Woke West Point abandoning ‘duty, honor, country’ is a shameful dereliction of duty

New York Post – “Duty, honor, country: Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be.”

So said Gen. Douglas MacArthur in his famous May 1962 address to West Point cadets.

But those words are no longer hallowed.

West Point last week removed them from its mission statement, substituting a bland reference to “the Army Values.”

West Point’s superintendent, Lt. Gen. Steve Gilland, defended the change, suggesting in a damage-control letter addressed to “supporters” that it resulted from a year and a half of discussions held “across” the West Point community and in consultation with unidentified “external stakeholders.”

He said the decision was supported by Army Secretary Christine Wormuth, whose last job was director of a center at the RAND Corp., a research and policy institute that professes to “strive to cultivate a community that embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion as central to our culture.”

Gilland also claimed the approval of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Randy George, who previously served as senior military assistant to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, whose department requested $86.5 million in fiscal year 2023 for “dedicated diversity and inclusion activities.”

That would pay for a lot of implicit-bias workshops for men and women who should be trained to lead and kill, but the difference in language is neither subtle nor insignificant.

The words “duty, honor, country,” enshrined at West Point since 1898, have precise meanings that have historically bound our officer corps to timeless imperatives vital to the nation’s defense.

They presuppose our country is worth defending, honorably and as a matter of duty.

Proponents of woke ideology reject this notion.

For them, those very concepts — along with such basic values as merit, hard work, rational thought, respect for authority and even punctuality — are undesirable symptoms of a culture supposedly infused with “structural racism” and “white supremacy.”

A country built on them is patently not one they would care to defend.

A March 2022 Quinnipiac poll found 52% of Democrats would leave the country rather than stand and fight against a military invasion of the United States.

“Army Values,” in contrast, can mean anything politicians and their diversity, equity and inclusion commissars want them to mean.

Just ask former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, who testified in a 2021 congressional hearing only weeks before horrifically botching the US withdrawal from Afghanistan that he had devoted a significant amount of time to contemplating “white rage.”

Milley also objected to doubts about West Point teaching critical race theory, a Marxist-influenced body of social analysis that reduces all conflict to race-based dichotomies of alleged oppressors and the supposedly oppressed.

CRT and DEI instruction at West Point has been confirmed by documents provided to Rep. Mike Waltz (R-Fla.), an academy graduate who released them alongside a formal inquiry in February 2021, and to Judicial Watch, which brought lawsuits against the Defense Department later that year to obtain hundreds of pages of documentation improperly withheld following Freedom of Information Act requests.

Featuring such lessons as “Modern Slavery in the USA” and “White Power,” these materials show cadets are taught “whiteness” is a problem and they should address it in accordance with CRT principles.

In August, Gilland hosted West Point’s biggest-ever DEI conference, at which he described diversity in terms of “how important and how critical it is not only to our U.S. Military Academy, to our military, but especially to our nation.”

“This is our mission,” concluded the man who a few months later would preside over the removal of “duty, honor, country” from West Point’s mission.

Notably, the service academies were exempted from June’s Supreme Court ruling in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard outlawing the explicit use of race in higher-education admissions, an area in which our elite military schools are now comically more woke than the craziest liberal-arts colleges.

On that point, Biden administration Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar argued successfully but without evidence that “it is a critical national security imperative to attain diversity within the officer corps. And, at present, it’s not possible to achieve that diversity without race-conscious admissions.”

In September, plaintiff SFFA filed lawsuits to extend the prohibition to the service academies.

Litigation is pending, but last month the Supreme Court declined to grant an injunction barring consideration of race in admissions to the service academies’ incoming classes.

“The unbelievers will say they are but words,” MacArthur reflected on the “duty, honor, country” triptych.

Prophetically, he added, “Every pedant, every demagogue, every cynic, every hypocrite, every troublemaker, and, I am sorry to say, some others of an entirely different character, will try to downgrade them even to the extent of mockery and ridicule.”

After swallowing gallons of DEI Kool-Aid, they have.

A new administration should restore those noble words to West Point’s mission statement on Day 1, root out all traces of DEI and CRT and cashier the woke bureaucrats who dared remove them in their dastardly bid to elevate diversity, equity and inclusion over duty, honor and country.

Biden Did Himself No Favors With Angry, Partisan State of the Union

Newsweek – State of the Union addresses have long been dull, pro forma affairs. Loud cheers resound, offering the pretense of unity over division. Policy disagreements are buried under unifying values. The leader soberly rattles off platitudes about achievements and aspirations, often illusory. The union’s “state” is always “strong,” and the nation’s “best days” invariably “lie ahead.”

No longer. President Joe Biden‘s third and very possibly last State of the Union address descended from this act of staid but dignified statesmanship to what Democrats think they need to shore up his increasingly doubtful reelection bid. In his 67-minute address, reportedly the result of months of intense preparation, Biden was bitter and angry, delivering many of his lines in the loud and cranky tone of a frustrated family patriarch who commands no respect, marshals no enthusiasm, and fears his legacy will spill down a drain of derision. It was not “presidential” by any stretch. It was hysterical and vulgar, desperate and cheap.

Long gone was the “unifier” of those few halcyon days in early 2021, when the newly inaugurated Biden peered out from the armed camp that Washington, D.C., had become to promise he would pursue a moderate course to settle divisions and curb the vitriolic partisanship of former president Donald J. Trump’s term.

Now Biden is a hyperpartisan, blaming the Republicans—who control neither the presidency nor the Senate nor the Washington bureaucracy—for all of his many problems, from Ukraine to border control to tax policy. He broke firm and laudable precedent to take a swipe at the Supreme Court, the Justices of which attended the speech but by tradition registered no reaction to it, for overturning Roe v. Wade, even though the result has been a pro-choice surge in state abortion referendums and the election of Democrats in several important races. Biden claimed Republicans would cut entitlements to fund a tax cut for the rich despite the Republican House majority’s failure to act on entitlements at any time during his presidency. He countered with his own plan to introduce yet more punitive taxation on “wealthy” Americans.

We heard surprisingly little about Biden’s supposed “achievements,” which his loyalists—and those who benefit from his increasingly obvious cognitive decline—tout with nauseating regularity despite all evidence to the contrary and in the face of massive popular disappointment. Instead, the president lashed out, once again broad brushing half the country as authoritarian fascist enemies of democracy on par with the Nazis, the Confederacy, and Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Biden has largely avoided mentioning Trump throughout his presidency—perhaps a wise move. Trump currently outclasses him in opinion polls on virtually every issue, as well as in general competence, physical and mental ability, and, according to almost all recent surveys, the popular vote in the all-but-certain rematch that awaits us in November.

But as Biden gets cagier and undoubtedly more worried about his dubious reelection prospects, he simply cannot ignore Trump. Although Biden never said his name (unlike Laken—or, as Biden mispronounced it, “Lincoln”—Riley, a nursing student murdered by an illegal immigrant on Biden’s watch) in the speech, he referred to his “predecessor,” “the former Republican president,” 13 times. There can be no doubt that as November approaches, the race will become increasingly brutal, personal, and negative—characteristics that, Democratic strategists may wish to note, heavily favored Trump in 2016.

Comparing himself to Franklin D. Roosevelt, a trope to which his flatterers never tire of resorting, struck another point about Biden. With a coterie of Washington politicos and a congressional Democratic Party either convinced of, or willing to play along with, the illusion of the incumbent’s soundness and importance, there is now less chance than ever that he will be replaced as the Democratic candidate, as some have speculated. Given his grumpy demeanor, that is probably good news for the Trump camp. Either way, Thursday’s State of the Union did nothing to convince the 82 percent of Americans who believe Biden is simply too old for the presidency to change their minds.

Sweden’s Accession to NATO: A Strategic Assessment

Until Russia invaded Ukraine, the prospect of NATO incorporating either Sweden or Finland was nonexistent.

The European Conservative – On March 7, Sweden officially became the 32nd member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the transatlantic defensive alliance that, since 1949, has bound the United States, Canada, and most European nations in a collective security structure. Sweden’s accession will follow that of Finland, which formally joined NATO in April 2023.

Even before Sweden’s formal accession, Swedish military forces began taking part in an 11-day, joint-service military exercise alongside 12 NATO members. The operation, which is held biannually, is focused on the Arctic “High North,” where Norway, a NATO member since the alliance’s founding, shares a short but strategically significant 195-kilometer land border with Russia. Until now, the operation has been called “Cold Response,” but given the new memberships of Sweden and Finland, which are hosting the exercises along with Norway, it has been renamed “Nordic Response.” More than 20,000 servicemen are involved, with 4,500 hailing from Sweden. The exercises overlap with NATO’s Steadfast Defender 2024 (SD24) operation, a series of maneuvers scheduled between January and May 2024 that involves a total of 90,000 troops drawn from all NATO countries (including Sweden) and constitutes the largest NATO exercises since the Cold War.

Like neighboring Finland, which also joined NATO in the wake of Russia’s war against Ukraine, Sweden abandoned decades of neutrality to protect itself from aggression that could only conceivably come from one large country to its east.

NATO expansion in Scandinavia is one of the great ironies of contemporary geopolitics. A major rationale for Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, and for its general hostility to the West over the past two decades, is its perception that the Atlantic alliance is led by treacherous enemies eager to contain, diminish, and ultimately subjugate Russia. A significant part of the Kremlin’s apprehension is rooted in NATO’s expansion eastward, first into the former East Germany, then into Central and Eastern Europe, and finally to the former Soviet Baltic republics and to Balkan countries that Russia has traditionally insisted are under its protection. Possible NATO membership for Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova has infuriated Russian strategic planners, who assert continuing hegemony over all post-Soviet space and have acted to prevent those three countries from integrating with Western political and economic structures. The prospect of NATO membership for Sweden and Finland has also galled Russia’s leaders, who periodically threatened unspecified “retaliation” if either country should join the Atlantic alliance.

Russia’s objections have long resounded on the geopolitical stage, sometimes to sympathetic understanding among Western analysts and policymakers, even though NATO is purely defensive, only takes effect when a member state is attacked (this has only happened once: following the September 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States), and, for a time in the 1990s, embraced the possibility of altering and pacifying its mission to accommodate some form of Russian involvement.

Until Russia invaded Ukraine two years ago, however, the prospect of NATO moving to incorporate either Sweden or Finland was nonexistent. Majorities of both countries’ populations had long opposed NATO membership, even though their governments maintained regular military contacts with the alliance, enjoyed private security guarantees from the Americans, and joined the European Union in 1995 (Finland also adopted the Euro upon the transnational currency’s introduction in 1999, though Sweden has not). Finland, which shares a 1,340-kilometer border with Russia and was under Russian rule with limited autonomy from 1809 to 1917, effectively subordinated its Cold War-era foreign policy to Soviet interests in order to stave off invasion in the last months of World War II. It remained quiescent into post-Cold War times, giving the English international relations lexicon the verb “to Finlandize,” meaning “to neutralize” or “to render harmless.”

Despite Sweden’s storied martial past, it preserved a prudent neutrality for over two centuries, successfully avoiding both world wars through cautious diplomacy. During the Cold War, fear of provoking Swedish accession to NATO was a leading factor in the USSR’s more pacific approach to Finland, and in its speedy withdrawal from the Danish island of Bornholm, which the Soviets briefly occupied in 1945-1946 and voluntarily evacuated on assurances that it would remain demilitarized (Bornholm has a voluntary militia but no regular Danish military or NATO presence). After the Cold War, Sweden almost totally disarmed, reducing its army and navy by 90% and its air force by 70%.

This all changed in 2022, not because of Western “expansion,” but because of Russia’s naked aggression. With weeks of the war breaking out, a majority of both Swedes and Finns for the first time favored NATO membership, as did a nearly unanimous consensus among their political leaders. Their governments acted swiftly and won relatively rapid approval from the 30 existing alliance members. In the early weeks of 2024, Sweden’s accession overcame objections from two holdouts: Turkey, which has been angered by the Swedish government’s toleration of anti-Islamic speech and expression, and Hungary, which has objected to official Swedish criticism of its domestic government. By the end of February, however, both countries’ parliaments relented and approved Sweden for membership, following trenchant diplomacy sweetened in both cases by favorable arms deals.

Sweden’s entry into the alliance changes the balance of power in the Baltic Sea, which will essentially become a NATO lake. Except for Russia, whose Baltic access is limited to the environs of St. Petersburg and the former East Prussian exclave around Kaliningrad, all countries of the Baltic littoral are now NATO members. While Denmark and Norway already control egress from the Baltic to the open ocean, and Estonia and Finland bottle up St. Petersburg, Sweden’s membership will vastly improve NATO maneuverability and interception efforts across the maritime region. Just as the Soviets feared in Stalin’s time, Sweden’s membership advances NATO territory hundreds of kilometers closer to Russian territory and military assets. Sweden’s 3,200 kilometer-long mainland eastern coastline protrudes far enough into the Baltic to block any Russian naval movements attempting to gain local tactical or strategic advantage or to deploy nuclear-armed submarines beyond a very small operational area.

Gotland, the Baltic Sea’s largest island, which Sweden barely defended in recent times and officially demilitarized between 2005 and 2016, lies less than 300 kilometers from Russia’s major Baltic naval base at Baltiysk, in the Kaliningrad exclave, and only about another 40 kilometers away from the capital and military headquarters at Kaliningrad itself. NATO jets stationed on Gotland could obliterate both Russian military centers in a matter of minutes, while military units stationed on Gotland could play an effective supporting role for combat operations on the Eurasian mainland. Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city and Scandinavia’s biggest port, offers a close and convenient conduit for NATO troops and supplies if they had to be rushed in to defend the Baltic States, Poland, or Finland against Russian attack. And farther north, where Swedish forces are now engaging in joint maneuvers with future NATO allies, Sweden can augment Norwegian and Finnish operations to monitor and, if necessary, contain Russia’s Northern Fleet, which is armed with about two-thirds of Russia’s second strike, submarine-based nuclear arsenal.

Sweden could also play an essential role in regional military operations. Despite its post-Cold War disarmament, this year it is on track to spend 2% of GDP on the military, the agreed minimal threshold for all NATO members, and one that even some much larger alliance members perennially fail to reach. Sweden’s defense industry is high-tech and already producing or upgrading air and naval vessels of world class sophistication. The country also maintains a “Total Defense Service,” which requires all residents between the ages of 16 and 70 to participate in national service—including military service for those with the requisite training—in the event of a crisis. As Sweden begins to integrate its military into NATO, reports suggest that it is already primed to contribute troops to the alliance’s multinational force in Latvia. And in perhaps the greatest irony of all, with the bulk of Russia’s armed forces tied down in Ukraine, it is nearly inconceivable that Russia can now take any meaningful military initiatives elsewhere, including retaliatory measures against defiant Scandinavian democracies.

Is Merit Really Making a Comeback?

Standardized tests are back for admissions at Yale, but it may not be for the right reasons.

City Journal – Yale University has announced that it will reinstate standardized test requirements for admissions, beginning with students applying to enter in fall 2025. Yale’s “test flexible” approach requires applicants to submit a standardized test score but lets them choose between several options: SAT, ACT, International Baccalaureate, or subject-based Advanced Placement examinations. The policy change follows recent test reinstatements at Dartmouth College, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Purdue University.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, about 80 percent of American institutions of higher education, including Yale and almost all other prestigious schools, suspended standardized-testing requirements, usually citing the stress of those upsetting times to favor more “holistic” means of selecting incoming freshmen. Since then, disclosing test scores has been optional. Four years on, most of those institutions still have not returned to the pre-Covid status quo, layering pandemic concerns with the progressive conviction that standardized tests are inherently racist and therefore produce admissions outcomes that perpetuate racial inequality. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Students for Fair Admissions last June made going test-optional all the more necessary, for that option offered a convenient loophole for institutions seeking to favor lower-scoring demographic groups, without creating an evidentiary trail of racial discrimination. An applicants’ personal challenges and experiences (which might be associated with race) could still be factors in admission.

With identity politics coming under pressure at top schools in recent months—and with the value of college education itself increasingly called into question—it may be tempting to believe that Yale and the few peer institutions that have reinstated test scores have seen the light and embraced merit once again. In January, it’s worth noting, a study by Opportunity Insights, compiled by researchers from Dartmouth and Brown University, found a strong correlation between high academic achievement and students who submitted test scores, and a corresponding correlation between lower academic achievement and students who declined to submit their test scores.

One might think that results like these could be of some value to Yale, which has struggled in recent years with free speech and academic freedom issues, overzealous Title IX and DEI enforcement, and a presidential search that has become high-profile with recent resignations of two other Ivy League presidents: Harvard’s Claudine Gay and the University of Pennsylvania’s M. Elizabeth Magill. Yet, the meritocracy argument does not appear to have won the day entirely in New Haven. The university buttressed its announcement of the new admissions policy with the claim that “tests can help increase rather than decrease diversity,” and that “inviting students to apply without any test scores can, inadvertently, disadvantage students from low-income, first-generation, and rural backgrounds.” Mandatory test scores, in other words, are not back in because they produce the most qualified student body but because the university now believes that testing in fact promotes diversity, equity, and inclusion, which presumably remain Yale’s highest priorities.

How did Yale’s leadership reach this conclusion? “When admissions officers reviewed applications with no scores,” the university’s statement maintains, “they placed greater weight on other parts of the application. But this shift frequently worked to the disadvantage of applicants from lower socio-economic backgrounds.” The university’s faceless admissions bureaucrats may, for example, have failed to consider that applicants from low-income secondary schools have fewer means besides standardized test scores to demonstrate their talent, while more “privileged” students can produce transcripts with honors courses, long lists of unique study and “enrichment” opportunities, and more informative recommendation letters from dedicated teachers in stabler environments.

“This confidence is founded on evidence,” Yale’s statement concludes without a trace of irony, adding that “we hope to empower applicants to put their best foot forward, and to help admission officers respond to excellent students from all contexts.” If you think “excellent” means “most qualified,” however, you might want to ask Yale administrators what they mean by “contexts.” That word has become awfully complicated of late.