What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: soleil1016
Just one week after assuming the presidency in January of 1993, Bill Clinton instructed his Secretary of Defense to submit, within six months, a draft for an Executive Order which would “end discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in determining who may serve in the Armed Forces of the United States.” One month before this plan was publicly announced in July, 97.5% of all active-duty Admirals and Generals surveyed indicated that they did not want homosexuals to serve in the military. Over 90% suggested that “national security” would be negatively affected were open homosexuals able to serve. The compromise law that eventually passed (with a veto-proof majority in a Democratic-controlled Congress), now known as “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, has recently been under intense scrutiny from all quarters.
The law in question states the following as one of its congressional findings:
The presence in the armed forces of persons who demonstrate a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability.
Additionally, it states that “The prohibition against homosexual conduct is a longstanding element of military law that continues to be necessary in the unique circumstances of military service.” That longstanding element dates back to the Revolutionary War, when homosexuals were prohibited from military service. George Washington, the nation’s first Commander-in-Chief, stated his view on the matter in his general orders for March 14, 1778:
At a General Court Martial whereof Colo. Tupper was President (10th March 1778), Lieutt. Enslin of Colo. Malcom’s Regiment [was] tried for attempting to commit sodomy, with John Monhort a soldier; Secondly, For Perjury in swearing to false accounts, [he was] found guilty of the charges exhibited against him, being breaches of 5th. Article 18th. Section of the Articles of War and [we] do sentence him to be dismiss’d [from] the service with infamy. His Excellency the Commander in Chief approves the sentence and with abhorrence and detestation of such infamous crimes orders Lieutt. Enslin to be drummed out of camp tomorrow morning by all the drummers and fifers in the Army never to return; The drummers and fifers [are] to attend on the Grand Parade at Guard mounting for that Purpose.
Another of Washington’s orders makes clear the importance of a military infused with order and morality:
His Excellency [George Washington] wishes [it] to be considered that an Army without order, regularity, and discipline is no better than a commissioned mob; Let us therefore . . . endeavor by all the skill and discipline in our power, to acquire that knowledge and conduct which is necessary in war–our men are brave and good; men who with pleasure it is observed are addicted to fewer vices than are commonly found in Armies; but it is subordination and discipline (the life and soul of an Army) which next under Providence, is to make us formidable to our enemies, honorable in ourselves, and respected in the world.
The policy to bar from military service any individual known to be openly and actively homosexual should be seen as separate from the civil punishment enforced by each state. Two centuries ago, many states had laws on the books outlawing sodomy, with punishments ranging from execution, to hard labor, to solitary confinement. In the military, however, the emphasis was on cohesion within the ranks, and the formation and preservation of a military force that would be as efficient as possible. As the previously cited Unites States Code says, “The primary purpose of the armed forces is to prepare for and to prevail in combat should the need arise.”
It follows, then, that the military does not exist to provide jobs, make people feel welcome, or cater in any way to the whims or personal desires of any given individual. The military’s goal is to win battles. As such, all policies should be framed through that specific and limited context in order to determine whether they are proper or not. As the Code further says, “There is no constitutional right to serve in the armed forces.” Nobody is entitled to military employment, nor should they be. The military frequently rejects individuals deemed unfit for service, whether that individual is overweight, has a criminal history, has fraudulently enlisted, or for a host of other reasons.
As the military exists to win wars, and win wars only, its success requires the participation of willing individuals who meet certain criteria that will help ensure victory. On the organization’s part, the military implements training programs to foster unity, precision, courage, discipline, and morale. Any circumstance that would negate the military’s ability to maximize these traits must be eschewed, whether through military policy or law.
The vocal advocacy of “gay rights” groups has notably produced a shift in public opinion on the topic of homosexuality in recent years, resulting in a heated and much-changed discourse on topics ranging from same-sex marriage to adoption. Not content to feel excluded in any way whatsoever, focus has also often been placed on the supposed “discrimination” against homosexuals with regards to military service. As one example, and contrasting the survey previously mentioned, 28 Generals and Admirals called for an end to the military’s ban on homosexuality three years ago. The current military Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama, pledged in this year’s State of the Union address that “This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are.” Clearly, there exists significant political support for allowing open and active homosexuals to serve within the ranks of this nation’s armed forces.
Just because a policy is desired, though, does not mean it is a good policy. And the inclusion of open and active homosexuals within the military would be a very bad policy.
The brotherhood so often praised in military units, as popularly portrayed, for example, in Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan, is the manifestation of what the Greeks called philos—brotherly, non-sexual love between different individuals. That fraternal brotherhood is disrupted and jeopardized when a situation is created where eros—romantic, sexual love—may exist. Unity between all individuals in the group is threatened when one individual may have feelings of affection for another in the group, as that feeling manifests itself through jealousy, secrecy, and intimacy. These traits imperil an effort to create brotherly love, and thus prevent soldiers from being effective and unified.
The potential for romantic relationships, or the pursuit thereof, within the ranks of the military introduces a variety of dynamics that clearly affect important and possibly life-threatening decisions. The members of such a group must, to be most effective, have in their best interest the welfare of the whole. If one individual has any feelings of romantic jealousy, bitterness for being romantically rejected, or any other behaviorally-compromising emotion, then the cohesion of the group is weakened. For this reason, homosexuality (whether acted upon or not) has long been viewed as unsuitable for service in the military.
The issue is not about equality or equal protection under the laws. It cannot in any way be compared to skin color, for example—a benign characteristic that, unlike sexuality, has no inherently external manifestations affecting human behavior. The military is not an “equal opportunity employer”; the argument that homosexuals should have “the right to serve the country they love” is a red herring and fallacious attempt to circumvent the core issue, which is that the military can and should discriminate as necessary to recruit individuals who will most help it succeed in its primary goal.
This is not to say that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is good policy. Indeed, good policy is not founded upon a “wink and a nod,” with the omission or suppression of truth, as the case may be, considered acceptable actions to qualify for military service. Instead, the policy should be augmented to explicitly and completely prohibit homosexuals from military service.
Parenthetically, the arguments listed above apply just as much to females, who are "more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire…". With nearly 80% of female soldiers being sexually harassed, over half being groped, and one-third experiencing one or more completed or attempted rapes, it is not difficult to see the destructiveness of eros—whether homosexually or heterosexually—within the military, where individuals are subjected to long periods of absence from their spouses and families, highly stressful situations where one’s life is constantly in danger, and an environment of degraded morals and virtue. Women, too, should be excluded from military service.
There is no constitutional right to serve in the military. The organization is concerned with one goal and one goal alone: win in combat. Its main concern must always be effectiveness—how to recruit and train troops who will be better, faster, and more efficient. The pursuit of this goal must be free from the taint of political correctness, equality, appeasement to popular opinion, and any feel-goodery that embraces inclusion at the expense of effectiveness.