Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

Uncle Sam + Lesbian Moms

Woke new US Army recruitment ads soft-sell armed service as opportunity for self-fulfillment
Screen Shot 2021-05-13 at 7.13.49 PM

Here’s a new US Army recruitment ad:

Incredible, isn’t it? That’s one of a new series of recruitment ads on the US Army’s YouTube channel. That one features a girl raised by lesbian moms who goes on to join the Army so she can “shatter stereotypes.” The ad likens her joining the Army to her experience in Pride demonstrations; in both cases, she is “fighting for freedom,” she says.

The other ads feature non-white soldiers, each telling a story about how joining the Army let them find self-fulfillment. They are thematically reminiscent of the CIA recruitment ads, all of which feature CIA workers describing their employment at CIA as an exercise in self-fulfillment and self-realization. Remember this quote from the CIA ad featuring the self-described cisgender intersectional Latina? “I am unapologetically me. I want you to be unapologetically you, whoever you are.” You watch the ad, and it jumps out at you how self-focused the appeal is. It’s all me-myself-and-I.

These ads surely weren’t launched out of the goodness of the military and the intelligence agency’s hearts. I would love to know the social psychological research behind these campaigns. My guess is that the Army and the CIA have their reasons for thinking that this is the way to get new recruits among young Americans. I concede that

both institutions have to recruit from the population as it is, not as some conservative nostalgist like me wishes it were.

Compare them, though, to this 2018 Chinese army recruitment ad. It too ties the soldier’s personal identity to his service, but does so in a very different way: by highlighting the physical challenges, the emotional stoicism, and the honor of sacrifice:

Serious question: judging these US and Chinese ads together, what do you think they say about the people of their respective countries? I mean, what do these ads say about the kind of people each military expects to recruit?

UPDATE: One of my readers who is very well informed about military matters writes:

Regarding the recruiting ad, this is because the marketing types are telling them that the only way to reach Millennials and Zoomers is to go woke, it is the same thing that keeps churning out woke reboot trash out of Hollywood. This illustrates the serious perception problem of regarding Twitter as representative of the youth population and particularly your recruiting demographics as a whole.

The argument for 20 years was that DADT [Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell] kept college students out of the military. Well now it has been repealed and there has been no mass influx. Nor is there going to be, because the same liquid modernity, individualist, emotionalist, and atomizing factors are the same that lead most middle and upper class types to avoid DOD like the plague. There is a lot of commentary about how much more diverse DOD has become, but a disproportionate amount of your combat units in particular are still made up of Jacksonian Southerners.

One of the reasons why Christians need to understand the tradeoff on unconditionally shoring up the imperium is that without all the people who still believe in family, God, and country, your manpower pool massively contracts.
The argument that you can just replace these demographics with others is itself a Lockean view of the world that assumes cultures are interchangeable and irrelevant — something the US might have learned is definitely not the case from Iraq and Afghanistan. The whole British ideal of the martial races for the Indian Subcontinent was racist as heck, but it did take into account the importance of culture in your military. Making sure your military culture mirrors our current campus culture is the fastest way to defeat.

This illustrates the contradictions of trying to maintain an imperium while subscribing to every woke shibboleth with a cynical view towards maintaining power. Why should anyone die for a historic source of oppression and white supremacy? Why should anyone sacrifice their economic and personal opportunities when you have no broader culture or society? Why should anyone fight for a country they regard as evil?

The people at the top likely don’t believe it, but the go-with-the-flow attitude towards this ideology has allowed it to colonize institution after institution, and creates the same dynamic for us that the equally cynical Saudi embrace of Wahhabism did for them, because you now have a vanguard that sees you as evil and wants to replace you.

They likely think that this will lead to an imaginary surge of woke youth rushing in, which is the same argument for churches to liberalize. We’ve seen how that script plays out. This is even more true because your woke youth are self-absorbed, thin-skinned, emotionally stunted, and believe that they are the center of the universe — all qualities that cut against the ideas of hierarchy, sacrifice, rigor, and duty that are central to military life. This is also where the Sacred Band of Thebes or the Pashtun pedophiles of Afghanistan have a leg up. They understood culture, duty, and hierarchy, and were quite willing to kill and die to defend it. Our current atomized youth are definitely not going to sacrifice any opportunity or take on risk, hence why they prefer social media activism where you have none of the actual risks of real activism. Completely atomized cultures, especially those that hate their past and don’t appreciate how unique in human history the current atomized and individualistic society is, or why it should be defended, are not people you rely on in a firefight.

Traditional Jacksonian rugged individualists could cut it and hold together on the basis of common identity and culture. The baizuo left is unlikely to achieve the same. I would also note that jihadists have figured this out and repeatedly demonstrated that the baizuo types are quite willing to compromise and compromise hard once coercive violence is brought into play.

Failure to have any common cause, culture, history, ethos, or society leads to disintegration and that is why the West in general and US in particular is in decline and widely seen as such.

Man, I guess this reader doesn’t believe that soldiers will be willing to kill or be killed to defend a culture that believes Gegi the Pervy Genderfluid Unicorn’s presence in elementary schools is a good thing.


UPDATE.2: Another reader writes:

In your latest blog posting, you asked, “What do you think they say about the people of their respective countries? I mean, what do these ads say about the kind of people each military expects to recruit?”

Well, here’s an apparatchik’s would-be response to that question:

It’s worth parsing this remark. The implication is that the military has been less than a meritocracy and that diversity is merely a way to ensure the best people make their way up the ladder. Fair enough. The military does have a meritocracy problem and it isn’t new. It goes back decades, even when the military was overwhelmingly White and male.

Which makes you wonder – what is with the overriding focus on women, LGBTQ, and people of color, then? Why does the military think these groups hold the key to ensuring the military becomes even more of a meritocracy? Does Jim Golby and others who bear the standard for our left-wing elites (take a look at his Twitter page) think that diversity really holds the answer to solving the military’s problems, when, as I just mentioned, our problems started back when the military wasn’t as diverse as it is today and has seemingly gotten worse despite the military’s increasing leftward shift? If even among White males, the wrong people kept climbing the ranks, what difference does greater diversity make?

More telling is the fact that only gender, racial, and sexual diversity galvanizes the apparatchiks. What about professional diversity? How many military intelligence officers have served as Chief of Staff of the Army? Better yet, why not a logistics officer? An army travels on its stomach, right? Why aren’t our logistics officers managing our services from the top? To cap it all off, an Army officer, the other day, became only the third active-duty Army soldier to earn an astronaut. Nobody’s outraged about that, are they?

My point is simple – actively pursuing diversity serves either a cultural, political, or social purpose. End of story. It simply serves no other end. A pure meritocracy, like the NBA, does not lose sleep over the lack of racial diversity within the league. The Left has so doggedly pursued “awakening” the military precisely because it is still the preeminent national institution. If the military can achieve the ideal make-up and social arrangement, surely, the rest of the country would follow, right? The irony of all this is that people like Golby have spent years warning the rest of us that the military cannot solve society’s problems for us, but that is exactly what they are trying to achieve here.

The real story, in my view, however, is that the military itself seems oblivious or unwilling to admit how politicized it has become. A view common among contemporary civil-military scholars (nearly all of whom lean left or are establishment-friendly, so much for diversity) is that politics is impossible to isolate from the military, since war is ultimately a political act. The key, instead, is to place barriers to limit both the military’s political power and establish appropriate “rules of the road” governing how the military ought to conduct itself in a political environment. What you’re seeing today is not just Wokeness in the ranks, but also a perversion of the mentality described above.

The other day, the establishment freaked out over a letter written by 120 retired U.S. military officers who criticized both the Biden administration and the Democratic Party, specifically. The letter (which you can read here) was a shameful display of rank political partisanship, but the Left’s reaction is bizarre, given that just months ago, a concurrent series of attacks against Tucker Carlson was initiated over his valid criticisms of the military. Furthermore, did these people forget how retired officers came out and openly criticized President Donald Trump for threatening to deploy troops to quell the violent riots of last summer, a decision, if made, would have been hardly without precedent?

Of course not. In the minds of the apparatchiks, last year’s admonition was troubling, but the officers spoke out because, well, “Orange Man Bad” (and he is, but that is not the point). So, the national security pros out there can play semantics and word games all they want, but the military has become highly politicized in partisan fashion. It does not matter if they do not specifically single out conservatives or Republicans. Much of it is implied and made blatantly obvious through other ways, such as the military’s adoption of Critical Race Theory. Would an aspiring flag officer make rank if s/he spoke out against CRT?

When the military’s institutional ethos and values has come to resemble the Democratic Party platform, it is politicized in partisan fashion. To say otherwise is a blatant falsehood.

One more thing – some of your commenters claim that future wars will not be fought on a physical battlefield. Instead, it will be fought from within air conditioned rooms and require more brains than brawn. Nothing could be more false. In fact, this is a mentality resulting from 30 years of endless war, where we fight from a distance not because it is a more effective way to wage war, but because it allows us to “do something” while minimizing the mount of skin in the game. As Israel is discovering right now, you can “mow the grass” all you want, but this just means the war will never end. To get results, you have to close with the enemy on the ground. When faced off against an adversary more brutal and fierce than the average U.S. soldier, he will, at best, not care that his enemy is a woman raised by two lesbian moms. At worst, that would become just another reason to hate an American. I do not believe for a moment any of our enemies are in any way intimidated by what they see out of the military these days, a college campus where everyone wears a uniform.




Want to join the conversation?

Subscribe for as little as $5/mo to start commenting on Rod’s blog.

Join Now