Weakening the military or curbing military assaults?

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor

Over at the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol writes: “Sens. Paul and Cruz are signing on to Sen. Gillibrand’s proposal to undermine the military’s chain of command on behalf of the pseudo-crisis of military sexual assault. The Obama administration thinks Gillibrand’s proposal is a bad idea. It is a bad idea.”

This is a tough issue. On one hand, it’s easy to understand how going through the proper chain of command is impossible or even potentially dangerous for victims. On the other hand, it’s predictable that chipping away at the chain of command could have unintended consequences, ultimately undermining discipline, unit cohesion, etc.

If your goal is to socially engineer the military in order to create a safe and positive work environment, your decision is easy. If your primary goal is to create a military where people habitually do what they’re told (which is essentially to kill people and break things) — without questioning authority — the decision is more complex.

This could have been a bipartisan fight, but interestingly, it is instead highlighting a growing schism within the GOP. And ironically, the Republicans who are willing to reach across the aisle in hopes of bipartisan compromise have swapped. As of now, the “populist libertarians” seem to be working with Democrat Gillibrand, while the hawks and neocons are standing up to her. But it’s a small sample. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.