James Conway is the commandant of the Marine Corps. One thing you may skip over in this article, which I want to reinforce, is that he’s leaving at the end of the year. So you can disregard his opinion on the kind of things that will happen after he departs:
The commandant of the Marine Corps said Tuesday that President Obama’s July 2011 deadline to begin American troop withdrawals from Afghanistan was “probably giving our enemy sustenance.”
The commandant, Gen. James T. Conway, also said that “if you follow it closely, and of course we all do, we know the president was talking to several audiences at the same time when he made his comments on July 2011.” The general apparently meant that Mr. Obama’s deadline was set for a domestic political audience as well as for the Afghans.
But the general, who is retiring this fall, said he thought the deadline might not ultimately comfort the insurgents, who could find that only a small number of United States forces leave Afghanistan next July, a possibility increasingly set forth by Pentagon officials and senior commanders. He predicted that Taliban fighters, who he said have been told repeatedly by their commanders that the Americans would leave en masse, would be demoralized when they realized that the United States was staying.
“What is he going to say to his foot troops,” he said of a Taliban commander, when, “come the fall, we’re still there hammering them like we have been? I think it could be very good for us in that context, in terms of the enemy’s psyche and what he has been, you know, posturing now for, really, the better part of a year.”
Some clever psy-ops at work there. Conway takes as a given that the US won’t withdraw much of any troops in July 2011. And then he explains what a positive that would be for the war effort a year down the road. These military guys are good.
Meanwhile, Conway is a class-A homophobe.
Based on his information from Marines, he said, “I can tell you that an overwhelming majority would like not to be roomed with a person who is openly homosexual.” But because some Marines do not object, he said, perhaps having those Marines share rooms voluntarily with openly gay service members “might be the best way to start, without violating anybody’s sense of moral concern or perception on the part of their mates.”
Asked what he meant by moral concern, General Conway said, “We have some people that are very religious.” He added: “I couldn’t begin to give you a percentage, but I think in some instances we will have people that say that homosexuality is wrong, and they simply do not want to room with a person of that persuasion because it would go against their religious beliefs.”
We wouldn’t want to step on anyone’s religious beliefs, so we’d better step on one class’ civil rights instead.
Conway admitted his personal opposition to DADT, so this isn’t about looking out for his troops, per se. This is about someone who can’t overcome his personal animus. He can’t overcome his perspective that tilts in the direction of endless war, either.
I’m glad he’s leaving and we can disregard his opinion.