[NOTE: My apologies, but I decided to reprint my eMail response to the mascination of a netword exchange swirling around the Elian Gonzales affair. For those who may not remember, Elian's parents were divorced. Elian lived with his mother. His mother decided to escape Cuba, risked crossing the Florida Straights with friends in a small boat, and unfortunately died in the attempt. Elian was the only survivor, rescued near death, and placed in the custody of his relatives in Miami.]
My apologies to all those I do not know, but my sense of moral outrage is not the same, and thus I feel compelled to REPLY ALL.
Freedom without democracy and the rule of law is anarchy. Have we become so rabid in our advocacy of freedom that we wish to have anarchy, or we believe anarchy is better than democracy?
This whole disastrous episode in the history of the United States that surrounds the tragedy of little Elian Gonzales is just such a question. Elian had a mother and father, who happen to be divorced. The mother fled Cuba with Elian and others, and lost her life in the Atlantic waters off Miami. If the Gonzales family had not been Cuban, would this set of events happened the way it did? Why does being Cuban have any bearing on this situation?
Who among us would have accepted the loss of his son to such circumstances? This poor boy lost his mother, only to become an unwitting political pawn in the long struggle against Castro's dictatorship of Cuba. While I am certainly no fan of Castro or the continued subjugation of the Cuban people, the ONLY reason to prohibit the reunion of father and son is parental abuse; and in this case, there has been no such evidence of any kind, form, suggestion and intimation. Elian should have been reunited with his father immediately – not five months later.
To add to this insult, Elian's relatives in Little Havana, Miami, paraded him around as though he is some trophy, some symbol, some icon of their hatred for Castro. That videotape of Elian and his supposed declaration was abominable. How dare they be allowed to abuse our democracy in such a manner! While there may have been reason to retain Elian prior to his father's arrival in the United States, once that occurred, the boy should have been turned over to the only legal custodial entity on this planet – his father. My God, what have we done to allow those people to prevent that reunion for so long? If I had been Juan Miguel Gonzales and this battle had been over one of my sons, I am not sure I could have remained so restrained.
We rail against the deterioration of the family and all its consequent maladies, and yet somehow we believe keeping a son from his father in the name of freedom is correct, and perhaps even righteous. What are we doing? What are we saying to the world? A political cause is more important than family. Is this what we really want?
Elian is now with his father where he rightfully should be. Thank God someone had the courage to finally get this done.
My resentment and disgust for the faction of the Cuban-American community who produced this affront to our democracy and our body of law is profound. They should be castigated if not prosecuted. They have manipulated the press in the most obscene way. They managed to get an Associated Press freelance photographer in their house during the early morning hours at the very instant Elian was recovered on behalf of his father. That photograph was transmitted all over the world within hours. Those misguided relatives wanted that picture. They defied the rule of law, defied the Government, and forced that process. Those agents had no choice. The relatives refused to relinquish Elian in a less confrontational manner. If the agents had tried to recover Elian without being prepared for the worst case and violence had erupted, they would have been crucified. They did their job and no one was injured in any way; God bless them for their professionalism. The relatives have used their violation of law and manipulation of the press to produce a graphic image of the United States as a violent, offensive and abusive state. The depth of my resentment over that affront is hard to express. My sympathies and support for the Cuban-American cause have been diminished substantially.
Despite what some may think and believe, the Federal Government is not the enemy. This administration and its leader however repulsive is not the issue. If there was a fault on the part of the Government, it was that they waited so long to reunite father and son. I happen to believe in Barry Goldwater's famous statement: "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice." Unfortunately, some have used freedom as the justification for this travesty. This is not about freedom, or striking at Fidel Castro. This is about parental custody and the rule of law…period!
God bless the United States of America in yet another hour of trial.
A society by definition establishes standards of behavior in addition to the cultural and moral basis by which its citizens live and interact with one another. It can also be said that without these definitions either through a body of law or de facto levels of tolerance, there can be no society. As such, it is the domain of the citizens that make up a society to ensure its standards are upheld. The process of enforcement comes in many forms from simple example to the other, often more harsh, pole of elimination.
In American society, the foundation, for better or worse, has been the transplanted body of English law as well as the morals of Judeo-Christian religious belief. Certainly, that foundation has undergone further definition, refinement, mutation and adjustment over many years. We do not have the same standards that existed 20 or 30 years ago, and most assuredly not the same as stood when this democracy was established 222 years ago. The character of American society was created by the founders and is embodied in the Declaration of Independence, e.g., the rights of a citizen to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Through the Declaration, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and further legal definition, we have agreed upon a set of standards. True, the standards will forever change to reflect the desires and needs of the People at any point in time, but our founding principles allow and indeed provide for this constant revision.
One of those standards or elements can be categorized into a broad term -- abuse of power. In the Declaration of Independence, the founders rejected the abuse of power by King George III, his agents, and the 'divine right of kings.' From that abuse and subsequent rejection, we have tried over the years to establish a modicum of equality, e.g., elimination of race and gender discrimination, child abuse in all its ugly forms, and sexual harassment in the workplace, among so many others. While we allow the legal and judicial systems to wander through the world of words, dancing the waltz of semantics, the issue is actually quite simple and the enforcement is equally as simple.
When any person, regardless of gender, race, age, moral character or otherwise, occupies a position of authority or leadership, i.e., parent, teacher, military officer, physician, enforcement agent, employer or president, they no longer have the latitude or spectrum of behavior that would otherwise be afforded them regarding their personal interactions with others who are within the sphere of their authority or influence. Thus, is this arena, there is no right of privacy for that person. Their actions must be governed by a higher standard -- everyone must be treated with the same respect and dignity regardless of the environment. In other words, a leader no longer enjoys the common right to recognize gender or any other potential discriminator -- everyone must be treated equally. Thus, behavior that may be acceptable or normal between any two people in general, is categorically unacceptable when either person occupies a position of authority. A leader does not enjoy the right to behavior that would be acceptable without the positional reality. Furthermore, this burden exists regardless of the environment, setting, location, consent, qualification or condition, i.e., it has nothing to do with privacy. It can not and must not be abdicated, overlooked, or otherwise ignored.
Enforcement is equally as simple. First and foremost, if anyone is not fully prepared to accept this burden of leadership, then they should not accept or place themselves in that position. Individuals who are able to see the moral issue and take the high road, resign their position of authority to regain their rights to personal behavior. Likewise, if a person chooses to ignore this burden, for whatever reason, then society has an obligation -- a duty -- to ostracize the violator. In American society, we have chosen to use the judiciary as the mechanism for enforcement. However, there is a higher societal tool -- banishment. If a person chooses not to live within the standards of society, they must leave, i.e., prison, isolation, restriction or other form of ostracism. A case in point might be the infamous O.J. Simpson case; the judicial system could not convict him of his heinous crime, but society will extract its price; he will most probably never enjoy the true benefits of freedom within our society.
Bill Clinton, as a citizen, has the right to inter-personal relationships with women in private and consentual situations that offer him considerable latitude. Society accepts and indeed tolerates a very broad spectrum of behavior in this area, including some forms that segments of society might even classify as deviant. We must always remind ourselves that as a citizen, he is also entitled to due process regarding the law. His crimes have not been proven under the rules of evidence in a court of law. However, moral questions are not always about or contained within the law.
In contrast, Bill Clinton, as Governor of Arkansas or President of the United States of America, does not enjoy the same latitude afforded him as a citizen. As Governor or President, he commands considerable authority whether he likes it, accepts it, knows it or is even aware of it. Furthermore, as President of the United States, he occupies a position within our society that is the statutory chief enforcement agent. The President of the United States is obligated by law to enforce the laws, standards and dictates of the society he serves whether he agrees with them or not.
What he has demonstrated through his admission of an 'improper relationship' with Monica Lewinsky, an employee of his, is a direct violation of the moral code of our society. Further, through his admission, he has certainly offered tacit confirmation of 'improper relationships' with Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, Gennifer Flowers, ad infinitum. In the words of Sen. Joe Lieberman, 'Such behavior is not just inappropriate, it is immoral.'
What I find even more revolting beyond the allegations of obstruction of justice and perjury, is his total disregard for the higher moral code of our society -- abuse of power. In this particular case and others like it, abuse of power, like rape, is not about sex, it is about power -- the power to take advantage of a young woman; the power to affect the behavior of others in a self-fulfilling manner; the power to seek his own gratification through others who are beholding to him. Ms. Lewinsky was an intern, an employee. He compromised that standard of behavior and he must be held accountable.
Adding insult to injury, he chose to play a lawyer's game of semantics in defining, what is sex? For him as the recipient, willing or otherwise, of any sexual contact is pure and simple sexual relations. For him to hide behind some misty, unconnected, ludicrous definition of sex to emphatically state he had not had sex is immoral. I find his public declaration that he 'did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky' to be morally repugnant, reprehensible and an insult to our society. I do not condone, but I can accept, John F. Kennedy's sexual relationship with Marilyn Monroe; but, I can not accept and will not condone Bill Clinton's relationship with Monica Lewinsky. What Kennedy did in private was also an infringement of a moral code -- adultery -- although this definition has been stretched for millennia since its inception; his relationship with Monroe was not an abuse of power. Clinton's relationship with Lewinsky was clearly and unequivocally a violation of the abuse of power standard.
His degrading attitude toward women in the workplace is unconscionable. While we are not the jury who will judge him, we are the defenders of our society, our morals. My experience tells me, where there is smoke, there is fire. Paula Jones had the moral courage to stand against his behavior. His clear disdain for the law along with the multitude of women who have protested his behavior, suggests to me, in light of my experience with his kind, that the true dimensions of his disrespect, disregard and otherwise condescending view toward women in the workplace or within the sphere of his authority or power would probably defy comprehension and is equally revolting. For those of us who occupy positions of leadership and authority and who are male and have stalwartly defended women in the workplace, his actions are a direct assault on the very trust we have tried so hard to build with our female employees. He has singularly undone decades of earnest, careful work to enhance female opportunities. He has probably reinforced the underlying cynicism of women that they can never gain fair treatment in a male dominated workplace. Why any working woman can still defend this poor excuse for a male leader is absolutely beyond me.
What is puzzling, and perhaps troubling, is why the Special Prosecutor and the press have not raised this larger societal or moral question beyond obstruction of justice and perjury. For Judge Starr, whom I am sure is charged with investigation only within the law, the moral issue is probably not germane. However, there are laws that govern conduct in the workplace. There is certainly more than one manager or executive who has paid a heavy price for violation of these laws. The White House does not afford him protection from those laws. While Judge Starr could hide behind the law, the press is not so constrained. They can ask the moral questions. They can demand answers to the larger societal issues. And yet, the abuse of power issue has not been prominently raised in other than his abuse of power regarding his claim of executive privilege to obstruct justice.
Clinton has considered himself to be above the law. It is time he be held accountable. He can not hide behind semantics, nor can he claim 'this is a private matter.' His position of authority does not afford him that protection. What he did, whether it was in the White House or deep in the forest, was wrong -- morally, ethically and legally. Society has an obligation it can not conveniently ignore because the economy is good. He has brought us, forced us, to this crossroads. We are being asked to define the path of our society -- is this behavior acceptable? If it is acceptable for Bill Clinton, then it is by definition acceptable for John Q. Citizen.
I, as one citizen of the United States of America, reject the 'divine right of kings' and Bill Clinton's version. It is time for our society to choose the correct moral and ethical path, and Bill Clinton must pay the price of his transgression.
As a British politician is reported to have said, 'I don't know whether to laugh or cry.' This tawdry, sleazy episode is truly sad for our history and our culture. I doubt Bill Clinton ever understood the burdens of leadership. The sooner we can begin to put this in the category of a very costly lesson-learned, like Vietnam, Watergate or Iran-Contra, the better we can demonstrate that our society has the humility to recognize its mistakes, to correct them and grow from them.
The questions and swirl of controversy surrounding women in the military has remained in the public conscientiousness for many years from James Webb's confrontational, reality article, "Women Can't Fight" [The Washingtonian, 1979], to the latest article, "It's Time to Face the Gender Paradox" by Mackubin Thomas Owens [Proceedings, July 1998]. The issue appears to be far more sensitive to the military than to society in general. There is no hue and cry from the public to inject women in the combat arms. It is mandated from Congress and the implied pressures from legislative and executive branch leaders that have pushed this agenda into the military environment. There are many reasons proffered to the nation on both sides of this issue. To date, we failed to boil this question down to its root source. Why?
There are probably several key reasons, if not a plethora of reasons. The feminists undoubtedly view the military as the last bastion of male chauvinism, the last domain of the macho-male and his closed men's clubs. As strident women reach positions of power within the government, they push their agenda to eliminate the 'men's clubs' that represent their oppression. The proponents of complete gender integration also point to a single driving reality of the warrior profession that has been true since recorded history. Success on the battlefield is the primary means for advancement within any military organization. Thus, to be successful, women must endure combat and be accomplished in the combat arms to reach the highest levels of the military. Herein lies the pressure for change using such ruses as gender integration is no different from racial integration. They say, the sooner the military recognizes this reality, the sooner inner peace will be achieved.
But, why? Well, perhaps if we look closely, the resistance is not surrounded by feminist politics. Perhaps, it is largely in our puritanical heritage. We find it very difficult to talk about some things that are as natural as the sun or the wind. It is in the root source that the answer lies.
What is the issue?
This argument has boiled within the military community for more than two decades now, and there is still no solution in hand. The concern was first publicly voiced in large measure by Jim Webb in his now venerable article. His concerns were apparently born from the decision to gender integrate the service academies. As a highly decorated, combat veteran, he held the stature to confront the issue of women in combat straight on. As stated in his article, there are many societal reasons why we should not place women in front line combat units like infantry, artillery, armor and others.
A short recap of some of the superficial reasons used by many:
Anatomical & physiological differences
The easiest and most obvious are the anatomical differences, e.g., average body size, muscle mass, et cetera. The differences are undeniable. Are those differences significant? While some elements could be called significant, I suspect under closer scrutiny, it is not anatomy that is the important factor in any other aspect than how anatomy affects social behavior.
Physiological differences do have slightly greater meaning. It may seem silly to most people who have not been in the bush on patrol in bad guy country, but the simple physiological necessity of urination becomes important. My intention is not to be crass here, but urination for a male is easier and less of a threat to the unit. Defecation for a male or a female, while essentially the same, is a real threat to the unit and one that the unit must adjust to. Thus, unless some method can be devised for females to urinate with less disrobing, just the act of female urination is an added threat.
A woman's monthly menstrual cycle and the associated demands for hygiene and personal privacy place women in an uncomfortable position (this could be overcome if people could get past the juvenile snickering) in the forced intimacy of a combat unit. As discussed above, the necessities, at least in our present environment, of this normal female physiology present an added, and many would say, unacceptable threat to a small unit.
In the very same issue as Mr. Owens' article, there was, ironically, an article in the Nobody Asked Me, But... Section of Proceedings. "Don't Trade on the Uniform" by LCdr Carl R. Graham, USN, vilified Lt. Frederica Spilman for her exposé in June 1998 issue of Playboy. He asks, 'How can we attack the behavior without getting mired in the politics of sex? By removing sex from the issue altogether." LCdr Graham presents a credible, cogent argument as to why Lt. Spilman's indiscretion was a violation of propriety for the military. In essence, so he states, she was trading upon her uniform, gaining 'compensation' from her association with the Navy. I absolutely agree with the premise of his argument; it is totally unacceptable to use the uniform or one's association with the Navy for 'compensation' whether monetary or otherwise. While LCdr Graham makes a valiant attempt to separate sex from this particular issue, the reality is sex sells. Ask yourself why the Proceedings editorial staff chose to include the cover of the Playboy issue with the article? I have not seen Lt. Spilman nor do I care to. I do not know what her motives were, nor what enticements were offered to her. The bottom line is, if sex and the female anatomy were not important to men or the public, she never would have been approached, enticed and succumbed to this transgression. We can blame her, and to some measure she should be held accountable for her transgression, but this begs the much larger question. Why do we make such a big deal of sex, of anatomy, of gender?
This is an easy generalization as well. Statistics are quoted about average strength, endurance, et cetera. The reasoning revolves around the statistically average American woman having less strength than the statistically average American male. The strength question is manifested in the challenge of whether a woman can lift a 80 lb. load to the flatbed of a 2½ ton truck. Or, how can a woman heft M1A2 main gun rounds from the storage compartment to the breech in rapid succession in the heat of battle? There are many women who are stronger and more physically capable than many men. And, there are certainly men would can not perform these tasks either. While this physical characteristic is important within any combat unit, it has nothing to do with gender.
The physical manifestation of procreation is probably the most significant of the obvious reasons. The host of societal dimensions to this element are some of the most difficult to deal with. The decision to become pregnant is sometimes abdicated to happenstance, but at its simplest is a very private decision for a woman or a couple. As such, any intrusion into this decision would be unacceptable. The consequence within a military unit and especially any combat unit is profound, and thus the clash between a woman's personal choice and the integrity of a military unit. No matter how anyone cuts it, pregnancy is not compatible with combat arms, and some would say the military in general.
Even more profound is the potential use of pregnancy as an excuse. So the scenario goes, if a woman does not like her situation, e.g., an impending deployment, potential combat, rigors of pre-deployment training, or whatever, she may intentionally become pregnant thus negating any threatening assignment. While the feminists can rail against the implied chauvinism of this scenario, unfortunately, there are those who will use any means available to obtain what they want, or avoid what they don't want. Men have done the same thing although they have not had societally acceptable means.
Regardless of this rather repugnant scenario, pregnancy even in a garrison, relatively benign, environment is not compatible with a unit's good order and discipline.
Without a solution to this aspect, women can never and should never be considered for combat units.
Sexual relations in whatever combination within any military unit creates an enormous tension. Many companies have very strict rules regarding sexual relations between employees; others have given up trying to control this very human function. Our culture attaches such significance to sex, that this alone could be an insurmountable obstacle. The unfortunate reality here is, most of the public and certainly the dogmatic feminists, can have no comprehension of the forced, mandatory, inescapable intimacy of a small combat unit. Probably the most graphic is that of a small, special operations unit -- a recon or SEAL team. By necessity, because of the interdependency of each member, you must watch each other, protect each other. In a rest 'hole,' you lay in a wheel spoke, head to head, with two awake at all times. If you need to relieve yourself, you do so with a buddy to watch you backside, not turn and look the other way, or go behind a bush.
Sexual intimacy between members of that team whether heterosexual or otherwise, presents an impossible interpersonal dynamic that is an enormous risk to such a small unit. Although a recon team is the most graphic, the same unit relationships hold true for any combat unit, armor, artillery, infantry or whatever. It is in this area that the majority of the military's resistance to homosexuality exists. Once unleashed, it is virtually unrecoverable without transferring one or more of the parties. Some might say, this is an acceptable risk. Those that know how small units work would say this is an intolerable risk. The potential disruption to unit integrity is monumental.
Those of us who have led small combat units know perfectly well that any rift among team members can become an enormous threat to the unit. Leaders watch carefully the inter-personal relationships of their members. It could be gambling, a debt left unpaid; it could be petty theft; or, it could be sexual tension, whether male bravado surrounding an available female, or more intimate relations. While there are probably young adults who could handle an intimate relationship and not let it intrude into the intimacy of the unit and their professional lives, the common reality is quite the contrary. A small unit commander can not allow anything to compromise the cohesiveness of the unit. Their inter-dependent lives are so intertwined.
Gender based cultural differences, i.e., fear of rape, protection v. survival, sacrifice, etc.
A considerable amount of discussion can revolve around this element. We could argue that this attitude is misplaced, a hold-over from the days of chivalry, or some such. We could also argue that it should not be and is not necessary. The militant feminist might say, we do not want it; we do not want men to open doors for women, or to offer other chivalrous acts or forms of gender courtesy. However, the predominant reality is most males are taught to open doors, to protect women. It is also an equally prevalent reality that some cultures do not share our morality. There are many cultures where rape -- the spoils of war -- is the norm; it is expected; it is a part of conflict. We can say it is wrong. We can protest the inhumanity of it. We can wish it was different. But, it does not change reality. There is a societal reason why we despise the men who violated that ethic to cheat their way into the lifeboats off Titanic.
Why is it an issue?
We like to think this issue is unique to the military. Perhaps, it is, since the debate today is predominately held within the military context. One could argue, the military is simply a microcosm of the greater heterogeneous society it stems from and serves. If that was the case, then the military should not be considered unique, and gender integration is just as valid for the military as it is within the civilian segment of our society.
Women have maintained a prevalent and growing presence in the workforce in every segment – commercial, both private and public, government, education and the military. While there have been problems of a societally reflective workforce for all the reasons indicated above, the consequences of those anomalies are essentially benign in all segments except the military. In no other segment are the consequences of pregnancy or sexual overtone burden on intra-unit discipline translated into life or death resultants?
Now, some will argue that this is a false concern. To those placed in harm's way for the protection of our national interests, it is precisely the opposite – one of the graphic examples of the assault on the warrior ethos. This reality can not be ignored no matter how insistent one small portion of the society is in demanding 'equality.'
Most of us will readily agree that equality in the workplace should be gender, ethnicity or race neutral. Unfortunately, our society has not quite achieved that worthy objective. Many of us have devoted considerable effort to continue progress toward the equality objective, and will continue to press for equal opportunity. However, the objectives and reality of the commercial or civil workplace do no translate into the military. By the very nature of military service, work conditions are uniquely different from any other segment. Elements of the civil workplace do not translate into military terms. Now, we could say they should, but honest inspection should confirm that they will never be equitable.
More than a few of us reject the anatomy and physiology based arguments for a host of reasons. In essence, whether a woman is qualified to do the job or not has nothing to do with her anatomy. There are many women who rank among the top pilots in the world, who are some of the best marksmen in the world, who are equal or superior to men in virtually all martial skills and can be just as aggressive or violent. This simply can not be a gender based discussion. What the discussion should be based upon are the skills required to do the job. However, the added dimension not found in non-military work environments are the operational conditions.
The total environment in the combat arms context is defined by terrain, weather, and vegetation -- nature. For most practical purposes, these factors can not be changed. The only slight modification is, what the Marine carries on his back, i.e., food, water, a bush knife, et cetera. In the bush, the common and expected amenities of the civilized world do not exist. There are no policies, directives, mandates, challenges, or whatever from presidents, senators, judges or cabinet officers that will change this.
So, let us bring some reality to this debate.
Symptoms v. causal factors
As is often the case, we tend to focus on the symptoms, e.g., a woman not able to carry an 80 lb. rucksack on a forced march of 20 kilometers, or a female fighter pilot becoming pregnant. These are symptoms, not the real issue. There will always be women who can do these things up to a point of medical tolerance.
We could argue that many of the factors listed above could be dealt with via standards. If those standards could be honestly derived, I would say, yea verily! I happen to be one of those who believes women are just as capable as men to do just about anything including the military and combat arms. However, my idealism does not change reality. Honest standards would eliminate the majority of gender issues regarding women in the combat arms and in the military as a whole. By honest standards, I mean metrics that reflect the demands of the job. Having physical standards for a manager are not appropriate, there are no credible physical demands on a manager. Likewise, the physical demands and thus standards for most specialties in the military can be taken as comparable to the civilian world. There are very real physical demands for the combat arms -- the warrior profession. There must be basic standards for all military personnel -- mental, emotional and physical. And, there must also be additional, higher standards for specific specialties where appropriate. Establishing separate standards as Webb reflected for men and women, is wrong and will threaten the capabilities, performance and survival of a unit. Lives depend upon these standards; they can not be compromised for any reason including some idealistic gender integration motive.
The argument has been raised that gender integration is no different from racial integration of the 60's and 70's. In some respects, this is true; certainly as it pertains to attitudes and social interaction. But, in most areas and especially if we honestly boil this down, there are substantial differences. Racial integration centered upon one factor and one factor only, the color of a person's skin. There are no other differences, despite what some Neanderthal bigots might espouse. Racial integration was progressively addressed better by the military than by society. It was accomplished by an unprecedented level of education and training, and a policy enforcement campaign that, still to this day, far exceeds anything even attempted in the non-military environment. In the case of gender integration, a comparable campaign has been underway for some time and has shown considerable progress. However, race and gender integration are not, can not and will not ever be the same. To persist in this comparison is to deny the reality of gender diversity and the environment it is being foisted upon.
The real cause for concern regarding women in the combat arms stems from the customs or culture of American society, and for many societies in the world. We attach discriminating significance to some aspects of anatomy, specifically genitalia. If society can bring itself to eliminate any importance to the naked form or genitalia, male or female, then we might really be able to integrate women with men in the warrior profession. Until that time, it is not reasonable to demand of those who are charged with the protection of the freedoms we hold so dear with carrying on a social experiment in the name of gender equality. This asexual attitude is not likely to be achieved in the near future. Field operations simply do not allow for any gender recognition. So, as long as there is gender identity, injecting women into the combat arms will fail, and it will regrettably cost many very precious lives in the name of some intellectual, altruistic, social experiment.
If my words have offended the propriety of anyone for any reason, I offer my humblest apologies. The frank language was not intended to offend or titillate; it was simply meant to communicate the base elements of this issue.
My message is not meant for those of the warrior profession entirely, since they are embroiled in this debate whether they like it or not. I truly hope these words reach those representatives and senators, and civilian executive branch leaders so determined to compromise the integrity of the combat arms by some well-intentioned effort toward gender equality. It is also meant for the leadership of the services, both civilian and military, who must gather the courage to stand against the political pressure of gender integration.
The profession must continually self-assess the jobs, tasks, assignments and orders of all aspects, segments and factions within the military. Where honest, task based standards can be established expressly forbidding any compromise regardless of any societal factors, gender, race, ethnicity or whatnot, and an adequate environment can be maintained that recognizes gender identity, then women should be supported, coached and encouraged to enter those appropriate specialties. If these standards or the necessary environment can not be delivered and maintained, then do NOT muck about with the precious lives of Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen who must stand the line in harm's way. Until society can eliminate gender identity and the importance of genitalia, there must be no compromise. The consequences are too grave.
In the mid-70's as a tactical instructor pilot, after what could have been a fatal incident, I was cajoled into backing away from my recommendation to not only fail a transition pilot but to strongly recommend that he be removed from aviator status. I was not alone among the instructor pilots in these recommendations. To this day, I regret that I gave into command pressure. That pilot went on to make a simple but fatal mistake and took another life with him. That pilot was passed along solely because he was black. It was wrong; it is wrong to this day, and it cost two precious lives. We are taking the exact same risk, applying the exact same command pressure, and the consequences will be the same.
[Postscript (2015): Since writing the Gender Integration essay (1998), Cap's opinion on the issue has changed. The limitations noted in the essay can be overcome with sound leadership and proper regulation. The U.S. Marine Corps appears to be taking the proper, professional approach to the societal question in that they have established stringent requirements to become an infantryman or an officer of infantry, and those requirements apply to everyone regardless of any of the social factors including gender. Some men fail to pass the entrance requirements. Women have volunteered and failed as well. Cap has little doubt that one day women will indeed pass the requirement test and become infantry officers and infrantrymen. This is how it should be; let us not allow our biases based on the social factors detract from performance. At the end of the day, service must be about performance, not genitalia.]