[Rosemary Mariner, guest-blogging, December 22, 2007 at 10:11pm] Trackbacks
The Americanization of the Armed Forces-Closing Comments:

My thanks again to Eugene and the thoughtful commentators for an interesting discussion.

In November of this year, General George Casey, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. In his remarks, he described what was at stake in a war against a global extremist threat as "the power of our values...whether the authority of those who treasure the rights of free individuals will stand firm against ruthless and pitiless men who wantonly slay the defenseless."

It is significant to this debate that General Casey identified "the rights of free individuals" as part of what the United States is fighting for.

Prof. Browne has constructed an argument for legal discrimination, built on the premise that evidence from the theoretical field of evolutionary psychology justifies gender classification because of inherent sex differences.

Yet this field of research cautions that nothing in evolutionary theory privileges males over females,nor does it prescribe social roles for either sex.

If this line of reasoning is adopted (again), then an adult female citizen's individual status is secondary to class membership. Gender classifications also work the other way around by discriminating against men, notably in the areas of parental rights and conscription.

The analogy to racial discrimination in the military is absolutely relevant. While the pernicious stereotypes were different, proponents of racial segregation argued just as ardently that black men couldn't fight, be trusted, and impeded cohesion because of inherent racial differences. The individual rights of African Americans were viewed as contrary to military effectiveness.

In the end, it was military effectiveness that finally ended racial segregation in the Army. During the Korean War, desperate for replacements, General Matthew Ridgeway formally asked the Army to racially integrate the National Guard and Army divisions under his command.

We can argue in circles about cohesion, pregnancy, double standards, physical strength, political correctness --dueling studies; down in the weeds-- but in the end it comes down to a fundamental choice: Do adult citizens participate in the public sphere as individual human beings first, equal before the law, or our group affiliations paramount?

There is no inherent dichotomy between a gender-integrated force and military effectiveness. The traditional principles of military leadership apply to gender integration as they do to everything else. The inclusion of women enhances military readiness by increasing the overall pool from which to draw the best recruits. Men and women have successfully served together, including under combat conditions, for years.

There is an additional benefit to a gender-integrated force which goes back to citizenship. The more American women are equal participants in the armed forces, the greater stake they have in the common defense. It is American citizens, through the constitutional process, that ultimately determine what constitutes military effectiveness.

Happy Holidays to All