For most commentators, President Barack Obama’s biggest achievement in his four-nation tour of Asia was the enhanced defense treaty he signed with Philippine President Benigno Aquino. The pact permits US forces to operate on Philippine military bases and sets the conditions for joint training of US and Philippine forces, among other things.
There are two problems with the treaty, however.
And they reflect the basic problem with US foreign policy generally, five-and-a-half years into the Obama presidency.
Army Reserve Capt. Sage Fox poses on Wednesday in El Dorado Hills, Calif. Following a deployment to Kuwait as a man, Fox began taking female hormones and began living as a woman. After notifying her battalion commander, whom she says expressed support, Fox received a set of orders informing her she had been placed on inactive status, a step from discharge. An independent commission has concluded there ‘is no compelling medical reason’ for the U.S. armed forces to prohibit transgender Americans from serving, according to a report set to be published Thursday. (Rich Pedroncelli / AP)
SAN FRANCISCO — An independent commission led by a former U.S. surgeon general has concluded there “is no compelling medical reason” for the U.S. armed forces to prohibit transgender Americans from serving and that President Barack Obama could lift the decades-old ban without approval from Congress, according to a report being released Thursday.
The report said Department of Defense regulations designed to keep transgender people from joining or remaining in the military on the grounds of psychological and physical unfitness are based on outdated beliefs that require thousands of current service members either to leave the service or to forego the medical procedures and other changes that could align their bodies and gender identities.
“We determined not only that there is no compelling medical reason for the ban, but also that the ban itself is an expensive, damaging and unfair barrier to health care access for the approximately 15,450 transgender personnel who serve currently in the active, Guard and reserve components,” said the commission led by Dr. Joycelyn Elders, who served as surgeon general during Bill Clinton’s first term as president, and Rear Adm. Alan Steinman, a former chief health and safety director for the Coast Guard.