By Andrew Exum
Since the president of the United States cast his lot in with white supremacists in his #NotAllNazis moment this week, the nation’s military service chiefs have responded with full-throated statements rejecting extremism and intolerance.
These statements have alarmed many. “If we lived in a different sort of country,” Fred Kaplan wrote in Slate, “this could fairly be seen as the prelude to a military coup.”
And I have some sympathy for this alarm.
As I have written in these pages, I am growing increasingly worried about the politicization of our military. And when I see the military appear to resist the impulses or tweeted policy preferences of the president, I am very conscious that —to build on an astute observation made by my friend Erin Simpson early on in this administration—some of the actions that protect the fabric of American society in the near term could be detrimental to American institutions in the long term. A politicized military that endures beyond this administration, for example, is not in the interests of the American people.
But I’m not as worried by the statements I’ve seen from the service chiefs, because I know there are two other important —and more parochial—motivations leading them to speak out against intolerance and hate groups.
The first motivation is that the U.S. military has long struggled with hate groups—and specifically white supremacists —in its ranks. White supremacist groups and their sympathizers were especially present in the ranks of the U.S. Army’s combat arms units and the U.S. Marine Corps in the 1980s and 1990s.
In 1986, an exasperated Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger, ordered the military to crack down on these groups, and another purge was ordered after U.S. Army veteran Timothy McVeigh planted a bomb that almost levelled the …read more
Via:: The Atlantic