By David Sole
U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Alabama) is on a collision course with the U.S. Empire’s main support, the United States military. For over six months now Tuberville has been blocking 300 military promotions, demanding that the Pentagon stop paying for travel out of state for servicewomen seeking an abortion. This has left the Army, Marine Corp. and the Navy without a Senate confirmed commanding officer and hundreds of military families unsure of when and where they will be serving.
The Senate’s arcane rules have allowed Tuberville to effectively block military promotions by this one senator. The secretaries of the U.S. Navy, Air Force and Army took the unprecedented step of publishing an op-ed letter in the Washington Post on September 4 denouncing Tuberville’s actions as having a “corrosive effect” and “is putting our national security at risk.”
Tuberville’s attack on the armed services goes beyond a fixation on this one issue. In a bizarre interview with Laura Ingraham on Fox News on September 8, Tuberville complained that “we’ve got people doing poems on aircraft carriers over the loudspeaker. It is absolutely insane the direction that we’re headed in our military”
Apparently this ultra-rightwing senator thinks appreciation of poetry has no place among military personnel. Perhaps he will soon propose banning or burning books at military bases, following the lead of some rightwing groups around the country.
The U.S. military, of course, is no hotbed of progressive thinking, especially among the officer corp. It is completely loyal to, and dedicated to defending U.S. capitalist interests around the globe. Along with the State Department and the CIA, the armed forces protect U.S. imperialism world-wide.
As such the Pentagon is not used to being challenged or hamstrung. Its policies are designed to attract and keep recruits since it is a volunteer military force at present. An ultra-rightwing agenda would interfere with that. According to the Huffington Post “Tuberville did not specify the instance of Navy personnel reciting poetry on a ship. But he was likely referring to a spoken-word event on the USS Gerald Ford hosted by the Gay, Lesbian, and Supporting Sailors (G.L.A.S.S.) association in November.” [see work cited above].
This isn’t the first time the far right has come in conflict with the U.S. military. In 1954 Senator Joseph McCarthy (R – Wisconsin) escalated his attacks on purported “communists in the State Department” to include “aggressive investigations of suspected communists and security risks in the Army.”
Public hearings were held by the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations beginning on March 16, 1954 which were broadcast nationally on the ABC, NBC and DuMont TV networks. The “Army-McCarthy” hearings went on for 36 days and were viewed by about 80 million people.
Public opinion finally turned against McCarthy and his witch hunt tactics probably due to these public hearings. On December 2, 1954 the U.S. Senate voted 67-22 to censure Joe McCarthy. The next month McCarthy lost his chairmanship of the Subcommittee on Investigations.
The U.S. ruling class benefits from much of the ideology of the right-wing. Racism, sexism, anti-LGBTQ+ bigotry, anti-immigrant sentiment, etc. all help keep the working class in this country confused and divided. But it is a certainty that the ruling class cannot and will not tolerate the right-wing undermining or weakening the main pillar of its world empire. Tuberville and his ilk are going too far to suit the bankers and bosses and are sure to be broken in their collision with the military.
Undermining the U.S. armed forces for the benefit of the workers and oppressed people of the U.S. and the entire world can only come from a mass anti-imperialist, anti-war movement that penetrates deeply into the ranks of the soldiers and sailors. Such a movement grew up in opposition to the U.S. war against Vietnam. It can arise again in response to the endless military adventures, war, proxy wars and bottomless pit of military spending that is increasingly unpopular today across the United States.