by Chris Nagavonski
“The discipline which makes the soldiers of a free country reliable in battle is not to be gained by harsh or tyrannical treatment,” said West Point superintendent John Schofield in 1879, condemning leaders who issue unreasonable and abusive orders. America’s military today is at risk of a different sort of tyranny: the purging of unauthorized political views.
Right now, the Department of Defense should be reevaluating our nation’s interminable foreign wars and cracking down on the misuse of taxpayer dollars. Instead, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has declared that the armed forces will “stand down” for 60 days to address alleged “extremism” in the ranks. Given recent statements from lawmakers, the current West Point superintendent, and Navy leadership, it’s clear that Right-leaning servicemembers will face scrutiny while Black Lives Matter and far-Left radicals will get a pass. This move to appease the Biden Administration’s radical elements will only damage the legitimacy of America’s most trusted institution and distract from vital issues at home and abroad.
Even before Biden took office, the federal bureaucracy was turning BLM into unofficial state ideology. The Office of Special Counsel had determined that BLM, which solicited donations through the Democratic Party’s ActBlue platform, was not a “partisan political group” and that government employees could promote it in the workplace. The U.S. embassy in South Korea displayed a massive BLM banner. And when Biden assumed office, one of his first actions was to rescind his predecessor’s ban on the far-Left race indoctrination which has been seeping into government agencies and is fully aligned with BLM views on race.
Instead of encouraging federal agencies to govern with an even hand, the Biden Administration is using them to push a partisan ideology that effectively excludes half of America. It’s the most divisive way possible to run the military, the government, and the country. And it’s a massive waste of time and resources.
When defense officials talk about “diversity, equity, and inclusion”—the vague social justice mantra that has become omnipresent across government, business, and academic institutions—they divert attention from the injustices that America’s overseas engagements have created. In 2015, the U.S. government spent $500 million to train Islamist Syrian rebels as part of the Obama Administration’s ill-advised and unsuccessful campaign to depose Syria’s secular dictator Bashar al-Assad. After receiving free weapons and instruction, the rebels promptly defected to Al Qaeda, the murderous terrorist group America has been fighting for 20 years.
American taxpayers also have unwittingly supplied over $780 million for gender programs in Afghanistan, where U.S. troops have been dying for increasingly vague causes since 2001. Women’s equality in an Islamic fundamentalist society 7,000 miles away has become so central to American strategy that Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley recently broke down in an emotional rant when he implored the Biden Administration to continue the war. This is a deeply unserious approach to foreign policy that empowers forces we shouldn’t empower and tries to change cultures we can’t change. Reassessing our involvement in the Middle East would bring a lot more equity to the world than promoting racial resentment among American servicemembers.
All Hat and No Cattle
The U.S. government hasn’t just mishandled multiple foreign conflicts—it is also setting up the military for failure in future wars. There is no better example than the F-35 stealth fighter. Fifteen years after the first prototype flew, the aircraft still has 900 or so outstanding design issues. American taxpayers will pay $22 billion more than expected to sustain the fighter throughout its lifetime. Congress has been reluctant to cut the F-35 program, even though it has applied far greater scrutiny to other projects like the KC-46 tanker aircraft. Boeing, the manufacturer of the KC-46, will not be receiving the full payment for the aircraft and has agreed to fix some of the flaws at its own expense. Meanwhile, F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin has been spending program funds on flat-screen TVs and golf carts, and regularly delivers spare parts with missing records, which has resulted in more than $300 million in extra labor costs. The government should be taking defense contractors to task for failing to deliver results and swindling taxpayers. Instead, it’s targeting service members who fail to accept far-Left ideology.
Endless deployments that achieve nothing and bloated defense contracts that don’t deliver the tools our troops need are wearing down our military. On top of that, the number of young people who are willing and able to join the military is declining. If the Biden Administration continues to force exclusionary propaganda on our servicemembers, Americans will lose faith in our military’s capability and purpose entirely.
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Chris Nagavonski is a writer and translator from Washington, D.C. who specializes in Eastern European affairs.