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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Monday, March 24, 2003

Comrades In Arms

The NY Times presents one of their war demands in an editorial today:

Thanks to changes in the law in 1994, women, who make up 15 percent of the military, are eligible for about 90 percent of all service positions....

But while the law opened the door for women a little wider, glass ceilings have held firm and women have made gains in just a small fraction of the jobs supposedly open to them. Helping to hold them back are the remaining taboos and the misperceptions of physical and mental inadequacies that they perpetuate. Servicewomen remain barred from the roles that Hollywood would cast with Tom Hanks or Bruce Willis — Navy Seals, special forces, short-range artillery or tank operators and infantry. The present war with Iraq, which will engage the greatest-yet number of American women, could change much of that by debunking the arguments against fully employing them.

Emphasis added. Apparently, the Times could fully embrace this war if we could only promise to have woman face disfigurement and death in close combat situations.

Now, some of us are so hopelessly hidebound as to think that, beyond any questions about physical competence, it is not a sign of an advanced society to put women in combat. But the Times reassures us on this point:

The United States, with the most advanced military in history, is simply a laggard on the topic of women in combat. One million women served in the Soviet Army in World War II, and Israel, Canada and South Africa are among the countries that now give women combat roles.

Stalin's Russia is now aspirational at the Times? South Africa, eternal beacon of freedom, is our new lodestar? Israel, under siege for over fifty years, is our role model? And I know nothing about Canada, but this chap believes that their military is hopelessly over-politicized on many issues, including women.

The Times missed the argument most like to resonate with cave-dwelling chest-thumpers such as myself, of course - the French military is not fully integrated.

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