A Mind-Set Under Siege

Plans to open the armed services to admitted homosexuals and allow women in combat prompt hard thinking about the meaning of manhood

THEY ARE THE FEW AND THE proud, the long gray line, the Spartans. They practice what they call, in a phrase silky with unexamined assumptions, the manly art of war. They see themselves as pursuing a higher calling in terrain where rights matter less than responsibilities, where the individual must give way to the corps.

For the soldiers and sailors and flyers of America's armed forces, these are especially difficult days. The end of the cold war has removed the rationale for decades of extreme vigilance; the much discussed "peace dividend" will probably translate into military layoffs, equipment cuts, withdrawal from...

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