What?? You come up with a better title.
MSNBC (a combination I've never really understood) is reporting today that due to recruiting problems in the military, a new push is on to allow openly gay soldiers to serve. This tells us two things. 1) June 15 is a sloooow news day. 2) the military as a Republican bastion may be under attack.
It was pretty painful to watch, 12 years ago, as the Clinton administration tried to get the US military to stop the gay witch hunt it had been conducting for 50 years. Bowing to Republican pressure, he adopted the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" rule. It must have been a good compromise, because it made everybody pretty unhappy. In truth, it was a huge step ahead of where gays had been in the past, when the military would conduct investigations to actively find homosexual men, even if they were keeping it hidden.
I'm sure you're going to guess which side of the fence I fall on. And you're correct. But I do empathize with the argument that adding sexual tension to a unit could be disruptive. Historically, the armed forces have been pretty asexual. That is, except for the occasional hooker, there was no sex in the military. Adding openly homosexual soldiers to the mix would change that dynamic. But that's where my empathy ends. I know that change is hard (no pun intended). But you shouldn't exclude 55% percent of Americans because you are scared to change. That's right - 55%. 5% gay people, and 50% women. Why else would women not be allowed to serve? Because Congress can't afford tampons in the desert?
Newsweek magazine had a story very recently about the compartmentalization of our military in society. In World War II, 6% of Americans were in uniform at one time or another. I don't think there were Americans who didn't know someone involved. Today, I don't know a single person who has been to Iraq and only one person who has even a chance of going. Recruitment is way down. Enlistment bonuses now can exceed $100,000 (although a good portion of that is in benefits, such as free tuition, not cash). But re-enlistment is up. The people who are serving are more likely than ever before to have parents and other family members who serve or served. In other words, our military is becoming more removed from society at large. There are 2 main trends that can change this. The first is the tendency of immigrants to sign up. Minorities make up the majority of the military (say that five times fast), but the vast minority of its leadership. When that starts to change, so will our military. The second is the emergence of women and gays, two otherwise forbidden classes of people who are breaking in to the system inch by inch. (Still, no pun intended) This will change the military even faster, because once these people start getting into uniform, they can't be bought off with schooling or citizenship. They will want to reach the top.
It's difficult to understand why in a world where we are desperate to find talented linguists and analysts and fighting men and women, we're rejecting people whose crime is not being attracted to the opposite sex. A return to the asexual military won't happen - can't happen. It may have been somewhat true in WWII, but by Vietnam, sex was everywhere - with the nurses, with the South Vietnamese. If having babies with the local population isn't distracting to your military mission, I don't know what is. My prediction is that tomorrow's military will be like that in Starship Troopers, only hopefully without the bugs.