Biden’s Military Extremism Review Overlooked the Real Extremists in the Military

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) arrested a U.S. Marine on Friday who wanted to “bring the pain” to “a rich white area” and had studied racist mass shooters. The Marine boasted in disturbing social media posts about killing cats with a crossbow and hoping to become a serial killer, declaring, “the only way out is bloodshed.”

The arrest comes three months after an active-duty U.S. airman set himself on fire outside the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C. The airman’s social media revealed connections to Antifa and the “Stop Cop City” movement, a dismissive attitude toward the death of fellow U.S. servicemembers, and praise for intimidating graffiti on the house of an elected official who sponsored Utah’s law to protect minors from gender transition procedures.

These incidents suggest that the Biden administration’s military-wide “stand-down to address extremism in the ranks” was a failure.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered the “stand-down” on February 5, 2021, less than three weeks into Biden’s term. He ordered all supervisors “within the next 60 days to conduct a one-day ‘stand-down,’” where service personnel would halt their other duties and focus solely on rooting out extremism.

The stand-down was only “just the first initiative” of “a concerted effort” at combatting extremism. On April 9, 2021, Austin commissioned an independent study on extremism, convened a Countering Extremist Activity Working Group (CEAWG), and ordered reviews of the military’s extremism definition, screening questionnaires, and retirement transition checklists. In December 2021, the CEAWG released a 21-page report containing six more recommendations. On May 10, 2022, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) released a 56-page report with two additional recommendations.

Why, despite these considerable efforts, did multiple extremists manage to slip through the cracks?

The answer is unsurprising. Like nearly everything the Biden administration does, this search for extremists in the military was politically one-sided. The stand-down opportunistically seized on the then-recent January 6 incident to fearmonger about a supposedly imminent national takeover by militarized white nationalists (and, of course, those radicals who refused to take the COVID jab). There is no evidence that the stand-down ever addressed left-wing forms of extremism, such as Antifa, the anti-cop BLM riots (2020), or the violent attacks on churches and pregnancy resource centers (2022).

In fact, the 262-page independent review published by the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) in December 2023 rebuked the Biden administration’s misleading narrative about a dangerous white supremacist under-culture lurking in the military. One the one hand, their review “found no evidence that the number of violent extremists in the military is disproportionate to the number of violent extremists in the United States as a whole.” Among other evidence, a review of court-martial records dating back to 2012 found no more than “on case per year” of non-gang-related “prohibited extremist activities.”

On the other hand, the IDA rebuked the Biden administration for touting a false narrative of right-wing extremism because it “could lead to a significant division in the force along political and ideological lines, with some members of the military believing that they are being targeted for their views.” They even argued that “the risk to the military from widespread polarization and division in the ranks may be a greater risk than the radicalization of a few service members.”

Within weeks, President Joe Biden was fearmongering about right-wing extremism in yet another major speech.

Over the past four weeks, pro-terrorist occupations of college campuses (and even buildings) have served Americans with yet another warning of left-wing radicalism and its tendency to undermine civil society by targeting even non-political institutions.

In two recent examples, active members of the U.S. armed services with a history of left-leaning, extremist rhetoric reached a crisis point. One committed the ultimate act of self-harm by burning himself to death on a public sidewalk (as an act of anti-Semitism). The other was arrested for plotting a racially-motivated mass shooting — fortunately, before he executed his plan.

But don’t count on the DOD to mount a “coordinated effort” to respond to this trend anytime soon. From the favoritism of its FACE Act prosecutions, to targeting parents at school board meetings, to its retaliation against whistleblowers, to its biased prosecutions of political celebrities and their families, the Biden administration has routinely committed the very same error the IDA’s independent review warned against: creating “significant division … along political and ideological lines,” giving some Americans good reason to believe “they are being targeted for their views.”

This is why, when conducting a grandiose military extremism review that wasn’t really all that necessary, the DOD failed to discover some actual extremists lurking in the military.


Joshua Arnold

Joshua Arnold is a senior writer at The Washington Stand.

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

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