woman

Women are now cleared for combat positions in the American armed forces, and for all the ladder-climbing that now allows. On January 24th, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta lifted the direct ground combat exclusion for women. It is impossible to listen to his press conference and not feel that the emphasis is all on career fairness and “opportunity” and much less on fitness for what is, after all, a career in the use of deadly force.

“In life, as we all know, there are no guarantees of success,” Sec. Panetta said. “Not everyone is going to be able to be a combat soldier. But everyone is entitled to a chance. By committing ourselves to that principle, we are renewing our commitment to the American values our service members fight and die to defend.”

One NPR reporter interviewed some soldiers at Ft. Campbell, which sits on the Kentucky-Tennessee border. They were hesitant to criticize the change, perhaps because they worry that public criticism could damage their own careers. And yet one young man said with tactful euphemism that he was concerned his fellow soldiers would have to clean up their language now, with women in the platoon. That is not really what he meant, probably, but then we all know what the real problems will be.

As the Administration and many others are quick to point out, women have been in combat positions already and a number of them have had the honor of dying. This battle was lost years ago, when women first entered the services. The opportunity-creep, given our culture of equality of opportunity despite the inequalities of all our differences, was inevitable.

Two things come to my mind: first, how very comfortable this President is to do by Executive regulation what he cannot do by building consensus in Congress. Mr. Obama is not alone nor is he the first to assume this kind of prerogative, but then he did so complain about the lack of consensus-building in Mr. Bush. Anyone who grouses about how quaint or unrepresentative monarchy is in other countries needs to take a harder look at the actual power structure here. Our three branches of government are very top-heavy with the Executive.

And also: someday, and I may live to see it, we will enter another world war and the draft will be resumed. And when that happens the Selective Service will come for our daughters as well as our sons. If the government doesn’t institute that rule itself, a parent of four boys will sue to force the issue. It will only be fair.

{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar robert m. peters January 25, 2013 at 10:35 am

In the tradition of the Christian Just War, the only just war is one in which those to be nurtured, children, and those who give the nurturing, mothers, and the means to be nurtured and nurture are threatened and that threat is met and hopefully eliminated by the proper means of force carried out by men who are endowed both physically and mentally, if they have not been emasculated, to kill and be killed so that mothers and children can live.

We are sacrificing our children in the form of abortion and growing alienation from their primary nurturers in the decay of the family and our mothers in alien “career goals” to the false goddess of equality.

avatar David Smith January 25, 2013 at 11:12 am

“And also: someday, and I may live to see it, we will enter another world war and the draft will be resumed. And when that happens the Selective Service will come for our daughters as well as our sons. If the government doesn’t institute that rule itself, a parent of four boys will sue to force the issue. It will only be fair.”

My wife and I were talking about this very thing last night. She in particular thought of me, since I am just months away from being out of the Army system altogether, and that I must be relieved to not have to deal with this, along with the homosexuality issue, etc. You see, I have been a chaplain since ’97, thinking I was not only ministering for the Lord, but also playing a part in defending my kith and kin. The Lord graciously did use me to minister, but that part about “defending kith and kin” has turned out to be a crock, since all we’re doing is maintaining the US’s immoral, imperial pretensions.

Still, two combat deployments to Iraq only comfirmed me in my view that this is NO place for a woman: I have too much love and respect for the power of true femininity to have it corrupted and profaned by “service” in the dirt and vulgarity that is part and parcel of combat and even of the environment found in garrison. This isn’t just about women’s physical capabilities (Don’t worry, they’ll “adjust” the standards in order to accomodate their egalitarian agenda!); it’s about our civilization. as Dr. Peters has pointed out.

Going back to what my wife said, even if our efforts were about defense, just what are we defending? What “civilization” is left worth defending? Furthermore, as your last paragraph indicates for me, be careful about what you wish for, all you radical egalitarians! You may just get it, “good and hard”, as Mencken might have said! Yes indeed, I rejoice to be leaving an increasingly corrupt and immoral system. A pox on all their houses!

avatar bubba January 25, 2013 at 11:56 am

When will we allow children in combat? It’s about time!

avatar David Smith January 25, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Oh yeah, as to your evaluation of the interviews with soldiers at Ft. Campbell, you’re absolutely right. The individual you cite was probably treading on a knife’s edge; I’m surprised he said what he did! Soldiers, as you doubtless know, aren’t allowed to express opinions counter to the Command Chain; it could ( and would! ) get them in BIG trouble!

I just heard the execrable Gen’l. Dempsey of the Joint Chiefs commenting on the new ruling. If getting candor out of soldiers is difficult, expecting anything of use coming out of the Brass’s mouths is worse. These individuals are thoroughly vetted before they’re promoted to the flag ranks; there are undoubtedly a few good ones, but they are prone to political corruption by the time they are in those circles. I heard an establishment “conservative” commentator opine that she was fine with the new ruling on females in combat as long as the Joint Chiefs were okay with it. I guess in her respect for the military, she thought they would always tend to make decisions in keeping with the best interests of the military and its mission.

Nonsense!

And, bubba, be careful what you joke about! You and I see it as only an absurdity to make a point! These egalitarians are so committed to their evil cause that it wouldn’t surprise me to see them supporting children in the military if it would further their Jacobin dreams!

avatar D.W. Sabin January 25, 2013 at 12:18 pm

Ahhh Kate, what are we to do with a world that so little respects life that it would think to offer up its woman as gun fodder? “Opportunity” , the sacred cow, this when college debt and unemployment amongst the 16-30 age group is far larger than the national statistics published.

Yes, our military is a last remaining “opportunity”. How nice for us.

We could mount a rostrum and accuse our current President of being a fraud, an accusation that sticks in my estimation but so have been several other Executives. After all , the Republic began engaging in Fraud long ago. A fine experiment has taken a turn toward the sociopathic and this latest “policy” change adds some more tinder.

avatar bubba January 25, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Yes, David, and how sweet that those children fighting the wars are the children of those poor equalitarians. The sons and daughters of the 1% surely won’t darken a barracks door.

avatar Fred Garvin January 25, 2013 at 10:25 pm

Why shouldn’t women fight? Why should men risk themselves more? Die more?

avatar love the girls January 25, 2013 at 10:40 pm

Katherine Dalton writes : “This battle was lost years ago, when women first entered the services. The opportunity-creep, given our culture of equality of opportunity despite the inequalities of all our differences, was inevitable.”

Very nicely put.

avatar Michael Umphrey January 26, 2013 at 2:32 am

One needn’t have much imagination to imagine that the wars that are coming will be the most horrible in history.

avatar Josh Cooney January 26, 2013 at 3:52 pm

As always, an excellent post by Ms. Dalton. Too bad this site doesn’t have the guts to publish more realist views on the destructive push for equality. I’m pretty sure that is why two great writers, John Willson and Kirk Sale are no longer welcome.

Where is FPR’s lefty and Obama apologist Prof. Fox on this one? I am interested to hear how any sensible person denies that the left is prosecuting a war against culture, human nature, and nature itself.

Go ahead all you bourgeois liberals that write and comment on this site. make your apologies.

avatar pb January 26, 2013 at 8:28 pm

Mr. Cooney, agreed – localism or alternative economics is not enough – both must be a part of a proper ethical-political understanding. Strategic alliances can only go so far, and at some point may be even counter-productive.

avatar Stephen Johnson January 26, 2013 at 11:26 pm

I’m not sure there isn’t a simpler explanation for this policy change, namely: we’re running out of bodies to send off to our never-ending wars. There may have been plenty of people who have agitated for this all along, but it’s finally coming down to simple math: we no longer have the numbers needed to continue. The men currently in combat roles are stretched well beyond the breaking point. It’s either completely open combat roles to women, or bring back the draft.

Another option would be to scale back our interventionist schemes, but that’s just crazy talk.

avatar Thomas McCullough January 27, 2013 at 8:00 am

I’ve certainly known fools and scoundrels of both sexes. I have known those of both sexes who were courageous, wise and saintly as well. Eventually, though, and with a prejudice towards moral virtues, I find women have tended to be, on the average, better than men.

(Re: moral virtues: Consider that the virtues urged by corporate motivational posters, genuine virtues, would not get in the way of one serving as a functionary at Dachau.)

Women in combat, like some other things championed by “feminists” (I consider myself a feminist, no quotes.) is not feminism. It is masculinism for women.

avatar JimWilton January 27, 2013 at 11:04 am

Parallel with this development, of course, is the fact that United States military policy in the 21st Century is increasingly resorting to use of proxy fighters, corporate mercentaries (i.e. Blackwater), outsourced corporate suppliers(Halliburton) and local warlords, and even robotic drones piloted from video consols halfway around the world. The era of the citizen soldier, if it ever existed, is long dead.

I therefore disagree with Ms. Dalton’s prediction that we will ever see a draft again. In the absense of an external threat to the survival of the nation (something that we have not seen since the Second World War) a draft will never be a politically viable option (nor should it be).

avatar bubba January 27, 2013 at 11:17 am

So, equality is the new front porch republican epithet. How easy.

avatar Sean Scallon January 27, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Conservatives have no one to blame but themselves. War does more to transform society than anything which happens in peacetime. You demand sacrifices in blood for the nation-state and those you ask are going to demand something in return if they survive. It’s no coincidence that 12 years after 9-11 homosexuals can now serve in the military openly and can get married and women will now be able to serve in combat.

avatar robert m. peters January 27, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Mr. Wilton,

Neither Nazi Germany nor Imperial Japan posed an existential threat to the United States. The last Americans to defend home and hearth, kith and kin and blood and earth against a determined invader capable of destroying all three of those sets were Americans of the Confederate States of America.

avatar pb January 27, 2013 at 4:34 pm

“I’m not sure there isn’t a simpler explanation for this policy change, namely: we’re running out of bodies to send off to our never-ending wars. There may have been plenty of people who have agitated for this all along, but it’s finally coming down to simple math: we no longer have the numbers needed to continue. The men currently in combat roles are stretched well beyond the breaking point. It’s either completely open combat roles to women, or bring back the draft. ”

No, the military is not running out of bodies — there are plenty of men would would join because of our current economic mess – recruiters have had to turn people away, raised their standards, and lowered the max age back to the pre-9/11 standard. This is AA pure and simple.

avatar Rob G January 28, 2013 at 9:43 am

“Conservatives have no one to blame but themselves. War does more to transform society than anything which happens in peacetime. You demand sacrifices in blood for the nation-state and those you ask are going to demand something in return if they survive.”

You’re addressing the wrong crowd, Mr./Ms. Scanlon. You’ll find few, if any, of the hawkish sort of conservatives here.

“what are we to do with a world that so little respects life that it would think to offer up its women as gun fodder?”

Well put, Mr. Sabin.

avatar J Fletcher January 28, 2013 at 10:25 am

I am greatly saddened at how ill informed and small minded this line of discussion has become. There are some very strong arguments against women in combat, but you have not made them. First, President Obama did not proclaim the lifting of the ban unilterally (as he did with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”). The Service Chiefs made the recommendation to the Secreatry of Defense, who lifted the ban. Moreover, if you chaff under the onerous Executive Branch, I suggest you thank George W. Bush for its weight.

Additionally, I would welcome Selective Service registration for all citizens. Perhaps America would be more judicious in the use of force if her daughters were offered up on the altar. For too long the American public has been insulated from the sacrifices of wars far from home–breaking the spell of their ignorance about the price of freedom will take something of this magnitude.

I have served on Active Duty for a decade: talk to me about good order and discipline and unit cohesion. Arguments that worry about POW situations, physical and phychological limitations, and the loss of the feminine are red herrings.

avatar pb January 28, 2013 at 2:01 pm

“The Service Chiefs made the recommendation to the Secreatry of Defense, who lifted the ban. ”

Hardly neutral experts thinking only of what is good for the military. Career officers who wish to advance know whose butt to kiss.

avatar J Fletcher January 28, 2013 at 3:28 pm

PB

The service chiefs are career officers–the highest ranking of all–and will not be promoted out of their positions but retire, and so, have every reason to make the best decision for the services.

Why didn’t you bother asking me about the worthwhile arguments not being made? As opposed to the pithy and political ones?

avatar Kate Dalton January 28, 2013 at 4:54 pm

I would ask, again, that all posters remain polite to each other and to other writers on this site.

J Fletcher raises a perfectly good point about Mr. Bush, not to mention several presidents before him, and I agree with it. But as Mr. Bush is not in office, Mr. Obama gets the criticism today. My own view is that POW situations (including vulnerability to assault), physical and psychological differences are not red herrings but very real arguments.

Mr. Garvin, I know that it is bitter to send young men out to an unnecessary war, and no joy to send them to a necessary one. Mr. Smith, good luck to you.

avatar T. Chan January 28, 2013 at 6:04 pm

“The service chiefs are career officers–the highest ranking of all–and will not be promoted out of their positions but retire, and so, have every reason to make the best decision for the services.

Why didn’t you bother asking me about the worthwhile arguments not being made? As opposed to the pithy and political ones?”

Wow. For someone who is supposedly active duty you are rather clueless about career officers. In order to get promoted they have to play the game; in order to have a rewarding career after military service in lobbying, they have to play the game. Wake up.

avatar T. Chan January 28, 2013 at 6:14 pm
avatar bubba January 28, 2013 at 8:40 pm

It wasn’t that long ago that women didn’t have the right to vote. That makes it even more surreal to hear a nominally conservative woman talk so dismissively about ‘fairness’ and ‘opportunity.’ Conservatives have championed the the dog-eat-dog economy that has destroyed millions of jobs at the same time they’ve launched pre-emptive wars they can’t pay for. Now they want to deny women the right to fight out of some quaint sense of chivalry?

avatar Karen January 29, 2013 at 10:32 am

After reading much conservative commentary on this subject, most of which invokes a mysterious state called “femininity,” I have to wonder why anyone wants to preserve that state? Being feminine is nothing more than being cowardly, stupid, and weak, and being even more fearful, dim, and helpless in the presence of males. All humans need to be both physically amend morally courageous, intelligent, and as strong as their bodies can be forced to be.

avatar love the girls January 29, 2013 at 12:50 pm

J Fletcher write : “Why didn’t you bother asking me about the worthwhile arguments not being made? As opposed to the pithy and political ones?”

Please make them, but I highly doubt they will be worthwhile, given that you “would welcome Selective Service registration for all citizens.”

Welcoming my daughters being registered with selective services is akin to welcoming my daughters being sold into white slavery.

avatar bubba January 29, 2013 at 1:36 pm

“Welcoming my daughters being registered with selective services is akin to welcoming my daughters being sold into white slavery.”

That doesn’t say much for your sons.

avatar love the girls January 29, 2013 at 3:21 pm

bubba writes : “That doesn’t say much for your sons.”

True, I said nothing concerning my sons. This discussion concerns our daughters.

avatar bubba January 29, 2013 at 4:56 pm

“This discussion concerns our daughters.” This discussion is meaningless without our sons – our sons in combat are why you don’t want your daughters in combat roles. If you trust our sons to fight for the country you should trust them to act as decent humans around our daughters. Unless of course, you never trusted your sons to begin with; you merely sent them off as lowly mercenaries to fight the wars you couldn’t bother to sully your own hands with, knowing full well what a brutal, dehumanizing enterprise the whole sordid affair of war is now and always will be, regardless of one’s gender.

avatar love the girls January 29, 2013 at 5:02 pm

bubba writes : “our sons in combat are why you don’t want your daughters in combat roles.”

No. I don’t want my daughters in combat because it’s unnatural.

avatar love the girls January 29, 2013 at 5:08 pm

btw, I used to know a nom de plume bubba from Santa Clarita. any connection?

avatar Bill January 29, 2013 at 5:48 pm

How sad that combat is seen as a career opportunity.

avatar T. Chan January 29, 2013 at 8:20 pm
avatar robert m. peters January 29, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Men are mentally and physically endowed to defend their families, their clans, their tribes and their social orders by facing death in war to preserve the life of home and hearth, of kith and kin and of blood and earth; women are mentally and physically endowed to face death from conception to birth in order to give life in the form of children to family, clan and community. It is a perverse society which sends women, its nurturers to war, and sends men, its warriors, into the delivery room.

That having been written, it is a perverse society which sends even its men into immoral, unconstitutional and unnecessary wars either for ideology such as saving the world for democracy or for the pedestrian and banal quest in conquest for power and for money and the means thereof, natural resources, etc.

When men put on a uniform, they put on death: death to themselves and death to those who would threaten the nurturers and those to be nurtured. Being a soldier is a calling to death; not for a career, not for a college education, not for some ideology such as equality, and certainly not as a life-time welfare guarantee.

avatar David Smith January 30, 2013 at 8:45 am

“Mr. Smith, good luck to you.”

Thank you, Ms. Dalton!

avatar bubba January 30, 2013 at 12:39 pm

“I don’t want my daughters in combat because it’s unnatural.” What’s natural about blowing humans into bloody bits with an RPG? Or fractional reserve banking, or polyester or cheese make from petroleum, or nudist colonies? It is certainly understandable to want one’s daughters to be as far away from armed combat as possible. I would be proud if my daughter, faced with the prospect of the draft, burned her draft card in front of a government building. What’s natural has nothing to do with modern war and economics. Mr. Peters gets it – we live in a perverse culture. We all – male-female-young-old – compete tooth and nail for jobs, for resources in an increasingly larger population and an increasingly more fragile and debt-ridden economy. This is the new natural.

avatar D.W. Sabin January 30, 2013 at 3:15 pm

I cannot recall the name of the person who made the following assertion during a media interview but it seems a logical explanation for the illogic of woman, feminine or butch, in the line of fire. It seems traditional notions of warfare in this age of The U.S. Chamber of Commerce with an Aircraft Carrier and 40,000 drones requires a wholly new approach.

Traditional warfare produced a front line active firing line and a very large apparatus in the rear where woman have long been employed . Now, we occupy corrupt governments and regions where there is no front nor rear and so the woman in supposedly rear support positions are within dynamic front line positions. Accordingly, unless the military wanted to restrict woman to non active areas, thus obtaining themselves a righteous degree of cultural invective, they must authorize woman for front line duty. Gun fodder is gun fodder after all. With active duty suicide rates at an epic level….a state uniquely tied to the quixotic nature of our current wars, experts will likely come to compare the statistics of our so-called weaker sex with their male counterparts.

I respect , make that admire and appreciate every man and woman who makes the commitment to join our armed forces but only wish the Brass….often crowed about as the “most highly educated officer corps in U.S. History” and their civilian leaders would be smart enough to prosecute wars with just a bit more wisdom and forethought so that we did not have to rely upon woman in active front line duty or recruitment centers in Latino communities as an avenue to citizenship. We once waged all out war, now we incorporate a state of war into long term policy management.

It is not so much that high education is a culprit of the current politicization of our brass, after all Bull Halsey went to the elite Pingry Prep school and was a graduate of Annapolis. But, unlike the current Brass, he was not so enamored of Washington and its many perks. His priority was prosecuting a war, not preparing for a lobbying sinecure or writing a best selling book or obtaining a talking head fixture on the yammering media.

This recent decision regarding woman reflects the odd way of war we have fallen into as we let the republic descend into dry rot.

Lastly, some of the most feminine woman I know are tough as damned nails. It is what I love most about them, this toughness meshed with beautiful elegance and bottomless compassion.

avatar D.W. Sabin January 30, 2013 at 4:01 pm

Also, needless to say, the U.S. Military, despite the constraints and obligations of a Chain of Command has demonstrated a superb record of so-called “civil rights” or egalitarianism based upon measured performance. Amongst all Federal endeavors, the U.S. Military over the last several decades has been the most “color-blind” of institutions. It does not surprise me that this demonstrated record would be expanded into granting woman the “right” to be on the front lines .

I remain surprised and damned well disgusted however, by the willingness of the U.S. Military Brass to engage themselves with the cockeyed nation-building notions of the civil government, frequently led by a bunch of gung-ho draft dodgers and pusillanimous bag men. But then, the Pentagon is a wholly owned subsidiary of The U.S. Chamber of Commerce with an Aircraft Carrier and 40,000 Drones.When in Foggy Bottom, do as the Foggy Bottomites do. For those deft at limericks, this rhymes with Sodomite.

avatar Lincoln Hunter February 2, 2013 at 11:59 am

Doesn’t approval of women in combat render the Violence Against Women Act a joke?

avatar Thomas Opalak February 6, 2013 at 5:05 pm

“Traditional warfare produced a front line active firing line and a very large apparatus in the rear where woman have long been employed . Now, we occupy corrupt governments and regions where there is no front nor rear and so the woman in supposedly rear support positions are within dynamic front line positions.”

It is true that there is no single ‘front-line’ at which combat takes place and beyond which lies the enemy, but this is already accounted for in our current arrangement concerning the employment of the sexes. The only branches currently closed to women are those which, even in modern war, remain in fully ‘front-line’ mode all the time, even in our modern pseudo-wars. An infantry platoon occupying an observation post in enemy held territory is the front line. A logistics platoon operating out of offices on a major airfield is not, even if the latter is subject to harassing fire. It’s not a question of how likely you are to die, but rather the conditions under which you are required to live. The conditions of the former are not fit for cohabitation.

“With active duty suicide rates at an epic level….a state uniquely tied to the quixotic nature of our current wars, experts will likely come to compare the statistics of our so-called weaker sex with their male counterparts. ”

I’m not blaming the presence of women in the military for this, but I feel that an overlooked part of the spiritual/psychological problem facing modern soldiers is that they have been disconnected from the coping mechanisms of ages past. One of these important coping mechanisms may well have been the very fact that war was a male experience, and the atmospherics that this brought with it to both the experience and the aftermath.

avatar Billy February 7, 2013 at 1:27 am

I’ll be a parent that will sue. If we lose, we immigrate.

avatar D.W. Sabin February 11, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Mr. Opalak,
War has never been an exclusively male experience. It is entirely affirmative action in this regard. War has killed men, woman, children, livestock and wildlife with an equally ferocious alacrity. Woman in the military possess no bearing upon suicide rates….it is the act of war itself that lies at the heart of the destruction.

War consumes individuals first, their cultures later. With the acceleration of actions present now, we can expect war to consume our own culture soon. The irony of this is that while we were born in revolution, the revolution was intended to supplant the warring confusion of ages past with a more civil society. This worked admirably until the government stopped reading the Farewell Address of George Washington and book-ended this erosion with the idea that the imperial “we” can kill American Citizens without probable cause. In between the bookends lie several tomes regarding commerce and its glories.

Perhaps mothers shall next greet their 10 year old children in the foxholes.

avatar T. Chan February 11, 2013 at 7:29 pm
avatar David Smith February 12, 2013 at 7:49 am

Great article you’ve cited, Mr. Chan. Large standing militaries do indeed breed this kind of thinking. Why do we have ARMED FORCES? It should be to fight wars: git ‘r dun as quickly and efficiently as possible and then COME HOME! Sure, commanders have always had to be proficient enough at the admin part of their jobs in order to feed, house, and generally take care of their troops, again, in order, ultimately, to fight. But now the military is seeking to do what the politicians are doing domestically: nation-build, perform social engineering in order to bring about utopia both here and abroad. That sort of thing requires degrees in sociology, psychology, business, etc., not military science!

avatar Thomas Opalak February 18, 2013 at 5:21 pm

Mr. Sabin,

I certainly do not disagree with you regarding the impact of the widespread experience of war, particularly the consequences thereof. I should have specified that I was speaking only of the experience of soldiering, which has historically been a male world. Whether or not this contributes to a mental framework within which men are able to process what they experience as soldiers, and whether or not having such a framework helps them shield themselves from the temptation of suicide in times of despair, is something that I have at times wondered, but do not have an answer for. As for the contribution of war to the destruction of culture, I think that this can only be said on a case-by-case basis. Alexander’s conquests seem to have been culture-creating, although some of cultures that contributed to the Hellenized East were also consumed by it. Modern war may have particularly corrosive moral and cultural impacts, but then again, modern culture itself can be said to have the same.

avatar Art Nesten March 13, 2013 at 9:59 am

“Additionally, I would welcome Selective Service registration for all citizens. Perhaps America would be more judicious in the use of force if her daughters were offered up on the altar.”

This rationale would justify drafting children in war, no? At any rate, I doubt American would be more judicious; it depends more on whether the decision-makers have loved one directly at stake rather than “daughters” generally.

I agree with Sean Scallon in his Kauffman-esque observation that we are seeing the fruits of past and present wars, which change cultures profoundly and negatively. War may lead to lesser destruction and thus be justified, but it never leads to a net positive development for a polity.

I also agree with the comment that suggested wars more horrible than what we can remember can be expected.

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