Just three weeks ago, Defense Secretary Robert Gates acknowledged he and President Obama have talked about repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, but they were going to “push that one down the road a little bit,” — as in, not address it in the immediate. Which explains why there was still money in the military’s budget for enforcing the policy. (Not only is DADT discriminatory, it costs taxpayers money!) Obama, while running for office, promised us he would repeal the policy, but has delivered radio silence on the issue since moving into the White House. Now, new words from Gates on the status of DADT.
Unfortunately, it’s more of the same. Calling the issue of gays in the military a “complex and difficult problem” [Ed: We’re argue gays are not a problem, but the military’s handling of them is] Gates once more defers to the commander-in-chief: “We will do what the president asks us to do.” Speaking yesterday at the Army War College in Pennsylvania, Gates said, “There is a law; we will uphold the law. If the law changes, so will our policies.”
But here’s the rub: Gates, and Obama, will argue that releasing the military from DADT is a cumbersome, intricate process. It reverses years of forced closeting, and our service members just aren’t mentally prepared for that. It’s a lot of work, they’ll say, to overnight swap in a new way of thinking. AND YET: Gates and Obama don’t have a problem uprooting other long-standing military policies.
For instance, the United States annually spends billions and billions of dollars developing sophisticated high-tech arms that never see a day of combat — and Obama and Gates have together slashed that methodology.
In fact, Gates was at Army War College yesterday to specifically address the cancellation of the $87 billion project called Future Combat System, a defense industry splurge on new tank and transport technology. “Obama has praised Gates’ decision to shift the Pentagon budget away from expensive weapons systems and more toward needs of existing conflicts,” relays McClatchy. Meanwhile, Gates is canceling other big budget spending, including new orders for F-22 fighters and C-17 cargo planes. Instead — get this! — he’s going to spend cash on “beefing up personnel and improving intelligence and surveillance capabilities.”
Huh. The military can perform an about face on how it spends billions of taxpayer dollars — which affects not just U.S. military strategy, but the jobs of tens of thousands of Americans working in the defense industry — but can’t dedicate the same immediate timetables to eliminating discrimination?
Gates yesterday compared repealing DADT to President Harry Truman’s push to racially integrate the military. Gates “said that process took five years after Truman signed a 1948 executive order.” Will he and Obama give themselves that long to right another injustice?