Prediction: Pentagon will not support repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell
On Friday, the House of Representatives passed on a largely party-line vote a bill which would authorize the military to end its “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding the service of openly gay men or women in the military.
It’s an interesting political fig leaf for the Obama Administration who, like most Democratic presidents and presidential candidates in recent years, has courted the votes of gays.
The measure will cause the military to undertake an assessment of the merits of changing the policy, including getting the opinion of members of the military services.
A similar measure passed a Senate committee on Thursday and will soon be voted on by the full Senate as part of a larger defense-related bill. Republicans have threatened to filibuster the measure, though I doubt they will keep enough of their own and get enough Democrats to maintain a filibuster.
So, while DADT won’t be repealed immediately, it still allows Democrats and Obama to claim they’ve “done something", a claim that politicians are always looking to make, especially during a time when the president looks as utterly incompetent as his reaction to the Gulf oil spill is doing.
Certain military leaders and politicians oppose Congress’ move because the Pentagon is currently studying the issue. Senator Jim Webb (D-VA), for instance, voted against the measure because he wants to see the results of the Pentagon study first.
In the meantime, while Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, seems OK with ending the policy and allowing gays to serve openly, the heads of the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force have all sent letters to Senator John McCain opposing the move to pass repeal legislation before the Pentagon study is done with the Commandant of the Marine Corps opposing outright repeal of DADT.
My view (and the view of my mother, a retired Navy admiral) is that the military is not a place for diversity training. It’s all about the mission. And, like it or not, many members of our military are young, hardly worldly, not especially well-educated, and not necessarily broad-minded. It is far more likely that repealing DADT will lead to disruption of order on bases or ships. Indeed, I can easily imagine a litigation-minded gay soldier serving just a little too openly and perhaps taking some verbal or physical abuse in order to be able to sue the government for not protecting his “rights". That is to say his non-existent right not to be offended (if he takes verbal abuse), or his actual right not to be beaten up – which should be mitigated if you do something which you know is likely to cause a negative reaction in those around you, especially a bunch of tense young soldiers whose definition of diversity is whether to have a Miller Lite or a Coors Lite.
Don’t ask, don’t tell is as unbiased a policy as one can have in an institution like the military. Let’s look at the converse. Do you think military officers would consider it good behavior by soldiers or sailors if those young men or women spent more than 3 seconds expressing their heterosexuality during work hours? If anything, repeal of DADT will not allow or even encourage gays to behave in a way which would not normally be permitted of non-gays. It’s just the next step in adding a super-protected victim class to another area of American society. Unfortunately, this area of society is one that is not ripe for experimentation because even a modest weakening of its ability to perform its mission could and will cost lives.
So, my prediction is that the military service members, and not just the flag officers, will push back hard against repeal. The Pentagon will release those results and then President Obama will be put in a very difficult position of having to override the clear wishes of our fighting forces in order to appeal to homosexual activists in a few blue states. I expect he would do just that since he loathes the military and doesn’t understand it. If Republicans control either house of Congress when the Pentagon study is done, and if the results are decisively against repeal of DADT, then if Obama goes ahead with repeal I would expect a measure to be brought to a vote to reinstate DADT, leaving Obama to explain why it makes more sense to use the military to “advance a liberal social agenda", as Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) put it than to try to ensure that we have the most effective possible fighting force.
It’s no wonder Bill Clinton made this issue go away as fast as possible. He was much more of a pragmatist as compared to Obama’s radical ideological bent. My prediction is that Obama will override the wishes of the vast majority of the military’s soldiers and leaders, but it will stick yet another fork in his reelection chances. I further predict that Republicans will work to reinstate DADT.
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