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The Prudes Win Again
Air Force Cashiers Top General for Suggestive Emails

The epidemic of micromanagement of the love lives of top American military officers has spiraled into madness. The Washington Post:

The Air Force has fired one of its most senior generals after an investigation into whether he had an affair with a married female officer found that they had exchanged emails that were “sexually suggestive.”

Lt. Gen. John Hesterman was removed from his position as Air Force assistant vice chief of staff, service spokeswoman Anne Stefenek said Thursday. Hesterman previously served as the commander of Air Forces Central Command (AFCENT), leading the early days of the U.S. air war against the Islamic State militant group while deployed at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar from July 2013 to last June.

If the British had been as cretinous and moralistic as the DC sex police these days, Napoleon would have conquered Europe. Nelson would have been beached long before Trafalgar, thanks to his notorious relationship with Emma Hamilton. The Duke of Wellington would never have made it to Waterloo, as his marital life was anything but irreproachable. There were even security issues: at least two of his lovers had also been intimate with Napoleon. But as the tricolor rose above parliament and Napoleon slept in Buckingham Palace, the British would have had the inestimable consolation of knowing that hypocritical priggishness had had its day.

If the fools making U.S. military policy today had been in charge through history, they would have fired General Grant for drink, dumped Eisenhower for even the appearance of impropriety and tried to impeach FDR. JFK would have been dragged out of the Situation Room during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

As the dangers confronting the United States grow, as enemy nations build up their forces and probe us for weakness, as the Pax American creaks, genocidal wars spread and the most dangerous arms race in world history accelerates across Asia… we seem to be dedicating ourselves to eliminating the scourge of adultery from our military command.

This is the worst kind of folly, especially in an age in which no one in the United States thinks that the Washington policy elite is a den of propriety, where chaste and monogamous couples spend the long winter nights playing Canasta with each other by the fireside. In a perfect world, officers wouldn’t cheat on their spouses. But in a perfect world we wouldn’t need armies and air forces, because there would be no war.

The very existence of armed forces is a sad testimony to the imperfectibility of human character. To insist that only those as pure as Galahad and Percival can wear the uniform of the United States is suicidal folly. This kind of petty over-moralism produces hypocrisy rather than virtue, corrodes the respect of those in uniforms for the wisdom and judgment of civilian officials, and ultimately endangers the nation by sidelining the unruly and sometimes deplorable character traits that often go with genius.

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  • WigWag

    Absolutely. The British wouldn’t have done too well in the First World War either; especially in the Middle East. There is little doubt that T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) was both homosexual and a sado-masochist. He dedicated his famous 1926 book, “The Seven Pillars of Wisdom” to Selim Ahmed, Lawrence’s servant who died of typhus during the First World War. Lawrence had an affair with the boy when he was 23 and Ahmed was 15. Lawrence was also known to have ordered his men to strap him down and whip him.

    All of this was widely known in the British military circles but Lawrence was so useful to them that they ignored it. It’s even more amazing when you realize that all of this took place during the famously prudish reign of Queen Victoria and that it was only a few decades after Oscar Wilde had been convicted of the “crime that dare not speak its name.”

    Political correctness run amok at the Pentagon. Would Donald Trump put up with it?

    I doubt it.

    • Jim__L

      So you’re all in favor of turning a blind eye to “boy play” in Afghanistan, then?

      • Andrew Allison

        Not relevant (see: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-south-asia-11217772). Not that I defend the practice, but the subject of the discussion is the punishment of a senior US military officer for fraternization with a junior officer. WigWag’s argument fails on the basis of “Lawrence was so useful to them that they ignored it.” Think Roosevelt, Kennedy and Bill Clinton. I’m simplifying, but at bottom Hesterman’s misfortune is that he was simply not important enough to escape punishment.

  • truthsojourner

    This less than prude person wore the Air Force uniform for 24 years. I knew the rules — and they are rules embodied in the UCMJ — for fraternizing with a junior officer, especially one who was already married, and I was willing to suffer the consequences if I stepped out of line. I knew the hammer would fall. The problem is that we fail to hold our senior civilians to similar standards; i.e., Bill Clinton. I know the necessity of maintaining good order in the military may be an alien concept to those who probably never wore the uniform, but it is important.

    • Andrew Allison

      Although it’s far from clear that the exchange of “sexually suggestive emails” is fraternization, it was a display of remarkably poor judgement on the part of a senior officer. The post is over the top. It would be interesting to know how the exchanges came to light.

      • truthsojourner

        Which post is over the top: mine? And, yes, the exchange of “sexually suggestive emails” does constitute fraternization per the UCMJ and previous cases.

        • Andrew Allison

          Yours was a comment (which I voted up). I was editing mine while you were replying.

          • truthsojourner

            So, you would agree that the author of the piece got a little carried away.

          • Andrew Allison

            More than a little. It was, as I wrote, over the top.

  • Jim__L

    We’re not looking for Galahad. We just need to avoid Lancelot.

    Messing about with other mens’ wives is a recipe for disaster in the ranks.

    • FriendlyGoat

      And your second sentence is why there are and should be standards of conduct in the military on “romantic” matters which are more restrictive than those now common in other workplaces. The gist of TAI’s article is just pitiful—–beyond stupid.

      • Anthony

        Agreed FG. And to take it a step further, Emile Durkheim called it the “collective effervescence” – the realm of the sacred, where the self disappears and collective interests predominate (caveat: we are not writing about socialism).

      • Andrew Allison

        I couldn’t agree more [grin]

  • Fat_Man

    The long march through the institutions continues. The left is committed to destroying the effectiveness of the US military by any means necessary. This is only one tactic in a long drawn out war. The only question is what will happen when they win. Whatever it is it won’t resemble John Lennon’s “Imagine”.

    • Jim__L

      Whenever I think of that song, I think of the old Star Trek villains, the Borg.

      All the world will live as one…

  • Matt B

    I liked this post, but the replies were even more edifying. That’s why I turn to this site when I need a dose of sanity.

    Thank you!

  • http://rau.3littlefoxes.com/ LindaF

    I do hope the female officer received the same punishment.

    Doubt it.

    • Andrew Allison

      “The ability of the senior member to influence, directly or indirectly, assignments, promotion recommendations, duties, awards, and other privileges and benefits, places both the senior member and the junior member in vulnerable positions.” (AFI 36-2909). Due to the nature of the military command structure, the senior member is considered responsible for the infraction.

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