Allen retch

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James Webb, the Democrat challenging U. S. Senator George Allen of Virginia, wrote an article in the November 1979 issue of The Washingtonian magazine, called "Women Can't Fight." A graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy, he served four years in combat in Vietnam. The article argues against women at the military academies, on the grounds that the academies exist to train combat leaders, and women do not belong in combat:

Lest I be understood too quickly, I should say that I believe most of what has happened over the past decade in the name of sexual equality has been good. It is good to see women doctors and lawyers and executives. I can visualize a woman President. If I were British, I would have supported Margaret Thatcher. But no benefit to anyone can come from women serving in combat.

The function of combat is not merely to perpetrate violence, but to perpetrate violence on command, instantaneously, reflexively. The function of the service academies is to prepare men for leadership positions where they may someday exercise that command. All of the other accomplishments that Naval Academy or West Point or Air Force Academy graduates may claim in government or business or diplomacy are incidental to that clearly defined combat mission.

An entry on George Allen's newly-minted blog cites this article as part of Webb's "legacy of misogyny."

Did I miss something? Since when is it the conservative position to support women in combat? Since when do conservatives consider it misogynistic to recognize that in certain spheres of life there ought to be differences in the roles played by men and women?

I do want Allen to be re-elected, because I want the Republicans to retain control of the U. S. Senate and of its committees. And I'm not endorsing everything Webb said in the article and certainly not endorsing the other comments quote by Allen, or Webb's position on Iraq, but it's wrong for a Republican candidate to trash a conservative position on an issue for the sake of political advantage.

This seems to be another example where alleged conservatives are trying to run to the left of liberal candidates who happen to be conservative (or have been conservative in the past) on a certain issue, probably because they see the conservative position as out of step with the media. In Britain, the new Conservative Party leader, David Cameron, is running to the left of Tony Blair's position on the global war on terror.

Allen is said to be a leading candidate for president in '08. If this is any indication of the stuff he's made of, I'm not impressed.


Dan Paden said:

I've met a handful of women who could probably hack sustained combat operations. But those are the key words: "a handful." Most women will not be able to do it simply because most women lack--and always will lack--the muscle mass.

I've never been in combat. But I have trained for it, and even the training is no joking matter. Out in the field for days on end, covering fifty or more miles on foot, up and down the mountains, in all kinds of weather, carrying about sixty pounds (maybe more) of gear, every day--and that's not taking into account digging holes, shooting people, lack of sleep, etc. As I said, there are a few women who can handle that sort of thing. But most can't, and their presence in combat presents a tremendous handicap to the men.

Paul Tay said:

From my short time in the military, men don't belong in combat either. Russ 4 Prez.

Twatch said:

Not all men are capable of being a soldier either, Paul makes that case.

My son has told me many stories about how women became a burden when the crunch was on. His unit had just climbed to a mountain location, set up communications, camped and was asleep at midnight when the order came to move camp to a lower elevation because -13F below was colder than regulations allowed. The female sergeant was so cold and debilitated with the physical demand that the rest of the squad moved the camp and her gear while she sat and then road in the communication vehicle. He reported the incident to her commanding officer and was told; suck it up soldier, dismissed.

Bob said:

I haven't tracked Sen. George Allen very closely over the years, but the few times that I've seen him in press conferences, the central impression that I came away with was : ARROGANT.

He's been involved with politics all the way back to his college days. He's a lawyer by trade, but by his resume, I'd say he's morphed into a Professional Politician.

2001–Present, U.S. Senator from Virginia
1994–1998, Governor of Virginia
1991–1993, U.S. Representative, elected in a special election
1983–1991, Virginia House of Delegates

Mr. Webb on the other hand has lead a varied, multi-disciplinary life: Soldier, scholar, teacher, journalist, lawyer, noteworthy author, Cabinet Secretary, etc.

He's also an authentic war hero. A Naval Academy Graduate, was First in his class of 243 at the Marine Corps Officer's Basic School in Quantico, Virginia. He served with the Fifth Marine Regiment in Vietnam, where as a rifle platoon and company commander he was awarded the NAVY CROSS, the SILVER STAR MEDAL, two Bronze Star Medals, and two Purple Hearts (One less than John Kerry!).

Guess Mr. Allen, born in 1952, was dodging the draft hiding out in college like Bill Clinton while Mr. Webb was fighting for his country..........

Democrat or not, I think I'd vote for him if I could.

crunchyfrog said:

Your post implies that you do not favor women in combat roles in the military. I would be much more comfortable with your position if you expressed concern about "weak people" going into combat. Those who are unable/unwilling to pass the rigorous training should not be allowed responsibilites that require more physical strength than they posess. Period. Whether that person is also capable of growing a baby is completely irrelevent.

It is also possible that the best soldiers are no longer the testosterone-hyped variety. As weapons get lighter, more complicated and more expensive, soldiers are required to draw on their intelligence more often than their strength.

I am including a link that notes a woman who received the silver star for her efforts in Iraq. I doubt that she came up short during the conflict because she couldn't win at arm wresting.
silver star

Bob said:

Women in the military:


Women in the Combat Arms: Armor, Infantry, Artillery, combat aircraft, or combat ships?


However, in our modern NON-LINEAR warfare, WHERE the COMBAT occurs is not always a linear front-line. The front-lines are often fluid with air mobile operations, supported by planes and helicopters flown by women pilots, supplied by transports vehicles with women drivers, etc, directed by women Military Police, etc.

Many of our enemies will routinely gang rape our women soldiers should they ever have the misfortune of becoming their prisoners.

And, then there's the matter of their monthly Period. The War doesn't stop for a menstrual cycle. The sudden stress of combat will cause an abnormal number of the women soldiers to start their periods early.

A NATURAL thing, but probably reduces their combat effectiveness.

Then there's those crabby days of PMS...........

Twatch said:

The physical standards in the military are different for men than women. One would presume the standard set for men was to ensure a soldier was capable of combat rigors, how then, is the standard less for women and yet they can be regarded as capable combat soldiers?

Jon Henke said:

I think you've misunderstood the post. We did not object to Webb's questions about women in combat. We merely pointed out that, in doing so, Mr. Webb was very offensive towards women. "Thunder thighs" and "problems with their sexuality" are not conservative objections to women in combat.

I don't think I've misunderstood anything. You cite this as an example of Webb's misogyny: "And I have never met a woman, including the dozens of female midshipmen I encountered during my recent semester as a professor at the Naval Academy, whom I would trust to provide those men with combat leadership." You may disagree with his evaluation of women as combat leaders, but you can't say that the comment is fueled by hatred of women, unless you join politically correct leftists in saying that we're not allowed to notice differences between men and women.

The claim that Webb's critique of women in combat and in the Academy emboldened male midshipmen to harass female students reminds me of Clinton's attempt to blame conservative talk radio for the Oklahoma City bombing.

Jon Henke said:

The conservative case against putting women in combat roles rests on practical sexual, morale and privacy problems with such an integration -- it does not rest on their innate leadership abilities.

manasclerk Author Profile Page said:

One of the things that I've always enjoyed about your blog is that it is unabashedly for a particular point of view while still being dedicated to the truth.

Oh, for the days when being "conservative" or "progressive" actually meant that you subscribed to a set of real ideas! But we've always had these problems, hence Al's "Advise and Consent" in the 1950s.

On women in the military: if I recall rightly, the non-emotional reason for not wanting women in combat came from the Israeli experience. (Not that emotional reasons aren't valid.) It wasn't women that were the problem. It was the men's response to women being in danger. The thought then was that it would be imprudent to try and eliminate men fighting for their women because it was such a powerful motive in times for real attack. I could be wrong, but that's how I recall the discussions being written up.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 13, 2006 9:20 PM.

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