What if Liberals Ran the Military?

Dr. Strangelove is one of the funniest films ever made. Produced in 1964 at the height of the Cold War, the story concerns a rogue right-wing Air Force general who orders a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union and the frantic efforts by the president and his advisers to recall the bombers before it’s too late.

Convinced that the fluoridation of the water supply is a “commie” plot to sap “our precious bodily fluids,” the cigar-chewing General Jack D. Ripper (masterfully played by Sterling Hayden) became the template for a long line of Hollywood generals who, because of their paranoid view of the world, posed a threat to peace and security. The message of Strangelove and a dozen other military thrillers is that war is too important to be left in the hands of gung-ho conservatives.

But times change, and the Army has changed with the times. It’s not your father’s (or grandfather’s) army any more. It’s more like your Marxist, transgendered kid sister’s army. Well, that might be an exaggeration. There are still plenty of unconfused, level-headed, patriotic, and highly competent soldiers in the military. But there does seem to be a problem at the top, and it doesn’t have anything to do with square-jawed, commie-hunting maverick generals. Consequently, it may be time for Hollywood to come up with a new angle on the old story of conspiracy-obsessed officers with itchy trigger fingers.

Here’s an idea. What if, instead of a rogue right-wing general, it was liberal PC types that endangered national security? In short, what if liberals ran the Army?

It’s not really a hypothetical question. They already do. Let’s start with the Commander-in-Chief. Is he liberal? Is he radically cutting back on troop levels and defense spending? Does he look upon the military as our first line of defense or as the proving ground for every daffy social experiment that left-liberals can devise? (These are rhetorical questions and there is no penalty for incorrect answers—except maybe life in prison.)

In Dr. Strangelove, much is made of our supposedly insane Cold War policies. But has no one noticed that there’s something more than a little odd with current policies? Take the “Taliban trade” that’s currently in the spotlight. The president swapped five high-ranking Taliban commanders for one low-ranking sergeant of questionable patriotism. That’s like trading Reich Marshal Goering, Field Marshal Rommel, and Admiral Doenitz (supposing we had captured them) for the cook from Charley Company who got drunk one night, wandered over enemy lines, and fell into the hands of the Germans.

Even if the Bergdahl affair were an isolated incident, it would still have “rogue action” written all over it. The president doesn’t seem to have any more patience for advice and consent than General Ripper did. Unfortunately, the swap is only one in a long line of military misadventures that, were they in a movie, could only be treated as tragedy or high satire.

Here are some examples:

The largest leak of classified intelligence in history (WikiLeaks) was traced to a cross-dressing, twenty-two-year old private in Army intelligence. At his court martial, Private Bradley Manning’s attorneys argued that the court should be lenient on the grounds that their client suffered from “gender identity confusion.” Private Manning, who prefers to be called “Chelsea,” is now in Fort Leavenworth Prison, awaiting sex reassignment therapy. In compliance with his wishes, most news outlets now dutifully refer to “Miss” Manning as Chelsea or Chelsea Elizabeth. This, however, is probably not a blanket change in editorial policy. If George W. Bush were to reassign himself as a Democrat and ask to be called Franklin Delano Bush, it is unlikely that the media would comply so readily.

Gender confusion? How about plain old conventional confusion? Valerie Jarrett, one of the president’s top advisers, once attended a reception where she mistook a four-star general for a waiter. But that’s nothing. James Clapper, Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, mistook the Muslim Brotherhood for “a largely secular organization.” The Brotherhood’s creed is: “God is our objective; the Koran is our law; the Prophet is our leader; jihad is our way; and death for the sake of Allah is the highest of our aspirations.” Luckily, the code-breakers at National Intelligence were able to determine the hidden message in all this—namely, “We are largely secular.” Meanwhile, John Brennan, the head of the CIA, has on at least a couple of occasions described jihad as a “holy struggle … to purify oneself or one’s community.” This is roughly equivalent to the World War II head of intelligence thinking that blitzkrieg was German for “cherry blintz.”

In an era when diversity and sensitivity trump security, such intelligence failures are to be expected. After Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan murdered fourteen people at Fort Hood, Army Chief of Staff General George Casey opined that although the massacre was a tragedy, “it would be an even greater tragedy if our diversity becomes a casualty here.” That’s the kind of talk one might expect from the gung-ho General Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove. But in its own way the Fort Hood story is as strange as anything in Strangelove. When the film was produced, the idea of having the commander of a nuclear bomber wing go bonkers was considered daring. We’ve been on our guard against zealous right-wing generals ever since. But how about zealous Muslim psychiatrists? That sort of threat wasn’t even on the radar when Stanley Kubrick directed and produced the film.

Kubrick could hardly have imagined that, half a century on, our troops would have to worry about a gun-wielding Muslim psychiatrist and the politically correct protocols that enabled him. After all, the plot of Dr. Strangelove hinges on the fact that no one realizes General Ripper is unhinged until it’s too late. The crazy thing about the Fort Hood massacre is that many people knew that there was something radically wrong with Hasan long before the shooting, but they also knew that they might get sentenced to six months sensitivity training or worse if they said anything about it. As the Associated Press reported, “a fear of appearing discriminatory against a Muslim [medical] student kept officers from filing a formal written complaint.” So they held their tongues, and instead of being handed his walking papers, Hasan was given the Pentagon’s Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and various glowing recommendations. Even after the shooting, political correctness held sway. After conducting a lengthy investigation, the Department of Defense concluded that the jihad massacre was just a typical case of “workplace violence.”

What if liberals with their PC ways ran the Army? We’re beginning to find out. It’s not just that political correctness allows misfits like Bradley Manning and Nidal Hasan to fly under the radar, in effect it turns off the radar. In 2011 and 2012, at the behest of Muslim lobby groups, the FBI, the Department of Defense, and other national security agencies were ordered to purge their counterterror training materials of any references to Islam that the activist groups found offensive. In effect, Islamists now decide what America’s defenders will learn about Islam. (Hint: it’s all about peace.)

Meanwhile, as the military becomes more non-offensive in the PC sense, it’s also becoming more non-offensive in the sense of not having enough men and materials to defend our country’s interests. The Pentagon recently announced plans to scale back the U.S. Army by more than an eighth. That will bring it back to the lowest level since before World War II. This comes at a time when Russia is eyeing Ukraine, China is eyeing various Pacific islands, and Islamists are eyeing the whole planet. However, it’s not as though our own military is unconcerned with the planet. The Army has been switching to environmentally friendly lead-free “green” bullets. Reportedly they don’t have as much stopping power as the old bullets. But what the heck—they’re good for the eco-system, just like the bio-friendly jet fuel the military bought for $150 per gallon.

Although the PCing of the military is extremely serious and possibly catastrophic in its consequences, it also has its comic side. The situation cries out for the Dr. Strangelove treatment. Will Hollywood move to exploit the comic potential inherent in an army that’s forced to play by liberal rules?

Don’t hold your breath. The same people who now run the government and military also run the media and entertainment industries. And they don’t like to be laughed at.

Editor’s note: This essay first appeared June 11, 2014 on Aleteia website and is reprinted with permission of the author. The image above pictures Peter Sellers as Dr. Strangelove in the 1964 film of the same name, directed by Stanley Kubrick.

William Kilpatrick


William Kilpatrick taught for many years at Boston College. He is the author of several books about cultural and religious issues, including Why Johnny Can’t Tell Right From Wrong; and Christianity, Islam and Atheism: The Struggle for the Soul of the West and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Jihad. His articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Catholic World Report, National Catholic Register, Aleteia, Saint Austin Review, Investor’s Business Daily, and First Things. His work is supported in part by the Shillman Foundation. For more on his work and writings, visit his website, turningpointproject.com


    ‘What If Liberals Ran the Military?’


    • Vinnie

      “It’s not really a hypothetical question. They already do.”

  • RufusChoate

    You need to differentiate between the Left running their Military in a totalitarian state and their innate desire to destroy the American Military. The Left wants to destroy the US Military while it militarized every aspect of the Status Apparatus. One swears allegiance to the Constitution while the other swears to the Agency and the State.

  • fredx2

    There is some evidence from the Clinton administration that liberals view the military as a social project. Not a military force. Therefore, they focus on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and on women’s status in the military, etc. It is a social laboratory for them. There is a story from the Clinton administration where Hilllary was traveling overseas and her motorcade passed through a slum area. The conversation in the limo among her aides immediately switched to ways the military could be used to enter the slums and rebuild them. No one seemed to realize that was not what a military was for. There are plenty of other organizations for that. Yet that is how they say the military – as potential social workers.
    It is the same with the Obama administration. Never mind about war fighting capability, focus on the status of gays, women, minorities. Then reduce manpower to levels not seen since before World War II.
    And now we have ISIS taking over Iraq Somehow I get the feeling that Obama is sort of wanting to see the helicopters taking off from the roof of the Embassy.

  • ElsasserSC

    I would expect we would ask our ennemies to comply with safe and envvironment friendly battleground practices to eliminate casualties and protect the planet. We should also enforce gender equal battleground rules to avoid male advangtage in upper body strength to undermine efforts to achieve pure gender equality in combat situation.

    • asmondius

      Gender equality is yesterday’s news – now we need transgender and amorphous gender. We need our troops to be fully prepared for a conflict with Sweden.

      • dbwheeler

        …and a conflict with Sweden might trigger our greatest fear, a complete knock-down-drag-out fight with Denmark and Holland! They’re so vicious if our uniforms aren’t color coordinated and everyone wearing peace symbols. But, the winner gets a Nobel prize and a lifetime supply of Scandinavian modern furniture. Mmmmm

  • Jdonnell

    My, how clever the musings of an overwrought mind. Why not turn instead to the realities of what the non-liberals have achieved in recent years when they were in charge of the military. They may not have mistaken a general for a waiter–tips don’t bring in the six figure pensions of the thousands of retired US generals–but those non-liberals, like Cheney, Wolfowitz, Bolton, Rumsfeld, et. al., had no problem in manipulating congress to mistakenly support two wars. (I do not refer to those non-liberals as conservatives, since, even though that is generally what they are labeled, they are really radicals, interested in conserving very little.) Those wars were based on their lies to the American public. Bush’s wars followed their thinking and achieved nothing. The war in Iraq alone and subsequent chaos caused by the US invasion (and decimation) have cost a half million Iraqi lives, plus the several thousand dead US troops. The $4 trillion cost to US taxpayers is something our grandchildren will still be paying off many years from now. The meter is still running on the Afghan war, which failed to get bin Laden. Instead of trying to evoke guffaws from Crisis readers, K. might do better to do some soul-searching and ashes wearing for having fun about a military that has cost us all so dearly.

    • Scott W.

      Bush and his cronies are neo-cons, which are really just the liberals of yesteryear that haven’t caught up to the zeitgeist. As it is, I can not seriously encourage my kids to enter military service.

    • asmondius


      • DE-173

        In all 57 states.

        • Thomas

          Without the use of horses in the U.S. Cavalry.

    • dbwheeler

      Yes, it’s alllllll our fault! America has no enemies and Russia has always been so misunderstood, right? Freedom is not free and it costs us dearly indeed…thousands of lives, in fact. The bean counters and pacifists did not save Europe in WWII, nor help build this country. Doesn’t it bother you how many thousands of Christians are being brutally murdered throughout the Middle East? No, you people whine about how bad we are. I hate what’s happening there and was against going into Iraq, but I hate the insanity of vicious terrorism more. Where’s your phony outrage about Muslim hatred and violence?

      • hombre111

        Go ahead, change the subject and compare apples with oranges. The Iraq War was still based on lives, we left it a wreck, and it is ending the way liberals predicted, way back then, when it all started. And now Afghanistan. More of the same. And there would be less Muslim hatred and violence if we would simply stay out of an area whose history and culture we will never really understand. Oh. But its about “our” oil.

    • DE-173

      And that folks is an example of PVBDS.

      Persistent Vegetative Boosh! Derangement Syndrome.

      • hombre111

        Poor man. Calls people names, slaps on labels, and congratulates himself for a clever argument.

        • DE-173

          I might be poor, but I am a man, not that you would know.

          I described an action.

          But why don’t you tell us again about all the rednecks in your parish?

          Buy a mirror and big tweezers for that log in your eye.

  • WRBaker

    What of the admiral who told the chaplain to “get in line” or “resign”? The chaplain told to take an essay off a website? The liberals run the military because Obama is the CinC.
    The “brass” has always been political because they are more interested in making and retaining their “stars.” They do this by going along and becoming “Yes Men/Women” to their political masters. Ask yourself, how many generals or admirals have told Obama (or his minions) that he was wrong?
    Even in Vietnam, there were few real generals (General Hollingsworth comes to mind) who wanted to face and defeat the enemy – there were many who needed “command time” for their promotions, however. Unfortunately, the press is always around and ever eager to take down whoever doesn’t agree with their preconceptions and politics.
    You’re right, this isn’t my grandfather’s, my father’s or my Army anymore – it bears little resemblance to anything but the politically correct armies of some European countries.

    • DE-173

      “The liberals run the military because Obama is the CinC”

      If we ever get a sane President again, job one will be to identify the boot licking lackies with stars and birds on their uniform and replace them promptly.

    • curmudgeon

      We have fighting Admirals and those who fly desks and push paper with their noses close to Obama’s azz. Obama has gotten rid of those who do not follow the program of ‘Brown Nose’!

  • Watosh

    Yes the military has been influenced by liberals, and besides this the military is one big example of a socialistic organization. The military embodies socialism. Yet those on the right, even the most extreme anti-socialist, anti-liberal politicians are fervent in their support of our military. And polls have shown the military ranks the highest in approval ratings among the general public. Curious state of affairs, reality doesn’t matter much if a favorable perception can be fashioned. Cui bono?

    • Scott W.

      This isn’t that mysterious or revalotory as most anti-government guys freely concede that one of the few things government does right is kill people.

      • DE-173

        “And polls have shown the military ranks the highest in approval ratings among the general public. ”
        Unlike some, they perform a useful service at the personal peril.

  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

    Liberals have been quite successful in leading armies. Only think of the French Revolutionary Wars; on the Sambre et Meuse front, Kléber, Moreau, Reynier, Marceau, and Ney; even better, on the Rhine, Hoche, Desaix, and St. Cyr; best of all, on the Apennine front, Bonaparte and Masséna.

    The French are not that wide of the mark, when they call it “the Generation of Genius”

  • Shootist

    What if Liberals Ran the Military?

    They don’t? Who knew?

  • Bruno

    Here’s an unpopular opinion for you; you need to get rid of hubristic idealistic eschaton-immanentizing warmongers, whether they are neoconservatives or liberals (they’re not so different deep inside). Watch as the tragedy of our times unfolds: democracy-idolatry crushed stability in the Middle East and made conceivable that which the Muslims couldn’t conceive for centuries: the rise of the Caliphate.

    Saddam, Khomeini, Assad; as bad as they are/were, they were the ones who kept people from killing themselves. But besides that, they were the ones who kept the countries divided by the narrowness of national interest. Now you have ISIS and if this mess is not defused, then America got the whole world a giant geopolitical problem and perhaps even existential threat. And plus, if a Middle-Eastern despot is so intolerable to America, then please explain to me how the Saudis were left in place, they who are the fiercest and most effective persecutors of Christians in the entire Islamic world?

    Viva democracy!

  • hombre111

    The liberals might not do any worse than the army has already done in the last sixty years or so. Let’s see…Did they win in Korea? Well, no. So, what about Vietnam? Are you kidding? Our military won every battle but somehow we lost the war. Along the way, it was always the politicians who “tied the military’s hand,” even though it was the generals who assured us that the next violent upgrade would finally lead to the light at the end of the tunnel. Well, what about Iraq? Hmmph. And Afghanistan? The only wars won by our military with its trillion plus annual budget was Panama and Grenada.

    I was fishing for bass on the local lake today, with the sound of military jets in training overhead, a common enough sound here. Every once in a while, I glimpsed a sleek fighter resembling a dart. I laughed. All this training, training, training. Against what enemy? The Russian and Chinese military budgets together don’t add up to half our annual budget. The pilot must be practicing for conflict against the Jihadis, if they ever steal an airplane. All that money wasted in a state whose poverty rate is one of the highest in the nation.

    • DE-173

      Hey nitwit the Army answers to elected “leaders”. Korea Democrat President, Vietnam Democrat Presidents….

      • hombre111

        Well,no. The Vietnam “conflict” as we called it ended under Nixon, who had a “secret plan.” But the war didn’t end until his second term, just before Watergate brought him down.

        • DE-173

          Right. Ended under Nixon, STARTED under Kennedy/Johnson.

          • hombre111

            Correct. I was just responding to your effort to blame it ALL on the Dems. After Vietnam, you would have thought we had learned our lesson. Well, no. Reagan gets involve in Lebanon until the Marine Barracks fiasco, and in a flash, he has invaded Grenada. Bush I invades Panama. Two patsies and what a triumph. Not to be outdone by Poppy, Bush II invades Afghanistan and then Iraq. Now Cheney is hoping we will forget the lies that got us into Iraq, and blame Obama. On Crisis, this is easy stuff. EVERYTHING is Obama’s fault.

            • DE-173

              It goes without say that you reflexively and invariably seek to exculpate the Democrats, as it is the current residence of statists, collectivists and libertines, and you are a member in good standing of all three groups.

              Since are the statist, you need to be loyal to “leaders” you worship, I regard politicians as necessary evils, much like diapers, due to location and content.

    • Guest

      Did you eat paint chips as a kid?

    • cestusdei

      Who got us into Korea and Vietnam? Democrats were in power at the time. Hmm…

      • hombre111

        True enough. Truman and then Kennedy. But how we got into the war was not my point. The military, which has scarfed up trillions from the American tax payer, could not win the Korean War, or any war since, except, of course, Reagan’s “triumph” in little bitty Grenada, and Bush getting the drug lord general our faithful Cold War friend in Panama. So, it makes little difference who got us into the wars the military was not able to win.

        • cestusdei

          We did win the cold war. You’re welcome.

  • chrisinva

    Remove the PC dross and there is more than enough military to go around.

    Unfortunately it’s not just the endless LGBTBLAHBLAHBLAH that the lower ranks must constantly endure.

    It’s impossible to get above the two-star ranks without capitulating… May I call it emasculation?

    One thing sure, these guys could never spring a coup. They left their spines back several promotion boards ago.

    The flip side, though, is this: they can’t fight a decent war, either – so be very very careful before you start another one.

  • thebigdog

    Liberal national defense strategy consists of placing a rainbow flag on the Iwo Jima Memorial.

  • joxxer

    I think if you start at the top with Obama –you’ll find that liberals, do in a sense–run the military. They put women in the battlefield, and homosexuals as your bunk mate.

  • EB

    Being in the Air Force, I can sleep with another woman, but, while in uniform, I can’t wear my issued fleece sweater inside. People get cold inside too. Equality for all cold people, everywhere!
    Why even have any rules if people will always be offended? One doesn’t join the military to complain about the rules they don’t like. They join knowing the rules, and suck it up even when you don’t like them because we have a bigger purpose. It’s not only not my father’s/grandfather’s military, it’s not even the same military I joined just 3 years ago.

  • cestusdei

    It won’t be long before Christians are effectively banned from military service.

    • joxxer

      sounds like that has been the goal..