The Obama administration has doubled down on its social-transformation agenda, unilaterally deciding to overturn longstanding policy and integrate women into combat roles in the military. Give the administration this much: Unlike the question of gay marriage, the issue of women in combat was never something that Barack Obama felt obliged to pretend to be against until it was politically safe to evolve on the matter. As a candidate in 2008, he signaled his intention to change the rules if elected president.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta draped his announcement in the all-too-familiar language of “diversity,” but the U.S. military is neither a social-justice project nor a laboratory for feminist innovation: Its job is to secure the national-security interests of the United States, and neither Secretary Panetta nor the president nor any member of the administration has offered a single serious argument that this measure will increase our armed forces’ ability to do their job with maximum effectiveness. On the contrary, there are many reasons to believe it will accomplish the opposite.
The administration has promised that there will be no reduction of physical standards to accommodate women in combat roles, but that promise almost certainly is false — and Senator McCain, who has endorsed the move, should know better than to pretend otherwise. The political mandate to integrate women into the military had disastrous consequences for standards at West Point, as Walter Williams documented the last time we had this debate. The use of “gender-specific” physical standards meant that female candidates were given passing marks on tests when underperforming their male counterparts on such common benchmarks as push-ups, sit-ups, and running 1.5 miles.