A thoughtful argument against having women serve alongside men on the frontlines

Courtesy of James Taranto, a thoughtful letter from Marine Corps veteran Kenneth Johnson on the “women in combat” debate (hat tip: @CatholicMomVA):

As a Marine Corps veteran of three combat tours, the first as a rifle platoon commander during the Vietnam War, my concern is what this policy will contribute to further breaking down the already-troubled relationships of men and women in our society.

Friedrich von Hayek wrote that profound social knowledge is embedded in tradition that has evolved through the millennia of human experience. In “The Fatal Conceit,” he taught that a society breaks these traditions just because someone has a “good idea” of what would be fair. When these notions are enacted through legislation and court decisions, there is a very real risk of wasting this profound knowledge.

In my view, traditions in the military and civil society are severely broken and the embedded wisdom lost forever where women have combat roles. Totally independent of whether women can physically and mentally contribute to American military effectiveness and efficiency, I am concerned about the broader social implications of a civilization that believes that combat is an appropriate role for women.

For the record, I have ordered men to undertake missions where the entire platoon was at risk. During Operation Dewey Canyon in 1969 (the real one, not the incoming secretary of defense’s one), I lost all seven of the Marine casualties I had during my tour. One died five feet from me. We moved on. Others died moments before I got to their position. We moved on. After one firefight, we carried a gut-shot Navy corpsman, who knew how much trouble he was in, for miles up a steep hill out of Laos.

How does a man not give special comfort to a wounded woman? My last Marine died in my arms from a wound I thought he would have survived. Could I have held her in my arms without reservation?

I had to decide how to handle the situation where a new squad leader beat a Marine who fell asleep on watch, the latter punishable by death in time of war. The decision process I went through is captured in a speech I gave to the Valley Forge Military Academy almost a year ago.

My concerns:

What kind of a man is it who can send women off to kill and maim? What kind of society does that?

What kind of men sharing a fire-team foxhole with a woman and two other men don’t treat the woman more gently?

What kind of society bemoaning that men don’t seem to respect women can’t see that part of the respect they demand is predicated on the specialness of the other?

Perhaps it is possible in a firefight to distinguish between how one treats women and men, but I doubt that I could do it. And if I am trained to treat men and women the same throughout my career, can this have no significant effect on how I treat women otherwise?

Pretty much everything he wrote on this issue I wish I had.

Your thoughts?

The Unaccountable Government: in which @JimGeraghty depresses me

**Posted by Phineas

The depressing part, of course, is that he’s right.

Departing Secretary of State Clinton yesterday appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to finally give an accounting for her department’s performance during and after the Benghazi fiasco. The standout moment came when Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) asked her to explain how the administration could claim for several days that the assault arose from a demonstration in front of the embassy, when anyone could see from the video feed that there was no demonstration.

Her exasperated answer (1) is already infamous:

“What difference does it make?”

It matters for a lot of reasons, not least simple questions of the honesty and competence Americans should be able to expect of their government — their employees. Jonathan Tobin at Commentary provides a good rebuttal about why it makes a difference, and I’ll refer you to that.

But this goes beyond the events at and after Benghazi, maddening as those are. It speaks to the responsibility of government officials in general to the voters and taxpayers — the “owners,” as Clint Eastwood once said. We so often hear pious words about “accepting responsibility” and being “accountable,” but it’s an act, especially for progressives. Crocodile tears and feigned outrage and declarations of pride are all shields thrown up to deflect a real accounting, aided and abetted by hacks who put defending “one of their own” ahead of the nation’s interest. (For a nauseating example, see ST’s post on California Senator Boxer’s staged outrage when Senator Paul dared to take Hillary to task.)

In a thoughtful post at NRO’s Campaign Spot, Jim Geraghty identifies the overall problem — there are no standards, anymore:

If the decision making before, during, and after the Benghazi attack is insufficient to get anyone fired, what decision in government will ever warrant that consequence? If Democrats on Capitol Hill can’t take off their partisan blinders for one day to attempt to hold people accountable for decision-making that resulted in American deaths at the hands of extremists, and then lying to the public about it, then when will they ever? If Hillary Clinton can exclaim that it doesn’t matter that the administration spent five days talking about a video when the video had nothing to do with it, and everyone on her side applauds, why should she or anyone else ever respond to an accusation with anything but audacious defiance?

This is it, folks. This is the government we have, and the lack of a public outcry about Benghazi ensures this is the government we will have for the foreseeable future.

The lack of public outrage is part of the problem, I’ll agree. It’s a result of too much trust in government officials, too little adult supervision of them, and a mainstream media that covers for those it favors  — Democrats.

But it’s not just Benghazi. After 9/11, no one from the Clinton administration was genuinely held responsible for what happened, though many of the problems that left us open to attack developed under their watch. When the housing market collapsed in 2008, Democrats again escaped accountability, even though the policies that lead to the bubble and its bursting were largely of their origin.

I’m not excusing Republicans completely; the evasion of responsibility is a bipartisan problem common to the Beltway elite in general, though the Republicans rarely have the MSM covering for them.  But contrast Hillary’s empty declarations and Potemkin outrage with the actions of the Bush administration after the 2006 election, which cost the Republicans the House and Senate, largely because the public was upset over how the war in Iraq was being conducted: Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was fired, generals were sacked, and Bush went before the nation to take responsibility and pledge to fix the problem — and then actually followed through.

Bush was accountable.

And that’s what makes Jim’s analysis so depressing. Not just that we have to deal with four more years of the Obama administration’s arrogance, but that the entire leadership of one of our major political parties feels that it simply shouldn’t have to answer for itself, that democratic audit of its actions is almost an insult. This, I maintain, is partly a function of progressivism, itself: society is too complex to be governed by citizens and their representatives, and so much of it should be left to bureaucratic experts to run. And if one is an expert, one of the elite, then to be questioned seriously by one of the hoi polloi (in this case, a senator from flyover country — and a Tea Party favorite, at that) is exasperating. They just don’t understand, after all. (2)

It’s not democratic, it’s not representative, but it is a problem. A serious one.

And, at the moment, I’m not sure how it gets solved.

(1) Like most members of the limousine liberal ruling class, she was probably exasperated that someone would dare question her at all.
(2) Many Republicans have a similar arrogance, but that comes from being Beltway dinosaurs, not philosophy.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

Babs Boxer “infuriated” over Rand Paul’s “attack” on Hillary Clinton at #Benghazi hearing

Oh, what ridiculous pearl-clutching! Via Politico:

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) didn’t like Sen. Rand Paul’s comments about firing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at all.

“When I heard him say those words, I walked out of the hearing room and listened to him from behind the stage because I was so infuriated at what that man said,” Boxer told Rev. Al Sharpton on MSNBC’s Politics Nation on Wednesday. Boxer sits on the the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which was hosting one of Clinton’s hearings on the Hill. “To suggest that she’s retiring from this post after traveling a million miles and being one of the greatest Secretaries of State because of Benghazi is unbelievable.”

The Kentucky Republican called Clinton’s lack of reading State Department cables “inexcusable.”

“Had I been president at the time, and I found that you did not read the cables from Benghazi, you did not read the cables from Ambassador Stevens, I would have relieved you of your post,” Paul said at the Senate hearing.

Senator Paul is exactly right. The State Department incompetency on this issue is staggering, and four American citizens are dead, in part, because they either ignored or denied requests for more security – some of them pleas from Ambassador Stevens himself. If this had happened while Hillary Clinton was a Senator and Bush was President, she’d be the first in line demanding heads roll, and we all know it.

The Secretary of State repeatedly lied her way through the both hearings yesterday in the House and in the Senate by avoiding direct answers and evading questions every chance she got. And when she wasn’t doing that, she was feigning indignancy over pointed, necessary questions asked about why Benghazi happened in the first place – which is a central focus of the hearings to begin with. Was it an “offensive anti-Islam video” or was it a planned, coordinated terrorist attack specifically designed to take place on the anniversary of 9-11? We know the real answers, but Hillary Clinton – and no one else in her department – is interested in being straight up with the American people on clearing the air regarding not only the run up to the Benghazi attack and the attack itself, but the aftermath, in which numerous administration officials, including the President himself, deliberately bungled the response so as to create a false sense of competency.

And I don’t need to remind everyone how this administration willingly and knowingly subjected an American citizen to a lifetime sentence of being on the run and in hiding by way of making him a scapegoat in this whole sad and sorry mess. Is the video maker model American citizen? Doesn’t sound like it. But does that make it ok for them to do what they did to him? Hell NO.

As to Senator Babs Boxer’s being “infuriated” over Paul suggesting he’d have fired Clinton, someone pass her some smelling salts, please, and tell her to get a clue and to can the phony “outrage.” Her outrage should be over why we still don’t have answers yet as to why four American citizens – including a US Ambassador – were brutally murdered by terrorist thugs, and why this administration deliberately misled the American people in the aftermath. Oh, and shall we remind Ms. Boxer than when it comes to “offensive” attacks on public officials, it doesn’t get much worse than her 2007 nasty swipe at then-Secretary of State Condi Rice, where Boxer attacked her on the basis of the fact that she had no children and thus no “personal price” (aka a son or daughter in the military) to pay when it came to Iraq policy?

Perhaps Boxer having no “personal price” to pay related to Benghazi because her family members were and are safely elsewhere is why the deaths of the four American citizens on the anniversary of the horrific 9-11 attacks here apparently mean nothing to her. But the families of those killed in Benghazi deserve honest answers, whether she and her longtime pal Hillary Clinton think so or not. And the Senate nor the House should rest until they have them.