Some of the terms I just don’t know, I haven’t grown up knowing. The type of missiles that are out there: patriots and scuds and cruise missiles and tomahawk missiles. And I think that men just by osmosis understand all of these things, and they’re things that I really have to work at — to know the difference between a carrier and a destroyer, and what it means when one of those is being launched to a certain area.
The first point worth making is that, as a professor who teaches Defense Statecraft, I can testify without reservation that most men are just as ignorant of defense issues as most women. When they take classes on defense, they learn a lot; Ms. Perino is welcome to sit in on my course anytime she wants. A second point is that one of the most notable shifts in the security/defense academy over the past fifteen years has been the substantial increase in the number of women who do defense; on both the academic and the policy side, the “old boys club” is giving way to a situation in which women are extremely productive on traditional security and defense issues, and have opened up new areas of inquiry.
The last and most important point is that while we commonly here complaints from conservatives about the general ignorance of Americans on defense issues and of the increasing separation of the military experience from public life, it is only because of such ignorance and separation that conservative ideas on defense can thrive. To put it bluntly, this video would only work on a populace utterly ignorant of defense reality. The Iraq War made the most sense to people who knew nothing of the difficulties of military statebuilding, or of the problems of counter-insurgency war. Perhaps most clearly, the anti-ballistic missile system survives only because most people don’t take the time to work through the technical, financial, and strategic issues associated with its construction; defending America sounds well and good, the details be damned. It’s not surprising that the most sensible eras of defense procurement during the Cold War came after the end of major conflicts in which wide swaths of the body politic had participated; widespread knowledge of military affairs meant that nonsense had a harder time finding fertile ground.