Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a retired general, held a press conference yesterday. The two managed to demonstrate one of two things. Either they are stupid or they believe the American public is stupid.
Let’s start with Austin. He assured reporters that Milley “doesn’t have a political bone in his body.” But at the same conference, Milley could not deny that he compared Donald Trump to Adolph Hitler. That’s a political view, and an idiotic one.
Austin also stated that he and Milley are committed to having a military that looks like America in terms of diversity from the bottom to the top. That’s a political view, too. Many Americans believe that our institutions, including the military (I would say especially the military) should be committed to promoting its best qualified members regardless of what they look like.
Milley spent much of the press conference trying to tap dance his way around the fact that Afghanistan appears to be falling to the Taliban. On the subject of Trump and the election, Milley said that the military “did not, and will not, and should not ever get involved in domestic politics.” He claimed to have followed this principle.
But telling reporters that Trump, who might well run for president in 2024, resembles Hitler obviously constitutes injecting himself into domestic politics. Milley could not deny having made the comparison.
Milley had already demonstrated his lack of regard for the public’s intelligence (or perhaps his own shortcomings) when he testified before Congress about the military’s teaching of Critical Race Theory (CRT). He told the House Armed Services Committee:
I’ve read Mao Zedong. I’ve read Karl Marx. I’ve read Lenin. That doesn’t make me a communist. So what is wrong with having some situational understanding about the country which we are here to defend?
Notice what Milley is saying. He’s saying that Critical Race Theory provides military personnel with an understanding of America. In other words, he’s vouching, at least to some extent, for its validity.
That’s political, and quite left wing.
Reading Mao, Marx, and Lenin doesn’t make one a communist. But believing that these communists provide us with some understanding of America would demonstrate sympathy for communist doctrine. There’s no reason to think Milley buys any aspect of communist doctrine, but he has effectively admitted subscribing to at least part of CRT’s grim view of America’s situation.
If Milley read the leading communists, he probably did so to gain an understanding of how our enemies think, not to better understand what America is actually like. But Critical Race Theory is being taught for the latter purpose, not the former. That’s clear from Milley’s testimony.
Furthermore, while Milley may have read the leading communists, I doubt that their doctrines were taught on a widespread basis to military personnel. They were probably taught only in special courses at the service academies and/or in graduate school programs. Milley might even have read them on his own.
I suspect that CRT is being taught on a much more widespread basis in the military than Mao, Marx, and Lenin were. And, as noted, it is being taught for a very different purpose.
Throughout history, there have been brilliant generals and dumb generals, and the vast majority of generals have fallen somewhere in between. America is no exception to this generalization, as most of our wars have demonstrated.
I don’t know whether Milley and Austin fall into the “dumb” category, but their recent comments make you wonder.