Army Political Correctness and the Hasan Report
Rarely in the course of human events has a report issued by any government agency been so cowardly and delusional. It’s so inept, it doesn’t even rise to cover-up level. “Protecting the Force: Lessons From Fort Hood” never mentions Islamist terror. Its 86 mind-numbing pages treat “the alleged perpetrator,” Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, as just another workplace shooter (guess they’re still looking for the pickup truck with the gun rack).
The teensy bit of specific criticism is reserved for the “military medical officer supervisors” in Maj. Hasan’s chain of command at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. As if the problem started and ended there. Unquestionably, the officers who let Hasan slide, despite his well-known wackiness and hatred of America, bear plenty of blame. But this disgraceful pretense of a report never asks why they didn’t stop Hasan’s career in its tracks.
The answer is straightforward: Hasan’s superiors feared — correctly — that any attempt to call attention to his radicalism or to prevent his promotion would backfire on them, destroying their careers, not his. Hasan was a protected-species minority. Under the PC tyranny of today’s armed services, no non-minority officer was going to take him on. This is a military that imposes rules of engagement that protect our enemies and kill our own troops and that court-martials heroic SEALs to appease a terrorist. Ain’t many colonels willing to hammer the Army’s sole Palestinian-American psychiatrist.
The rhetoric is a bit overheated for my tastes but Peters has made a post-military (he’s a retired Army intelligence lieutenant colonel) career out of railing against the defense bureaucracy and he’s essentially right. But he takes this to its illogical conclusion:
In the end, the report contents itself with pretending that the accountability problem was isolated within the military medical community at Walter Reed. It wasn’t, and it isn’t. Murderous political correctness is pervasive in our military. The medical staff at Walter Reed is just where the results began to manifest themselves in Hasan’s case.
Once again, the higher-ups blame the worker bees who were victims of the policy the higher-ups inflicted on them. This report’s spinelessness is itself an indictment of our military’s failed moral and ethical leadership.
Look, we’ve got to change a system where someone so blatantly outspoken in his sympathies for his country’s enemies can be weeded out. But let’s not pretend that there are hundreds of Hasans out there in the ranks, ready to rise up and commit jihad against their erstwhile comrades-in-arms.
The United States military long had difficulties with intolerance of difference, whether of race, gender, ethnicity, or political outlook.
During the first half of my dad’s career (which spanned from 1962 to 1983) blacks and Hispanics faced hostility from an Army culture that is exceedingly Southern. That’s largely gone; racial minorities likely face greater acceptance in the military than in most workplaces.
When I first went into the military, starting as a cadet in 1984, most of us — and, yes, I include myself — were hostile to the presence of female soldiers, thinking most of them unfit for service and the impact on esprit and unit discipline not worth whatever benefit derived from the handful of good ones. Why, the military isn’t a social experiment; it’s a fighting force. But politicians kept forcing the military to allow women into more and more career fields that the military’s leadership thought they couldn’t do. Lo and behold, they’ve done pretty well for themselves. There’s still some resistance to the role of women in the force — especially in the Navy, for understandable reasons — but the culture has changed.
A primary mechanism for making this work was a system that made it very difficult for officers to get promoted if they were perceived as anything less than wholly enthusiastic of then new policies. Like anything else that bureaucracies do, it naturally went too far. For example, when women were first allowed to become fighter pilots, too few of them were selected for candidacy and the people in charge of training were afraid to wash out the ones who weren’t hacking it. People died. Arguably, the same thing happened in Hasan’s case.
But, as Bernard Finel points out, part of the problem is that the Army is having a hard time attracting psychiatrists, Palestinian or otherwise. And, since the main weeding mechanism is periodic promotions, incompetents are likely to get a free pass. The system just isn’t designed to get rid of people unless they’re up from promotion. So, absent a court martial or some sort of administrative discharge for incompatibility for service, it was going to be extremely difficult to get rid of Hasan.
I’d like to fix that. Not just for the purposes of getting potential serial killers and terrorists out of uniform — it’s hard to design a system around extremely unlikely contingencies — but to ensure that our soldiers have the leadership they need and deserve. At the same time, we shouldn’t overreact to the point that it’s open season on Muslims — or people with funny sounding names — in uniform.
The potentially good news is that we happen to have a commander-in-chief named Barack Hussein Obama. For a variety of reasons, I didn’t vote for him and likely won’t next time. But there is a certain “only Nixon can go to China” advantage in having the boss inoculated from criticism for bigotry when the policy goes in the other direction. And, one would think, a certain interest in making sure we don’t overcorrect, too.