in today's NYTimes online, one of the lead articles examines the increasing presence of women in combat situations in iraq and afghanistan. this is a development long past due. the old gender stereotypes about women as being weak, irrational, only suited to certain jobs, or a distraction to their male counterparts, are false. our military has known this for a long time, yet the old guard in the upper military ranks and in congress have resisted facing the reality on the ground -- that women are as courageous, proficient and effective as men. here is a link to a video which portrays that reality.
in israel, national military service is mandatory for both genders, for any non-arab israeli citizen. this has been the case for many years, and any military professional will tell you that israel fields perhaps the finest, most effective military presence in the world. as usual, the u.s. government lags behind much of the rest of the world in economic, environmental and military policy. similarly, law enforcement agencies resisted training women for active duty for many years. yet today, my own sister is a san francisco police officer. pity the poor perp who tried to outwit or outfight her.
women have served in combat for thousands of years. yet we seem to make it a national habit to resist enlightened or progressive ideas. one hopes that under the new administration we will begin to see signs of positive change. men AND women not only deserve the right to serve their country, but are morally required to do so as a condition of citizenship. i've long maintained that the option of military or nonmilitary service like the peace corps should be present. but non-service should not be an option.