Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 7, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

DON'T ASK, DON'T TELL....Via ThinkProgress, here is Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at a Q&A a few days ago with graduating cadets at West Point:

With a national election looming, a cadet asked about the "don't ask, don't tell" law and what would happen if someone took office who wants to change it. "It's a law, and we follow it," Mullen said. Should the law change, the military will carry that out too, he said.

"We are a military that is under the control of our civilian elected leaders," he said. "It has served us well since we've been founded. That is a special characteristic of our country and I would never do anything to jeopardize that."

This is obviously a pretty restrained answer, and says nothing about what Mullen would actually do if the question comes up. Would he fight like a crazed weasel against allowing gays in the military, as Colin Powell did in 1993, or would he adopt a more commonsense attitude and work to bring the military into the 21st century? No telling. But this is a promising start.

Kevin Drum 12:06 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (31)

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Comments

Heh. "Crazed weasel" indeed. Google-bomb, anyone?

Posted by: C.S. on May 7, 2008 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

I think an entire horde of crazed weasels is the assured outcome of trying to roll back current policy. Gnawing, rabid weasels. Blood everywhere. Monica, Vince Foster and Whitewater all over again. Hannity, Coulter, Savage and Pat Robertson and all their apoplectic furor. Wear you out and make you want to cut your wrists it's so goddamned tiresome level of nuttiness. I can't wait.

Posted by: steve duncan on May 7, 2008 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

It's a historical fact that no nation that's been militarily successful has allowed homosexuality in the ranks of their armies. Well, except for the Spartans, but how successful were they, really?

Posted by: pheabo on May 7, 2008 at 12:28 PM | PERMALINK

no nation that's been militarily successful has allowed homosexuality in the ranks of their armies.

But officer corps? No problem!

Posted by: Alexander the Great on May 7, 2008 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

It's a historical fact that no nation that's been militarily successful has allowed homosexuality in the ranks of their armies. Well, except for the Spartans, but how successful were they, really?

Pretty succesful, except when they ran into the Sacred Band of Thebes . . .

Not to mention Alexander, Caesar (every woman's man and every man's woman), and Frederick the great . . .

Posted by: rea on May 7, 2008 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Look, it's o.k. to let in former felons, white supremacists, and people who can't actually meet the,ya know, standards...but *gays*??? I mean, we've gotta draw the line *somewhere*...

Posted by: Winston Smith on May 7, 2008 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

It's a historical fact that there has never been an army that did not have homosexuals in its ranks. And since half of them lost in face-to-face battles, that's all the proof needed to keep homosexuals from serving.

Posted by: jon on May 7, 2008 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

And don't forget the British navy:

"Don't talk to me about naval tradition. It's nothing but rum, sodomy and the lash."--Winston Churchill

Posted by: rea on May 7, 2008 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmmm, pheabo doesn't define success. The U.S. doesn't permit gays in the military. We left Korea with our tail between our legs. We left Nam with our tail between our legs. We've spent more time in Iraq than we did on multiple continents during WWII (which we "won") with scant progress for our blood and treasure. I guess I'll posit the lack of gays in our military is the reason for our failures. No reason to have faulty cause and effect assertions be limited to one contributor, right?

Posted by: steve duncan on May 7, 2008 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know him and I'm not vouching for him being alright with gays in the military, of course, but I think his remarks weigh against his becoming a crazed weasel. If he really thought he would want to hunker down and oppose it, it seems like he would encourage people to think about supporting that now, by showing his chops on the issue and saying something more directly against the policy as his public remarks, instead of just demurely acknowledging that the military obeys the civilian law and that's great.

It could be I'm wrong, and it could be he's making a lot of anti-gay remarks, but trying to keep a lid on it, when he's not in public.

Posted by: Swan on May 7, 2008 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

One of my favorite scenes from The West Wing:

Admiral Percy Fitzwallace: That's what I think, too. I also think the military wasn't designed to be an instrument of social change.

Major Tate: Yes, sir.

Admiral Percy Fitzwallace: The problem with that is that's what they were saying about me 50 years ago. Blacks shouldn't serve with whites. It would disrupt the unit. You know what? It did disrupt the unit. The unit got over it. The unit changed. I'm an admiral in the U.S. Navy and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff... Beat that with a stick.

Posted by: billy paulson on May 7, 2008 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

"It's a historical fact that no nation that's been militarily successful has allowed homosexuality in the ranks of their armies."

Reminds me of me of the old saw that gays are not allowed to march in the New York City St. Patrick's Day parade, unless they are ordained Catholic priests.

"Not to mention Alexander, Caesar (every woman's man and every man's woman), and Frederick the great . . ."

And Richard the Lionhearted, who was as swish as they come.

The whole don't-ask-don't-tell fiasco was a serious misstep on Bill Clinton's part. He either should have avoided the fight altogether, or else have been prepared to ram it down Colin Powell's throat, just like Harry Truman rammed racial integration down the throats of his military.

Posted by: nemo on May 7, 2008 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

Looks to me like Mullen gave exactly the right answer. Not only that, I think it's probably the only answer he properly could have given in view of his position and the relationship of the military to the civilian authorities.

Posted by: Stuart on May 7, 2008 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Aw nemo, did you have to use that peculiarly Clintonesque imagery in this context?

Posted by: Cernig on May 7, 2008 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks Kevin. Now every time I see a pic of St Colin, his face will morph into a "crazed weasel". Priceless.

Posted by: keith g. on May 7, 2008 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

I tried to think of alternative imagery, but none of it worked as well!

Posted by: nemo on May 7, 2008 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

pheabo,

Get real. There hasn't been an army in history that wasn't absolutely riddled with gays. All those manly, manly men who love the company of other manly, manly men so much they want to live in a barracks with them? Come on.

I talked to a Special Forces vet from Vietnam who said the U.S. command in Nam did a psychological profile on American soldiers to identify latent homosexuality. And guess who scored off the top? All those gung-ho types from the elite forces.

And I'm guessing the people who talk the most about their hatred of fags and enjoy going out queer-stomping probably get a boner while they're doing it.

Posted by: Kevin Carson on May 7, 2008 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Crazed Weasel will be appearing Monday night at the Bunkhouse Saloon, Tuesday night at the Pumphouse, Wednesday night at Chute, and will open Friday night at Club Raw for Gorgeous Gerbils.

Posted by: that's the name of my band! on May 7, 2008 at 1:54 PM | PERMALINK

I talked to a Special Forces vet from Vietnam who said the U.S. command in Nam did a psychological profile on American soldiers to identify latent homosexuality. And guess who scored off the top? All those gung-ho types from the elite forces.

Oh, please. That's nonsense. If enjoying the company of young, masculine, well-muscled men with shaven heads who wear boots and gear with lots of straps and buckles on it is gay, then aren't we all gay....?

Posted by: Stefan on May 7, 2008 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Do you have to be a real varmint to get into Club Raw for Gorgeous Gerbils? Or can we just go as ourselves?

Posted by: optical weenie on May 7, 2008 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

Remember the interview on Sixty Minutes with the openly gay officer in the Dutch army? They asked him if he thought there would ever be a gay general. He started laughing and replied “Oh, there are lots of gay generals.”

Posted by: fafner1 on May 7, 2008 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget Captain Jack Sparrow. He seemed a little light in the loafers to me.

Stefan,

Yeah. I mean c'mon. Everyone likes a little sweating and grunting together, exerting ourselves while our mates grab the rope, put it between their legs, squeeze, and climb up slowly while reciting "This is my gun, my gun is for fun."

Or what about extreme fighting, which some way or another always ends up with both guys on the floor writhing around and mounting each other, sweat dripping and the taste of blood in the mouth.

How could that be gay?

Posted by: Tripp on May 7, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

When they use the "military preparedness" rationalization, point out that alcohol has a far more deleterious effect, so the military should ban drinking.

Posted by: H-Bob on May 7, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin (Carson),

It was sarcasm. My fault for not putting on the sarcasm tags, but I'd have figured that the reference to the Spartans would've been a giveaway, what with them being one of the most entirely militarized civilizations in human history and positively choc full of the Gay.

And I'm ashamed to say that I didn't even think of Alexander.

Posted by: phleabo on May 7, 2008 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

It's a historical fact that there has never been an army that did not have homosexuals in its ranks. And since half of them lost in face-to-face battles, that's all the proof needed to keep homosexuals from serving.Posted by: jon on May 7, 2008 at 12:39 PM

The Iranian army has no homosexuals.

Posted by: Luther on May 7, 2008 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with swan above. I read the comment as a pretty forceful statement of acceptance - hypothetically speaking of course, but that's all this is at this time. As of today, don’t ask don’t tell is the policy. I know nothing about Adm Mullin but frankly, by officer standards that was a direct statement saying if the policy changes our job is to follow the new policy. Period.

Posted by: Bob on May 7, 2008 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK
And I'm ashamed to say that I didn't even think of Alexander.

That's funny. I haven't stopped thinking about Alexander since he was portrayed by Colin Farrell.

In any case, I knew your remarks were sarcasm. (The Spartans were the giveaway.)

Posted by: Paul on May 7, 2008 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

I think my former CNO should catch the episode of "Carrier," (aired on PBS)that showed sailors stating their position on the question. Illuminating.

I was especially amused by the openly (sorta) gay sailor in the quartermaster rate comments. But I thought, why is that fag on the boat? Then I realized--he's filling a spot those patriotic, GWOT fetishizing, war-mongering College Republicans don't want.

I experienced the same reaction when I read of a former Marine amputee who served in Iraq, and "came out." Why was that fag in the Corps, I wondered. (I was also a Marine.) Oh yes, I remembered,because not enough young Republican war-mongers who want to receive the title that is: "Earned, never given."

The question of gays in the military is an important one. However, I always bristle when the Republicans, who are rife with draft-dodgers and non-servers complain. It's pretty pathetic that gays want to serve in the military, yet the army has problems securing recruits, despite the fact that the patriotic red states outnumber the blue.

Posted by: tec619 on May 7, 2008 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

I talked to a Special Forces vet from Vietnam who said the U.S. command in Nam did a psychological profile on American soldiers to identify latent homosexuality. And guess who scored off the top? All those gung-ho types from the elite forces.

I'm the first male in several generations of my extended family not to have served at least a short stint in the military, with perhaps half of us being Army lifers.

My dad and my brother are both career Army. Both take it for granted that the more macho the unit, the more its members are gay.

My brother remembers going to gay-friendly clubs in Frankfurt, Germany, and seeing the dance floor packed with paratroopers, each shirtless and sharing popper hits and grinding crotches into one another.

Of course, if you suggested to them that their behavior was not very different from gay dance clubs in Chelsea or San Fran, you risked getting stomped on and beat up.

My dad served in combat in the Pacific in WWII and fought in Korea. He said even in those days the military tolerated virtually any and all gay behavior -- as long as you didn't tell everyone that you liked sucking dick because you were homosexual. (Being a heterosexual cocksucker was perfectly acceptable.)

Being openly homosexual forced commanders to do something when they much preferred to let sleeping dogs lie.

Posted by: Auto on May 8, 2008 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

I wonder if the sexual orientation of our current CIC is the cause of all the horrors in Iraq?

Posted by: Jeffrey Davis on May 8, 2008 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I love it that you're so hopeful. I read these guys words and realize they'll do the exact opposite if asked, if they aren't already planning it.

Posted by: Zane on May 8, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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