On War #282: Obama’s First Test

By William S. Lind
November 10, 2008

President Obama’s first test in the national security arena is likely to come not from al Qaeda or Iran or the Taliban but from within his own Democratic Party. Powerful constituencies in that party, the Feminists and the gays, will demand that he open the ground combat arms to women and allow acknowledged homosexuals to serve in the U.S. armed forces. If he agrees to either of these demands, or both, he will begin his Presidency by doing immense damage to the fighting ability of the America military.

Both demands are ideological in nature. They reflect the cultural Marxism of the Frankfurt School, commonly known as “Political Correctness.” Cultural Marxism sees Feminist women and gays as the equivalent of economic Marxism’s proletariat, i.e., “good,” and white males as an equivalent of the bourgeoisie, i.e., “bad.” The former are therefore to be “privileged” over the latter, in what Roger Kimball calls “experiments against reality.” We must pretend that there are no meaningful differences between men and women, even on a battlefield, and that gays and normal men and women can mix without serious friction, even in very close quarters. Anyone who refuses to play “let’s pretend” is to find himself in trouble.

The military reformers rightly argued that for winning in combat, people are most important, ideas come second and hardware is only third. Allowing women into the ground combat arms and open homosexuals into the armed services will impact critically important “human factors” in strongly negative ways. They will strike directly at why men fight.

It is a mistake to think that if you call a group of people an army, give them uniforms and hand them some weapons, they will fight. Throughout history, some armies have fought a lot harder than others. The specific reasons vary widely, but one way or another they all come down to human factors.

One of the most basic human factors is that men fight to prove they are real men. They join fighting organizations, whether the U.S. Army or U.S. Marine Corps or MS-13, because those organizations are made up of fighting men. Their membership is a badge of honor that says, “We’re not sissies or pansies. We are men who fight, serving alongside other men who fight.” That tells others and themselves they are real men.

If ideologically-driven policies deprive fighting organizations of their ability to convey that message, men who want to prove they are real men will not join. Instead of men who want to fight and will fight, they will end up recruiting men who join for good pay, or education benefits, or because they can’t get a civilian job. Armies like that may fight when they have no other choice, but if they come up against opponents who want to fight, they will be in trouble.

No two actions would more powerfully undermine the ability of the U.S. armed forces to recruit the kind of men who want to fight than allowing women into the ground combat arms and open gays into the military. How can a man prove his manhood by serving with women and gays? The recruitment of women into the U.S. military has already gone far beyond what military effectiveness would counsel. Martin van Creveld has written a whole book, Men, Women and War, arguing that women have essentially no place in a military. President Obama would do well to read it before making any hasty decisions.

President Obama’s first national security test will in fact be a test of his honesty. Will he govern as the centrist he presented himself as being during the campaign? If so, he will allow present policies on women and gays in the military to remain in place. Or, will he reveal himself as a cultural Marxist who deceived the American public in order to get elected and will govern from the left, not the center? If so, we will witness many experiments against reality, with the U.S. armed forces early victims. Our next President would do well to remember history’s verdict on such experiments, a verdict illustrated by the fate of the 20th century’s ideological regimes. In the end, reality always wins.

William S. Lind, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation.

To interview Mr. Lind, please contact (no e-mail available):

Mr. William S. Lind
Free Congress Foundation
1423 Powhatan Street, # 2
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Direct line: 703 837-0483

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Filed in Uncategorized | 23 responses so far

23 Responses to “On War #282: Obama’s First Test”

  1. On War #282: Obama’s First Teston 12 Nov 2008 at 8:01 pm 1

    […] On War #282: Obama’s First Test President Obama’s first test in the national security arena is likely to come not from al Qaeda or Iran or the Taliban but from within his own Democratic Party. Powerful constituencies in that party, the Feminists and the gays, … […]

  2. HiYouAllitsMeon 13 Nov 2008 at 12:15 am 2

    No one fights like the Sacred Band of Thebes, but what does Plutarch know. If Obama is smarter that Bill Clinton and if Obama is as smart as William Lind the broken army will be the first focus.

    [CR: Well, there were the Spartans. Wait — they don’t help Bill’s case, either.]

  3. Duncan C Kinderon 13 Nov 2008 at 12:45 pm 3

    Oh please, let’s deal with this issue if and when it actually arises.

    Meanwhile, I propose we transform the military into an all-female Amazon elite assisted by R2D2 robots.

  4. senor tomason 13 Nov 2008 at 3:10 pm 4

    Newsflash to Mr. Lind. We already have an “experiment against reality”. Fighting protracted wars with an all-volunteer military. An all-volunteer military works well as a standing peacetime force or in quick, easy conflicts like Desert Storm. But figting extended conflicts without a draft to supply the armed forces with a sufficient number of personnel to effectively engage those conflicts and still expecting them to win is unrealistic and therefore an “experiment against reality”. As former Governor Jesse Ventura has said, we send the National Guard to Iraq because George W. Bush did not have the guts to restore the draft.

  5. SRCon 13 Nov 2008 at 4:37 pm 5

    Reflecting upon Martin van Creveld, _The Transformation of War_ ,and Homer, _The Iliad_:

    1. War is about fighting, not killing; an army that isn’t prepared to suffer and die will be a brittle instrument, and at the first chance it will break and run; nor will men suffer and die at the push of a button (to think otherwise is the mistake of politicians everywhere).

    2. No man will fight for his own interests, because the dead have no interests (to think otherwise is the mistake of Odysseus in the “embassy to Achilles”).

    3. That a man would fight for someone else’s interests is even more absurd (to think otherwise is the mistake of Agamemnon).

    4. In any army, the “I” must become a “We” (to think otherwise the mistake of Achilles in his wrath, and also the mistake of feminists and homosexual advocates).

  6. GeorgiaBoy61on 15 Nov 2008 at 5:04 am 6

    For those interested in this vitally important subject, please read the following…

    1. Stephanie Guttmand “The Kinder Gentler Military”
    2. David Mitchell “Women in the Military”
    3. Kingsley Browne “Coed Combat”

    All three are excellent, but Browne’s book is the most devastating to the notion that women and men are interchangeable “parts” equally suited to serve everywhere in the military.

    Back when the AVF was created, and the personnel shortfall was being addressed, it was a mistake to focus on bringing in more women, rather than more and if necessary older men. Middle-aged soldiers outperform many younger females, not to mention some young men. If enough people were not gotten in this manner, then a draft should have been instituted as well.

    [CR: I believe (correct me if I’m wrong) that all USAF jobs are now open to women. To tell you the absolute truth, in all the years I was in the Air Force, the last thing I worried about was the gender of whomever I was serving with or reporting to.

    There is no sign that the country would put up with reinstituting the draft.]

  7. vulcan economiston 15 Nov 2008 at 2:23 pm 7

    totally agree with lind on the substance. want to touch on an invisible elephant in the room. and don’t think gays and women in military will likely be an urgent concern during an obama administration, initially.

    any concern about manpower shortage assumes america even needs much of a standing land army. protected by two great oceans and lacking real adversaries north and south, it would seem that an air force and a navy, even half as powerful as the ones we have, would be more than adequate for defending america.

    dramatically scaling down the army, moderately reducing the size of the marines, retaining the special forces, adopting a non-interventionist stance towards other nations, supporting allies for defensive purposes and only with capabilities they do not have (ground force manpower should not be one of them) would be the sort of strategy that could make us once again recognizable, as a nation, by the founding fathers. not to mention do wonders for the federal budget.

    oh. if there are still shortages of real men even for a much smaller and higher quality fighting force, then we got more serious problems as a nation than military personnel issues.

    quality, not quantity, is what we need. to maintain high quality, the military should be the last place for ideologically motivated social experiments. however, expanding “cultural marxism” is not likely the most urgent threat to quality in our military. other issues are likely to come up first.

    a prediction. president obama will turn out to be quite pragmatic and centrist, both by temperament and by necessity. he will likely be more disappointing to the left and less frightening to the right. there will be no “cultural marxist” changes in military personnel policy in the first two years of an obama administration. he will likely recognize that many cultural issues are stupid distractions neither his administration nor the country need. therefore, with the risks to the 2012 election on the way, no “politically correct” changes in the first term at all. remember that moderate and risk averse temperament we elected him for? we’ve already placed a bet on at on november 4th. advice to the new president, it is wise to delay taking stances on cultural issues for as long as possible.

    while the pressing economic problems will give the obama administration plenty of legitimate excuses to push back, without revealing true intentions, against the left wing of the democractic party during his first term, all bets are off at this point about the second term. how long will president obama be able to keep cultural issues on the back burner? if he is successful with the economy and foreign policy in the first term, and wins a second term, what sort of legacy does he want to leave. it will be interesting to watch. though watch might be too passive a word here.

  8. […] radical leftists, such as the “social Marxists” William Lind warns about (e.g., here).  Or some more subtle and mailign entity?  We can only watch to see what explanation gains […]

  9. senor tomason 16 Nov 2008 at 12:12 pm 9

    “There is no sign that the country would put up with reinstituting the draft.

    A symptom of imperial decline – a citizenry reluctant to serve in its own military. The western Roman Empire had this problem in its last decades. So they hired foreign mercenaries. We all know where that led to. It appears the United States of America may decline and fall and be swept into the dustbin of history like all other empires. So much for American Exceptionalism and Manifest Destiny.

    [CR: You may be right, but I’m just saying that, politically, a draft is a non-starter. As for “American Exceptionalism” and “Manifest Destiny,” good riddance. As far as I’m personally concerned, the Preamble to the Constitution is what this country’s all about:

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.]

  10. Robert Kellyon 16 Nov 2008 at 12:58 pm 10

    Obama is giving us little bits of informatin that indicate he has no
    intention of governing from the middle. I could cite several, but, to
    me, the most important indicater is when he slipped and described one of
    his main goals in July, during a speech.

    “We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve
    the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a
    civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as
    strong, just as well-funded.”

    If anybody can honestly come up with anything but an obviously
    threatening interpretation of those statements, I would be surprised.
    The concept itself has William Ayers’ fingerprints all over it, just as
    Obama’s book does, “Dreams from my Father, which has now been unequivocally revealed as being ghosted by Ayers.”

    And the call for the formation of a civilian military, well-funded and
    as strong as the US Military, also surely must be Obama’s terrorist
    friend and mentor. That, too, fits him to a tee.

    So, if my hypothesis is correct, this puts one of the worst terrorist
    radicals in American history….along with his wife…. as an advisor and planner for the president of the United States.

    Are we really being threatened? Do we have an avowed terrorist behind
    the scenes dictating public policy to this president?

  11. Maxon 16 Nov 2008 at 3:37 pm 11

    “Do we have an avowed terrorist behind
    the scenes dictating public policy to this president?”

    Well if the track record of the current US military endevors speaks
    volumes for itself.

    Then Who Better ?!

    Suggestion ?

    Who better to advise and lead US stratigic military interests than someone who came from, and lead amoung 4GW and asymetric warfare ranks ?

    The trouble is, is this guy any good ?

    In typical American fashion and in keeping with the trend, probably NOT.

    I’ve never really heard of him until now.

    Be reminded we are approching our 8th year, that is the self professed strongest and by far most expensively equipped military in history against what are characterisied as “cavemen” without desisive results in either of the ill advised campains.

    “the definition of insanity is repeating the same mistakes over and over, and expecting different results.”

    The track record speaks for itself, and in that context it’s worse than pathetic, the country drifting towards the verge of collpahs and anarchy.

    As for Obama and his friends
    the jury is out.

    I’ll start believing when and IF they start delivering results,
    and I will not be holding my breath.



  12. Maxon 16 Nov 2008 at 4:38 pm 12

    Duncan C Kinder
    “Oh please, let’s deal with this issue if and when it actually arises.”

    I have to agree, with Duncan amoung others who made the point.

    Somewhat disappointing tangent for the otherwize poinient
    and relevent, esteemed Bill Lind.

    Did women belong on the beaches at Tarawa ?
    Iwo Jima ?

    Maybe not, who can say ?

    Stalingrad ?!
    They were there.

    The Napolionic retreat from Russia ?
    There too.

    A single empowered individual can make all the difference,
    man or women.


    You either believe in the spirit of mankind, all of us, or you don’t.

    As for gays, once weeded out amoung everyone else in ebing qualified at the same standards, I honestly don’t believe it makes a difference.

    I hope to God that Americans can get past looking at the rest of humanity behond it’s own borders as something less than human.


  13. rmhitchenson 17 Nov 2008 at 2:09 pm 13

    “William Lind, Troglodyte” is a characterization I never thought I’d see. But here he is, declaiming to one and all, “War is for heterosexual males only. Step aside little lady; you too, faggot!”

    No one will argue that the military needs to be smart about how far to push gender equality — that 3% of military jobs that require upper body strength are probably safe for the time being. As for gays, I’ve worked alongside them in the intelligence community (outed) and almost certainly during my earlier career in the military (not outed). To differentiate “gays and normal men” is to advertise how clueless you are. Gay is a flavor of normal, handed out by Mother Nature along with red hair, left-handedness, and better than average vocal skills. News flash, Mr. Lind — it’s only in the older age cohorts that gays aren’t accepted. Among military-age youth, it’s pretty much a non-issue.

    As for Obama’s statement that “We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set,” this is straight out of the Tom Barnett playbook. What, you haven’t read it??

  14. cynicalon 17 Nov 2008 at 2:14 pm 14

    Ya know, Lind seems like a really smart person. So I can’t figure out why he’s getting so hysterical about this.

    1. What reason does Lind have to believe this is even on Obama’s radar? Has Obama mentioned anything about this? Is so I haven’t heard it.

    2. If the kinds of asymmetrical wars that we’re in now really do require the military to get more patient and focus constantly on the minimalist outcomes of thousands of tiny interactions rather than a massive strategy, would that not suggest that women could actually be the ideal soldiers for this kind of war?

  15. Rob Pon 17 Nov 2008 at 11:25 pm 15

    Senator Obama did indicate during the campaign that he would revisit the “gays in the military” issue, for whatever that’s worth (should I hold my breath along with 270,000,000 Americans for my tax cut too?).

    I completely understand how the Air Force could deal with 100% integration of females and homosexuals in their ranks but I believe only the Air Force could do it. The Air Force allows for individual rooms for all troops and does not care what Airmen (or their officers) do in their private time. They have the means and culture that allow for privacy and does not concern itself with sexual tension especially after hours.

    All other services take measures, based on lack of privacy and a desire to reduce sexual tension in the unit, to separate the genders. Practicing homosexuals would be impossible to place in a military culture that seeks to reduce sexual tension among their troops. Where do you billet them for starters? Basically, if you add practicing or open homosexuals to the workplace you might as well completely integrate women into everything including the showers.

    Some countries with competent militaries do this, but I doubt America and many currently serving in the military would stand for it.

    [CR: Rob — these are all good points that get to the substance of the matter without the emotion that usually accompanies this issue. They need to be addressed. Personally, I think they can be solved, but they do need to be solved and not just wished away. Thanks.]

  16. Ianon 18 Nov 2008 at 12:23 am 16

    But you already have women in combat. In Iraq, female combat engineers and MPs were often employed as de facto infantry. That second link is about two men and one woman from a male/female integrated MP company, all three of whom were awarded the silver star.

    As for homosexuals, the Canadian army permits gay and lesbian soldiers to get married on military bases, and actively recruits at gay pride parades (really!). For years now, we’ve had thousands of combat troops serving on the front line in Kandahar. Diversity does not appear to be affecting unit cohesion, though I would be interested in hearing any reports to the contrary.
    (I assume that no one here is going to question the value of that deployment, or insult our dead).

    So all-female and male/female integrated units fought well in Iraq, and highly diverse Canadian units continue to fight well in Afghanistan. These units served long deployments and took casualties, but did not come unglued. From those opposed to integration, I’d like to hear an argument which
    1) takes these recent successes into account, and
    2) which also explains why racial integration is harmless. (racism also has a long history, racism can divide a unit against itself, pride about race can motivate racist soldiers to fight, etc.)

    Wouldn’t it be fair to say that soldiers fight, and have always fought, primarily for the soldier next to them?

  17. waltcon 18 Nov 2008 at 1:01 am 17

    If we leave Afghanistan and Iraq, recruiting won’t be a problem. Its those futile wars that are keeping highly qualified people from joining.

    As for openly gay men serving, I think that combat vets should determine that one.

    Though I think giving feminists a shot as 11B’s is a grand idea. However to make sure they’re a good fit, they need to prove they can go through the all the courses their male counterparts go through with no waivers at all, if they can’t match the men’s performance off they go to truck driver school. After that put together a rifle company composed entirely of women and send it to Afghanistan for say a year and see how they hold up compared to a male dominated rifle company in terms of combat effectiveness and unit cohesion, morale, etc.

  18. vulcan economiston 21 Nov 2008 at 1:16 pm 18

    Rob’s proposal, “[Basically, if you add practicing or open homosexuals to the workplace you might as well] completely integrate women into everything including the showers.” could solve the whole manpower quantity and quality problem in one fell swoop — integrating women into the showers should do wonders for recruitment. With applications way up, the military can really go after the cream of the crop.

    [CR: What can I say? If anyone is offended, please accept my apologies in advance. On the other hand, this is a military-oriented site. When we first started, by the way, prospective authors had to be current / former military.]

  19. waltcon 23 Nov 2008 at 9:13 pm 19

    One of the finest Canadian units to serve in Afghanistan was their all male sniper unit that killed record numbers of Taliban and has the record for the longest range kill on record – Corporale Ragsdale.

    The unit also recieved nothing but accolades from the American soldiers who worked with them.

    Too bad the politically correct canucks disbanded the unit because the men made a insulting sign against terrorism.

  20. Rob Pon 24 Nov 2008 at 6:57 pm 20

    The let’s put females in the showers with men only looks good in the movie “Starship Troopers”. During the invasion, I was on a joint base and the British Military is integrated in the showers. That was too much temptation for some of my Marines who thought they should try the British showers instead of ours. We discovered the hard way that the type of woman who doesn’t mind getting naked in front of men also doesn’t mind insulting their manhood. The only comment I remember overhearing from one shamed Marine relating the experience was “Perhaps if you put some water on it, it might grow.”

    I know this is way off topic, but I had to share.

    [CR: Since you didn’t explain what might grow, it’s OK].

  21. Maxon 24 Nov 2008 at 7:57 pm 21

    “the record for the longest range kill on record -”





    Put into perspective
    we’re talking nearly the length of NYCs Central Park
    which is close to a 1 hour walk.





  22. senor tomason 26 Nov 2008 at 9:39 am 22

    “One of the most basic human factors is that men fight to prove they are real men. ”

    Or they find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Like former United States Representative David Crockett. Contrary to popular myth, he ended up in the Alamo by accident, not because he was looking for a fight. When he went to Texas, he thought the war between the Mexican government and the Anglo settlers was over. Had he known it was still on, he would have avoided Texas and found somewhere else to go.

  23. Maxon 27 Nov 2008 at 8:27 am 23

    Rob P.

    “I know this is way off topic, but I had to share.”

    Rob, Chet, as wars go, 1812 was a real bargan,


    I say forget about Iraq, Afganistan, Iran, Pakistan, Russia,
    N. Korea, etc,,etc,, and attack Canada.