Are women entitled to fight? Is anyone entitled to serve in the military? This attitude of “fairness” seems to get it completely backward.
It's official — they are worried, and they should be.
The New York Times reported Friday that a top Obama administration official assigned to Iran policy expressed concern after former Sen. Chuck Hagel's (R-Neb.) dismal confirmation hearing Thursday in the Senate Armed Services committee.
The Pentagon's decision to permit women in combat is drawing strong reactions from advocates and critics, with few conflicted voices stepping to the fore. For something involving the capability, safety and efficacy of our armed forces, this is surprising.
Most importantly, this decision has not come suddenly, not out of the blue. It was reached collectively, because commanders were convinced – by further integration of women throughout the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan this last decade — that they are fit for some combat operations. Though it is historic, because it makes the military more inclusive, it has come after decades in which many women have not only served and been held back from promotion, but have died as well.
Today America is a nation at war. President Obama and our Joint Chiefs of Staff are trying to successfully end the war. Our troops remain in combat. The world remains dangerous. And our politicians are using the threat of military sequesters in ways that are damaging and destructive to commanders, noncommissioned officers, active-duty troops of all ranks, essential civilian defense employees, military readiness, rational military procurement, military families and confidence from American allies working with us in joint missions. The use and abuse of the threat of military-related sequesters hurts our security and must end.
As President Obama and Congress discuss a solution to avoid the nation falling over the fiscal cliff, let me first propose that never again should politicians use the military the way the military is now being used in the cliff debate. The idea was to threaten cuts in defense so severe that politicians would be motivated to reach budget agreements. The reality is that while politicians maneuver, our troops remain in combat while their budget remains in limbo. Let’s remember that in the real life of a nation at war, the budget involves life-and-death matters for the troops who battle on our behalf. Let’s now consider a few matters of importance:
In fits and starts over Thanksgiving weekend I read pieces of All In: The Education of General David Petraeus. As a nonfiction author who checked her Amazon page in the tense days after pub date, I looked at Broadwell’s soaring “best-sellers rank” when the story was in the headlines (110), but as it faded, I returned just now to Amazon to find the book with a decent — I’d love to have it — ranking of 3,952; decent but not best-selling.
With Gen. David Petraeus testifying to a congressional committee behind closed doors today about Libya in his former role as CIA director, his flawed legacy in Afghanistan has become obscured amid the waves of scandal lapping around him.
In Afghanistan, Petraeus oversaw the militarization of President Obama’s foreign policy, the “surge” of U.S. troops aimed at preparing for a phased handover to a professional force of Afghan troops and police, using his Iraq counterinsurgency policy as a model. The policy of using the military for nation-building is now in tatters, with the powerful U.S. military demoralized by the “green on blue” attacks by Afghans against their mentors, the Afghans’ screening and training called into question on a daily basis. Sixty-one coalition soldiers have been killed by members of the Afghan National Army or police this year.
Several CIA directors have had affairs, and, even though this doesn't excuse the behavior, it makes the secrecy of this current situation all the more suspect. The FBI was first informed of the affair in May, along with the attorney general, and the affair was investigated. It strains the limits of credulity to say that this top-level investigation was ongoing without the knowledge of the White House. Such things simply do not and have not occurred in the past.
Washington’s seasons provide dramatic welcomes to its citizens. Cold winter evolves into flowery spring and denizens move outside, shed heavy clothing and inhale the freshness. So, too, do the capital's political seasons bring welcoming changes.
We move regularly from the intensity of debates over foreign misadventures to tax reforms and stressful infighting among our representatives, to the sexual affair of the moment, grateful for the always-engaging examinations of human frailty and the weaknesses of our representatives: the meaning of legs sliding in airport men’s rooms, midnight baths in fountains, furtive visits to houses of prostitution (whose names will be seen on the madam's black books?). What a relief from the tedium of two years of electoral politics to read about generals' indiscretions.
For those who do not wait for the nonpartisan investigations about events in Libya to report, and prefer to make partisan attacks to exploit the death of Americans, I would simply respond this way. If they want to discuss lying in public life, I propose we begin an extended discussion about the role of those who falsely claimed weapons of mass destruction in order to frighten people to justify the invasion of Iraq. Perhaps we can discuss those who shamefully disclosed the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame, and were less than candid about their role. As the attacks against Secretary of State Clinton continue, I repeat my view that those who make them are making a big mistake.