Monday, December 20, 2010

On DADT Repeal

. Monday, December 20, 2010

For those who prefer analysis to tropes, here's a nice rundown (via Stephen Walt) of the research on the effects of allowing gays to serve openly in the military. They survey the experience of other countries, as well as the U.S. military's own studies. Short version: almost no bad effects excepting (very minor) short-run disruptions from implementing the policy, and many positive benefits beyond that.

None of the above would have to be true for me to support DADT repeal -- the best argument is the one that invokes justice and liberty -- but it's always nice when empirical facts appear to line up with my normative preferences.

As a side note, I've always found the (only) case against DADT repeal -- that it would adversely affect unit cohesion and morale, which apparently is the greatest end of modern society -- to be immensely insulting to the troops. It's basically saying that our servicemen and women are so immature that they can't deal with a situation that college kids in dorms manage every day. It's profoundly disrespectful to say such a thing to those we ask to kill and die on our behalf, and I have enough regard for them to think that notion is ridiculous.

And that's to say nothing about the disrespect shown to those who wish to serve openly, but are told that they would weaken the military by their very presence.

In fact, the studies cited in the Palm Center's report say the opposite is true: a policy whereby gays cannot serve openly weakens cohesion and morale, perhaps by breeding suspicion and ostracization of those believed to be gay (whether they are or not), and by preventing gay people that serve while in the closet to fully assimilate into the group. This should have been obvious to anyone who has thought about it for more than 3 seconds.

I try not to get on my high horse too often on this blog, but DADT was a terrible policy in every respect. Good riddance.

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