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Military Awokening & The Feeble GOP

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A reader who requests anonymity because he is very much in a position to know what he is talking about, and would be punished for saying so, writes:

I hope this finds you well and just wanted to offer some thoughts on the pending purge of DOD on explicitly ideological lines:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/09/us/politics/military-race-capitol-riots-extremism.html

https://www.stripes.com/news/us/austin-launching-panel-to-address-extremism-in-the-ranks-as-military-completes-stand-downs-1.669182

Here is a passage from the NYT story the reader highlights above:

In fact, as Pentagon leaders are quick to say, the military cannot be a reflection of the United States without hosting the same kinds of people and allegiances that are embedded in the population as a whole. But while the military is one of the country’s most diverse institutions — some 43 percent of those on active duty are people of color — Defense Department officials acknowledge that the views of its white service members skew conservative.

On American bases around the world, televisions are often tuned to Fox News. This was particularly so during the Trump administration; since President Biden was inaugurated, CNN and MSNBC have started showing up more.

Officials with the Biden administration have expressed concerns about certain broadcasts targeting troops. On March 2, Mr. Kirby ordered a review of programming on the American Forces Network, which caters to service members and families abroad.

While the military can limit what kinds of programs are broadcast in public areas on bases, the Pentagon could run into First Amendment issues as it tries to vet recruits and even active-duty troops.

Fox News?! Lord have mercy, must be a nest of Nazoid Kluckers! /sarc

It is telling that the Pentagon “acknowledges” that its white service members “skew conservative,” but that they see this as a problem. If the military’s non-white service members skew liberal, is that a problem? I don’t think so, as long as they do their jobs well.

The Stars & Stripes article also seems to indicate that the military is looking only to the right for “extremist” views. It says that commanders down the line asked the Defense Secretary for guidance on what constitutes “extremism”. His answer, when it comes, bears watching.

My correspondent, who is no outsider to all this, believes he’s reading the handwriting on the wall:

As you can see, they aren’t even bothering with the pro forma even handedness that this was intended to address extremism from the far right and the far left. Far right extremism, which seems to be defined in the article as being a regular consumer of Fox News, is to be completely stamped out at all costs no matter how difficult the process. Given that Tucker Carlson is reliably described as being a white nationalist by many of his opponents in the Beltway and the prestige press, I would assume that one who regularly views and assents to his comments would absolutely be considered a domestic extremist. I certainly suspect that this would be the opinion of Bishop Garrison, who was tapped by Austin to lead this effort according to the article, as would those critical of BLM and its associated activities over the summer of 2020. No doubt that TAC could easily be placed in that same category given that no shortage of national security authorities are happy to line you up as an enemy of democracy. God only knows what they would think of my own reading list, which includes you, Douthat, Deneen, Legutko, Moldbug, et al.

As is always the case with gatekeeping, ostracism, and stigmatization, there will never be any acknowledgment that a purge is underway, but everyone who is intelligent and ambitious understands what is happening and aligns their efforts accordingly. Whether or not they believe these views is irrelevant, but it is now absolutely understood that views and perspectives held by a significant percentage of the population are now to be considered absolutely forbidden and anyone who steps out of line will be marginalized, professionally stigmatized, and held in check with the spectre of being labeled a domestic extremist. If anyone is curious as far as how colonizing an institution works we are about to see it happen in real-time.

The general officer class and their civilian equivalents was already corrupted because they decided years ago to walk the path of political expediency in return for reliable advancement, and when woke capital emerged as a force in the mid-2010s, the overwhelming majority of them soon found the path of least resistance was also the clearest path to corporate profit in their post-retirement consulting and contractor jobs. What this means if successful is that DOD will now operate under new rules using 6 January as an excuse and special scrutiny will be paid to anyone who is regarded as critical of the status quo irrespective of rank or position. I don’t think a purge is coming any more than one has hit big business, instead a system will be created under which anyone who is deemed “problematic” can be singled out at any time for any reason.

I want to be very clear that what happened on 6 January was an absolute abomination, the culmination of QAnon taking on visible action when their cult figure provided them with a call to arms. Everyone involved should be identified and prosecuted to the full extent of the law, which already has ample consequences for riot, civil disturbance, trespassing, attempted murder, attempted kidnapping, vandalism, or anything other crime. Thus far however there has been zero evidence of a wide-ranging organized conspiracy outside of a handful of far-right militia types (at least one of which, the Proud Boys, already seems to have been thoroughly infiltrated by the FBI) that would justify the kind of invasive thought police that is being de facto proposed here. When McCarthy attempted this in response to actual communist infiltration it was roundly denounced as un-American, yet now that the shoe is on the other foot there is zero self-awareness at what is actually being opposed.

My own thought on this is that I see no reason to assume that this effort will not be successful at the senior ranks of O-6 and GG-15 (colonel equivalent) and above, with the gradual trickling down into the lower ranks as ideological conformity is tied to personal and professional advancement.

You will also note the relative passivity to this on the part of the GOP that overwhelmingly voted to confirm Austin (93-2, with only Lee and Hawley voting against) and will no doubt do the same with his deputies. Those with presidential ambitions will use it as outrage fodder, but there is no actual refusal to exercise their votes against confirming officials, no willingness to hold the general officers and their civilian equivalents responsible, etc. So if the political right wants to ask how it came to this within DOD they really do need to look in the mirror, since there is now an active politicization of our national security apparatus underway that would be denounced from the heights if there were a similar effort to identify and eliminate #Resistance types within civil service following Trump’s election on the grounds that they had violated their oaths and were spreading disinformation.

This is a big part of why the “He fights!” mantra regarding Trump is so pyrrhic because his performative and toxic antics look less like tossing the gauntlet and more like Hitler’s fictional breakdown in Downfall when he learns that Steiner isn’t coming. He may indeed have fought, but he does so at the expense of the movement that he purportedly represents as a result of his buffoonery, stupidity, abrasiveness, ignorance, and conspiracism. Had he not embraced every single COVID denialism and conspiracy theory under the sun he almost certainly would have been enjoying reelection right now according to his own campaign autopsy:

https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/01/trump-campaign-autopsy-paints-damning-picture-of-defeat-464636

Much the same can be said for his decision to invest all of his political capital into “Stop the Steal” conspiracy theories that he and his cronies grifted half a billion off. His followers see him as a savior, but Trump clearly regards them as suckers to be fleeced and is no more psychologically prepared to accept defeat than is Al Gore, something that is immediately recognizable to anyone who isn’t invested in Trump or Republican politics. The end result of this is that while Trump is still railing about the stolen election and how he was wronged, the left is able to continue a steady advancement through key institutions with little to no opposition.

Again, there are actual solutions to this, one them being for the right to demand its representatives stop empowering DOD and Pavlovishly confirming its budgets and officials until its leadership is not staffed by would-be thought police, but I think these ideas are so anathema to the modern GOP with its reflexive worship of the military for the same reason there is no real action against big business. And when you declare unilateral disarmament, sooner or later all of your enemies figure it out and behave accordingly. And is long as the only fight that the right accepts is the exceedingly cheap date of Trump’s performative antics (as well as the repeated false dilemma of either supporting Trump or reverting back to Bush / Romney) then they will frankly continue to lose and deserve to do so.

This sounds entirely plausible to me. What do the rest of you think? I said back in January that the attack on the Capital was going to be the Left’s Reichstag fire: an event it exploits to justify ideological takeover. If this reader is correct, then it is happening in the military. I particularly appreciate how this reader, a conservative, chides the Trump diehards for being the Left’s useful idiots in this process.

If this reader is correct about what is now happening in the US military, do I really need to tell you what a huge deal this is? The awokening of the US Armed Forces is beyond ominous.

 

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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