Saturday, June 26, 2021

Glenn Greenwald On Our Race Baiting Generals

Mark Milley's performance in the House--and make no mistake, it was a performance--has drawn a fair amount of commentary. Yesterday Glenn Greenwald offered some observations. He rightly focuses on the highly political stance that has been adopted by our active duty professional military--perhaps unprecedented in our time. Some excerpts follow. You may not agree with everything Greenwald--a liberal--has to say, but he does place developments within a coherent, largish picture perspective. I will note that it's surprising that a liberal like Greenwald--while rightly focusing on the military's participation in a campaign of demonization of a fairly specific demographic within the American populace--fails to note the pretty clear class and religious markers of the demonized demographic:

What is Behind Gen. Mark Milley's Righteous Race Sermon? Look To The New Domestic War On Terror

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 U.S. 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 U.S. imperial war machine. Overnight, Gen. Milley became a new hero for U.S. 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 U.S. military has suddenly become supremely enlightened on questions of racial strife and racial identity in the U.S., and thus genuinely embraced theories that, until very recently, were the exclusive province of left-wing scholars at elite academic institutions. Given that all U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. intelligence community, and President Zhou Baiden, 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, those against whom they are fighting 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.

Again, here I believe Greenwald misses part of the bigger picture. Terroristic white supremacists--even simple armchair white supremacists--will never constitute a significant part of the American population. Greenwald is absolutely correct about the need to "grow the threat." And the way that's being done is to expand the category of "white supremacists" far beyond any remotely rational bounds. The most obvious way of doing this is to expand the category to all Trump supporters. If many tens of millions of Americans can be placed in that category then you really do have a serious threat. But that category has, as I say, obvious class and religious characteristics that should be noted. What's even more remarkable--and gives away the Leftist ideological slant of our General Staff--is that this demonization of fully half or more of the voting population of America as "domestic enemies" is being done in a time of peace, when the only serious violence that's political or racial in nature is being perpetrated not by whites but by the Left. Unfortunately Greenwald is perceiving this through older anti-war Left lenses. He needs to get outside that box.


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.

Within that domestic War on Terror framework, Gen. Milley, by pontificating on race, is not providing cultural commentary but military dogma. Just as it was central to the job of a top Cold War general to embrace theories depicting Communism as a grave threat, and an equally central part of the job of a top general during the first War on Terror to do the same for Muslim extremists, embracing theories of systemic racism and the perils posed to domestic order by “white rage” is absolutely necessary to justify the U.S. Government's current posture about what war it is fighting and why that war is so imperative.


  1. I served 14 years in US Air Force Intelligence, reaching the rank of major. I was a Russian-language specialist. After the Soviet Union fell apart in 1991, I took advantage of a one-time opportunity to retire with separation pay in 1992 without completing 20 years of service. I figured that my experience in Russian HUMINT was so narrow that I ever would get promoted to lieutenant colonel.

    I was involved mostly in collecting intelligence from immigrants and defectors from the Warsaw Pact.

    At that time in 1992, I perhaps was on the liberal side of USAF Intelligence officers. For example, at that time, a big issue was whether homosexuals should be tolerated in the US military. I thought they should be tolerated. At that time, I subscribed to The New Republic, which was edited by Andrew Sullivan.

    In my penultimate assignment, I worked a couple years in the Pentagon, on the staff of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Air Force Intelligence. In that assignment, I developed a profound appreciation and respect for the abilities of a military colonel or general.

    Based on that experience and perspective, I know that General Milley is an extraordinarily intelligent and capable man.


    That said, I must say that I am disappointed in General Milley's blatant political partisanship.

    I suppose that you, Mark, have experienced a similar disappointment in your perspective on James Comey and his ilk in the highest ranks of the FBI.


    One valuable concept that I learned as a military officer was the concept of professionalism. In that regard, a military officer should stand separate from political partisanship.

    General Milley is a smart enough military officer that he does know how to behave in a non-partisan manner in his situation -- as a top military officer in the Biden Administration.

    In that regard, I am disappointed by General Milley. He is misbehaving blatantly as a partisan hack, as James Comey did as the top FBI officer misbehaved in the Trump Administration.

    1. I'd say you made a very smart decision.

      The conundrum in all these organizations is this. Leaving aside the issue of mediocrities rising above their level of competence, there's no question that there are--in an objective sense as measured by tests--smart and talented people. How then is it that they do and say things that are so obviously stupid. Comey would clearly fit in that category. He has escaped punishment for his crimes--he was smart enough for that--but he clearly not smart enough to see that he has tarnished himself for ever. Why?

      My father was a professor of clinical psychology who also engaged in extensive practice in the field. Two things he told me that have stuck--maybe more, but for now:

      1) Intelligence in a real sense is in great part a function of character. IOW, good character formation can help a person make wise decisions and poor character formation--even in an objectively intelligent person--can lead to foolish and self destructive decisions. When a person of the second sort, as so often happens, rises to a position of influence the results are predictably not good.

      2) Mental illness is often a choice. This notion is obviously related to the first.

    2. In my 14 years in the US Air Force, I served with many Blacks whom I recognized and respected as being more capable than I myself was.

      I do not object at all to General Milley celebrating Blacks' capabilities and accomplishments.


      However, I am disappointed by General Milley's blathering about "White Rage". Milley is smart enough to address this issue in a more nonpartisan manner, as our top military officer. His misbehavior here is appalling.


      The portion of our country's electorate -- and of our US military -- who thinks that our 2020 election was stolen is not stupid or bigoted -- or suffering from "White Rage". On the contrary, those skeptics deserve consideration and respect.

      In that regard, General Milley's blathering about "White Rage" is contemptible. Milley is an extremely smart man, who should know better than to involve himself in this political controversy.

      There is no good reason for General Milley to involve himself personally -- or the US military as a whole -- in this controversy.

      Whether the 2020 election was stolen -- or not stolen -- is not the business of General Milley or of the US military as a whole. General Milley, as a professional military officer, should not utter or even intimate any opinion about it.

      General Milley should keep the US military out of that controversy -- which is not the US military business's at all.

      Milley should recognize that many, many, many military members think that the 2020 electi0n was stolen -- and they do not think so because of some of some imaginary "White Rage".

    3. "he has tarnished himself for ever."
      Only in Deplorables circles.
      In Elite circles, he's fine.

      For a glimpse at the strife on the Left, about GG going as far from the party line as he's gone, see the recent post on Glenn, by Jonathan Cook at Consortium News, on "What Happened to Glenn Greenwald?... Trump happened – and put the left’s priorities to the test."

      The readers' comments are worth a look, incl. kaishaku’s, Theduce’s, and Jim Thomas' critiques of Mr. Cook's conclusion, and of other readers’ remarks.

    4. Mike -

      “In that regard, General Milley's blathering about "White Rage" is contemptible. Milley is an extremely smart man, who should know better than to involve himself in this political controversy.

      There is no good reason for General Milley to involve himself personally -- or the US military as a whole -- in this controversy.”

      He did it for a specific reason: to inject himself into the news cycle & get media accolades. It was a totally self-serving/self-aggrandizing move, in the mould of LtCol Vindman vis-a-vis Trump.

      This is why we don’t win wars anymore. We haven’t “won” a war since 1945 & clowns like Milley/McCaffrey are one half the reason (the other half being the feckless politicians in DC who don’t understand military conflict).

      Been studying Military History since I was 6yrs old. We’ve gone from “fightingest” generals like Washington, Lee, Jackson, A.P. Hill, D.H Hill, Longstreet, Patton, & Walton Walker to limp-wristed PC gutter trash like Milley/McCaffrey.

      Bottom line: politics ruins everything. The U.S. Military should be apolitical. As Rush used to say, “the military is for killing people & breaking things”.

      And it should ever be thus.


    5. Yes, Comey has tarnished himself forever. He will never be nominated, much less confirmed, for public office again.

  2. I had many times over the years called for the idea of military intervention into our mess of domestic affairs.Naively I saw this as a stop gap solution to our insurmountable pile of DC corruption. In my own defence I looked at the military option from the perspective I knew and was familiar with, the bottom up.

    Mark cured me of this last year with one of his famous one line zingers. Something to the effect of, do you really want our military brass in charge of our country? It was a perspective I had honestly just not fully thought out.

    Since that time I've done the homework and the answer unequivocally NO! (Thank you Mark for the linguistic slap I needed, there is hope for blight)

    It's been good for the country to have these domestic enemies come pouring out. Some think these are exceptional times, I however think they are simply now saying the quiet parts out loud (the trump effect) and were a solid century into this mess.

    Milley is just further proof of the norm over the misconstrued exceptionalisum we mistakenly accepted.

  3. Who caused these generals and admirals to take these actions and make these remarks that are exceptionally harmful to good order and discipline in the military ranks? Why, none other than Donald Trump. Not only did he expose the national media as a bunch of frauds which they continue to perpetuate by their hands off treatment of Biden (and all other democrats), but also the FBI and CIA as willing democrat accomplices. Now the U.S. military joins these agencies in a negative public opinion free fall.

    If Trump was no longer a threat, these generals and admirals (mice that roar) would return to their appointed duties of defending the country. Trump, however, continues to be a threat to them and their democrat overlords with each day that passes. Those not wearing rose colored glasses understand the remarkable success of Trump in his four years in office while watching the complete disaster unfold that the Biden/Harris administration is.

    Finally, I'm curious as to what these military GOFOs think they are going to do about a domestic threat without martial law being declared... Did one senator ask these stuffed shirts with gold braid about the Posse Comitatus Act which limits military involvement in domestic affairs?


    1. You may have hit on why we see many voices being brought to bear on matters they would normally not be heard on. Our present regime is fragile. It does however represent a continuity in our power structure. I think most rational people would agree that the Biden-Harris ticket has neither the competence nor the charisma that we expect in the highest office in the land. Giuliani in New York and a grandmother in Alaska share the fact that they have taken positions questioning the integrity of the last election, and both must be silenced. What will come out of the Arizona recount and possible other actions of States to verify the election results are certainly being treated as a threat to the status quo. Even more unnerving is the suspicion that President Trump has solid proof of fraud, and that he has plans to 'catch them all,' as he has threatened. I am curious about this, and would caution that he might take years waiting for the moment to spring the trap.

  4. Under Obama the military was culled of any non true believers of the higher ranks,

    Trump did not.

    If Milley did not play ball, he would be gone.

    Look what happened to General Flynn.

  5. Don Surber posted a brutal takedown of Milley:


  6. Biden recently in his 2A speech stated, in reference to the opposition to tyranny by the government justification, stated something like that didn't make sense because "they'd need jets and nuclear weapons" for that. Wasn't this just bragging that they already feel like they have the military in their back pocket?

  7. That is really an insightful take on Milley's statements by Greenwald. I don't know much about Greenwald's liberal politics, but I think that his frequent appearances on Tucker Carlson show that he understands and respects the demographic that is now being targeted by our government. The insurrection narrative is just a continuation of the war against Trump, a continuation of the Russian collusion narrative that Greenwald has vociferously criticized, and it is another attempt by elites to weaken Trump's return in 2024. Although Greenwald apparently does not like Trump, he clearly likes Trump's supporters and is one of the few who can speak to both sides.

    1. Greenwald has been ostracized by the Left for a number of reasons--most of which can be traced back to the fact that he's in many ways an old fashioned civil liberties type liberal, while the Left is increasingly contemptuous of that model of constitutional order. I'm sure he understands that his hard hitting critique of the Russia Hoax endeared him to conservatives, but I also suspect he genuinely appreciates the willingness of conservatives to listen to his other concerns as well.

  8. Milley and Comey are revolutionaries, as are many other heads of agencies (and their employees). This could get very fluid very fast.

  9. Mike Sylwester says, based on his experience, that military people like Gen Milley rise to the top because they are intelligent. I have no doubt that's true. But just because someone is intelligent doesn't mean they have mastery of all subject areas. Albert Einstein was a brilliant physicist, but when he pontificated on political matters his opinions were pedestrian. I have heard opinions from random online bloggers that are more insightful than Gen Milley's on the subject of education and CRT

    1. It is possible to be book smart and still be of weak character. What I am seeing in Milley is extremely weak character. He has no moral compass.

      It is possible to rise in the military because one is a politician.

    2. It is possible to be book smart and still be of weak character. What I am seeing in Milley is extremely weak character. He has no moral compass.

      It is possible to rise in the military because one is a politician.

  10. The simple thing being missed is that the General, like everyone else in these positions, take their marching orders from the main news sources: The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN; maybe the Wall Street Journal for something vaguely right-leaning.

    They are informed of the social mood about what's going on through these outlets, and then act accordingly. Anything else is either eccentricity, 2nd-rate or straight up 'fake news' (which is why I think Washington types have had an unbelievable conniption about a more noisy marketplace of voices.)

    It goes ignored, as it has for a long time now, that the line between our newsmen and the intelligence community is extremely blurry and a number of stories drilled into us are curated propaganda or access journalism/public relations. Also ignored is that these reporters and journalists are very dopey in the aggregate with their own biases; and that these outlets have long outlived their usefulness. The New York Times, for example, was once useful because its overseas wire service-- something modern technology made obsolete long ago.

    Some of it is just laziness on the part of people in charge; but some of it is that we are generally talking about old men and women who are set in their ways and "this is the way successful people do things." Then we cannot discount social class pressure and that the people attracted to, and fulfilling these jobs, tend to be very conventional people who approach everything by the conventions they were taught.

    Then there is the money issue. I don't think the public understands how many "terrorism experts" our schools cranked out in the last two decades who crank out terrible research as a matter of course to fulfill their role because there's no consistent operationalization of 'terrorism' not subject to political whims. Those people, and I'm sure the General is well acquainted with many, have nothing to do but must be put to work or lobby for work. One can get a long if they have the ear of a general.

    I apologize for the long post but my point is that there are some very mundane, human reasons for our predicament that don't require extensive speculation about the intelligence of the general or whatever philosophical, moral thoughts are coursing through his mind; if any.

    I wish our first practical step would be an acknowledgement that our media is a branch of our government, maybe the most important one as it manufactures public opinion, and that it has been the case since at least the Kennedy Administration. Doing so would allow us to actually engage with the problems we face instead of being railroaded over and over again by both parties and the whole operation as currently constructed.

  11. Obama meant when he said fundamental transformation that there would be a revolution. He spent 8 years preparing the battlefield. Hillary was supposed to set it in motion. Their ferocious rolling coup of the unexpected Trump term and ultimately forcing him out through the stolen election was all about keeping the revolution on track. The CRT engine is going full steam with only little people in the way.

    We face long odds.

    1. Neill, above, "Speaks Heap Big Medicine!!!--especially the "We face long odds" bit.

    2. Thanks Virgil. I truly fear for our Republic. Its enemies, foreign and domestic are on the cusp of victory.

  12. I shudder to think that our government may be a branch of the multinationals and their bought and paid for media. I would further suggest that as a practical step we train ourselves to totally disregard the media, as they have made the factual news subservient to their agenda.