The largest official presence of the United States government around the world is the US military. The military’s functionality is governed by four forces: the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Military Policy, Organizational Structure, and Military Culture. The new openly gay policy will change three of these four operational controls, save organizational structure. The most powerful of all of these operational shaping forces is the peer pressure culture which is unique to the military; a culture steeped in militarism. The repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” is going to bring about a culture clash which will affect every service member in some way (either directly or indirectly). The magnitude of this condition will surface and present itself to every global community that our military serves in. Therefore, the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” is in effect foreign policy by proxy.
How the foreign communities perceive the US and our military depends on three factors: the cultural condition of the local community, the degree and type of interrelationship the local community has with our military forces, and how the stresses manifest within each unit individually. If, for example, a unit stationed in Germany copes well to the new policy, then the local people, being generally liberal, will praise the US and her forces for achieving a condition they personally find to be morally upright. However, if the same unit breaks down into controversial disputes over the new policy in front of the local population, then, despite any positive perspectives on the US for passing the legislation, the local population will view our military negatively. If our military is viewed negatively in this context, then subsequently America in general will be viewed negatively to some degree as well.
In places like Afghanistan the conditions are not only reversed, but also exacerbated. In Germany most service members integrate sparsely with the local population; some living off post or merely going out at night for dinner or drinks. The day to day life of a service member stationed in Germany is isolated primarily to the military reservation. However, in Afghanistan soldiers live within local communities, and their day to day operations focus on integration with the local communities. Because the stress of war will be soon compounded with the stress of the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” the new military policy will be right in the face of a culture that is adamantly against the practice of homosexuality in the context of falling in love with someone of the same sex.
Every aspect of life in southern Afghanistan’s taliban country is defined by Wahhabis Islam; the strictest form of Sunni Islam. The people of Afghanistan already consider America to be explicitly immoral. This is primarily because the US foreign policy is agnostic. Afghans consequently misinterpret America in general as being atheistic, because of their general detachment from American culture and media. Atheism is among the most inexcusable of all sins under their Islamic tradition.
Compounding the Afghanistan’s misunderstanding of America’s culture of political correctness, the majority of their perspectives on American culture come from Hollywood. Afghans in general do not know to distinguish between actual American culture and the marketing use of sex, drugs, and violence in movies to drive profits. Therefore, when they see or hear about controversial movies they think that that is what America is actually like.
Afghan religious leaders have for many years used America as a scape goat for their economic condition, pointing to our “greed” and “immorality” for their general level of destitute. This has generally been a method of consolidating local power in the hands of religious leaders.
America’s image has improved slightly over the past nine years in Afghanistan. Our public relations have not always been forward in progress, but overall America and our military appear better to Afghans now than before the war began. However, Afghan culture is driven almost entirely out of their religion, and the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” will affect how the local population views America and our military. Those perspectives will impact the level of cooperation they chose to have with our military. And the stress of the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” will add to the stresses of war. The compounding will change the behaviors of the service members as they integrate with the afghan population. The degrees to which all of these factors manifest may prove to be minimal depending on a myriad of other variables, but these listed issues will manifest to some degree varying by category and context.
Never compel your burdens upon other people, rather help other people carry their burdens