four years that a major crisis has not flared up elsewhere in the world that would require us to make a choice that the military really shouldn’t need to make. One wonders how long that luck will last.

Common Sense On Gays In The Military

Alan Simpson, a former Senator from Wyoming who once was a strong advocate of the military’s Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell policy, has a great column in today’s Washington Post explaining why he’s changed his mind.

There is alot to like about the column, but here’s the money quote:

Since 1993, I have had the rich satisfaction of knowing and working with many openly gay and lesbian Americans, and I have come to realize that “gay” is an artificial category when it comes to measuring a man or woman’s on-the-job performance or commitment to shared goals. It says little about the person. Our differences and prejudices pale next to our historic challenge. Gen. Pace is entitled, like anyone, to his personal opinion, even if it is completely out of the mainstream of American thinking. But he should know better than to assert this opinion as the basis for policy of a military that represents and serves an entire nation. Let us end “don’t ask, don’t tell.” This policy has become a serious detriment to the readiness of America’s forces as they attempt to accomplish what is arguably the most challenging mission in our long and cherished history.

Good for you Senator. Except I’d disagree on one thing. General Pace is entitled to his own personal opinion about homosexuals, but he serves at the pleasure of the President and as he has already admitted, it was entirely inappropriate for him to voice his personal views on this issue while speaking as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The ban on homosexuals, or at least open homosexuals, in the military is as out-dated as segration was when Harry Truman ended that stupid policy in the 1950s. It’s time for it to come to an end.

Related Posts:

Dishonor And Dishonesty
Civil Unions And Multiple Wives

Dishonesty and Dishonor

Top US General Calls Homosexuality Immoral
By Al Pessin
Pentagon
13 March 2007

The top U.S. military officer has said homosexuality is immoral, sparking renewed controversy about the status of homosexuals in the U.S. military. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from the Pentagon.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Peter Pace, told the Chicago Tribune newspaper the military ban on homosexuals should continue, because homosexuality is immoral. The newspaper posted audio from the interview on its Web site.

PACE: “I believe that homosexual acts between individuals are immoral, and that we should not condone immoral acts.”

General Pace told the Tribune that to officially allow homosexuals to serve in the military would be an endorsement of immoral activity. He said the military should not endorse any immoral acts, mentioning specifically homosexuality and extra-marital affairs, which are also against military regulations. General Pace endorsed the current policy, under which homosexuals serve by keeping their sexual orientation a secret.

Okay now, first off, I’m saying this as a man who is both Catholic, and a veteran; Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is offensive, insulting to all men and women who wear the uniform, gay or straight, and it should be ended one way or another.

The military is no place for mealy mouthing and careful parsing of statements for political correctness… or rather it shouldn’t be, but all too often it is.

Whatever you think of homosexuality, you can’t deny that DADT is a moral, social, and disciplinary disgrace of epic proportions.

Now, again as both a Catholic and a veteran, the idea that someone should be banned from serving their country because a general believes their private sexual behavior is immoral, is ludicrous. If his morality is coming from his Christianity he should know he is in no position to judge, that’s Gods job.

We ban adultery in the military, not because it is immoral, but because it is dishonorable. It is the betrayal of a sacred oath, and if a man will betray his marriage vows, might he not betray his service oath as well?

There is nothing inherently dishonorable about homosexuality; but we force gay men and women into being dishonorable, ever day that they serve in silence.

Hell, I’m willing to bet MY private sexual behavior would GREATLY disturb Gen. Pace as well; and I’m a happily married man with two kids, who honorably served my country.

The fact of the matter is, there are thousands upon thousands of gay men and women serving honorably in the armed forces today; there always have been and there always will be. To tacitly accept their honorable service, and then insist that they dishonor themselves by being closeted is a shameful stain on OUR honor, as service members, as veterans, and as a nation.

Freedom of conscience is among our highest freedoms, and forced denial of self is an abuse of that freedom.

Hell, I knew for a fact that I was serving with gay service members; and was friends with several serving gays and lesbians who were quite candid about their sexual orientation, with friends only. It didn’t effect their job, and it didn’t make them poor service members; but it very definitely effected their souls.

It made me ashamed to have to accept this policy. IT IS WRONG.

Now, as to whether gays SHOULD be allowed to openly serve, I am of mixed mind on that.

The primary official concern, and logic behind the official ban, is that gays serving with straights will result in inappropriate sexual behavior.

To my mind, so long as we set and enforce appropriate standards of behavior and discipline, and severely punish anyone who does not abide by those standards, be they gay or straight, I don’t care who my buddy wants to have sex with (even if it’s me).

Implicit in the banning of gays, while we allow men and women to serve together; is the assumption that gay men, and lesbian women will be less able to control themselves around other service members they are attracted to than straight service members. I find this implied assertion to be quite offensive; and disrespectful to ALL service members not just gays and lesbians.

The fact of the matter is, the rules say keep it in your pants (or if you don’t for gods sakes don’t let it screw up the job). If we can expect straight folks to do it, we can expect gay folks to do it.

I’m not saying there aren’t issues here. There will always be elements of anti-gay sentiment in the military; especially in the hypermasculine culture that pervades most of the military (and I don’t necessarily think that culture is inappropriate much of the time); but so what, there are idiots currently serving who also hate women, Muslims, Jews, Hispanics, Blacks, Arabs, and every other identity group out there (note the caps).

Then there’s the people who say “What about AIDS and other STDs that homosexuals are at higher risk for? In the barracks environment, in training, and in combat, there is a lot of close contact, potentially with with bodily fluids, as well as transfusions and the like”.

Well, yes that’s true, but the fact is that every service member can be required to have an AIDS test every six months, and probably SHOULD be, straight or gay. As I was getting out I believe they were instituting regular screening for many STDs, and they have been testing for Gonorrhea, Syphilis, and Hepatitis with every physical, for as long as such test have existed.

Hell, you can’t even say that gay men are at a much greater risk here, because soldiers, sailors, and airmen as a class, are about the most promiscuous people on the planet (I know, I was one of them), as well as frequent patrons of prostitutes, who are the highest risk group for sexually transmitted diseases by far.

After over a decade of exclusion, we now allow gay men with clear AIDS tests to give blood in the civvy world (presuming they don’t have other risk factors like a high number of partners etc…); and we require a standard of behavior in or service members higher than society requires for gay men as a whole, so I reject this argument as specious.

All that said, I think this whole thing is one gigantic social mess. Hell, we’ve screwed up the military trying to integrate women, and still haven’t managed to do so successfully for over 60 years of trying (since the inception of the Womens Army Corps nurses serving near the front in WW2).

And I’m not saying women shouldn’t be allowed to serve either. I’m of the opinion that anyone who can meet the standards of a combat soldier should be allowed to serve in combat. That those standards be the same for all genders, sexual preferences, races, creeds or any other thing. Everybody has to pass the same test no matter what, and that test is predicated on what makes a good soldier, not what the average of the lowest performing group can pass (which is how womens PFT standards were developed by the by).

My point is however, that even given the position of women in our society, as the now dominant cultural force (and if you don’t think that’s true, you haven’t watched much network TV or been on a university campus recently – lucky you); we STILL can’t get integrating them into our military forces right. Integrating open homosexuality is a lot more controversial and difficult socially than women.

Then there’s the fact that the service environment engenders a lot of very unguarded and intimate social contact, with communal quarters, showers etc… Some raise the entirely valid point that you wouldn’t force a woman to shower with a man, nor should you force straight men to shower with gay men who might have sexual interest in them

I don’t agree with that point in it’s entirety, but I do see the issue; and I don’t think the solution is separate accommodation for gay and straight (That would be just ridiculous, and nearly impossible to do in a combat zone anyway). Hell, I don’t even think we should have separate accommodation for men and women out in the field. If women want to play with the boys they should shower with the boys… but that’s neither here nor their.

The armed forces are not the place for social experimentation, and forcing such a change in the middle of a war is beyond stupidity.

My thought is that “don’t ask don’t tell” is insulting and shameful to all concerned; that anyone currently serving who is gay should be allowed to come out of the closet should they choose to do so, but we should avoid at all costs treating gays as a protected class etc… etc…

I just don’t know how to do it.

Honestly, I don’t think we can do it right now. I don’t think it’s far off, but I don’t think it’s this year, or next year.

UPDATE:

WASHINGTON — Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed mild regret Tuesday for voicing his belief that homosexual acts are “immoral,” but he stopped short of an apology as gay rights groups and a powerful Republican senator rebuked the general for the comments he made to the Chicago Tribune.

As critics fired rhetorical volleys, Pace issued a statement expressing regret that he had put so much stress on the morality issue when he defended the Pentagon’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban on gays serving openly in the military during a Monday interview with the Tribune’s editorial board.

“In expressing my support for the current policy, I also offered some personal opinions about moral conduct,” Pace said in his statement. “I should have focused more on my support of the policy and less on my personal moral views.”

Well, although I disagree with him, Ill say I respect the man all the more for saying this, in this way. He didn’t cave to pressure to apologize for his personal views; but he acknowledged that it was entirely inappropriate for him to have expressed his personal views in the context of military policy.

I am a cynically romantic optimistic pessimist. I am neither liberal, nor conservative. I am a (somewhat disgruntled) muscular minarchist… something like a constructive anarchist.

Basically what that means, is that I believe, all things being equal, responsible adults should be able to do whatever the hell they want to do, so long as nobody’s getting hurt, who isn’t paying extra

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