Thursday, April 21, 2011

Conservatives Hate The Military

I'm so old I can remember, back in the dim, dark days of 1994, when the late Sen. Jesse Helms (R-KKK) said the following:
Just days after Mr. Helms, a Republican from North Carolina, created a furor by saying that President Clinton was not up to the job of Commander in Chief, he told The News and Observer, a newspaper in Raleigh: "Mr. Clinton better watch out if he comes down here. He'd better have a bodyguard."

Mr. Helms said soldiers disliked President Clinton because he had avoided service during the Vietnam War, supported homosexuals in the military and had reduced military spending.
On its face, this is one of the most insulting things I can imagine anyone saying about the military. Did members of the military dislike Pres. Clinton? In all honesty, I have no idea, but my guess is probably some did, quite a lot. All the same, this little quip by the big old hooded Tar Heel Teddy Bear not only envisioned a military so unprofessional it would allow political differences to affect its actions; it seemed to suggest that this lack of professionalism was so broad that it actually raised the specter of a military coup (and please note, dear reader, that the implied threat to the life of the President of the United States, the Commander-in-Chief of the US military, by a member of the uniformed services, is just that).

For years, decades, we have been hearing how liberals hate the military, think folks involved in combat are evil baby killers to be spat on when they return from service, that we liberals, being pacifists and traitors, want the military weakened so that our foreign enemies will have an easier time taking us over. How anyone could lend any credence to these statements is quite beyond my capacity to understand, yet they are not only given credence, they are so much a part of our political culture one continues to read stories of Democrats and liberals being "nervous" about discussing any military question because of "credibility".

Yet, if one considers actual facts - those strange things that impose upon us whether we like them or not - I have to wonder how this upside-down situation arose. If one considers just the Bush Administration, there is the war of choice in Iraq - open-ended and on-going despite the claim that it has "ended"; 50,000 US troops in Iraq are a huge target - and all the opera bouffe nonsense surrounding it. Too few troops too ill-equipped and ill-trained (in particular for the aftermath, the policing duties, etc.). Slashing services to wounded military personnel, in particular mental health services. The deplorable conditions at veterans hospitals made glaringly obvious by the horrible scandal at Walter Reed. When the occupation of Iraq dragged on, and the Afghanistan conflict seemed never to end (it still seems that way), rather than spend more money for recruiting new troops by providing for larger numbers of uniformed service personnel, troops were rotated in and out of the various theaters multiple times. Even retired and discharged troops were eligible for service through the ready reserve. Then, of course, we had National Guard troops, who are supposed to be nationalized only in cases of emergency, not because the Executive is unwilling to spend more money to recruit more troops.

The anecdote about troops asking family and friends to send body armor and equipment for improving the armor on HUMVEEs should be enough to convince anyone the jokers in the Bush Administration not only had no idea what they were up against, but seemed to threaten the lives and bodies of the military unduly. No one, however, raised the latter claim, for the singularly stupid reason that they were Republicans.

Fast forward, to the past half-year or so, and we have the nonsensical claim that the military will experience a mass-exodus due to the repeal of the anti-gay Don't Ask Don't Tell policy. Except, maybe, not so much.
You might remember General James Amos from such anti-gay rumors as “Letting gays join the military will cause a distraction” and “If gays join the military, there will be a mass exodus of soldiers.” Yeah, good times.

In news that is sure to shock absolutely nobody with half of a brain, General Amos has revealed that he’s heard of exactly zero soldiers resigning from the military since the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
“It would be naive to think that somewhere down the road there’s not going to be issues,” Amos told reporters. “I think there probably will be in probably all the services, but I don’t think it’s going to be of any magnitude that’s going to cause much more than a blip. So I’m very optimistic.”
Implementation of repeal is going smoothly, according to the service chiefs in testimony before a Congressional committee. Why is that? Is it because the military is secretly gay? Perhaps a more likely explanation is that the military, which among its many other points of pride is its professionalism, understood that the order to allow full integration of gays and lesbians in to the services was legal, and therefore devised a policy (my guess is it has existed in some skeletal form since the early Clinton Administration, when the subject first arose; never underestimate the ability of any bureaucracy to have all sorts of contingency plans ready to hand) to do so that served the twin goals of making the policy real without disrupting the overall mission of the military.

All the same, most of the declared candidates for the Republican nomination for President are tripping over themselves claiming they will re-institute the policy if elected. Why? Not because they know anything about the military. Not because they accept the findings of the service-wide survey that found a majority of uniformed service personnel in favor of repeal. Not because there is any evidence that repeal is being done in an unprofessional manner that threatens national security. No, their sole beef, it seems, is their own fever dreams of shower scenes from bad porn movies being enacted on military bases around the world. Yet again, they are not only showing their bigotry for all the world to see. They are also displaying a marked lack of faith in the integrity and professionalism of the members of the US military in acting as adults usually act.

There is abundant evidence from recent history that shows how little conservatives regard the lives and health of the military, as well as its primary mission, protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States and our national interests in extreme emergencies. With the reaction - rooted not in reality but bad sexual fantasies - to DADT repeal, we have yet more evidence how little conservatives regard the military.

Virtual Tin Cup

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