General (retired) John Shalikashvili released an op-ed in the Saturday Washington Post where he suggested that there was an alternative to waiting
May 24, 2010


General (retired) John Shalikashvili released an op-ed in the Saturday Washington Post where he suggested that there was an alternative to waiting for SecDef Bob Gates to conduct a "study" prior to recommending to Congress that they repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law. He thinks Congress should repeal the law immediately, but allow DOD to take its time to carefully develop how the military should develop the issue.

Repealing the law while avoiding action on a nondiscrimination statute will not please everyone. Proponents of ending unequal treatment of gay troops have insisted that an anti-discrimination statute replace the current law because they do not trust the military to move forward on its own and they fear that a future president or Congress might again impose a discriminatory policy.

It is true that without a mandate from Congress, the Pentagon would have the discretion to leave current regulations in place as it determines how best to implement repeal. There is, however, little cause to fear that the ban would remain indefinitely, and it is highly unlikely that a future administration or Congress would roll back equal treatment once the Pentagon adopts it. Although some wish to see equality written into law, the current political climate calls for reconsideration. This is why a repeal-only option has merit. Such a change would not impose a solution but, rather, the opposite: It would remove constraints on the military's ability to do its job. Congress should repeal the law, providing the secretary and the chairman with enough maneuvering room that, when the time is right, they can implement policies that end discrimination and maximize military readiness.

It's a reasonable position to take, but I don't think that either Congress or SecDef Gates will take it. Instead of taking the bold, honest approach to getting rid of an odious policy that has continued discrimination against talented men and women in the military, the administration and Congress will be more focused on the November elections. Now that health care and financial regulation are past, there is time to do this repeal, but I'm betting that they're going to rather continue debating domestic politics, like immigration reform, health care, and bank/oil/mining regulation, rather than national security issues. But it's good to have honest and open discussion on policy options from a retired Army general.

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