Here are 13 tasks and three maxims for a very different Pentagon.

by William J. Astore, Tom Dispatch

A progressive Pentagon? Talk about an oxymoron! The Pentagon continues to grow and surge with ever larger budgets, ever more expansive missions (for example, a Space Force to dominate the heavens and yet more bases in the Pacific to encircle China), and ever greater ambitions to dominate everywhere, including if necessary through global thermonuclear warfare. No wonder it’s so hard, to the point of absurdity, to imagine a Pentagon that would humbly and faithfully serve only the interests of “national defense.”

Yet, as a thought experiment, why not imagine it? What would a progressive Pentagon look like? I’m not talking about a “woke” Pentagon that touts and celebrates its “diversity,” including its belated acceptance of LGBTQ+ members. I’m glad the Pentagon is arguably more diverse and tolerant now than when I served in the Air Force beginning in the early 1980s. Yet, as a popular meme has it, painting “Black Lives Matter” and rainbow flags on B-52 bombers doesn’t make the bombs dropped any less destructive. To be specific: Was it really a progressive milestone that the combat aircraft in last year’s Super Bowl flyover were operated and maintained entirely by female crews? Put differently, are the bullets and bombs of trans Black G.I. Jane somehow more tolerant and less deadly than cis White G.I. Joe’s?

The Pentagon from above in Washington, DC

A progressive military shouldn’t stop with “more Black faces in high places,” more female generals “leaning in” around conference tables, and similar so-called triumphs for diversity. Consider Lloyd Austin, the first Black secretary of defense, whose views and actions have been little different from those of former Defense Secretaries James Mattis or Donald Rumsfeld, and whose background as a retired Army four-star general and well-paid former board member of Raytheon makes him the very stereotype of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex.

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