Jonah Goldberg
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It is a common habit of many liberals and self-avowed centrists to preen about how they don't deny science and evolution the way conservatives do. Well, on this issue, it is the opponents of women in combat invoking the scientific data that confirm a fairly obvious evolutionary fact: Men and women are different. For instance, at their physical peak, "the average woman has the aerobic capacity of a 50-year-old male," notes defense intellectual and veteran Mackubin Thomas Owens in a powerfully empirical article in the Weekly Standard.

Another evolutionary fact is that men act different when around women. This creates challenges for unit cohesion and fighting effectiveness.

The three most common responses to such concerns are that countries such as Israel and Canada let women in combat; advances for women can't be held hostage to sexist attitudes; there won't be any lowering of standards, so only physically qualified women will be in combat.

As to the first point, Israeli gender integration is often wildly exaggerated. And the Canadians have neither the capacity nor the need for a large standing army.

The latter arguments don't strike me as particularly reality-based either. Sexist attitudes alone aren't a justification for anything. But we're not talking about misogyny here. Proof of that is the fact that the military already practices gender-norming (giving women extra points for being women) in many instances. Will there really be less now?

Obama's decision hasn't stifled the debate, it's merely postponed it until the day Americans see large numbers of women coming home in body bags, alongside the men.

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Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
 
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