Politicization of US Military
Historically, the United States Military has been apolitical, staying aloof from partisan disputes. This has fostered professionalism and public trust. A 2017 Gallup poll found that military officers were the second most trusted profession in the US, behind only nurses.(1) 71% rated the honesty and ethical standards of military officers as “high” or “very high,” whereas only 3% rated them as “low” or “very low.” In contrast, politicization of the military has typically been associated with undemocratic authoritarian states.
Diversity and equal opportunity in the U.S. military are important and commendable. Women serve an essential role in the contemporary armed forces, as do LGBTQ persons. Individuals should be included and accommodated for all roles for which they are qualified and able, regardless of gender or gender identity, race, ethnicity, or religion. Medical and safety issues for pregnant women serving in combat roles warrant careful study. However, we are deeply concerned by the increasing politicization of the U.S. military.
A More Dangerous World
On March 27, 2021, Australian Sky News host James Morrow observed (selections from transcript below):
“On Friday, Chinese forces committed their largest ever incursion into Taiwanese airspace, as worries grow by the day of a Chinese invasion of the Democratic island republic. Meanwhile, in the Middle East, Iran is on the march with its rebel militias, now attacking Saudi oil fields and building up a stockpile of missiles that has Israeli planners increasingly nervous about a potentially devastating conflict happening sooner rather than later.
“Here in Australia, officials are now also worried that with the U.S. seemingly in retreat under Joe Biden, they need to dramatically up defense preparations to counter threats from the North, i.e. China. So why are things getting so hot so fast?...”
“The US military is increasingly going woke and falling for PC fads and identity politics and narratives that come straight out of the hard progressive left. And that means America’s enemies from Beijing to Tehran, are not just laughing, but planning. These are dangerous times and thanks to Joe Biden, they’re getting a lot more dangerous.”(2)
Enforcers of the Left
“[I]nstead of being on alert to fight foreign enemies, the US military is now being used to ferret out domestic foes, i.e. anyone to the right of the Biden administration.
“It started with the militarization of the U.S. Capitol by the National Guard due to the supposed-to-now-widely debunked threat of some further alt-right, ‘insurrection’, after Joe Biden’s inauguration. It moved on to National Guard troops marching down the halls of Congress to criticize a Republican congresswoman after she made comments they didn’t agree with.”
Political Propaganda Officers
Morrow noted that official indoctrination rationalized violence from the left while instructing servicemen and women to inform on each other if they expressed “wrong think on the right:”
“Then the Pentagon ordered a one day stand down of military forces across the globe to deal with the supposed problem extremism in the ranks, though those who participated in the training say that while the sessions were supposedly all about going after the alt-right, anyone who talked about antifa or Black Lives Matter and brought up the violence done in the names of those organizations, was quickly shut down. The sessions instead, many who participated report, were really about ferreting out anyone guilty of wrong think on the right. And here’s the sinister bit, it also encouraged servicemen and women to report one another to higher ups if they caught them saying or expressing the wrong things or ideas or opinions. I mean, really, how long is it until the U.S. military goes down the road of the old Soviet Union where political officers were always on hand to check everyone’s thinking and overrule commanders on the ground?”
Attacks on Private Citizens
“But it’s not only those within their own ranks, the Pentagon is also going after private citizens. After Fox News’s Tucker Carlson slammed America’s increasingly feminized woke military, the Pentagon and many of its top generals launched a full court press on social media to denounce Tucker Carlson, a private citizen.”
In early March 2021, Fox News host Tucker Carlson criticized Joe Biden for military policy focused, in Biden’s words, on “creating maternity flight suits,” rather than on military readiness in regard to China or other potential adversaries.(3) Carlson noted the need for supporting research. He had previously expressed dismay at “woke” Pentagon initiatives promoting ideological theories.
Almost immediately, Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby rushed to criticize Carlson.(4) The government-run Department of Defense press wrote that Kirby verbally attacked the host, “smiting” him as if a military adversary. The DoD release reduces him with a dehumanizing pronoun (“that” instead of “who,”) and using a slur (“dissing”) to describe his viewpoint instead of responding to specific objections in a professional manner. The Deseret News noted that the Defense Department’s attack on a private citizen was unprecedented and characterized it with the title: “DOD declares cold war with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson.”(5) Subsequently, the U.S. Marines joined the fray, using an official account to attack a civilian, and later apologized for the breach of professionalism after backlash.(6)
The Department of Defense, Deseret News, Yahoo!, and some other media erroneously construed Carlson’s statements as objecting to women and diversity in the armed forces generally. Weingarten observed that “the DoD’s response...completely mischaracterized Carlson’s argument as an attack on women rather than on identity politics, and a defense of merit—replete with images of female soldiers of varying backgrounds—proved his point.”(7) He noted examples of politicization of military during the Obama years and “insubordination, obstruction, and worse” during the Trump administration. Carlson also responded, noting that “The US military has gone full woke, waging war on those who disagree with them,” and provided additional examples.(8)
Such conduct is beneath the dignity and professionalism expected of the United State military, and violates the obligation for political neutrality. The Pentagon has issued no apology for its inappropriate and unprofessional conduct.
In contrast, the Department of Defense has not spoken out against critics of its military actions against known terrorists to keep Americans safe, such as the strike against Iranian terrorist General Qassem Solemaini, which sparked an uproar with more than seventy protests in the United States and many abroad.(9)
The worst mass murder at a military installation in US history was the rampage by Major Nidal Malak Hasan, who fatally shot thirteen people (and an unborn child) and wounded more than thirty during a rampage on Fort Hood, Texas, in November 2009.(10) Hasan was an Islamic supremacist who cited religious motives and shouted “Allahu Akbar” during the shootings. Earlier warning signs and concern by Malak’s colleagues were ignored.(11)
Weingarten noted that Hasan remained in the military due to Obama-era policies, even though his radicalism disturbed colleagues and “drew the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s notice.”(7) He wrote that the Obama administration “systematically downplayed the threat of Islamic terror, and fired those in the military who presented competing opinions about the size, scope, and nature of the threat. It purged training materials on the jihadist’s threat doctrine, and even related law enforcement records.”
Far-left propagandists tasks with military indoctrination have similarly downplayed violence and murders committed by Antifa and other leftist rioters, refusing to characterize them as extremists.
Extremists in Command
The Biden administration appointed Richard Torres Estrada to oversee “Diversity and Inclusion” in the Special Forces. Morrow noted:
“And speaking of generals, have a look at the US Special Operations Command’s new chief of diversity and inclusion. Yes, you heard me right, Special Ops has a diversity and inclusion chief and his name is Richard Torres Estrada. Now, where have we heard that name before? Oh, yeah. Here’s that same Richard Torres Estrada on Twitter, comparing Trump to Adolf Hitler.”(2)
“Who exactly is Richard Torres-Estrada? His Facebook page gives us some indication of who he is. On it, you’ll find an attack on the police, you’ll find crude BLM propaganda, you’ll find a picture of Donald Trump holding a Bible in front of a church. Next to Trump is a photograph of Adolf Hitler. The point is, they’re the same. So, this is the guy who now oversees hiring for the SEALs.”(8)
Many have wondered how crude propaganda and bigoted extremism promote “diversity and inclusion.”
The U.S. Defense Department’s increasing politicization and attacks against members of the press should be of concern to all citizens, regardless of their political viewpoints. Citizens and media hosts should be able to freely debate public policy without interference or intimidation from the military.
1. Brenan, Megan. "Nurses Keep Healthy Lead as Most Honest, Ethical Profession." Gallup, December 26, 2017. https://news.gallup.com/poll/224639/nurses-keep-healthy-lead-honest-ethical-profession.aspx
2. “US Military ‘go woke’ as Chinese commit serious incursion into Taiwan airspace.” Sky News (Australia), March 27, 2021. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTiwyzHsjKM
3. Carlson, Tucker. "Is the military more concerned with wokeness than winning the next war?" Fox News, March 12, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/tucker-carlson-biden-pentagon-military-wokeness-lloyd-austin
4. Garamone, Jim. “Press Secretary Smites Fox Host That Dissed Diversity in U.S. Military.” DOD News, March 11, 2021. https://www.defense.gov/Explore/News/Article/Article/2534159/press-secretary-smites-fox-host-that-dissed-diversity-in-us-military/
5. Parrott, Jeff. "DOD declares cold war with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson after host’s put down of women in military." Deseret News, March 12, 2021. https://www.deseret.com/indepth/2021/3/12/22327284/dod-declares-cold-war-with-fox-news-tucker-carlson-after-hosts-put-down-of-women-in-military-defense
6. 'We are human and we messed up': U.S. Marine account apologizes for comments defending female service members." USA Today, March 14, 2021.
7. Weingarten, Benjamin. “Tucker Carlson-Military Spat Shows Left’s Long March Reaching Dangerous Apex.” Epoch Times, March 18, 2021. https://www.theepochtimes.com/tucker-carlson-military-spat-shows-lefts-long-march-reaching-dangerous-apex_3738551.html
8. Carlson, Tucker. “US military has gone full woke, waging war on those who disagree with them.” Fox News, March 27, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/tucker-carlson-military-gone-full-woke-pentagon-lloyd-austin
9. Axelrod, Tal. "More than 70 protests planned across US against Soleimani strike." The Hill, January 4, 2020. https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/476752-over-70-protests-planned-across-us-against-soleimani-strike
10. Kenber, Bill. “Nidal Hasan sentenced to death for Fort Hood shooting rampage.” Washington Post, August 28, 2013. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/nidal-hasan-sentenced-to-death-for-fort-hood-shooting-rampage/2013/08/28/aad28de2-0ffa-11e3-bdf6-e4fc677d94a1_story.html
11. “10 minutes of gunfire 10 years ago left 13 dead, more than 30 injured.” KWTX News, November 4, 2019. https://www.kwtx.com/content/news/10-minutes-of-gunfire-10-years-ago-left-13-dead-more-than-30-injured-564365711.html