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DADT

WaPo–keep ROTC out of our precious Ivies

Because, you know, its all about war and stuff.

The Washington Post rolled out  what I consider an inevitable op/ed today about keeping ROTC off the campuses of Ivy League schools who banned it when DADT was in effect.  Colman McCarthy, a former Post columnist who directs the Center for Teaching Peace claims that ROTC is essentially an anti-intellectual endeavor which can be opposed on moral grounds:

It should not be forgotten that schools have legitimate and moral reasons for keeping the military at bay, regardless of the repeal of "don’t ask, don’t tell." They can stand with those who for reasons of conscience reject military solutions to conflicts.

Another on the left wanting to limit your choices.

Of course those who reject military solutions to conflicts for reasons of conscience don’t mind being protected by those who graduate from other ROTC programs, one supposes.  And so they are.  It is always fun and easy to be against war if others are willing to fight them for you.   And you won’t find the military against peace either – they’re the ones who have to fight a war and suffer the losses.  However, they’re also some hard-bitten realists who recognize that there are evil people in the world who want to do us harm.  They also recognize that you can be for peace all you want to, but if the other guy chooses war, you either fight or capitulate and live by his dictates for your life.   I assume McCarthy rejects “just war” as a challenge to his “peace for reasons of conscience” as well. 

But if you look closely at the words above, you get an inkling of the depth of ignorance Mr. McCarthy displays in his piece.  In this country, “military solutions” are dictated by civilian authorities.  That may have slipped past him when he was studying “Peacenik 101”.  It isn’t the military that decides when to enter a conflict, it is, for the most part, civilian graduates of Ivy league schools who’ve made those decisions.  I know – irony.

Anyway, I thought that was a bit humorous. 

McCarthy, if you haven’t guessed, is a product of the ‘60s.  And it shows in the smug shallowness of his presentation and the bits of stereotypical nonsense with which his piece is studded.  It’s also a pitch for more “peace studies”, because, you know, we have women’s studies, and black studies, and LGBT studies.  I assume he believes ROTC to be war studies and filled with Neanderthals and knuckle-draggers who want to be indoctrinated, given a weapon and pointed in the right direction with orders to kill everything in sight.

As a proud ROTC grad (and Distinguished Military Graduate) I owe a debt to the course of study.  Like most who graduated from the program, I learned the basics of something our present CiC hasn’t yet learned – leadership.  And the Army took it from there to the point that when I retired, I was both a pretty fair leader and darn sure a good evaluator of leadership.  Other than perhaps a few on-campus organizations, it was the only opportunity to learn about leadership and to apply it in a real world environment.  I don’t know about you, but watching Obama founder on the leadership rocks, I think it is a pretty critical skill.

But McCarthy’s objection doesn’t even consider that.  He’s stuck in the ‘60s Vietnam time warp by which he evaluates everything now.  And he’s really concerned about the Ivies becoming tainted now that DADT has been repealed:

However, being the good PC creature he is, he knows he’s got to be careful.  Read this and shake your head in wonder:

To oppose ROTC, as I have since my college days in the 1960s, when my school enticed too many of my classmates into joining, is not to be anti-soldier. I admire those who join armies, whether America’s or the Taliban’s: for their discipline, for their loyalty to their buddies and to their principles, for their sacrifices to be away from home. In recent years, I’ve had several Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans in my college classes. If only the peace movement were as populated by people of such resolve and daring.

It isn’t “anti-soldier”?  Well of course not – check out the moral equivalency in the next line.  Your young son who joined the Army is now the equivalent of a Taliban terrorist who blinds young girls with acid, executes village leaders for cooperation with the Afghan government and uses the sports arena in Kabul to execute women who’ve offended its bizarre codes.

His reasons for “admiring” soldiers are just as tatty – for their discipline, loyalty, principles and sacrifices.  Most of us assume these to be good traits.  Admirable traits as McCarthy says.  Where in the world does he think such things are taught? Certainly not in his peace studies apparently.  Uh, Mr. McCarthy, try “ROTC”.  Yup – it’s stock and trade.

Finally he panders a bit: combat veterans have lots of resolve and daring.  Daring?  Is there perhaps a bit of a yellow-streak peeking out from behind the word salad?  And aren’t “resolve and daring” what has made this nation great?  Wow – more admirable traits.

ROTC and its warrior ethic taint the intellectual purity of a school, if by purity we mean trying to rise above the foul idea that nations can kill and destroy their way to peace. If a school such as Harvard does sell out to the military, let it at least be honest and add a sign at its Cambridge front portal: Harvard, a Pentagon Annex.

Yeah, that warrior ethic thing is a real “taint” on intellectual purity, isn’t it – if you define intellectual purity as “what I deem important and nothing else”.   Let’s review – loyalty, daring, resolve, discipline, principle and sacrifice.  I have to agree those traits contained in the warrior ethic would be a real drag on “intellectual purity” wouldn’t they?

McCarthy calls the classes taught in ROTC “softie classes” that don’t require much intellectually.  Well they’re certainly not advanced nuclear physics, but then they’re not designed to be.   They are classes which lay the ground work for what is to come in the military.  They are an introduction to the schooling the military will incrementally give its officers as they go on active duty and progress through the ranks.  When I entered the Army I went to the Infantry Officer Basic Course which picked up right where ROTC left off.  Given a few years of experience I went to my branch’s Advanced course, then the Command and General Staff College, etc.  – all part of a planned military schooling cycle that turns out the leaders that we have commanding our military today – most of whom could easily pit their intellect against that of McCarthy and come out miles ahead.

As for the intellectual purity of a school being compromised by ROTC, if this demonstrably misinformed op/ed is an example of what such intellectual purity produces, ROTC would most likely raise the intellectual level of the school this guy attended.   It just makes you wonder what he’s so afraid of.

~McQ

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Observations: The QandO Podcast for 19 Dec 10

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss the accomplishments of the lame duck Congressional session.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

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DADT repealed

The Senate voted to repeal DADT this afternoon and the bill will now go to President Obama for signature:

The final vote was 65-31, with eight Republicans crossing the aisle to support the measure.

The policy does not change overnight: Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen must first certify that lifting the ban will not adversely affect the military. Then there is a 60-day period as the Pentagon writes new rules.

Gates issued a statement saying he is pleased with the vote and vowed that the Pentagon would "carry out the change carefully and methodically, but purposefully." The effort will be led by Clifford Stanley, under secretary for personnel and readiness and a retired Marine major general.

~McQ

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DADT

I think it should be obvious – even to Sen. McCain – that DADT is going to be repealed at some point whether anyone likes it or not.  That repeal can be a purposeful one, implemented in a way in which the military can decide on a timeline and methodology by which to do so, or it can be by a court order that will end it immediately and not allow the military any control of the transition.

The Pentagon’s DADT study was recently published and it essentially concluded that most troops really don’t care about gays serving openly. That sentiment mirrors what most of the country feels as well.  The Pentagon report concluded that the threat to the force of repeal is “low”.

As I’ve said for years, when the dominant culture concludes sexual orientation isn’t relevant to job performance, that would eventually filter into the military.  If the Pentagon’s study is to be believed, that’s happened.

I’m reminded of one NCO who essentially boiled down the issue in a way that best reflects my feelings.  I’m paraphrasing, but he said that in the military there are two types of soldiers – those that are squared away and those that are dirt bags.  If a soldier is squared away he wants him, and he doesn’t really give a rip what his sexual orientation might be.  If he’s a dirt bag he wants him gone, and again that means straight or gay.

The top leadership in the military seems prepared to make the change.   The majority of the military, as reflected in the study’s numbers, seem prepared to make the change.  The experience of other nations, to include Israel, seem to indicate little risk in its implementation.

One of the things both sides have trotted out at various times in an effort to score political points when considering military issues  is  we should “listen to the generals”.  In this case I think that’s exactly right.  Repeal it and let them implement what is necessary to make the transition as painless as possible.  Refusing to do so leaves only the courts as an alternative.  And the courts aren’t going to give a rip about “transitions” or “time lines”, etc.  They’re going to order it stopped now.

John McCain said he was “open” to abiding by what the Pentagon study concluded.  That was apparently when he believed it would conclude something completely different than it did.  As far as I’m concerned, we’re making official something that has been the military’s dirty little secret for centuries.  That is we who have held command in the military have always pretty much done precisely what the NCO I paraphrased above said.  If you’ve been in the military for anytime at all, you’ve been in units in which gay soldiers served.  You knew it.  Everyone else knew it.  They knew you knew.  But as long as they showed up every day, in proper uniform, did their job to the utmost of their ability – i.e. “soldiered” – no one cared.

That should be the only standard by which we judge our soldiers, and we should make it the sole standard as soon as possible.

~McQ

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Observations: The Qando Podcast for 16 May 10

In this podcast, Bruce, Michael, and Dale discuss DADT, The Euro, and the spiraling cost of ObamaCare…even before we’ve gotten any of it.

The direct link to the podcast can be found here.

Observations

The intro and outro music is Vena Cava by 50 Foot Wave, and is available for free download here.

As a reminder, if you are an iTunes user, don’t forget to subscribe to the QandO podcast, Observations, through iTunes. For those of you who don’t have iTunes, you can subscribe at Podcast Alley. And, of course, for you newsreader subscriber types, our podcast RSS Feed is here. For podcasts from 2005 to 2009, they can be accessed through the RSS Archive Feed.

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It is time to repeal DADT

Ben Smith at the Politico carries the story, I’m one of the signatories:

A group of leading military bloggers has issued a joint statement urging Congress to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”The community of “mil-bloggers” — often hawkish, critical of White House and military leadership, devoted to both the First and Second Amendments — isn’t easy to define politically, but has proven an increasingly powerful voice from the ranks. The statement, which says that there have always been gay soldiers and that “very little will actually change” with the repeal of “Don’t Ask,” carries the signatures of the authors of some of the most prominent: Blackfive, Q&O, Outside the Wire, and the US Naval Institute Blog, among others.

The expected pushback is already beginning to mount in the comment section of the link above.  I’ve thought about it long and hard.  I’ve actually changed my mind from years ago.  I guess that’s because I’ve known of and served with soldiers I knew were gay.  And every one of them were good soldiers who served honorably and did an excellent job.

I’ve also come to understand that it isn’t going to be the activists or those who want to flaunt their homosexuality who are going to seek to serve their country. Being a Soldier, Sailor, Marine or Airman is a hard, dirty and dangerous job.  Those that choose to serve are not going to do it because of who they love, but simply because want to serve their nation and the military is their chosen method of doing so.

This is a cultural change thing.  And the culture has been changing for years to more and more acceptance of homosexuality in terms of offering equal rights and protections.  This is simply an extension of that.  If I thought it would seriously effect readiness, I’d probably oppose it – but I don’t think it will.  Will there be some problems and some objections to overcome?  Yes.  But the military can and will overcome them.

The institution of the military is important to me, I’ve thought about this in some depth and come to the conclusion this is the right thing to do.  I agree with SecDef Gates and the JCS that DADT is a policy which needs to be repealed.  But I also support their recommendation that it needs to be done thoughtfully and at their own pace.  It also means that Congress will need to enact legislation to makes changes the UCMJ and some other necessary legislative steps to make this come to pass.

Sexual orientation should never be a bar to serving your country honorably in the profession of arms.

~McQ

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Transparency? Not this White House

Ben Smith at Politico reports that Police chased off reporters yesterday during a protest of DADT by gay service members, in uniform who chained themselve to the fence.  As you might expect, the press was not at all happy:

Police chased reporters away from the White House and closed Lafayette Park today in response to a gay rights protest in which several service members in full uniform handcuffed themselves to the White House gate to protest “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

People who have covered the White House for years tell me that’s an extremely unusual thing to do in an area that regularly features protests.

Smith has a video up showing this happening. Some might think that Smith is making too much of a isolated incident, but apparently there is some real discontent within the White House press corps specificially and the Washington media in general.  This is just another incident that further deepens that discontent.

Jamie Dupree points out that every White House eventually comes into conflict with the WH press corps and the press in general – there a natural friction there.  The press wants unlimited access and the WH simply can’t grant that.  However, Ed Chen, the head of the White House Correspondent’s Association says this particular White House seems even worse than others:

Chen’s quote to Politico is very interesting, saying that in his over 10 years at the White House, “rarely have I sensed such a level of anger, which is wide and deep, among members over White House practices and attitude toward the press.”

In other words, reporters feel like this administration is not being very open on a number of fronts.

At issue is how the Obama White House has limited press access to events, using its own photographer for example to take pictures, and not allowing photo opportunities and/or questions for Presidential meetings with other world leaders.

Now you may say, “big deal, so the press is whining”.  And I’m not one to normally stick up for the press.  But they do have a job to perform. And as all of us know, especially when the news might be damaging to political opponents, Democrats love to wave “the people’s right to know” around like a flag.

However, the thing to be reminded of here is the promise – the most transparant administration ever (right up there with the Pelosi promise of “the most ethical Congress ever”). This strong-arming of the press to keep them away from covering some “dissenters” is just another in a long line of examples of what you get when you buy a pig in a poke and don’t do the due dilligence of examining the character and background of the person making all the grand promises.

The discovery process – which the very same press should have been an intimate part of prior to Obama’s election – is now yielding much less than was hoped for (yes, I use the word “hope” in place of “expected” because expectation is usually based in actions of the past). Perhaps that’s why Obama’s popularity polls continue to fall.

Meanwhile the press is reaping what it helped sow.

~McQ

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