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Gen. Mark Milley & His Righteous Race Sermon

The post-WW2 military posture of the US has been endless war

Gen. Mark Milley & His Righteous Race Sermon
General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, an Armed Services Committee hearing on June 23, 2021. (TOM WILLIAMS/GETTY)

Gen. Mark Milley & His Righteous Race Sermon
Look to the New Domestic War on Terror

By Glenn Greenwald

For two hundred forty years, American generals have not exactly been defined by adamant public advocacy for left-wing cultural dogma. Yet there appeared to be a great awakening at the Pentagon on Wednesday when Gen. Mark Milley, the highest-ranking military officer in the US as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified at a House hearing. The Chairman vehemently defended the teaching of critical race theory at West Point and, referencing the January 6 Capitol riot, said, “it is important that we train and we understand … and I want to understand white rage. And I’m white.”

In response to conservative criticisms that top military officials should not be weighing in on inflammatory and polarizing cultural debates, liberals were ecstatic to have found such an empathetic, racially aware, and humanitarian general sitting atop the US imperial war machine. Overnight, Gen. Milley became a new hero for US liberalism, a noble military leader which — like former FBI Director Robert Mueller before him — no patriotic, decent American would question let alone mock. Some prominent liberal commentators warned that conservatives are now anti-military and even seek to defund the Pentagon.

It is, of course, possible that the top brass of the US military has suddenly become supremely enlightened on questions of racial strife and racial identity in the US, and thus genuinely embraced theories that, until very recently, were the exclusive province of left-wing scholars at elite academic institutions. Given that all US wars in the post-World War II era have been directed at predominantly non-white countries, which — like all wars — required a sustained demonization campaign of those enemy populations, having top Pentagon officials become leading anti-racism warriors would be quite a remarkable transformation indeed. But stranger things have happened, I suppose.

But perhaps there is another explanation other than righteous, earnest transformation as to why the top US General has suddenly expressed such keen interest in studying and exploring “white rage”. Note that Gen. Milley’s justification for the military’s sudden immersion in the study of modern race theories is the January 6 Capitol riot — which, in the lexicon of the US security state and American liberalism, is called The Insurrection. When explaining why it is so vital to study “white rage,” Gen. Milley argued:

What is it that caused thousands of people to assault this building and try to overturn the Constitution of the United States of America? What caused that? I want to find that out. I want to maintain an open mind here, and I do want to analyze it.

The post-WW2 military posture of the US has been endless war. To enable that, there must always be an existential threat, a new and fresh enemy that can scare a large enough portion of the population with sufficient intensity to make them accept, even plead for, greater military spending, surveillance powers, and continuation of permanent war footing. Starring in that war-justifying role of villain have been the Communists, Al Qaeda, ISIS, Russia, and an assortment of other fleeting foreign threats.

According to the Pentagon, the US intelligence community, and President Joe Biden, none of those is the greatest national security threat to the United States any longer. Instead, they all say explicitly and in unison, the gravest menace to American national security is now domestic in nature. Specifically, it is “domestic extremists” in general — and far-right white supremacist groups in particular — that now pose the greatest threat to the safety of the homeland and to the people who reside in it.

In other words, to justify the current domestic War on Terror that has already provoked billions more in military spending and intensified domestic surveillance, the Pentagon must ratify the narrative that those they are fighting in order to defend the homeland are white supremacist domestic terrorists. That will not work if white supremacists are small in number or weak and isolated in their organizing capabilities. To serve the war machine’s agenda, they must pose a grave, pervasive and systemic threat.

Viewed through that lens, it makes perfect sense that Gen. Milley is spouting the theories and viewpoints that underlie this war framework and which depicts white supremacy and “white rage” as a foundational threat to the American homeland. A new domestic War on Terror against white supremacists and right-wing extremists is far more justifiable if, as Gen. Milley strongly suggested, it was “white rage” that fueled an armed insurrection that, in the words of President Biden, is the greatest assault on American democracy since the Civil War.

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