Under the bus

Real moral courage isn’t standing up to your enemies; it’s standing up to your friends.

The Obama Administration betrays gay Americans yet again.

Oh, wait …

Yes, I know boasting is vulgar, but I told you so.

Note the delicious feature of the “compromise”: the process ends in December with a formal finding by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs that the change will not impact readiness.

Obama has been willing to accept the hostility of the advocacy groups in order to get the thing done right. More likely than not in an unjust world, that hostility will continue even after the deed is done. Obama has done some unheroic stuff, but in my book this makes him a hero. Real moral courage isn’t standing up to your enemies; it’s standing up to your friends.

Update And I’m with James Fallows: the minute the bill passes, the universities that got rid of ROTC should reinstate it, effective the day DADT ends.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

27 thoughts on “Under the bus”

  1. Allowing gays to serve openly in the military will most certainly lead to a weakened military by objective standards on a number of fronts. You will never get a military leader to go on record admitting this and you will probabaly never see an academic stand up to liberal political correctness bullS@#$ and do an evaluation study demonstrating this, but just talk to the fine men and women who have actually served in combat and ask them in a moment of frankness what they think this will do to the strength of our military. Yeah, I'm for the repeal of "don't ask don't tell" because it doesn't go far enough in keeping gays out of the military. As usual, Obama finds a way to slap our troops in the face and just in time for Memorial Day. This is no moral courage in my book.

    1. Bux, that study was done way back in '93, by a first-rate team at RAND including Rob MacCoun. They couldn't find any evidence that unit cohesion would be weakened, and they looked at, e.g., the Israeli Army, which has been non-discriminatory for a long time. The results of that study were suppressed by the brass hats (led by Colin Powell, who should have been relieved for insubordination) until it was too late to influence the hearings that led to the passage of DADT. Sam Nunn was fully complicit; he knew about the study, but didn't demand to see it.

      Powell has come around to the sensible viewpoint, now that he's not longer hoping to be a Republican Presidential candidate. Nunn was still, at last count, being a little bit cagey, but a year ago he said, "We have gays serving honorably in the military today. The policy we have now, 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' is the least worst policy we could have had 15 years ago, but it's probably time to take another look."

      A friend who served as a field-grade officer in Iraq said all of his fellow captains and majors were in favor of shedding DADT; it was only some of the old colonels and generals who were a problem. Note that John McHugh, a solid Republican member of House Armed Services, gave up that post to become Secretary of the Army and is solidly behind repeal. It was McHugh's appointment that convinced me Obama didn't plan to back down on DADT. So it looks to me, Bux, as if your views are about as up-to-date as an M-14 rifle.

  2. I'll just say I completely disagree with Bux on all accounts.

    This is going to be huge, longterm. The inevitable end of homophobia will come after people get to know gays as friends, co-workers and family members. The big lie Bux refers to was no more true decades ago when the exact same arguments were made about non-white service members – unit cohesion and all that crap. Sure, feathers will be ruffled at first. But it won't take long for everyone to realize that IT DOESN'T MATTER.

    So yeah, Obama is doing it slow and right.

  3. Why does Bux hate gay Nurses and Doctors? He must hate the troops, since he would rather them stay injured than be taken care of by the ghey.

    And yes, my dad, retired Air Force Surgeon Lt Colonel, served with many lesbian nurses in the 80s. Sorry if it's a stereotype. But it was kinda a joke back then – and I'm talking about the policy, not the stereotype.

  4. Umm … "ends in December"?

    On Dec. 1, those old colonels and generals issue a report saying that integration can begin in x years and needs to take at least y years. Unless they request an extension of the deadline.

  5. OK, Suzii. I've got $1000 that says the December report is a full go-ahead. Any takers?

    The desperate need of some "progressives" to think that the President is betraying them is really astounding.

  6. Obama deserves praise for allowing gays to serve openly in the military. Now if he would only stop sending them to die in counterproductive wars. The desperate need of some to praise Obama's accomplishments but never to criticize his failings is really astounding.

  7. "Real moral courage isn’t standing up to your enemies; it’s standing up to your friends." You can't just stand up to your friends though.

    I'm supposing you meant:

    Real moral courage isn’t just standing up to your enemies; it’s standing up to your friends sometimes too."

  8. Henry, I think criticizing Obama on Afghanistan is fair. But to assume there isn't legitimate debate on both sides of the issue isn't. It's a tough issue and I have complete respect for both those who would see a total pullout as well as those who think we might be able to do some good.

  9. The opponents of DADT repeal would have us believe that our men and women in uniform, who presently serve bravely alongside closeted gays, are so lily livered that they will get heebie jeebies at the thought of serving alongside colleagues who acknowledge being gay. Is that the kind of soldier or sailor that we want serving, or does society have the right to demand more, uh, testicular fortitude from our warriors?

  10. Give Suzii a break, Mark. She isn't an anti-Obama whiner. She's just trying not to get her hopes up for fear of crushing disappointment. (And possibly suffering from a little too much Rachel Maddow.)

    You may have $1000 to bet, but she doesn't. She's looking at maybe having to pay $6000 a year more for decent health insurance because she can't get health insurance under her partner's federal policy.

  11. "the minute the bill passes, the universities that got rid of ROTC should reinstate it"

    So your only complaint with the US military is homophobia? The acting as a tool of pointless aggression doesn't upset you?

    Even if you believe that the US military are simply servants who do what their paymasters tell them, why should universities be enthusiastic about supporting this entity?

    How about let's go for thirty years WITHOUT the US military being used to beat up some weak nation to send a message to others, at which point we might reassess whether they really are a defense force rather than an attack force.

  12. Maynard, if you think the right approach to preventing aggressive wars is to make sure that the children of privilege don't serve in the military, your idea of political strategy is different from mine.

  13. So, Mark, your reasoning is that if the children of privilege have more contact with the military, they will be more inclined to, what, not support it and speak out against it?

    To the extent that we have any sort of natural experiment here, I'd say the evidence is against this.

    On the one hand we have the Christian World from medieval times onward, where the military and aristocracy were synonymous, leading to a general worship of arts martial, and constant warfare.

    On the other hand we have the Moslem world from medieval times onward, where the military were lower class citizens, the domain of slaves, and much less of an interest in war for war's sake (as opposed to wars of some sort of necessity). This trend persisted to the 20th century, leading to the US and Europe dramatically misunderstanding the motivations and powers systems of the various military rulers in the Arab world.

    Obviously the 21st century world operates on rather different principles from the 14th century world, but my guess would be that there would be rather less knee-jerk support for the military and the idea of solving all problems through bombing if there were fewer, rather than more, children of privilege involved in the system.

    I suspect, at root, we are on the same side; I don't know your view on the US military as an abstract institution, but I expect you've hardly been impressed by our grand adventures in the land of Sinbad; so this is an argument about tactics, not the goal. I'm certainly prepared to change my views if you can offer me credible evidence that I'm wrong, but my personal understanding of how ideas and influence flow through society leads me to believe you are wrong here.

  14. Mark, apparently my ideas are as outdated as 1993. Is this the only study that you have to point to? Granted that one study is more than I expected on the topic, and it is a RAND study, so I look forward to taking a look at it. Thanks for the citation. From briefly scanning, it appears that the study primarily deals with the impact of sexual orientation on unit cohesion, though. Bear in mind that unit cohesion is only one intermediate measure of military effectiveness and is also what I would call a soft measure. Kind of like process evaluation, which I'm often skeptical of, you can pretty much make a study of unit cohesion to say whatever it is that you want it to say, which is usually based on who is paying the bill for the study. It looks like this study was commissioned by the Secretary of Defense to draft "an Executive Order to end discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the U.S. Armed Forces". Wow, surprise, surprise, they found no evidence that unit cohesion was compromised by gays in the military. I'm not going to place RAND or (especially) a Berkeley professor above producing a s#$tty or biased study. How about looking at physical performance? Have any studies to point to on how physical performance is affected by gays in the military (and by females in the military for that matter)? Don't know about you, but at the end of the day I want the strongest "brute force" military that we can produce. Brute force might not work when it comes to criminal justice policy but it sure works when it comes to killing an enemy on the battle field. And please no anecdotal evidence, because for every token "field grade officer" that you can point to who says the troops support gays in the military, I can point you to one that does not. One night on a barstool at your local VFW or American Legion is all it takes to hear a "de-politicized" view of the negative effects of gays in the military. Don't discount experience either, by saying that it's only "the old colonels and generals" who are "a problem". But we can go back and forth all day on the anecdotes.

    And don't get it twisted Mark, the M-14 rifle might be outdated but it can still leave one pushing up daisies.

  15. "Obama deserves praise for allowing gays to serve openly in the military."

    Shouldn't that praise wait on him actually allowing 'gays' to serve openly in the military?

    From what I can tell, Obama has been a source of nothing but rhetoric on this subject, and, objectively, is doing everything he can to drag things out without openly telling 'gay' supporters to screw themselves. The latest move being that, when Rep. Murphy and Sen. Lieberman introduced bills to repeal DADT, Obama persuaded them to amend the bills to provide that the military would implement the repeal only when it felt like it.

    Given that Obama is critically dependent on the black vote, and the black vote is remarkably homophobic, does this come as any surprise?

  16. Brett, kind of an aside. But don't you think that at this point Obama could start eating children before the black vote even considers voting for whatever yahoo the current Republican party puts up?

  17. What's remarkable is that nearly all the folks talking about black homophobia are conservative white guys.

  18. "Don’t know about you, but at the end of the day I want the strongest “brute force” military that we can produce. Brute force might not work when it comes to criminal justice policy but it sure works when it comes to killing an enemy on the battle field."

    I have never served in the armed forces, (and I much appreciate the service of those who have,) but it seems to me that, as between: (1) a dedicated soldier who is indifferent as to who among his peers sticks what into whom, but is brave and willing to follow lawful orders, and (2) a soldier who is also brave, but whose discomfort about fellow soldiers' sexual orientation outweighs his committment to the military mission, it is not a close call as to who offers more value to "the strongest 'brute force' military that we can produce."

  19. Ugh, bux, did you read what I said earlier?

    Gay folks are in the armed services now, and not always pointing guns at people.

    Even with your retrograde ideas, it would be stupid to fire gay folks in non-combat positions. You really think it's bad to have gay nurses & translators?

  20. no MobiusKlein, I don't have a problem with gay folks (or women) serving in non-combat positions.

  21. excellent! Now you are in favor of repealing DADT, since that policy led to the firing of various non-combat troops. Glad to hear it.

  22. "What’s remarkable is that nearly all the folks talking about black homophobia are conservative white guys."

    Not the least bit remarkable: What motive do liberals have to notice the unsavory aspects of allies they can't do without?

  23. I mean, Brett, that the white conservatives talk about it more than the allegedly homophobic black folks. The allies of liberals (also known as other liberals) have voices too, not just skin colors.

  24. All right, Brett, how many members of the Congressional Black Caucus do you think will vote against repeal? Be prepared to put your money behind your opinion.

  25. And the vote is in: just about on party lines, with five fringe Republicans voting yes and two dozen Blue Dogs voting no, after a stirring speech by John Lewis urging an end to bigotry. So if homophobia is "unsavory" – as Brett says, and I agree – then it's Brett who has unsavory allies.

Comments are closed.