Thursday, December 23, 2010

START and DADT: The politics of meh

New-START and DADT are two recently passed policies that are not especially praiseworthy, yet not worth getting too bothered about.

START was negotiated incompetently. It forces us to reduce our areas of strength to rough parity with the Russian arsenal without forcing the Russians to make comparable sacrifice in their areas of strength. (Never mind the concerns about missile defense technology.)  If this were a Cold War era treaty there would be a fringe of people calling for Obama’s impeachment over this. But the Cold War is over, and New START leaves both parties with a sufficient nuclear deterrent. The world will not end because of START, no matter how bad it was.

Neither will the world end with the demise of “Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell”. It is not unreasonable to think that open integration of gay soldiers will create problems of readiness and unit cohesion, though these concerns are surely exaggerated. Some critics of the new policy think this will be a difficult policy to implement in a time of war, but oddly enough, it might be easier to implement during war than during peace. It’s a lot easier to overlook interpersonal differences when there are bad guys shooting at you and when the gay soldier next to you just saved your life. Nevertheless, the policy will create friction within units, and I expect there will be some high-profile news stories of beat-downs and abuse.

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