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Petraeus supports ending DADT

Timothy Kincaid

February 21st, 2010

When Admiral Mullen stated that it was his personal opinion that the anti-gay Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy should be ended, Senator John McCain became furious.

This put McCain in a difficult position. Just three years earlier he had said, “the day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, ‘Senator, we ought to change the policy,’ then I think we ought to consider seriously changing it because those leaders in the military are the ones we give the responsibility to.”

The Senator spoke sharply in opposition to changing the policy and immediately news reports noted the apparent change of position. His press agent released a “clarification”:

“One person, speaking individually, not on behalf of the Navy at all, is not going to change Senator McCain’s position,” she told the Post. “There has to be a determination from our military leaders that they think it is a good idea to change the policy. Then of course Senator McCain will listen to them.”

On the face of it, this looked like a flip-flop, but I think something else is going on here. I think that John McCain genuinely believes that the push to repeal the policy is entirely political in nature and that the real military leaders – those who are trying to win the war, not win political battles – oppose allowing openly gay men and women to serve in the Military.

It seems inconceivable to him that the military’s culture would not be homophobic. So this all seems to be political posturing which will harm the military. He’s holding out for the real military leaders.

Well, it doesn’t get much more real than General David Petraeus, commander of the military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. And say what you may about Petraeus, he’s not the kind of man who will put “social engineering” and “political correctness” ahead of achieving his military goals.

Which makes it particularly effective that Gen. Patreaus supports Adm. Mullen’s intentions. Speaking today on Meet the Press:

MR. GREGORY: General, with the, the military engaged in two wars, with a country fighting terrorism in other forms as well, is this an appropriate time for the military to revisit the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy?

GEN. PETRAEUS: Well, there’s a process at work here now, David, and I, and I think that it is a very sound and good process. The secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs announced, when they were testifying, the creation of a review be headed by General Carter Hamm, U.S. Army four-star, and DOD General Counsel Jay Johnson. I don’t think this has gotten enough prominence frankly. It is very important to this overall process. It will provide a rigorous analysis of the views of the force on the possible change. It will suggest the policies that could be used to implement a change if it, if it does come to that, so that it could be as uneventful as it was, say, in the U.K. or the Israeli militaries or, indeed, in our own CIA and FBI. And then it will assess the effects, the possible effects on readiness, recruiting and retention.

MR. GREGORY: What do you say?

GEN. PETRAEUS: Very important for that process to move forward. We’ll hear from the chiefs, the Joint Chiefs on this I think, probably their personal assessments and personal views in the course of the next week or so…

MR. GREGORY: But…

GEN. PETRAEUS: …when they’re on Capitol Hill. And then the geographic combatant commanders, the other combatant commanders and I, will have our turn on Capitol Hill in a few weeks.

MR. GREGORY: But what, but what, what do you say, General? Should gays and lesbians be able to serve openly in the military?

GEN. PETRAEUS: Well, I’ll provide that, again, on Capitol Hill if, if asked at that time. I, I know you’d like to make some news here this morning. I support what our secretary and, and chairman have embarked on here. I will–I’m fully participating in that process. And I think it’s very important, again, that these issues be handled and discussed and addressed by this review that will be so important in informing decisions as we move forward.

MR. GREGORY: Do you think soldiers on the ground in the field care one way or the other if their comrades in arms are gay or lesbian?

GEN. PETRAEUS: I’m not sure that they do. We’ll see. Again, that’s why this review panel. You know, all we have are, are personal soundings to go on, and I’ve certainly done some of that myself. I mean, you’ve heard General Powell, who was the chairman when the policy was implemented, had a big hand in that, who said that, yes indeed, the earth has revolved around the sun a number of times since that period 15 months (sic: years) ago. And you’ve heard a variety of anecdotal input. We have experienced, certainly, in the CIA and the FBI, I know. I served in fact in combat with individuals who were gay and who were lesbian in combat situations and, frankly, you know, over time you said, “Hey, how’s, how’s this guy’s shooting?” Or “How is her analysis,” or what have you. So–but we’ll see. Again, that’s the importance of this review that will be conducted by General Hamm and also by the DOD general counsel. I think it is hugely important that we have the answers from the questions that they’ll be asking in a very methodical way, something we’ve not done before because of the emotion and the sensitivity of this issue.

Yes, Petraeus danced and put it off on the review, but ultimately he knows that soldiers in wartime care a lot more about skills and abilities than they do about sexual orientation. That concern is a luxury of legislators who are in less danger and have more free time to imagine bunking arrangements and shower configurations.

Comments

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Richard W. Fitch
February 21st, 2010 | LINK

Sounds as though Patreaus would agree with Goldwater (to quote freely), “I don’t care if he’s straight as long as he can shoot straight.”

KZ
February 21st, 2010 | LINK

I should be noted that JD Hayworth is running against McCain as a Republican. Hayworth has been attacking McCain as a ‘moderate.’ The public has been unhappy with our current leaders. This is a bad time for Democrat and Republican incumbents alike. If McCain comes out and actually supports the repeal, he’s taking a step closer to political suicide. I’m not in anyway supporting McCain’s decision/flip-flopping/whatever, but I think it sheds some light on why he currently supports the ban.

Edward Miessner
February 21st, 2010 | LINK

Obama should have ordered the Pantagon to begin the study LAST YEAR. The results would be back and the military brass most likely would be pushing for immediate repeal. Of course, I don’t blame the Military for this; rather, Obama. Cause he’s STILL dragging his feet. Just effin’ REPEAL the law already. And give the Pentagon maximum one year to begin implementing it and maximum two years after to complete implementation. Or do we have to get rid of all the homophobic commanders FIRST? Sheesh. Repeal the law, they’ll change their thinking or retire. And stop enforcing DADT against the servicemembers who are OUTED including Choi and Fehrenbach. They are NOT endangering morale and cohesion and neither is any other LGBT servicemember!

The close quarters issue? You know bunks and gang showers? We went through that in camp and junior/senior high school. By the time we are old enough to serve our country, it’s NO LONGER a problem for us! So why should it be a problem with the heteros, particularly when our fellow gay servicemen (and lesbian servicewomen) have have been bunking and showering beside them, while closeted, for YEARS???

Ben in Oakland
February 22nd, 2010 | LINK

So Petraeus admits to serving with gay soldiers, knowingly and openly. Should he have reported them? Is he in violation of DADT?

Or is he just admtting that knowing that they’re gay didn’t have the slightest effect on his ability to serve?

So much for the unit coehsion argument.

TampaZeke
February 22nd, 2010 | LINK

The thing that jumps out at me in Petraeus’ statement is his use of the word “gay” as opposed to “homosexual”. Remember, this is the same man, who just a year or two ago, went on a fundamentalist tirade against “homosexuals”. For him to now talk of serving with “gay” soldiers, and speaking positively about them, is a HUGE step forward.

Timothy Kincaid
February 22nd, 2010 | LINK

TampaZeke,

Do you have a link to that previous tirade? I don’t recall it and think that perhaps you are confusing him with Peter Pace.

Richard W. Fitch
February 22nd, 2010 | LINK

That’s the problem with these military people, they all look the same. And, yes, I am sure it was Peter Pace and not Petraeus. However, regardless of previous statements by him, if any, the very fact that he did not use homosexual and chose gay is significant.
On a side note, I have been reading some of the ‘news’ at OneNewsNow and was flabbergasted to see that they are now using gay and even without scare quotes. Perhaps they learned a bit of a lesson when reporting on the sports records set by “Tyson Homosexual” several months back.

TampaZeke
February 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Timothy, I think you’re right.

Disregard my last comment.

TampaZeke
February 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Richard, I think you’re right too.

Re-regard the last sentence of my previously diregarded comment. :)

Timothy Kincaid
February 22nd, 2010 | LINK

Richard,

WHAT!!?? I didn’t notice. I read their, ummm, news too and I guess it just slipped my notice.

At some point I guess even their readership has began to use the term “gay” like everyone else.

Matt
February 22nd, 2010 | LINK

“That concern is a luxury of legislators who are in less danger and have more free time to imagine bunking arrangements and shower configurations.”

Very well put, Timothy. I truly believe that the homophobes spend more time thinking about and visualizing gay sex than I do (maybe not by much, though ;). Frankly, with morons like (former) Sen. Man-on-Dog-Sex, I am very happy I cannot read minds.

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