General Milley’s Comments: Grossly Cynical, Not Woke

Last week, during a contentious Congressional hearing between the Pentagon’s top leaders and members of both parties who are charged with overseeing the US military, US Army General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, had a bizarre contretemps about the presence of “Critical Race Theory” (CRT) being imposed upon the rank-and-file of the US military by the Biden Administration.

Specifically, the gonzo Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) led the inquisition and made copious reference to former United States Space Force Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Lohmeier (full disclosure: I’ve briefed Lohmeier and his former CO previously on matters related to space defense).

Here is the exchange between Gaetz and Milley and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin:

Courtesy of C-SPAN 2.

During the contentious exchange, General Milley (again, full disclosure: the general has been extremely gracious and complimentary of my work on national security space policy), insisted that he was unfamiliar with CRT but felt that it was very important to “understand the roots of white rage.” Referencing the absurd January 6, cosplay version of a (failed and laughable) revolution attempt, Milley clearly believed that CRT could provide some insight into the reasoning behind the Q-Anon rebellion on January 6.

According to Milley, he read Marx, Lenin, and Mao while he was a younger officer in order to understand the communist threat that the United States faced at that time. He argued to Gaetz that, for similar reasons, he wanted to read works related to CRT. Of course, this is a bizarre statement, primarily because the reason that Milley and his cohort of fellow officers had to read the works of notable communists while in school was because the United States was at war with communism at the time.

“White Rage,” if it was actually the cause of the 1/6 Capitol Hill siege (which remains in question), seems to be something that domestic security services, like the FBI, and local and state law enforcement organizations should be focused on…not the US military. Frankly, it’s been getting out-of-hand how much the US military has been relied on since 9/11 to conduct what should be primarily law enforcement operations.

I think the answer as to why Milley made his exaggerated comments is far simpler than the claim that he’s truly “woke” (and it’s the same reason that corporations and capital have gone woke): Milley and the entrenched powers that be are making a cynical calculation that the “woke-ness” saturating American society and (not so) civil discourse today is the majority opinion.

Milley has expertly positioned he and his institution away from the taint of Trump and those who support him (and, as the popular narrative goes, those who support White Supremacy and the events of Jan. 6) and has signaled his acceptance of CRT as a normal and natural aspect of American life.

It’s actually incredible. Milley comes from a line of officers who were trained to resist communist indoctrination. Yet, CRT and its proponents are often seen raising the clenched fist–an avowedly Marxist symbol, used by violent “liberation” movements the world over.

The ideology of CRT would be as anathema to great American civil rights leaders, like Martin Luther King, Jr., as it should be to the Pentagon’s top brass. After all, the symbol most associated with MLK was not the raised, clenched fist, but the cross.

The Pentagon’s top leaders are taking their cues from the “woke” political leadership in the Biden Administration as well as from social media, Pop Culture, and academia–all of which are decisively Leftist and fully “woke.”

Traditionally, it is the Right that has been a bastion for the military and the Left that has been avowedly hostile the military. Yet, after Milley’s bit of performance theater on Capitol Hill last week, the likes of Joy Reid and Chris Hayes of MSNBC are praising Milley and the military while the likes of Tucker Carlson of Fox News are calling Milley a “pig,” Milley has likely enabled an increase in support for his department’s proposed budget at a time when it appeared the two parties would consent to restrain the Pentagon’s budget.

Both sides are missing the real move here: Milley is smartly (this is not an endorsement of Milley’s comments in any way on my part, fyi) moving to preserve the cashflow into the Pentagon which, until last week, was seriously under threat from both the Right and Left for the first time in my lifetime. Now, thanks to Milley’s actions on Capitol Hill last week, he has ensured that the DoD will likely get a sizable portion of the budget it had requested for this fiscal year.

Shortly after Milley’s exchange with Gaetz, Milley made these comments:

The PB FY22 budget request increases the readiness and ensures our people are our No. 1 priority. Consistent, predictable budgets informed by the will of the people are critical to our nation’s defense. And the passage of this budget in a timely way is important. The FY22 presidential budget strikes an appropriate balance between preserving present readiness and future modernization. It’s a down payment on investments of the future, with a bias toward the future operating environment. It is now that we must set ourselves on a path to modernize the Joint Force, and this budget contributes to doing that.

There’s your motive.

People on the Right, like J.D. Vance are correct when they argue that the GOP has lost the culture because it has lost all of the major institutions, both public and private, to the Left. Milley and the Pentagon brass know that. They’re making a cynical calculation: that the Left has, in fact, won the Long March through America’s institutions and, in order to ensure the continuation of their organization’s budget at present (or higher) levels, they must nestle in close to the real power, the Democratic Party.

Milley, Austin, et al., they’re not “woke.” Not in the way their critics claim. They just want money. Just like the majority of the corporate class who are now swearing fealty to woke ideology. It’s little to do with ideology and everything to do with cold, hard cynicism.

Whatever knock-on effects (like actual readiness) is irrelevant to these uniformed bureaucrats. Let this be a lesson to the Right: elections have consequences. And, as the Left has proven for the last century, elections are only half of the power equation. It’s about capturing what Lenin referred to as the “transmission belts” of a culture.

The Right, with its Baby Boomer donor class, doesn’t get this. You’ve got to capture the cultural high ground and then achieve political change. We’re going to need ideological brawlers to do that–and they’re not the prim-and-proper sort.

After all, the last seven out of ten US presidents have been Republican…and that has done little to stop the leftward shifting of that pesky Overton Window–so much so that now the US military is cowed into submission by the Left because they fear that their budgets will be constrained by the Left, which they believe is more powerful than the Right (because the Left really is). Going forward, the Republican Party will have to accept it will need to be far tougher on the military than it has been in the past in order to enforce fairness and respect from the top military brass that is otherwise lacking today.

As J.D. Vance said recently, unless Republicans are willing to exercise power against those institutions and stakeholders who are inimical to the Right, than it is not worth being a movement at all.

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