Battling the Military Ban 

In a bracing new account, historian Nathaniel Frank shows how “don’t ask, don’t tell” has utterly failed. 

BY Sean Kennedy

February 02 2009 12:00 AM ET

“I like to think of it as a level-headed polemic,” Frank says of the book, kicking back in his restored 19th-century row house in Brooklyn. And while Unfriendly Fire is carefully rooted in research and evidence, it’s this constant calling out of the policy’s flaws that’s likely to have the greatest effect. “There’s a part of me that believes in the old Enlightenment ideal that if you continue to insist on uttering the truth, that’s what it takes to make a more just society,” Frank says.

Frank’s book could certainly help achieve that, at a time when both public and political support for “don’t ask, don’t tell” has never been lower and when more leading military figures than ever are disavowing the policy. Now it’s up to President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats to repeal the law.

“There’s a very good chance the ban could end in this Congress,” Frank says. “Obama has to approach this issue with the confidence that the research is on his side. It’s time to have a 21st-century military.”

Tags: Politics

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