Good Order and Discipline

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Someone needs to tell Peter Pace that the U S Military is not the arbiter of moral behavior. He's not the only one who makes this mistake. My husband informs me that many of his fellow Marines are of the opinion that the UCMJ is a tract on morality. It is not.

Peter Pace says he doesn't want the military to change its policies on homosexuality because it is "immoral." He likens it to adultery, which is prohibited under the UCMJ.

"As an individual, I would not want (acceptance of gay behavior) to be our policy, just like I would not want it to be our policy that if we were to find out that so-and-so was sleeping with somebody else's wife, that we would just look the other way, which we do not. We prosecute that kind of immoral behavior," Pace was quoted as saying.

But General Pace is confused. The UCMJ is not legislating morality. Its purpose is to maintain "good order and discipline." The military is extremely interdependent and if there weren't checks on things like adultery... Well, my husband phrases it as a hypothetical:

"If I sleep with my Marines' wives, my Marines are gonna shoot me in the back."

In other words you have a lot of armed people who have to be able to rely on each other in situations like the heat of battle. The rank structure can't be compromised, fraternization, and the camaraderie can't be shattered by Peyton Place-like dramas of love and deceit. People's lives depend on it.

The UCMJ is a pragmatic document and has nothing to do with any higher moral authority. And the prohibition on homosexuality is as out of date as the exclusion of blacks was once upon a time. Yes it will make some people uncomfortable for a while. They'll get over it. And the rest of the military is not nearly as backwards as General Pace.

A short while ago, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs John Shalikashvili spoke out in favor of the lifting the ban. Among his reasons, a poll that demonstrates a much higher tolerance for homosexuality than General Pace exhibits.

In explaining his shift on the issue, Shalikashvili also cited a new Zogby poll, commissioned by the Michael D. Palm Center at the University of California at Santa Barbara, of 545 U.S. troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. It reported that three quarters said they were comfortable around gay men and lesbians.

The poll, published in December, also said 37 percent opposed allowing gays to serve openly, while 26 percent said they should be allowed and 37 percent were unsure or neutral. Of those who said they were certain that a member of their unit was gay or lesbian, two-thirds did not believe it hurt morale.

But General Pace would rather keep the current "don't ask, don't tell" policy in place. Well sure. We all know how moral hypocrisy is.

11 comments:

RSS said...

I am sorry, but you are wrong. The UCMJ does legislate morality and it must. To say that it's purpose is to instill good order and discipline [which is a goal] but then to reject that it legislated morality is ignorant. To have good order and discipline, we must have all the things you mentioned [rank structure, etc.], but we also must have morality, integrity and ethics. You cannot separate the two.
That said, we all don't have to have the same views on morality as General Pace. I am a Marine and I do not necessarily agree with him. However, we do have to subscribe to the moral code of the Armed Forces, of the Marine Corps, of the UCMJ. We cannot and should not separate morality from good order and discipline.

DavidByron said...

Morality integrity and ethics? LMAO. This is a group of people being trained to murder on command remember. Dependably kill people without question and without conscience. The last thing they can afford is ethics.

US military in Iraq are guilty of genocide. Think that's moral? A million dead innocents. Is that ethical?

What is more important perhaps is to brainwash the killers into thinking their behaviour is moral when it transparently is not.

DavidByron said...

Made me forget what I was going to say......

This piece goes on about gay men and lesbians, as if they were equivalent, but it seems to me that it's always gay men that people have an issue with. Especially in the army where there are so few women anyway.

Anonymous said...

Did General Pace just call the vice-president's beloved daughter "immoral"? Yikes. Cheney ought to shoot Peter in the face.

Curmudgette said...

RSS said...

I am sorry, but you are wrong. The UCMJ does legislate morality and it must.


So what moral standard would that be? The one that says that hypocrisy is grand and discrimination is better?

To say a secular institution is codifying morality, it would have to be a societally agreed upon standard of values shared across the spectrum of that society. But the UCMJ does not reflect the standards of broader American society. It's more restrictive. Why? Because it has different concerns, such as the aforementioned fragging potential. Why is homosexuality banned? Let's be brutally honest. Because there is an historical association between the military and homosexuality. We all know what can happen when the air is thick with male bonding. So it poses exactly the same problems as integrating women into the ranks.

So what moral authority is the military adhering to? The Moral Majority? the Vatican? The Taliban? See the problem?

Curmudgette said...

Ah, Mr. Byron... So little time, so many people to offend. What a hectic schedule you must keep. When do you find time to get that all important beauty sleep?

Fascinating that you can craft apologia for men who hit pregnant women with baseball bats, but remain so certain that all our troops are war criminals. What a strange, little mind you have.

Anonymous said...

So the question is: should homosexuals be banned from serving openly in the US military?

Well...the only objection I can find (other than unthinking bigotry) is that we don't want soldiers sleeping with other soldiers. By that logic, of course, women should also be banned from the military.

Other, less homophobic countries, have managed to integrate homosexuals into their militaries and done well enough.

There are 25 countries that participate militarily in NATO; of these, more than 20 permit homosexuals to serve openly ; of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, two (United Kingdom and France) permit homosexuals to serve openly.

A list of the nations that allowed homosexual to serve openly in the military:

* Argentina
* Australia
* Austria
* The Bahamas
* Belgium
* Bulgaria
* Canada
* Colombia
* Croatia
* Czech Republic
* Denmark
* Estonia
* Finland
* France
* Germany
* Hungary
* Ireland
* Israel
* Italy
* Lithuania
* Luxembourg
* The Netherlands
* New Zealand
* Norway
* Peru
* Poland
* Portugal
* Romania
* Slovenia
* South Africa
* Spain
* Sweden
* Switzerland
* Taiwan
* Thailand
* United Kingdom

Is anybody suggesting that te Brits and the Israelis are PANSIES? That their fighting forces lack cohesion, discipline, morale, and overall fighting effectiveness?

'Cause if they do...them's fighting words.

The ONLY reason homosexuals are banned from the US military is because of bigotry. I say, anybody who meets the physical and mental qualifications for the US military, should be allowed to serve his (or her) country.

Oh, and General Pace needs to be fired. A whole lot of US generals--the ones who have taken the spectacularly bad Rumsfeld/Cheney strategy and made it even worse--need to be fired.

Anonymous said...

One more thing, since that film "300" (about the Battle of Thermopylae) is in theatres and is so popular: homosexuality was not only permitted in the militaries of ancient Greece, but was encouraged as a way to bond the men and boost their morale.

No, the Spartans did not organise their military bands on the basis of personal (homosexual) relationships, but the Spartans were always up for more than a bit of buggery. Anybody calling the Spartans girly men? To their faces? No, didn't think so.

The Sacred Band of Thebes was quite effective in battle (until it was wiped out by Philip II of Macedon, Alexander the Great's father)...and the entire band was, well, a bunch of Greek gays. Alexander the Great was at least bisexual and quite possibly homosexual.

Yes, I know, that was ancient Greece and this is now (I do own a calendar!), but if one is trying to sell the idea that "military" and "homosexual" are naturally incompatible, there are far too many examples from both the ancient and the modern world that prove quite the opposite.

Anonymous said...

cur said
"So what moral authority is the military adhering to? The Moral Majority? the Vatican? The Taliban? See the problem?"

No, I don't see any problem. Just because you can't tell who made the moral code doesn't mean that there is not the one that rss claims.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it does matter. To what moral authority is the "no gays in the military" rule ascribed? Does it come from the Old Testament? The Church of Scientology? A Papal bull? Or just good old garden-variety homophobia?

It matters to me if someone says, "This is a matter of morality, and my basis is (fill in the blank)." It's called "establishing the boundaries of the debate."

For example, if General Pace said, that as a matter of Christian morality (which is what I assume he meant), homosexuality is wrong, then we could argue about whether or not a "true Christian" condemns homosexuality as "immoral" or "wrong".

The UCMJ does not cite any moral authority because its purpose is not avowedly moralistic; it is designed to keep a military unit functioning by keeping sexual jealousy out of the equation. Whatever morality is involved in the equation is coincidental; what matters is avoiding "the green-ey'd monster", human jealousy.

Curmudgette said...

No, I don't see any problem. Just because you can't tell who made the moral code doesn't mean that there is not the one that rss claims.

Well rss has yet to explain what moral code that is and from whence it derives. You know. The one that says it's wrong to be homosexual... unless you promise to lie about it. Because that's the "moral code" the military is currently upholding. And apparently that's the high minded morality that Peter Pace was raised with because he has thrown his full support behind "Don't ask. Don't tell."

So if you're such an authority, why don't you tell me what numinous, universal consciousness that should be so self-evident to all people of all faiths imbued us with that moral standard.