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Monday, June 11, 2007


Gays in the military and Quote of the Day

Another aspect of Colin Powell's interview on Meet the Press, which has received some press attention (and some of it inaccurate, by the way), were his comments on gays in the military. Before exploring that, though, let's just pull one line from that interview out as quote of the day:
"The military...exists for one purpose and that’s to apply state violence."
You just have to love the bold, direct, honest answer encapsulated in that sentence. No talk of "defending our liberties" or "extending democracy" or "protecting us from terrorism" or "deterring attacks from our enemies." Nope, it's just "applying state violence," pure and simple. Love it (the quote, not the violence).

Incidentally, do you suppose the Swiss military, or the Cuban military, or many others, would describe their role as "applying state violence"? No, only a member of the ruling class of an imperialist power would do so.

On to gays in the military. In the Republican debate, Rudy Giuliani ("at a time of war, you don’t make fundamental changes like this") and Mitt Romney ("this is not the time to put in place a major change, a social experiment, in the middle of a war going on") said something almost identical to what Colin Powell said yesterday:

"Don’t ask, don’t tell" was an appropriate response to the situation back in 1993. And the country certainly has changed. I don’t know that it has changed so much that this would be the right thing to do now. My successor, General Shalikashvili has written a letter about this. He thinks it has changed sufficiently. But he ends his letter by saying, "We’re in a war right now, and let’s not do this right now." I will not second-guess the commanders who are serving now, just as I didn’t want to be second-guessed 12 or 13 years ago. But I think the country is changing. We may eventually reach that point. I’m not sure.
Now this is one of those things you have to think about for a minute, the claim that the policy can't be changed in time of war. Because what "policy" is being talked about? It's not like anyone is talking about going on a major recruitment drive to recruit gays in the military. No, what we're talking about is kicking people out of the military who admit they are gay, and the change we're talking about is not kicking them out. Even if it weren't for the absurdity of kicking out Arabic translators, wouldn't it be a lot less disruptive to any particular unit to keep people in the unit, rather than kicking them out? [Not that I'm looking to make the U.S. military more efficient, mind you, I'm happy to have them completely inefficient, but I'm phrasing the argument from their point of view, not mine]

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