“Heather Wilson, a New Mexico Republican,” writes Ruth Marcus in an op-ed in today’s Washington Post, “is the only female military veteran in Congress, and on meeting her you might well guess at that background without being told. Third-generation Air Force and a member of the third class of female cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Wilson has the erect posture of a member of the armed services….”

With a lead-in like that, you know that Rep. Wilson is going to break ranks with other Republicans. You know, in short, that she is going to embrace the feminist-honored position that women should be in combat or very close to combat.

Women aren’t currently put in ground combat units, and there is legislation pending to ensure that they aren’t. Wilson opposes the legislation, not, according to the article, because she wants women assigned to ground combat units, but because she thinks that “enshrining” the limits on women in combat in law will “send the wrong message” that “women aren’t equally valued.”

Like most of the feminist who advocate that position, Wilson, despite her sterling military credentials, has never seen combat. You have to read way down in the article to learn that Rep. Wilson “spent her military years not in the heat of battle but as a Rhodes scholar, earning a doctorate in international relations, writing a book on international law, and working on arms control issues in Europe.”

The article notes:

“If there is an issue that evokes even more passion than gays in the military, it is women in combat. The arguments are couched in the dry language of upper-body strength and unit cohesion, but at its core the debate is over whether women belong at war.”

First of all, the argument about upper body strength is not at all “dry” if you’re lying wounded and hoping someone strong enough to carry you to safety wil come along. Nor is “unit cohesion” a “dry” issue if male and female soldiers are having sexual liaisons, as men and women are prone to do, that make such cohesion impossible.

“Do Americans feel differently about female soldiers being killed and wounded and held captive in Iraq than men? If so — and the focus on Jessica Lynch suggests that for many Americans the answer is yes — then what roles are permissible for women in a conflict with no front? After all, as Wilson says, ’A woman driving a water truck or flipping burgers in the mess tent can come under attack.'”

We do feel differently about a woman being held captive in Iraq–and we should.