May 29, 1997

May 29, 1997 | Commentary on

ED052997b: Sex In The Military: What Did They Expect?

If you think about all the recent stories concerning sex scandals in the U.S. military, you have to either laugh or explode with rage at the harm that's being done by the naiveté and cowardice of our leaders in Washington.

Think about it: Before the Clinton administration began training men and women together and placing large numbers of women in combat-support roles in the military, it received ample warning from experienced military leaders of the consequences that might follow.

In public testimony, the military brass told Congress something that should be fairly obvious to anyone: If you place young men and women in the prime of their sexual lives in the kind of close, prolonged proximity characteristic of all military duty, sparks are going to fly. No kidding!

Attachments are going to form, sexual activity will ensue, followed by pregnancy (is this beginning to sound familiar?). The fact that there are lots of males and relatively few females will foster clandestine social competition, poisoning the work atmosphere with undercurrents of distrust and animosity, not to mention lust. Regardless of whether the situation erupts into overt rape, it will always be disruptive and undermine the cohesion, morale and discipline so vital to the success of life-and-death military missions.

None of this is intended to excuse any of the behavior that has been uncovered. But the horror being expressed is a bit like parents being shocked -- shocked! -- to find that clean-cut Johnnie got straight-laced Suzy pregnant when they were allowed to spend a weekend together in the mountains. Both children must be held responsible for their actions, and face the consequences. But what did you expect? None of this is too difficult to figure out.

Or is it? Remember: Military leaders had to explain all of this to Congress and the Clinton administration, and were ignored. Why?

Because the government still provides a haven for certain leftover, discredited, 60s-era ideologies that don't recognize normal human behavior as given. On the contrary, they see it as the result of social conditioning. People aren't the way they are because of any innate qualities -- they're all products of their environment, the behaviorists say. Simply change their conditioning, and people will change. They'll become radical feminists!

That's right. Radical feminists and their harebrained ideas about humanity are behind the current fiasco. When matters everyone else has understood since the dinosaurs were explained to feminist lawmakers like former Rep. Patricia Schroeder, D-Colo., and others, the reaction was eye-rolling skepticism. Surely, feminists wondered, this "urge" can be controlled. What happened, they wondered, to the much-vaunted "military discipline" (something they had heard about long ago at summer camp)? Just impose that discipline thing, you know -- and the problem will be solved.

Believe it or not, our leaders went along with this. Why? Because the current leadership of the United States not only contains a number of people who have been rendered sexually naive by their obtuse ideologies -- it also contains an even greater number who are scared spineless of the first group.

Never mind that traditional military doctrine has never contended that "military discipline" could overcome the sexual urge; in fact, quite the contrary. It has always insisted that the close quarters of combat duty was no place to mix the sexes. Never, in literally thousands of years of military experience, has this wisdom been disproved.

Get real, people: Men and women are too much of a distraction to each other to work at optimum efficiency in close military operations where life and death are at stake.

Is this so hard to understand and deal with?

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Note:Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D. is president of The Heritage Foundation, a Washington-based public policy research institute.

About the Author

Edwin J. Feulner, Ph.D. Founder, Chairman of the Asian Studies Center, and Chung Ju-yung Fellow
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