The Department of Defense recently announced a formal change in policy allowing women to serve in combat positions. The announcement was somewhat symbolic given the changing nature of warfare and the role women already play in current military operations.
Women are serving and have been serving in uniform alongside their male counterparts in Afghanistan and did so in Iraq for much of the past decade, even as their theoretical fitness to serve was debated back home. Although officially in support roles, the distinction ultimately made little difference to the 152 female U.S. troops who have died while deployed in those two wars.
Not content to allow any policy change that has even a tangential connection to the culture wars pass without comment, conservatives are now throwing a fit with Jonah Goldberg opining on biology.
It is a common habit of many liberals and self-avowed centrists to preen about how they don’t deny science and evolution the way conservatives do. Ironically, on this issue, it is the opponents of women in combat invoking the scientific data that confirm a fairly obvious evolutionary fact: Men and women are different. For instance, at their physical peak, “the average woman has the aerobic capacity of a 50-year-old male,” notes Mackubin Thomas Owens in a powerfully empirical article in the Weekly Standard.
Another evolutionary fact is that men act different when around women. This creates challenges for unit cohesion and fighting effectiveness.
Putting aside that men and women already serve together and the physically challenged argument is pretty meaningless as women will still have to pass the same fitness requirements as their male counterparts to be qualified to serve in combat positions – who cares? Goldberg himself admits no one.
Absent any informed debate, polls support the idea. Indeed, the Republican Party has been shockingly restrained in even questioning what is a vastly bigger deal than the lifting of the half-ban on gays in the military — “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The mainstream media have celebrated the milestone and largely yawned at the skeptics.
No one cares. As long as Americans can stay above and away from the fray they do not care who does the dying – the poor, gays, women. On the one hand it is tragic that Americans are so apathetic about the suffering of the troops yet on the other hand it provides opportunities for those who want social progress within the military to gain ground. The Pentagon is happy to go along for now, beggars can’t be choosers.
Photo by United States Army under Public Domain