Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson and his new campaign chairman, who also serves as a top advisor on military and foreign affairs, have criticized what they call “social engineering” by the Obama administration when it comes to who can serve in the U.S. military.
In an interview with CNN, Carson, appearing with his new campaign chairman, retired Major Gen. Robert Dees, responded to a question from Jake Tapper about Dees’ past criticism of some of the Obama administration’s policies regarding who can serve. Under those policies, gays and lesbians are allowed to serve openly in the military, women are able to serve in combat positions, and the Pentagon is currently reviewing changes that would allow transgender servicemembers to serve openly. Dees claims such changes endanger the nation’s security.
In the interview, Dees argued that “the military is designed to provide for the common defense of our nation,” calling Obama’s policies “experiments” in social engineering. According to Dees, most women in combat are physically incapable of carrying an injured male colleague off the battlefield to save his life, for example.
“Everyone is not good at everything,” Dees said. “…There are just certain realities where men can do certain things better, women can do certain things better,” Dees said. “We don’t need to throw everybody into every position as an experiment just because we’re trying to be appear to be fair to everyone.”
When asked by Tapper how revisiting or reversing the Obama administration’s policies would apply to LGBT soldiers, Dees responded, “The first priority again is cohesion, and the second priority would be that the commander-in-chief listen to the best military advice.
“On a number of these social issues, the best military advice has been thwarted,” said Dees. “The administration has said, ‘Do this, do this, do this,” apart from military and defense considerations as a priority.”
When asked directly whether he’d favor rolling back the repeal of the now defunct “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that banned LGBT people from open service, or allowing women to serve in combat positions, the candidate said he’d consider the arguments for and against reversing those policies.
“One of the things that I learned in a long medical career is that you make decisions based on evidence, and not on ideology,” Carson said. “So yes, I would be willing to sit down with people from both sides and examine the evidence and make decisions based on what the evidence shows.”
Carson added that he values Dees’ foreign policy experience and expertise, which is why he promoted Dees to campaign chairman, saying, “A lot of my foreign policy expertise is a result of spending time talking to him, as well as a variety of other sources.”
In response to the comments by Carson and Dees, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) called on the other presidential candidates to repudiate the idea of going back to a policy where LGBT troops would be banned from serving openly.
“Ben Carson showed us once again how unfit he is to be commander in chief by entertaining the idea of firing thousands of currently serving military personnel who happen to be LGBT, even while we battle threats like ISIS,” said HRC spokesman Stephen Peters, a Marine veteran discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” “Such archaic and offensive ideas are dangerously foolish, and all candidates should immediately make clear that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell should remain a relic of the past.”
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