Shortly after being sworn in as our nation’s 46th president, Joe Biden issued an executive order emphasizing that his first priority as commander-in-chief was to ensure that transgendered individuals in the military are protected. Biden’s unusual, but not wholly unexpected, emphasis on transgenderism was followed within days by the new secretary of defense, retired Army General Lloyd Austin, issuing a military-wide order mandating protection for transgendered personnel. On Feb. 4, Austin doubled down on this inward-looking focus when he declared a 60-day “stand down” designed to identify and ferret out “extremism” in the ranks.
Since early February, this administration’s obsession with wokeness in the military — referred to officially as “diversity” and “inclusion” — has only become worse. According to civilian military experts, this fixation is weakening our nation’s war-fighting ability.
To confirm this disturbing state of military affairs, one need look no further than the U.S. Army’s recent recruitment video, “Emma/The Calling.” This animated video, designed obviously to encourage lesbians to enlist in the Army, does not even pretend to value what heretofore has been the raison d’etre for maintaining a military — the ability and responsibility to fight and win wars. Instead, Emma stresses the paramount importance of “inclusion,” as depicted by the character’s lesbianism and her “two mothers.”
The Army video shares this vision with a similarly focused CIA recruitment video, in which a “Latina” employee of the Agency encourages other “intersectional” and “cisgender millennials” to join today’s “inclusive” Intelligence Community as she did, notwithstanding her preexisting mental problems (which she identifies as “generalized anxiety disorder”).
The controversy surrounding the mission and values undergirding both our national intelligence capabilities and those of our armed forces, was on further display last month in an exchange between Sen. Ted Cruz and Defense Secretary Austin; an exchange precipitated by opinions expressed by Fox News host Tucker Carlson. The conservative commentator had criticized the Biden administration’s drive to feminize our military and pointed to the announcement that maternity uniforms were now available for pregnant female troops.
Rather than leave the debate surrounding the feminization of the military to civilian commentators and Biden administration spokespeople to defend, active-duty military officials responded directly and pointedly to Carlson on official government communications sites. This precipitated Cruz’s letter to Austin, in which he expressed strong concerns about “politicizing the military” and “undermining civil-military relations.”
There does not yet appear to have been any public response by Austin or other military leaders to Cruz’s demands for an “official response” and for an “in person” meeting with the Marine Corps Commandant to explain the military’s official rebuke of media critics of the Administration’s policies. Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby, however, did respond publicly and even declared that Secretary Austin shared his “revulsion” at Carlson’s expressed opinions.
At the core of the Defense Department’s push-back against Carlson is the time-worn trope that the “greatest strength” of our military is its “diversity”; not its war-fighting ability, but its “diversity.” Therein lies the problem. When a nation’s military shifts its priority away from developing and maintaining war-fighting effectiveness and toward amorphous and deeply divisive culture issues, such as “transgenderism” and “inclusion,” it necessarily loses the sharp edge essential to projecting strength and winning military conflicts.
As military policy expert Mackubin Owens wrote in the April 6-13, 2021 edition of the Washington Examiner, in a piece titled “War Goes Woke,” our military now is at a crucial “crossroads … between military effectiveness and ‘wokeness.’” Failure to correct this growing imbalance will, in Owens’ learned opinion, lead to “catastrophic defeat on a future battlefield.” In fact, recent war games conducted to plan against just such outcomes in hypothetical conflicts with China, did not turn out well for the United States.
It is one thing to suffer defeat in a U.S.-China war game scenario, no matter how realistic the terms of engagement. It is quite another to contemplate losing such an engagement in the real world — a scenario becoming more frighteningly likely with each passing day that wokeness reigns supreme in our military.
Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He served as the United States Attorney in Atlanta from 1986 to 1990 and was an official with the CIA in the 1970s. He now practices law in Atlanta, Georgia and serves as head of Liberty Guard.