Obama's First Test

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President Obama’s first test in the national security arena is likely to come not from al Qaeda or Iran or the Taliban but from within his own Democratic Party. Powerful constituencies in that party, the Feminists and the gays, will demand that he open the ground combat arms to women and allow acknowledged homosexuals to serve in the U.S. armed forces. If he agrees to either of these demands, or both, he will begin his Presidency by doing immense damage to the fighting ability of the America military.

Both demands are ideological in nature. They reflect the cultural Marxism of the Frankfurt School, commonly known as "Political Correctness." Cultural Marxism sees Feminist women and gays as the equivalent of economic Marxism’s proletariat, i.e., "good," and white males as an equivalent of the bourgeoisie, i.e., "bad." The former are therefore to be "privileged" over the latter, in what Roger Kimball calls "experiments against reality." We must pretend that there are no meaningful differences between men and women, even on a battlefield, and that gays and normal men and women can mix without serious friction, even in very close quarters. Anyone who refuses to play "let’s pretend" is to find himself in trouble.

The military reformers rightly argued that for winning in combat, people are most important, ideas come second and hardware is only third. Allowing women into the ground combat arms and open homosexuals into the armed services will impact critically important "human factors" in strongly negative ways. They will strike directly at why men fight.

It is a mistake to think that if you call a group of people an army, give them uniforms and hand them some weapons, they will fight. Throughout history, some armies have fought a lot harder than others. The specific reasons vary widely, but one way or another they all come down to human factors.

One of the most basic human factors is that men fight to prove they are real men. They join fighting organizations, whether the U.S. Army or U.S. Marine Corps or MS-13, because those organizations are made up of fighting men. Their membership is a badge of honor that says, "We’re not sissies or pansies. We are men who fight, serving alongside other men who fight." That tells others and themselves they are real men.

If ideologically-driven policies deprive fighting organizations of their ability to convey that message, men who want to prove they are real men will not join. Instead of men who want to fight and will fight, they will end up recruiting men who join for good pay, or education benefits, or because they can’t get a civilian job. Armies like that may fight when they have no other choice, but if they come up against opponents who want to fight, they will be in trouble.

No two actions would more powerfully undermine the ability of the U.S. armed forces to recruit the kind of men who want to fight than allowing women into the ground combat arms and open gays into the military. How can a man prove his manhood by serving with women and gays? The recruitment of women into the U.S. military has already gone far beyond what military effectiveness would counsel. Martin van Creveld has written a whole book, Men, Women and War, arguing that women have essentially no place in a military. President Obama would do well to read it before making any hasty decisions.

President Obama’s first national security test will in fact be a test of his honesty. Will he govern as the centrist he presented himself as being during the campaign? If so, he will allow present policies on women and gays in the military to remain in place. Or, will he reveal himself as a cultural Marxist who deceived the American public in order to get elected and will govern from the left, not the center? If so, we will witness many experiments against reality, with the U.S. armed forces early victims. Our next President would do well to remember history’s verdict on such experiments, a verdict illustrated by the fate of the 20th century’s ideological regimes. In the end, reality always wins.

William Lind, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.

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