Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Clinton Military Chief Reverses Position On "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

Former President Clinton's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff writes in an opinion piece in today's New York Times that he supported the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in 1993 "because [he] believed that implementing a change in the rules at that time would have been too burdensome for our troops and commanders." "The concern among many in the military was that given the longstanding view that homosexuality was incompatible with service, letting people who were openly gay serve would lower morale, harm recruitment and undermine unit cohesion," writes retired Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili. "I now believe that if gay men and lesbians served openly in the United States military, they would not undermine the efficacy of the armed forces," he adds.

Shalikashvili says meetings he's held with gay soldiers over the last year has convinced him that "the military has changed, and that gays and lesbians can be accepted by their peers." He also cites a Zogby poll as evidence of this acceptance--75% of those returning from service in Afghanistan--and the experience of 24 nations which allow gays to openly serve.

His purpose in writing his column, however, seems to be timed to warn congressional Democrats against moving too quickly on repeal of the law. He thinks the repeal's timing should be "carefully timed" as part of an overall strategy "to heal the divisions that cleave our country." "Fighting early in this Congress to lift the ban on openly gay service members is not likely to add to that healing, and it risks alienating people whose support is needed to get this country on the right track," he adds.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The times they are a-changing.

Fourteen years later, and it's a little more acceptable.

Call me cynical, but however late he got to the party, so be it. He seems genuine, and he is respected by the military world.