As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Don't Ask About Don't Ask Don't Tell

Robert Gates, on Fox News Sunday, argued for a delay in implementing any change to the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy on gays in the military.

Don't expect any change soon to the "don't ask, don't tell" policy about gays in the military.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates says both he and President Barack Obama have "a lot on our plates right now." As Gates puts it, "let's push that one down the road a little bit."

The White House has said Obama has begun consulting with Gates and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on how to lift the ban. Gates says that dialogue has not really progressed very far at this point in the administration.

Of course we're in the midst of two wars right now, but I have to agree with Matt Yglesias - this is a truly weak excuse.

It’s simply the nature of the military that this “a lot on our plates right now” excuse will almost always be available. In retrospect, the 1990s were a period of relative peace and quiet for the military, but at the time it was seen as a stressful period of multiple deployments (to Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia) around the world mixed with efforts at containment in the Gulf and the Korean peninsula. The Joint Chiefs are never going to say “eh . . . we don’t really have much going on these days.”

As Matt notes, racial desegregation policies were carried out by the military at the height of the Cold War. The "we have a lot on our plates" excuse is too commonly used to delay important changes, particularly with respect to civil liberties. And let's flip this on its head. At a time when troops are stressed by multiple deployments, don't we have too much on our plate right now to dismiss willing soldiers for no other reason than their sexual orientation?

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