Comments from NoodleFood


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Comment #1

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 7:41:59 mdt
Name: John Dailey

~ 'Sign of the times'. All 'leader'-types (actual or aspiring) nowadays in positions of power decision-making are neither agnostic nor deist (avowed atheists have no chance therein, of course). Morality views will always at least color if not determine their policy-decisions. The morality of most has to be expectable as being 'religious.'

~ Methinks that especially in the military, a 'leader's morality/religious views are rarely merely 'going through the motions,' ergo...

~ Then of course, there's the Executive Office which colors everything on this.

LLAP
J:D



Comment #2

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 8:16:47 mdt
Name: Jim

I doubt if this actually qualifies as a "theocracy."



Comment #3

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 8:27:36 mdt
Name: Diana Hsieh
URL: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog

Jim, I never claimed that America is a theocracy due to this single incident. My point was that this incident is an example of theocratic rule, in that government policy is determined by reference to Scripture. Do you dispute that? If so, on what grounds? (Mere statements of opinion are completely and utterly worthless -- just like the Biblical pronouncements about homosexuality.)



Comment #4

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 13:44:02 mdt
Name: Jim

"Jim, I never claimed that America is a theocracy due to this single incident" Really? I believe a reasonable person could claim that is exactly what you did based on this sentence: "Folks, that's outright theocracy: government policy at the highest level is determined by appeal to Scripture."

"My point was that this incident is an example of theocratic rule, in that government policy is determined by reference to Scripture. Do you dispute that?" Yes, I dispute it. While Pace put forth his opinion, I'm not aware that the Military Code of Justice is based on scripture. Do you have evidence that it is?



Comment #5

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 15:01:00 mdt
Name: Diana Hsieh
URL: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog

Jim: "While Pace put forth his opinion, I'm not aware that the Military Code of Justice is based on scripture. Do you have evidence that it is?"

That's not a proper standard by any stretch of the imagination. According to your standard, if every prosecutor and lawmaker in the country held that murder should be punished solely based on the commands of Scripture, that wouldn't be theocratic in the slightest unless the law codes cited that reason. That's absurd: the nature of a government is determined by more than just its law codes.

The fact is that the ban on homosexuality in the military is a holdover of religious dogma. Now, instead of pragmatic arguments against gays in the military, we've returned to explicit appeal to Scripture -- by the highest military authority in the land, excepting the President. Pace wants to retain the policy due to his commitment to religious dogma, not based on any quasi or seemingly rational reasons. That means that he's governing by religious dogma. If that's not an example of theocratic government, then nothing is.



Comment #6

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 15:54:58 mdt
Name: Jim

Diana,

I want to make something clear -- I'm not arguing for or against gays in the miltary. The point I wanted to make in the initial post was that I thought the "outright theocracy" comment was a bit hyperbolic. Yes, it's unfortunate that Pace made these comments. But from my reading, he was making them, not from a position of miliary policy, but from personal opinion.

Now I asked you for any evidence you might have that the Military Code of Justice was based on scripture and you wrote the following:

"That's not a proper standard by any stretch of the imagination. According to your standard, if every prosecutor and lawmaker in the country held that murder should be punished solely based on the commands of Scripture, that wouldn't be theocratic in the slightest unless the law codes cited that reason. That's absurd: the nature of a government is determined by more than just its law codes."

All I can say is that the specific prohibition against gays in the military, based on my reading of the link, is the Military Code of Justice. You claimed "... that government policy is determined by reference to Scripture." Since "that government policy" prohibiting gays is the Military Code of Justice and not the peronsal opinion of Pace, I'm now asking for any evidence you have to support that specific contention.

You write: "The fact is that the ban on homosexuality in the military is a holdover of religious dogma" Really? (Mere statements of opinion are completely and utterly worthless -- just like the Biblical pronouncements about homosexuality.)

You write: " ... If that's not an example of theocratic government, then nothing is". No, Diana, a theocratic government is a government whose religious leaders control the governmental apperatus and order the hanging of gays in public and then claim they have no gays. A retiring General expressing his personal opinion does not make the government a theocracy.





Comment #7

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 16:23:35 mdt
Name: Diana Hsieh
URL: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog

Jim says: "All I can say is that the specific prohibition against gays in the military, based on my reading of the link, is the Military Code of Justice."

A military code is not written in stone; it can be changed. Pace was explaining why he would oppose such a change. He appealed to Scripture. So what the military code says at the moment is not the issue.

"a theocratic government is a government whose religious leaders control the governmental apperatus and order the hanging of gays in public and then claim they have no gays."

By that standard, Canada doesn't have a system of socialized medicine, since socialist countries send dissidents to the Gulag but Canada doesn't do that.

Do you really not understand the difference between an assessment of a policy and an assessment of a government as a whole? Do you think that only the most extreme examples of some political ideology are instances thereof?

"A retiring General expressing his personal opinion does not make the government a theocracy."

Oh gee, that's just a tad inaccurate. That General was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff testifying before Congress about his opposition to permitting gays to serve in the military. He wasn't talking to his neighbor over the fence! And, once again, I never said that this proved America to be a theocracy. It's an instance of theocratic government since policy is determined by appeal to religious dogma.

I'm done with this exchange, as I really don't think you understand the basic issue at hand, nor what was done. Feel free to have the last word, if you wish.



Comment #8

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 17:14:54 mdt
Name: kishnevi

Diana, either we don't understand your argument here, or else your understanding of theocracy is in error.

Theocracy is not a secular government whose legistlation and values are determined by the religious outlook of the rulers. If it were that, then the United States has been a theocracy for almost all of its existence, up until roughly the 1960s--when the cultural rebellions of that era changed the situation. (I suppose Ayn Rand would view that as ironic, given her stated disapproval of those upheavals.) Theocracy is rule by those who have religious authority--that is, clergy--and who impose the law code of their religion on those that they rule. Iran is the most notorious example of this sort of regime. But there are no clergy (to my knowledge) who have power in the US government, and no law of the United States that has been passed in the last few decades has ever been passed because it applies Scriptural law. The fact that a person of influence justifies a law by citing the fact that it accords with Scriptural law, does not mean we are facing an instance of theocracy-in-gestation. (If Pace had, somehow and for some reason, cited Objectivist philosophy in defense of the ban, would you be celebrating it as the sure sign of Objectivism taking control of the halls of power?) The only rationales for a law (in this case the Code of Military Justice) are those which stated by the legislator (here, Congress) in the text of the law or which were considered during the creation of that law. UCMJ was created based on existing military law and military values, which ultimately were probably derived from religious values, but the UCMJ was legislated not because it was based on scripture, but because it was based on established military law.
There is a major push by the so called cultural conservatives to put American back into the situation it was in the 1950s and before, when law and public values were solidly based on explicit Christian morality, and you are right in being concerned at their successes and the possibility that they may succeed in their overall goal. But Pace's comment is not a sign of theocracy. If a politican were elected to Congress or even the Presidency on the platform of apply Scriptural law openly, that would be theocracy coming into being.

Side note: it is *possible* that Pace was referring to "natural law" in the sense that Catholic writers use (or at least used to use) the term--laws derived from reason which ultimately are based on Divine sanction--and not on Scriptural law as found in Leviticus and other places, but that difference (if indeed he was referring to natural law) is probably not important for the point under discussion here.



Comment #9

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 17:16:48 mdt
Name: Jeff Montgomery

I'd rather not wait until every U.S. law contains actual footnotes and quotes from the Bible before we call a spade a spade and object to people mixing Christianity with government policy. Pace was saying that he thinks "God's law" should limit U.S. law! Pace *is not yet retired* and he made the comments in official government proceedings. The statement is theocratic, un-American, and inappropriate.



Comment #10

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 17:22:41 mdt
Name: Jim

Diana, just to recap:

I think it's clear from any fair reading of your original post that you made the claim that somehow Pace's comments could be construed as "outright theocracy." I pointed out that whatever Pace's personal views were, the restrictions of gays in the military was the result of the Military Code of Justice. You then asked you for any evidence to support your contention that the Military Code of Justice was based on scripture. You gave none. I asked you for any evidence to support your contention that the ban on homosexuality in the military is a holdover of religious dogma. You gave none.

You then round things out by writing that I really don't understand the issues at hand.

Here is what I think, and the evidence supports: you made a comment that was a bit over the top. When called on it, instead of saying, gee, I'm outraged at Pace's comments or I found them extremely troubling and inappropriate (which frankly, I would agree with), you go over the top and suddenly see his comments as signalling the start of some kind of Christian Kabol. And in trying to support the first shakey comments, you make other unsupported claims that start piling up into a real embarrassment.

With that said, let me also mention that I have read a number of your papers. I find many of them insightful and am truly impressed with your rigorous analysis related to Objectivism. I was struck by your honesty in expaining your philosophical growth and your clear dedication to your profession.

Good luck with your thesis,

JD





Comment #11

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 17:24:03 mdt
Name: Diana Hsieh
URL: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog

kishnevi: "Theocracy is rule by those who have religious authority--that is, clergy--and who impose the law code of their religion on those that they rule."

(1) Theocracy is not properly defined in such a narrow way as rule by clergy. The fundamental is that government policy is determined by religious dogma. if that happens, then the question of whether the clergy serve as government officials or influence politics from their pulpits is a minor matter.

(2) When the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs testifies before Congress that he opposes allowing gays in the military because God says that homosexuality is immoral, that is "impos[ing] the law code of their religion on those that they rule."



Comment #12

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 17:36:15 mdt
Name: Jeff Montgomery

>Diana, either we don't understand your argument here, or else your understanding of theocracy is in error.

For the sake of those who've been reading this blog for a while, I don't see the value of revisiting the issue of what theocracy is, what Diana thinks theocracy is, or whether the U.S. is a theocracy.

On the one hand, we have some people (i.e. Diana) objecting to the use of Christianity as a standard for U.S. government policy, and referring to this as "theocratic". On the other, we have people discussing whether the U.S. should be called a "theocracy" now or will be a full-fledged "theocracy" in 10 years. The latter issue missed the mark during the elections last November, and it misses the mark now. That the U.S. is *not* an actual theocracy is precisely the point: the aim is to prevent it from happening by applying Objectivism and weeding out the bad ideas. Can we move on now?



Comment #13

Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 3:23:19 mdt
Name: JT

I agree that baseball is boring, generally speaking. I think the game would be exciting if hitters weren't permitted to step out of the batter's box after every pitch and pitchers had to pitch the ball within a short period of time. But why must the players be in good physical shape in order for an activity to be a sport? Ever see offensive linemen in football?



Comment #14

Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 10:53:24 mdt
Name: Monica
URL: http://sparkasynapse.blogspot.com

I think it's important to point out that this isn't the first time that the Uniform Code of Military Justice has been proposed as a tool to eliminate non-religious ideas or practices from the military. I blogged about the issue of freedom of belief in the military awhile back, here:

<http://sparkasynapse.blogspot.com/2007/09/americas-military.html>

The violation of individual rights in this regard certainly seems to be getting worse.

Oh, and by the way - under a very strict definition of theocracy, most Islamic nations wouldn't even be classified as such. Clearly Saudi Arabia wouldn't qualify, since it's not run by religious leaders. That's obviously besides the point.



Comment #15

Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 12:46:07 mdt
Name: Monica
URL: http://sparkasynapse.blogspot.com

I just found another news article dealing with Christianity in government, this time with McCain proclaiming that the US was founded as a Christian nation. <http://sparkasynapse.blogspot.com/2007/10/surprise-surprise.html>

Notice that it's not just some marginal county politician saying this type of thing. It's a United States Senator. And if it's not troubling that our federal politicians can't remember that the only reference to any religion in the Constitution is that there shall be no state establishment of religion, I don't know what is.



Comment #16

Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 15:23:35 mdt
Name: A-non-emous

For those who are interested, read THE BASIC LAW OF GOVERNANCE <http://www.saudiembassy.net/Country/Government/law%20of%20governance.asp> to find out what an outright theocracy really is about.

The fact that an official has religious beliefs, expresses them, and believes people should act that way is NOT "an example of theocratic rule."



Comment #17

Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 16:54:16 mdt
Name: Anthony Mirvish

There have been numerous problems resulting from both the expanded role of women in the military and both historically and currently with respect to gays serving openly. Some of the downside just doesn't get much press because it is at odds with prevailing PC attitudes in the media and elsewhere. It's also worth noting that no serving officer who values his career would dare take a stand against policies set by the duly constituted civilian authorities. And, unfortunately, as the entire history of the 20th century demonstrated, a lot of people can be made to say things that they don't really believe in.

Ancient Rome and Greece were both pagan, non-Christian societies and attitudes towards homosexuality were quite different in each. Professional soldiers hold opposing views on this subject based on factors unrelated to Christian theology. So, I would suggest that this issue can be discussed on an entirely secular basis and the mere fact that General Pace chose not to do so does not of itself discredit current policy.



Comment #18

Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 16:54:17 mdt
Name: Anthony Mirvish

There have been numerous problems resulting from both the expanded role of women in the military and both historically and currently with respect to gays serving openly. Some of the downside just doesn't get much press because it is at odds with prevailing PC attitudes in the media and elsewhere. It's also worth noting that no serving officer who values his career would dare take a stand against policies set by the duly constituted civilian authorities. And, unfortunately, as the entire history of the 20th century demonstrated, a lot of people can be made to say things that they don't really believe in.

Ancient Rome and Greece were both pagan, non-Christian societies and attitudes towards homosexuality were quite different in each. Professional soldiers hold opposing views on this subject based on factors unrelated to Christian theology. So, I would suggest that this issue can be discussed on an entirely secular basis and the mere fact that General Pace chose not to do so does not of itself discredit current policy.



Comment #19

Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 17:02:41 mdt
Name: Anthony Mirvish

One other point. The prohibition against gays in the military is not primarily or even fundamentally a relic of religious dogma (as mentioned in my earlier post, pagan Rome was hostile to gays and even in ancient Greece, attitudes were mixed). It is, like the prohibition against adultery (which could also be justified on Biblical grounds if one chose), a consequence of the destructive effects of fraternization. The military has had an enormous amount of trouble on this very point with a coed, openly heterosexual force. Consequently, there is an objective basis for such a ban.



Comment #20

Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 19:00:37 mdt
Name: madmax

Anthony,

Could you lay out some of the secular based arguments against homosexuality in the military, or even of restricting the role of women. I could see some rational arguments that could be made for each.



Comment #21

Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 20:42:38 mdt
Name: Adam Reed
URL: http://www.calstatela.edu/faculty/areed2

I am flabbergasted by the anti-Objectivist undercurrent of pro-Pace partisans in this discussion.

As Ayn Rand made clear, the function of government is to place force under _objective_ control. This means that legislation, including any justifiable code of military justice, must be based on objective evidence of the facts of reality. To base legislation _or its enforcement_ on arbitrary (and, by the way, delusional) religious beliefs destroys the moral grounding of government in objective knowledge. Yet here, a high government official endorses existing legislation _exclusively_ on the basis of his religious beliefs. Diana accurately identifies this as a departure from the secular enlightenment foundations of our Republic - from the world's first godless Constitution - in the direction of theocracy.

Diana cited the facts: many countries, beginning with Israel since 1948, and most recently Great Britain since the European Court decision in the matter, have had homosexuals serving equally with heterosexuals in their armed forces - with no adverse effects, and with objectively measured benefits in morale and effectiveness.

And as for "secular" rationales - arguments that contradict measured facts are fit only for exercises in fallacy detection. They are the result of religious crackpots using half-truths about reality as a drunk uses a lamppost, for support rather than illumination. At least Pace is honorably truthful about his reasons. There is nothing honorable in inventing pseudo-secular rationales for faith-based bigotry.



Comment #22

Wednesday, October 3, 2007 at 3:11:04 mdt
Name: Mike

A-non-emous:

"The fact that an official has religious beliefs, expresses them, and believes people should act that way is NOT "an example of theocratic rule.""

Did you actually read Diana's post? Or just skim it maybe. At no time did Diana argue that government officials merely holding religious beliefs makes a theocracy. Pace wants to MAKE POLICY based on those beliefs. Very different. Jeez.



Comment #23

Wednesday, October 3, 2007 at 4:39:54 mdt
Name: Monica
URL: http://sparkasynapse.blogspot.com

Hey, Anon-e-mous. It's of course obvious that Saudi Arabia is a theocracy. But under a strict definition, it's not, because the royals rule, not religious leaders.

Unlike the document you provided, the Constitution has nothing remotely religious in it. But that doesn't mean that theocracy couldn't develop in the United States. All our politicians need to do is keep repeating falsehoods, and the American people to keep believing them, and for unconstitutional laws in this regard to be upheld by the courts. The Constitution means jack if people don't read it and understand it.

The issue of theocracy in the US is also far wider than simply the presence of gays in the military. There have been egregious violations of military members' freedom of speech and assembly if it doesn't suit the religious views of their superiors. Get with the program, folks.



Comment #24

Wednesday, October 3, 2007 at 16:21:16 mdt
Name: A-non-emous

Mike,
Jeez. Yes I read what she said. At no point did Diana make an argument. She made a statement about a statement.

"gay sex is immoral and should not be condoned by the military."

"Are there wonderful Americans who happen to be homosexual serving in the military? Yes," he
told the Senate Appropriations Committee during a hearing Wednesday focused on the
Pentagon's 2008 war spending request."

"we should respect those who want to serve the nation but not through the law of the land,
condone activity that, in my upbringing, is counter to God's law."

"In my upbringing" is a statement of personal experience, not a legal argument. Pace holds that the law should not condone immoral behavior. Pace did not say that he makes law that is determined by religious doctrine. As bad as it is whenever anyone uses religion to justify actions or beliefs, it is not theocracy.

----------------------
Monica,
Your definition is not mine.



Comment #25

Wednesday, October 3, 2007 at 16:41:31 mdt
Name: Infidelus Maximus
URL: http://www.robertjonesphoto.com

You know, for someone who claims not to want a theocracy, do you not find it rather ironic that you have aligned yourself with a puritanical, irrational, judgmental, authority on all matters moral (these are traits common to theocratic tyrannies), and arbitrary Pope Leonard I?

What is it that they DO in "theocracies"? Perhaps they punish heretics. I'm quite certain of that. Maybe they take especial glee in staging show trials, in shaming those guilty of a touch of disillusionment with the Church. Condemnation of the soul is also rife, I'm sure. Don't forget dogmatic reverence for the Revealed Truths in your "Sacred Texts." And, while we're at it, ostracizing the faithful from the evil apostates who've turned away from the Faith! When all else fails, it is crucial that we Excommunicate said Infidels and condemn their souls to the eternal lake of fire.

You know what? If the Bush administration were filled with 150 OAC graduates, instead of 150 graduates of Regent University, it wouldn't look one goddamn bit different! It would still be rife with fundamentalist zealots.

Enjoy your noodle food! I prefer red meat.

Yours in Leonard,
Robert L. Jones



Comment #26

Wednesday, October 3, 2007 at 17:12:18 mdt
Name: Diana Hsieh
URL: http://www.dianahsieh.com/blog

Robert Jones: You are an idiot. Since you find NoodleFood so intolerable, please spare me the bother of deleting future posts: GO AWAY.



Comment #27

Wednesday, October 3, 2007 at 17:34:31 mdt
Name: Anthony Mirvish

Madmax,
The basic secular arguments against certain roles for women and gays seving openly don't overlap completely. The primary objections to women in the military is their lower physical strength (and other physical characteristics) compared to men. There is enormous and extremely well-documented data, not just from our military, but from that of Britian, Canada, and Israel that supports this. In some cases, the failure rate for certain combat, casualty evacuation and damage control tasks has been 100%. There is equally well-documented evidence that to get around this problem, the military has either maintained separate standards for the women or lowered long-established standards to accommodate them. I am happy to provide sources for these statements if requested as I am very familiar with this subject (both pro and con). A particularly comprehensive review is Israeil military historian Martin van Creveld's "Men, Women and War". Amongst other things, van Creveld explodes some US misconceptions about the role of women in the Israeli military.

The obvious consequence of this is that we have people serving who, whatever their intelligence, patriotism and other qualities are simply not the equal of men serving in the same role. It also means that some people will have to be assigned to roles for which they are not necessarily best suited simply because their physical capacities are needed there. With women constituting 15% of the force, these limitations can be worked around to varying degrees, particularly when fighting enemies of considerably less training and technological capability than is currently the case. It also means that full acceptance of the women as equals is an impossibility. In the civilian professions, women perform all tasks to the same standards as men, and to the same standards historically met. No adjustments are required. Consequently, an all-male force, otherwise identical to the one we currently field, would be more effective and robust. It is also worth noting that neither the Navy nor the Air Force have had to face operating conditions in which sailors or airmen have been tested fully i.e. as they would be against competitive enemies.

The second issue is that of fraternization. To take just one example, the Naval Academy has had sex scandals, some of a particularly nasty nature, nearly every year since the place went coed in 1976. The situation has been even worse in some respects at the Air Force Academy. This spring, in one month, the Navy had to relieve 7 of its commanding officers, 4 of whom for sexual misconduct. There are two aspects of this. First, in certain environments (e.g. aboard ship), it creates unequal conditions of service because some members of the crew will have access to the company of the opposite sex, while others will not. This creates resentment. Second, it creates the potential for misconduct, favoritism and abuse. Even when relationships develop and are openly acknowledged, the need to keep lovers in separate chains of command requires transfers that create disruption. All of this takes attention away from military matters. Moreover, the essence of military comradeship has always been a non-sexual one, more akin to brothers than anything else. Whenever a coed situation is created, people pair off. This changes things. It introduces distractions that are avoidable. It creates unnecessary tensions. These things have an effect. Whether it is worth it is another question.

The other major problem is pregnancy (obviously gays don't present this problem). Anywhere from 5-15% of the women on a warship get pregnant before the end of a deployment. Depending on the stage of the pregnancy, they may have to be transferred ashore. Since no other self-inflicted condition that gets one out of duty is treated without punishment, this creates both resentment and disruption.

The bottom line is that the costs of a large (or combat) role for military women has significant and usually unacknowledge costs.

The counterarguments tend to be based on rights and equality. That position would have more merit were the women being held to exactly the same standards historically met by the men, in every respect. Another argument often used is that intellectual attributes are now more important than physical ones and so historical restrictions on women are less meaningful. This has some merit, too. The problem is that the intellectual differences between the sexes are quite small but the physical ones are quite large, consequently the gain from the former is usually balanced by the loss from the latter.

The situation with gays is a bit different. The physical strength argument is irrelevant because the average straight man and the average gay man will have effectively identical physical characteristics. Moreover, unless the gay self-identifies himself, no one will really know. Some, not all, of the fraternization and related issues are similar to those involving women. Obviously, pregnancy is not an issue.

European and Israeli experiences with gays serving in their military forces need to be considered against the different national and martial traditions in those cultures. The officer-enlisted relationship in Israel is, for example, quite different from that in the our country. This is, in part, a consequence of differences in the way they select officers, but also a consequence of universal mandatory military service: you get a lot of very smart, very capable people in the ranks, too, some of whom might be more accomplished in civilian life than some of the officers. This makes for a more egalitarian environment with less B.S. The Europeans, being more secular, seem to be less worked up on certain issues than we are. Whether their military forces are as effective or not is still open for debate. The post-modern, coed, gay-friendly Royal Navy didn't exactly cover itself with glory when its sailors (including one woman) were taken prisoner by Iran without a shot being fired earlier this year. Their behavior in captivity was, likewise, very post-modern. The woman sailor looked distinctly nervous and at least one of her male counterparts proved to be quite the wimp. No macho heroic posturing, no death before dishonor or any of that old-fashioned stuff there. Nelson was probably spinning in his grave. However, I'd bet good money that had anyone asked them about the changes in the RN one day before the incident, you'd have gotten a lot of stuff about professionalism and assurances that it was still the "ready, aye, ready" force of Nelson's time. Israel didn't distinguish itself this summer in Lebanon, and while some of this was due to political restrictions, those sprang from the same philosophy that has pushed for women and gays in the military. Ultimately, the only test of a military force is combat against a competitive enemy. The Europeans haven't faced that since 1945. Consequently, statements about effectiveness and discipline being maintained need to be kept in context. During the 1970's and early 1980's, when our all-volunteer force was in its infancy, there were enormous problems with drugs and discipline, recruiting and retention. Outwardly, though, the forces continued to function: ships were at sea, operations were being conducted, aircraft were flying and such. No one now suggests that represented the most effective military that we ever fielded, volunteer or otherwise.

Having said all of that, I think there are fewer problems with gay men serving in the military than with a coed force. However, I think an all-male, heterosexual force presents the fewest problems, has the fewest weaknesses and is the most effective. In that respect, one might want to remember that Japan, China, South Korea and India all maintain all-male military forces. The effectiveness, technological expertise and discipline of these forces is not in question either. India recently embarrased out Air Force in wargames, Japan operates forces every bit as advanced as our own, and China is rapidly modernizing.

For whatever reasons, many of the people who actually choose to serve tend to come from backgrounds that are conservative Christian. Even those who do not have problems with gays on religious grounds often have them on other grounds because they think homosexuality unnatural or abnormal (even if it arises from natural processes and hence is not immoral).

You could argue that some of these attitudes are analogous to arguments made against a racially integrated military. However, to my mind this is false on several grounds. Standards were not in any way changed to accommodate blacks, something not true of the military's treatment of women, nor were there any tasks that blacks couldn't accomplish at all due to innate physical differences. This fact alone was enough to minimize much of the prejudice that was present. Two, large numbers of Americans (the majority in fact) were not racist. At the time of de-segregation, we had a draft and so a very broad cross-section of Americans served in the military. This further reduced problems. Finally, sexual fraternization was not an issue when the forces were de-segregated.

I would appreciate it if Adam would explain the source of his statement that there were "objectively measured benefits and effectiveness" from allowing openly gay men to serve in European and Israeli military forces.

"And as for "secular" rationales - arguments that contradict measured facts are fit only for exercises in fallacy detection. They are the result of religious crackpots using half-truths about reality as a drunk uses a lamppost, for support rather than illumination. At least Pace is honorably truthful about his reasons. There is nothing honorable in inventing pseudo-secular rationales for faith-based bigotry."

There are overwhelming numbers of measured facts that contradict the claims that military women are meeting or performing to the same standard as men, or that the forces are as effective as before. As stated earlier, I am happy to provide them if interested. What you might want to consider is that ALL of the facts need to be considered and that the nature of the measured facts matters a lot. As an example, during the late 1970's the New York Yankees won three pennants and two World Series. By every objective measure they were a great team and equally, by every objective measure, every player on the team could play ball. But, they gave added meaning to the term traditionally applied to their ballbark (the Bronx Zoo) because they were not a particularly cohesive or self-disciplined outfit (and I write that as a die-hard Yankee fan). Franchise players were at odds with free agents. Prima donnas abounded. When they were focused, they were good. But, they went to pieces and didn't win another series for almost 20 years, and even before that they were fragile. The sum was distinctly less than that of the parts. "Measuring" cohesion and other intangibles is very, very hard. If Adam, you know how to do it, please share. It is nonetheless real and as vital to a military as to a sports team. The fact that it is impossible to measure in the same way as other quantities makes it possible for people to ignore it. In fact, it simply represents an element that you want to ignore. There is nothing honorable in slandering secular, rational individuals who have looked at the facts and drawn different conclusions than you. Don't go making assumptions about our character, integrity, rationality or actual knowledge of the subject. You'll just make yourself look like what you claim to be criticizing.



Comment #28

Wednesday, October 3, 2007 at 18:28:51 mdt
Name: Infidelus Maximus
URL: http://www.robertjonesphoto.com

Okay, I'll go away.

Just busting chops!

Guess someone can dish out the noodle food, but not take it.

C'est la vie.



Comment #29

Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 3:21:22 mdt
Name: Monica
URL: http://sparkasynapse.blogspot.com

Anthony,

You could well be right about fraternization being a problem, but if that were the real issue motivating America's military leadership, they should start with excuding women from the military, since your lengthy comments above show quite adequately that women in the military are much more of a problem than homosexuals.

Also, why set the physical performance standards arbitrarily at a man's average? Why not set them at a black man's average? I'm sure most black men could physically outperform most white men. Along that line of reasoning, only women should be allowed to be pilots and surgeons, because they have much better fine motor control than men. Come on...

There are any number of ways the military could probably be made more efficient. I think the more basic question is whether said policies violate individual rights. This doesn't mean there shouldn't be performance standards - as with any job. If men are the only people that can perform to those standards, fine. And if fraternization is an issue, fine. But let our military leaders own up to those issues if that's what's really motivating them. If it was, don't you think they'd be pursuing the matter differently?

The whole situation needs to be taken into context here. It's not just gays they want to throw out. It's anyone who disagrees with their personal beliefs - for instance, atheists. So that leads us to believe that they're motivated by religion. Not the fraternization reason you mentioned. Occam's razor.



Comment #30

Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 3:54:48 mdt
Name: Monica
URL: http://sparkasynapse.blogspot.com

Below is an excerpt from the original article that Diana cited. Pace is clearly speaking abotu his belief that the military code should be based on a biblical standard, since he thinks ALL sex among military members outside of marriage should be banned, not just homosexual sex. I think it should be quite obvious from the statement below that Pace is advocating a military code based on biblical morality, not any secular reasoning brought up after the fact.

"I would be very willing and able and supportive" to changes to the policy "to continue to allow the homosexual community to contribute to the nation without condoning what I believe to be activity -- whether it to be heterosexual or homosexual -- that in my upbringing is not right," Pace said.

...

In March, the Chicago Tribune reported that Pace said in a wide-ranging interview: "I do not believe the United States is well served by a policy that says it is OK to be immoral in any way."



Comment #31

Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 6:40:06 mdt
Name: madmax

Anthony,

Thanks so much. Great info. I read a book a while ago called "A Kindler, Gentler Military." It essentially showed that women can't and don't perform at the same level as men. This has nothing to do with rights, this has to do with the metaphysical fact that men are stronger than women. Ayn Rand argued against feminism pointing out that feminists evade the differences between the metaphysical and the man made. I think a co-ed armed forces is ultimately based on that evasion. Gays might create problems for a different set of reasons, I don't know. But I have always been opposed to a coed force - at least as it is presently constituted (being the product of the feminists and the Leftists). In the end, war reduces to masculine ferocity. Of course it must be directed and governed by reason and an egoistic moral code, but IMO it is ultimately the province of men.

Monica,

I agree with you that today's military is heavily infected with Christianity and it is exhibiting theocratic behavior but that doesn't mean that there aren't rational, secular based arguments against a coed force or one which includes gays. Anthony has made a pretty good case against a coed force, not so much against gays serving. I would need to see more evidence. Also you say this:

"Also, why set the physical performance standards arbitrarily at a man's average? Why not set them at a black man's average? I'm sure most black men could physically outperform most white men. Along that line of reasoning, only women should be allowed to be pilots and surgeons, because they have much better fine motor control than men. Come on..."

If you were to say that an all black force would be faster with a greater vertical leap I would agree with you, and then we could have the fast-twitch / slow-twitch muscle fiber discussion that always arises when this subject arises. Yes, blacks are faster than whites in *sprinting* (there are very few Jason Seahorns in the NFL) but to my knowledge long distance running is more even. Also, there is no measurable difference in strength. The best power lifters are mostly white (and Easter European). So it would be no advantage to field an all black military force.

As to fighter pilots, I really can't say. It may be that women posses some advantages in *some* of the attributes needed to fly. But my guess is that a man's overall superior physical strength provides a greater ability to deal with the heavy g-force that flying such planes involves. There is also the physical strength needed to deal with combat stress, etc.

As I look at it, you can't get around the metaphysical fact that men are stronger than women. The military - which defends us against hostile foreign aggression - should take that into account. This is not some game or social engineering experiment, this is a matter of life and death. I don't see whose rights are violated in the military fielding the best unit possible for preserving the Republic, even if that were to limit the role of woman and gays. No-one's rights are being violated when you take into account the metaphysical fact that a woman more often than not can't throw a grenade far enough for safety, etc.

My conclusion: of course we need to combat the Christianization of the military. But that doesn't mean we can ignore the destruction of our military wrought by today's secular leftists (in this case feminists). There is a totalitarian threat from both sides of the political spectrum.



Comment #32

Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 10:12:42 mdt
Name: Adam Reed
URL: http://www.calstatela.edu/faculty/areed2

Madmax,

It is not the first time that you have manifested a tendency to disregard facts in favor of intuitions or something of the kind, but this one "takes the cake:" "a man's overall superior physical strength provides a greater ability to deal with the heavy g-force that flying such planes involves." G-force is proportional to mass, which in turn is proportional to volume and therefore to the cube of physical dimensions, so in dealing with G-forces the advantage is with the physically smallest - more likely women than men. The smallest women, pre-pubescent girls, used to dominate high-G gymnastics in international competitions, until very young competitors were barred because their small size gave them an unfair advantage.

This has been an Objectivist break. We now return Mad Max to the world of primacy of consciousness.



Comment #33

Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 10:42:42 mdt
Name: Adam Reed
URL: http://www.calstatela.edu/faculty/areed2

Anthony,

Please cool it. I did not address the issue of women - Pace's remarks were about gays, and I've been sticking to that. My only comment regarding women in the military is that rational people, and rational organizations, measure and judge individuals as individuals, not as units of statistical aggregates.

Israel's context is complex, with a society of 60% non-believers and about 40% believers, half of the latter religiously observant. Since about 1980, when Israel became less socialist than before, capable secular leaders have been moving out of the IDF officer corps and becoming business entrepreneurs. The leadership of the IDF has been taken over by more religious elements. The latter are obsessed with "redeeming the Jews' God-given Land of Israel" by settlement, so that the IDF has become much more a force of settlement guards, and much less an army capable of taking the war to the enemy. The recent Lebanon war was just a demonstration that you can't fight a real war using what has become mainly a force of settlement guards. The IDF was much more effective before the religious nuts took it over (and, ironically for your argument, before they restricted the role of women - but I don't see a causal relationship either way.) In any case, Israel's recent military history is a textbook illustration of what happens when you hand your military over to religious fanatics. Our faith-based crackpots have a different agenda than the ones in Israel, but they are just as dangerous to the security of our rights.



Comment #34

Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 11:15:06 mdt
Name: Monica
URL: http://sparkasynapse.blogspot.com

"No-one's rights are being violated when you take into account the metaphysical fact that a woman more often than not can't throw a grenade far enough for safety, etc."

Yes, it is a violation of individual rights to argue from the law of averages. That's exactly what individual rights protect against. There are always exceptions to the rule - in intelligence, in individual strength, etc. I could make a very objective case that whites are smarter than blacks, on average. That doesn't mean there shouldn't be blacks in the military, because we all know there are some pretty smart black people around.

Of course men are stronger than women! So what? The military today is highly technical. Sure, its members shouldn't have love handles, but physical strength and fitness is nowhere near as important as what it used to be. You could certainly make an objective case that say, special ops troops ought to be all male. But the whole military? Based on the physical strength argument? Most of our troops have never even seen combat. And any that have are now walled up in the Green Zone in Iraq protected by private security contracters. Even if we were fighting wars properly, we could take out entire countries without ever setting boots on the ground - if we had the will to do it. And if we are ever in on the ground combat with, say, China, North Korea, etc. - God help us. Because we'd be totally outnumbered with the number of forces we have - male or female.

That 15% of the military is made up of women is not a totalitarian threat from feminists. Generally, leftists, pacifists, nihilists, etc. don't deal well with the hierarchical authority structure of the military. That's why they don't join in the first place and that's why the military is overrun with Christians. They're the only ones that tend to uphold values. Sorry - the military isn't being destroyed from within by being 15% female. If you have some objective evidence, that would be nice. It's being destroyed from without, politically by altruists on both sides of the political spectrum, and from within by Christian zealots who want to control everything from who has sex with whom to what one believes.



Comment #35

Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 15:27:24 mdt
Name: madmax

"Yes, it is a violation of individual rights to argue from the law of averages."

Um, no. The military should be governed by *merit* and in this case that means soldiers should be physically capable to handle the stresses associated with combat. Now my position was not that all women should be disallowed from service but I think a good case can be made that they should not be allowed in combat. Also, the problem with fraternization is a real one as Anthony pointed out. I have no solution, but if significantly limiting female involvement in the military made it more productive (which means more fierce in its capacity to wage war and *KILL* the enemy) then female involvement should be limited. That is not a rights violation, that is a recognition of reality and all women should approve of it.

"Sure, its members shouldn't have love handles, but physical strength and fitness is nowhere near as important as what it used to be."

Please, this sounds like the thing a pampered civilian would say. War is war. It is brutal, cruel and harsh. Actual combat, IMO, inevitably comes down to unleashing masculine aggression on the enemy. True, that aggression has to be controlled and directed by a process of reason, but it is aggression none the less. Physical strength is a *major* element in war and always will be no matter how many nice buttons there are to push.

"Generally, leftists, pacifists, nihilists, etc. don't deal well with the hierarchical authority structure of the military."

Irrelevant. It doesn't matter that leftists don't enter the military in large numbers they affect the military by affecting the culture. And the Left is currently *destroying* the culture, to a far greater extent then the Right is currently (although that could change depending on how fast and far Christianity advances). IMO, the US military has been castrated by leftists and feminists alike. If you point out the threat just from Christianity you aren't being fully focused. This is a complaint that I have with many Objectivists. I realize that we all hate religion but there are other very real threats out there besides religion.

"That's why they don't join in the first place and that's why the military is overrun with Christians. They're the only ones that tend to uphold values."

This I agree with. Leftists value nothing so they could care less about defending a free (or semi-free) republic. Unfortunately the rationalist / empiricist, relativist / dogmatist split is growing in our culture. The prognosis is not good for the US military. Christians, in today's context, are the only group who has any type of values (even if they are from the wrong source). As the left gets more nihilistic, the Christians are going to get more Christian in response. We are in a race against time to see if Ayn Rand can spread fast enough. I hope her ideas will.



Comment #36

Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 15:39:19 mdt
Name: madmax

Adam,

First of all, I do not like you.

But you are right with regard to g-force. I just read up on it. I should note that I do not trust *anything* you say. I wouldn't believe the time of day if you gave it to me. That is how low I think of your thinking skills and your take on Objectivism. But on this point you are right. My point was that there are many physical stresses that a pilot must handle. Stronger people are better suited to handle them.

However, unlike Monica, if it does turn out that women have better resistance to g-force and also have better motor skills and this makes them better pilots then American pilots should be women unless you get the male exception the way Jason Seahorn was an exception in the NFL by being a very fast white man and thus capable of playing cornerback.

But as I say, I do not like you and I often disagree with your conclusions especially when it comes to war. It was a very happy day when you chose not to post on Solo anymore (and Linz was right in calling you a "Pomowanker"). I hope you chose not to post on Noodlefood as well.



Comment #37

Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 17:25:13 mdt
Name: Anthony Mirvish

No one has an individual right to serve in the military any more than anyone has a right to a job or anything else. The issue is entirely whether the standards in question are objective, taken in their full context. With respect to the military, the situation is complicated by the fact that there is only one employer, so to speak.

The issue of averages and norms is extremely relevant in this context. That's because the military is fundamentally a collective enterprise based on teamwork. Since every individual is different, the military establishes standards based on averages in order to develop norms that can be used for planning. GI Joe has to have the ability to march X miles an hour carrying Y lbs of gear. Are there soldiers that can march faster carrying more (or slower and less), yes. So, since the entire unit composed of Z men must march together, a standard is established that gives the best results possible. Individual performance doesn't matter as much as in the civilian world because even the most extraordinary individual can't just operate on his own. Of course, not all men are capable of meeting such standards and so they don't get to serve. If 93% of men are stronger than ALL women (that's from the Presidential Commission on the Assignment of Women in the Armed Forces), and if a 50 year old man is stronger than a 35 year old woman (cited in the same source, from Col. Gregor's research for the Army), those numbers are very relevant to the debate. As was also noted in my earlier post, there are some tasks that 100% of military women have failed when judged against established standards. Rational people look at the full context. In the military, that means averages matter. In medicine, engineering, architecture, or any civilian profession, they don't. In the military, the individual is and must be judged with respect to those standards and within the context of a team or unit. This also applies to an ability to get along with others in close quarters for long periods of time. Individual attributes still matter, for example to determine a particular specialization for that individual, but everyone must still be capable of doing certain things to a common standard and within a unit context. Form follows function even in the military. Sorry if you can't understand that.

One final point regarding averages and systems. Consider the analogy with education. The very best students in the very best of our educational institutions are doing as well as ever, at least in the more objective disciplines. The quality of the educational system cannot be measured by that standard. If it could, we would be obliged to accept the current system as no better or no worse than the alternative.

With respect to the subject of G-force resistance, the best actual data indicates that women can resist G-forces as well as men provided that each are wearing properly fitting pressure suits. Without those, men have the ability to sustain roughly 1G more than women. The women are smaller and less massive, but they have a lower aerobic and cardiovascular capacity, which is relevant since negative G's tend to suck the blood from one's head, causing G-induced loss of consciousness. Several peer-reviewed articles in the Journal of Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine found that in centrifuge testing, women scored 15% lower than men on a simulated target tracking test mostly due to different rates of oxygen use in their brains. The women also exhibited no chronic adaptation to high-G exposure (i.e. they didn't build greater resistance to high-G's even with training). This would affect the number of sorties that could be flown in high-G environments. The authors did not conclude this rendered women unfit to fly. Their conclusions merely supported the "not equal" position (although the authors balked at that one). The less dense bone structure of women means that they were at much greater risk of injury if they had to eject from an airplane and had a higher risk of injury (about 4x) upon landing in a parachute. There are also tasks that are strength dependent in air combat. If you get shot down, you're in the position of having to survive on the ground.

Push-button war is very gender-neutral. The moment the buttons break down, it isn't. So, if you have 100% capability in the one environment with either coed or single-sex forces, but 100% and 50% in the other, it seems logical to choose the arrangment that maximizes your combat effectiveness.

It would take a lot more than 15% of women to destroy the military. Even the Vietnam didn't actually achieve that. My point is that effectiveness can deteriorate without a lot of outward indicators only to reveal itself when it's most inconvenient, sort of like the great oak tree Eddie Willers took comfort from on the Taggart estate in "Atlas Shrugged." One could just as easily argue that since our country is richer than it's ever been clearly, the mixed economy welfare state is fine. I think all of us would reject that argument, just as we'd reject the "it's just one more regulation and you businessmen keep screaming disaster and it never happens. When does one actually break an economy? After all, the Soviets lurched along for 75 years under full communism. That hardly proves the merits of their system.

With respect to the IDF, they have been EXPANDING the role of women (partly due to court decisions like those that opened up Britain's military), not restricting them. I have that directly from a senior Israeli military expert whom I know. Historically, the women received military training, but served only in support roles. In the 1948 war, some coed units did fight, but Israel found that there were problems with that and changed the rules. With respect to the role of the religious parties in Israel, their influence is generally negative. No argument on that.

To do Adam the courtesy of addressing only the issue of gays in the military, I will do so from this point forward. First, not everyone who supports Pace's policy position (i.e. maintaining the ban on gays serving openly) agrees with his reasoning, nor does this automatically make them a religious fanatic. I am, in fact, an atheist and an Objectivist. Second, not everyone who believes in God is a religious fanatic or aspiring theocrat nor manifestly irrational. There are actually religious people who think that a belief in God is rational (this is the entire Thomist tradition in Catholicism) in all conexts. The influence of John Locke's "Second Treatise on Goverment" on the Founders is well-known. Less well-known is that most of the "First Treatise" advanced a religious argument for the political conclusions presented in the Second. Those are just facts. And yet, neither Locke nor the Founders were religious fundamentalists. They just weren't atheists. That, too, is a fact. The country wasn't founded on Scripture (the Founders were explicit on that point), but neither was it founded on Objectivism. That, is also a fact. Third, the presence of a majority of Christians in the military does not mean that we have handed over the military to religious fanatics. Not all Christians in the military are evangelicals. Not all evangelicals are Bible-thumpers itching to cram religion down our throat. More fundamentally, no one "handed" the military over to anyone: it's a volunteer force. If relatively more religious than secular people join, it might be worth trying to figure out why. If you want an Objectivist army, I'm sure there's a recruiting post near you and all you have to do is get the rest of us to join with you.



Comment #38

Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 21:27:34 mdt
Name: Adam Reed
URL: http://www.calstatela.edu/faculty/areed2

Anthony,
Thank you for a factual reply. Since the US government is already cramming adherence to Christian religious strictures down my throat - the drug laws, restrictions on medical treatment of pain, on cloning and other research, on genetic screening, on reproductive technologies, Congress voting to condemn publication of research results that depart from Christian views on sexuality etc. etc. etc. etc. - please permit me to doubt the alleged insignificance of a constituency for their program. I don't happen to be gay, but neither do I wish to find myself one day regretting that I did not speak up when the religious nuts came first for the gays. And besides, maybe it will be scientists that they will come for first...

The centrifuge findings on circulation and cognition are interesting - but the solution is to test candidates individually, and eliminate those, male or female, who fail.

I drive to work by a billboard, paid for by my taxes, that shows a group of US Marines with their heads all bent down in prayer: to translate, No Atheists Need Apply. Unfortunately, even if I were wanted I would have to decline, first because I am in my sixties, and also because I come from a part of the world where those physically fit for military service were systematically eliminated from the gene pool by two centuries of conscription and slaughter.

"If relatively more religious than secular people join, it might be worth trying to figure out why." Maybe we already know the answer: our country's military doctrine requires self-sacrifice; the cult of self-sacrifice in our civilization stems from the Christian doctrine of _imitatio Dei_; and no other career offers the Christian believer a greater opportunity for departing this world in pain comparable to that allegedly borne by his "Lord." Maybe, if our government were not placing our soldiers at risk of sacrificing their lives for the purpose of building a more democratic Islamic Republic in Iraq and Afghanistan, military careers might become more attractive to people inspired, not by the image of Jesus bearing the instrument of his crucifixion, but by the image of a god who refused to bear the burden of sacrifice.



Comment #39

Friday, October 5, 2007 at 10:42:37 mdt
Name: Monica
URL: http://sparkasynapse.blogspot.com

"the solution is to test candidates individually, and eliminate those, male or female, who fail."

Precisely.



Comment #40

Friday, October 5, 2007 at 11:53:02 mdt
Name: John Dailey

~ For those worried about agressive-Christians' creeping-theocracy in the U.S. govt/military (interesting the USAFAcademy wasn't mentioned yet)...never fear, UnderDhimmi is here!

~ There IS bona-fide competition against it (er, for a different version, anyways)...in the Pentagon.

<http://washingtontimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071003/NATION/110030089/1001>

LLAP
J:D



Comment #41

Saturday, October 6, 2007 at 16:09:18 mdt
Name: Anthony Mirvish

Adam and Monica,
Thank you for your recent posts.

Just to clarify one point about the centrifuge tests, the findings seemed to support the conclusion that the way the women's brains used oxygen, the women's inability to adapt to severe G-resistance through training, were intrinsic to all women and represented a difference between the sexes, not something that could be eliminated by individual testing. I would have to check, but I think that the 15% difference in tracking scores was general and not simply an average. Testing on an individual basis is currently done (and has been done historically) in the military for various specializations, entrance to particular programs and the like. The question in this context is how much time, expense and so forth such testing warrants if the outcome will be to qualify only a handful of women when a far larger group of men are eligible and available. This was exactly the point Col. Gregor made to the Presidential Commission. So, it becomes a policy choice rather than an issue of individual rights, no one having a right to serve in the armed forces.

With respect to the article Diana cited about gays in the British military, I was familar with it. I don't think that the statements of a handful of individuals constitutes clear proof, particularly when the British MOD forbade anyone from speaking off the record on the subject. More broadly, statements like this were made about women in our military even as far back as 1976 when the service academies were integrated. The Air Force Academy's superintendent said something along the lines of "The women are doing great, we've been having to hold them back from doing things." This at a time when, as a matter of independently verifiable fact, they were undergoing a plebe year that was different and easier in some very specific ways from that of their male classmates. Since the military is obliged to obey the civilian authorities and to try to implement lawful policies, once the civilians have decided, the military can't challenge it. Consequently, I tend to be very skeptical of any official opinions on the subject and try to stick to independent facts, as I've tried to do with respect to the role of women in the military. As I stated earlier, I think there are fewer problems with gays because a gay man can meet the same standard as a straight one and the smaller number of gays (and the impossibility of identifying them unless they reveal their orientation) will likely reduce the fraternization problems compared to those with an overwhelmingly heterosexual coed crew. The difficulty of quantifying cohesion and trust and the like makes it hard to answer the question definitively. Let's just say that I am skeptical things are as smooth as portrayed.

There have been problems with the aggressive promotion of Christianity within our military. Efforts are being made to address this. I don't think that it is appropriate to describe the motivation of Christians for military service primarily in terms of self-sacrifice. No less a soldier than Patton pointed out that you don't win a war by dying for your country, you win it by making the other guy die for his country. I think that what is driving the revival of religious views in our time is the combination of secular but relativist/nihilist views combined with both an aggressive hostility towards religion (because of its non-relativist and perceived absolutism) and a much expanded role for government in all areas of society, including those properly left to the individual. Many religious people correctly reject relativist/nihilist positions, which are very often the only secular views presented. When secular views are often explicitly irrational and indifferent to morality, people who take morality seriously will turn elsewhere. Since there are rational traditions in Judeo-Christian thought and since the creation of an entire secular, rational philosophy is not something most people can actually do, they will turn to what they know. Since something will always beat nothing, they opt for religion instead of what they see as bankrupt secular views. And, since the post-modern academy is pretty irrational, many people will conclude that if THAT is reason, they will reject it. When all of this is combined with often furious attacks on both the views and motives of religious people (and, let's face it Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens come across as very hostile and angry), religous people will be even less inclined to listen to a rational argument. After all, who would listen to the views of someone who had just, in effect, spit in their face? When all of that occurs within a political context in which the government gets into everything and pressure group political warfare is rampant, and when that political process is going out of its way to push the views of some down the throats of others, religous people will do likewise. Had the government remained smaller or had rational atheists been more dispassionate and more aware of the context within which most religious people form their views, the gradual trend towards a more secular society would have continued. Most of these people are not theocrats. If we want to make progress towards a rational society, I think we need to realize all of that and respond accordingly.