- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 13, 2000

The latest action in the battle of the sexes raging within the Pentagon comes as Lt. Gen. Claudia J. Kennedy who accused Maj. Gen. Larry G. Smith of behavior that falls under the postmodern rubric of "sexual harassment" now finds herself accused of some unknown variant of "personal misconduct" by a retired Army officer. While the details are sparse, the new charge, as reported by the New York Times, serves to underscore the satirical oddity of this particular case, an element that seems to escape many 21st-century Americans conditioned to accept, even embrace, a politically correct world.

If one could provide a magic lens through which to view these events from the perspective of any other era, their bizarre, even Carrollian aspects would pop out as gross incongruities. A female general one of democracy's exalted in terms of command and responsibility files a complaint against a male general another of democracy's exalted in identical terms for "inappropriate touching," bringing charges years after the alleged fact when the male general is tapped for a big job. What would von Clausewitz have to say that might illuminate this? Sputtering aside, not much. The warrior culture of yore, along with the warrior's chief concerns, have been either eradicated or minimized in our post-feminist military.

Of course, there is nothing intrinsically "military" about the Kennedy case. It is the stature of the two involved that sets this harassment case apart. In other words, if the premise of sexual harassment requires a more powerful victimizer and a less-powerful victim, it is hard to figure out which general would play which part. At the same, it may be said that with every sexual harassment case involving the military, the traditional male military culture loses a little more ground. That is, what tends to go on trial in cases short of assault is an essence of maleness that used to find its expression and fulfillment in, depending on the historical era, defending the realm, saving the world or preserving the peace. Given the impossibly broad and subjective definition of sexual harassment that the services rely on, it is this tradition that ends up under attack, regardless of an individual harassment case's outcome.

As a result of these and other political pressures, the armed services creep ever closer in conduct and thinking to a feminist paradigm. And so it has come to pass that a three-star general has accused a three-star general of sexual harassment. It's worth remembering that only in a country enjoying the unappreciated luxury of Pax Americana could such a case be pursued with the frantic energy and close attention that it is no doubt commanding within the rings of the Pentagon.

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