John Shalikashvili seems unashamed to report that his version of leadership is to follow his troops wherever they want to go, pandering to bigotry and ignorance along the way. Back in 1993, he didn’t want gays in the military because he thought the other soldiers wouldn’t like them, but now that polling indicates it’s not a problem, he’s on board; wow! Give the man a white horse and a sword to wave around!
It’s wrong to whale on someone who has thought about an issue and changed his mind; it’s called learning and it’s admirable. When [what you now recognize as] an earlier error has made others pay a lot of dues, it’s nice to apologize. But learning isn’t what the general is displaying; he says he was right then and he’s right now, nor is there any apology, not to the gays denied careers for which they were well qualified, not to the soldiers who died for want of backup from the best possible team of buddies, not to the taxpayers who paid extra for the comfort of higher management.
Harry Truman, in contrast, ordered the integration of the armed forces when the white soldiers weren’t at all in favor of it, because he was the chief and it was the right thing to do. The military learned to fight as a racially mixed institution pretty quickly and any residual racism didn’t ruin our combat capacity. Shalikashvili should be ashamed of himself both as a general and as a person.