Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Gen. James Amos Comes Out Against DADT Repeal

The main story at Fox News, "Marine Corps Chief: 'Distraction' of Gays Serving Openly Could Cost Marines Limbs." (And Memeorandum.)

Gay activists are up in arms.

While Allahpundit suggest that Gen. Amos has "no theory" as to what battlefield distractions are "
capable of getting someone killed." But as a top-ranking commander with decades of military experience, I'd suggest there's an implicit theory underlying his opposition to repeal. Perhaps Mackubin Thomas Owens may be of assistance:
Winning the nation's wars is the military's functional imperative. Indeed, it is the only reason for a liberal society to maintain a military organization. War is terror. War is confusion. War is characterized by chance, uncertainty and friction. The military's ethos constitutes an evolutionary response to these factors—an attempt to minimize their impact.

Accordingly, the military stresses such martial virtues as courage, both physical and moral, a sense of honor and duty, discipline, a professional code of conduct, and loyalty. It places a premium on such factors as unit cohesion and morale. The glue of the military ethos is what the Greeks called philia—friendship, comradeship or brotherly love. Philia, the bond among disparate individuals who have nothing in common but facing death and misery together, is the source of the unit cohesion that most research has shown to be critical to battlefield success.

Philia depends on fairness and the absence of favoritism. Favoritism and double standards are deadly to philia and its associated phenomena—cohesion, morale and discipline—are absolutely critical to the success of a military organization.

The presence of open homosexuals in the close confines of ships or military units opens the possibility that eros—which unlike philia is sexual, and therefore individual and exclusive—will be unleashed into the environment. Eros manifests itself as sexual competition, protectiveness and favoritism, all of which undermine the nonsexual bonding essential to unit cohesion, good order, discipline and morale.

As Sen. James Webb (D., Va.), who was awarded the Navy Cross for valor as a Marine officer in Vietnam, wrote in the Weekly Standard in 1997, "There is no greater or more natural bias than that of an individual toward a beloved. And few emotions are more powerful, or more distracting, than those surrounding the pursuit of, competition for, or the breaking off of amorous relationships."
I'd add that while compelling academic research casts doubt on the policy, theories of essential military function and cohesion will continue to influence both the direction and prospects for policy change.