President-elect Barack Obama will allow gays to serve openly in the military by overturning the controversial "don't ask, don't tell" policy that marred President Clinton's first days in office, according to incoming White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.
The startling pronouncement, which could re-open a dormant battle in the culture wars and distract from other elements of Obama's agenda, came during a Gibbs exchange with members of the public who sent in questions that were answered on YouTube.
"Thadeus of Lansing, Mich., asks, 'Is the new administration going to get rid of the "don't ask, don't tell policy?'" said Gibbs, looking into the camera. "Thadeus, you don't hear a politician give a one-word answer much. But it's, 'Yes.'"
Now, to understand just how dangerous this is, we must look first at why the policy is in place. The military, much like an athletic locker room, is not only full of machismo but is very enclosed. The military is also based on two simple principles: discipline and habit. Politically correct or not, the military has plenty of homophobia. Beyond that though, there are plenty of those in the military that aren't homophobic that would still not necessarily be comfortable showering, cleaning, sleeping, and doing all sorts of other activities with little clothes in proximity to someone they knew was gay. Worse still, those that are openly gay would face all sorts of threats from the rest of the platoon.
The military thrives on discipline. Allowing openly gay folks in the military when the tradition has been otherwise creates all sorts of unintended consequences regarding this discipline. There's no way to predict how a barrack full of machismo and plenty of homophobia is going to respond to those that are openly gay in their midst. Furthermore, those that are supposed to lead these platoons have no experience handling such situations. In other words, such a policy threatens the very fabric of the discipline the military is founded on.
This would all be well and good if we weren't in the middle of two battles in a much larger war. There's no way to predict how enlistment rates would be affected by such a policy. Again politically correct or not, there's no way to know just how many folks won't re enlist because they wouldn't feel comfortable serving with someone openly gay. Furthermore, there is no way to predict just how much morale and discipline will be affected by such a social experiment. The military's first role is not to be a beacon of tolerance and respect. Its first job is to protect and to serve. If that means that those that are gay must remain silent so be it. Our first priority can't be tolerance and respect to minorities. Our first priority must be to discipline so that the military continues to be the best in the world.
Yet, Barack Obama is willing to carry on such a social experiment even though we are now involved in at least two theaters in a larger war. Such an experiment carries with it the real threat of the law of unintended consequences. Who knows how much this will affect discipline, order and re enlistment? If it has serious and negative effects, just how much will that affect these theaters and the war? Such questions should be asked prior to making such a radical change? Yet, it appears such questions are trivial. Barack Obama, who has never served in the military, seems to think that he knows better than hundreds of years of military tradition. Such hubris is dangerous and it will wind up getting Americans killed.