WASHINGTON, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's first test in the national security arena after taking the oath of office to become the 44th president of the United States is likely to come not from al-Qaida or Iran or the Taliban in Afghanistan but from within his own Democratic Party.
Powerful constituencies in that party, the feminists and the gay lobby, 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 American 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 the 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 there are no meaningful differences between men and women, even on a battlefield, and that gays and heterosexual 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.
(Part 2: The dangers of ideological experimentation with military unit cohesion)
(William S. Lind, expressing his own personal opinion, is director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation.)