On January 23rd, US Senate confirmed retired US Army General Lloyd Austin as the first ever African American Defense Secretary.
Austin, who retired in 2016 and had to be granted a waiver from a law requiring a defense secretary to wait seven years after active-duty service before taking the job.
So far, the Biden administration has been various “inclusivity” appointments, such as the first transgender federal official – Rachel Levine as assistant Secretary of Health, and the biggest one – VP Kamala Harris, with her impressive list of firsts – highest-ever post held by a woman, first ever Asian American, but also somehow, first ever African American to hold the VP seat.
Confirmation of the defense secretary gives Biden another key department chief in place as congressional Democratic leaders attempt to move swiftly to confirm Cabinet members and other key officials following Biden’s inauguration.
The old is being kicked out at full speed with US President Joe Biden, any and all reminders and ties of conservativism and Donald Trump are disappearing rapidly.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said that the Senate should “pause and reflect” on the fact that Congress has granted waivers to both the Trump and Biden administrations to confirm defense secretaries.
“The law that we keep waiving actually exists for a good reason,” McConnell said. “Civilian control of the military is a fundamental principle of our republic. We emphatically do not want high-ranking military service to become a tacit prerequisite for civilian leadership posts over the Department of Defense.”
In the run-up to his confirmation vote, Austin has worked to overcome objections from some lawmakers to allowing a recently retired general to assume the civilian post.
He addressed those concerns directly at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, saying:
“If confirmed, I will carry out the mission of the Department of Defense, always with the goal to deter war and ensure our nation’s security, and I will uphold the principle of civilian control of the military, as intended.”
“I understand and respect the reservations some of you have expressed about having another recently retired general at the head of the Department of Defense,” he said at the hearing. “The safety and security of our democracy demands competent civilian control of our armed forces, the subordination of military power to the civil.”
If for some Lloyd Austin is largely unknown, the retired general is infamous for his statements regarding the training initiative in Syria that was worth approximately $500 million and resulted in 4 or 5 “moderate rebels” that were trained and subsequently deployed to end terrorism. This also famously backfired, since they simply just joined the terrorists, in a reference to the proverbial “If you can’t beat them, join them” situation.
Austin, notoriously, said: “We’re talking four or five.”
This was regarding the numbers trained by the US to fight against ISIS in its prime back in late 2014 and 2015.
That $500 million effort then went up to 54 individuals! And there were even 100 more being trained.
What happened with it, nobody knows, since it just faded into oblivion.
As a result, Austin has experience in making massive sums of money disappear, something appreciated in the Pentagon.
The Biden Administration, so far, has shown that no past lessons have been learned from any past administration’s mistakes – be it Trump or otherwise.
The cycle is likely about to repeat, and it is simply a return to the standstill the US was at before the Trump administration, which is not progress.
It is, once again, time to intervene in various countries’ internal policies, support local “moderate opposition” (read here “radicals”), launch “humanitarian operations” which mostly feature deliveries of bombs, in the form of an airstrike.
There are concerns that the peace deal with the Taliban will be forfeit, and the money pit and loss of life in Afghanistan for the US will continue for many “happy years” to come, if this were to happen.
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