Troubling Questions in Strange Case of Pentagon Chief Missing in Action

The absence of Austin would have no doubt exacerbated the alarm within an already trigger-happy U.S. military machine. Combined with those concerns is the lack of confidence in Biden’s cognitive health as Commander-in-Chief.

It seems utterly bizarre that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin – the second-highest ranking civilian military commander in the United States – was absent from duty for several weeks without President Joe Biden or Congress knowing about it.

A charitable view would be to call the scandal a “comedy of errors”. More appropriately, however, are urgent concerns about the implications for global peace and security. The U.S. resembles a juggernaut out of control careening along a precipice. Maryu2019s Mosaic: The... Peter Janney Best Price: $5.39 Buy New $11.09 (as of 06:15 UTC - Details)

This inexplicable prolonged gap in U.S. military command and control at the apex of the Pentagon goes from bizarre to deeply worrying considering the rapidly deteriorating security conditions in the Middle East. And especially because the deterioration is largely caused by the United States and its accomplices in their blatant contempt for international law.

This week, the United States and its British ally carried out over 100 cruise missile strikes against Yemen, purportedly in retaliation for Yemen’s blocking of commercial shipping in the Red Sea. The Yemenis claim that their actions to interdict shipping are legally entitled by their support for Palestinians suffering 90 days of genocidal aggression from Israel backed by the U.S.

Indeed, the Middle East powder-keg situation is set for an escalation towards an all-out region-wide war given the weeks of tensions caused by the U.S.-backed genocide in Gaza by Israel. American bases in Iraq and Syria have come under fire in retaliation for U.S. and Israeli assassinations of senior Palestinian and other Arab militant leaders. There is growing fear that the violence will spiral into an open armed confrontation between the United States and Iran.

Given this ferment of conflict, it seems incredible that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin was effectively missing in action for several weeks without his nominal superior, Joe Biden, knowing of his whereabouts. Biden’s other title is Commander-in-Chief. In the supposed civilian command structure of the United States military, Austin is second to Biden. Among their supposed responsibilities is the command of U.S. nuclear forces.

Austin underwent surgery on December 22 for prostate cancer at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC. A subsequent urinary tract infection then caused Austin to be hospitalized again on January 1 for several more days. It is not clear if he was always conscious during this period or under sedation.

It then transpired in recent days that during those weeks of absence, the Biden White House did not know about Austin’s surgery or subsequent hospitalization. Even Austin’s designated Deputy Secretary of Defense, Kathleen Hicks, also did not know the exact reason for her boss’s absence.

Enquiries have now been launched by the Armed Services Committees in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. There are even bipartisan calls for Austin’s resignation due to accusations of gross dereliction of duty to adequately inform the White House and Congress about his leave of absence.

It is being claimed by some lawmakers that Austin undermined U.S. national security by his lack of transparency in conduct and “inexcusable” vacancy. It would turn out hilarious – and not inconceivable – if Austin’s corporate contacts in his old employer at the missile-making firm Raytheon knew more about his surgery than did the White House. Such is the corruption in Washington these days, it seems.

Austin has contritely taken full responsibility for the scandal and has agreed to a Pentagon review in order to avoid any such future misunderstanding. At least in public, President Biden has said he has accepted the Pentagon’s chief apologies. That may change as more details emerge about the strange lack of communication and what appears to be Austin’s reluctance to make contingency plans for ultimate decision-making concerning vital matters of war and peace.

It seems all the more unconscionable at his juncture given that the United States is fueling conflict in the Middle East and Asia-Pacific with regard to China, and of course, let’s not forget, in Ukraine against Russia.

The United States is recklessly provoking armed confrontation in these geopolitical cauldrons – all of them involving the danger of nuclear weapons – and yet the highest civilian commander at the Pentagon goes missing in action for several days over secretive surgery. Again, to reiterate, the White House did not even know his condition or whereabouts. How would it pan out if there had been unverified reports that American or allied forces were coming under strategic-level attack? The absence of Austin would have no doubt exacerbated the alarm within an already trigger-happy U.S. military machine.

Combined with those concerns is the lack of confidence in Biden’s cognitive health as Commander-in-Chief.

The United States has proven itself to be a lawless rogue state when we consider the rampant support it is giving to the fascist Israeli and Kiev regimes. The latest air strikes on Yemen without any consultation with the United Nations Security Council only underline the rogue-state character of Washington. Melatonin 10mg | 270 T... Buy New $9.99 ($0.03 / Count) (as of 06:30 UTC - Details)

It prompts a grave question mark about global security that the military commanders in the United States are not even in control of their office.

The U.S. imperial state out of geopolitical calculations about staving off its chronic decline as a global power has embarked on a crazed policy of inciting aggression and chaos in several parts of the world – simultaneously – in the Middle East, Europe and Asia-Pacific. This criminal, wanton conduct is endangering the entire world from a catastrophic escalation, even an accidental one.

Added to the U.S. criminality is the bureaucratic incompetence of its own military command.

It is becoming abundantly clear to people all around the world including to the citizens of the United States that the imperial state of the U.S. is increasingly holding the world hostage to its criminal machinations. It’s maniacally forcing the world to play Russian Roulette.

It’s not just Lloyd Austin – Mr Raytheon – that needs to be sacked. He’s just a walk-on cosplayer. The entire imperial ruling apparatus of the United States must be dismantled and decommissioned. And, furthermore, prosecuted for crimes against international peace.

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.