US

Lloyd Austin responds to Matt Gaetz: ‘I’m sorry you’re embarrassed by your country’

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin seemed so infuriated by Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz’s outlandish questions that he got into a shouting match with the Florida Rep at the end of the five-minute round of Mr Gaetz.

Mr. Austin was on Capitol Hill on Tuesday to testify at a House Armed Services Committee hearing regarding the Defense Department’s fiscal year 2023 budget request, but Mr. Gaetz had apparently decided to use his time to reprimand the former head of US Central Command on what he described as US defense failures caused by the Pentagon’s embrace of the “wake-up call.”

Specifically, Mr. Gaetz inquired about a lecture given at the United States National Defense University by French economist and author Thomas Picketty titled “Responding to China: The Case for Justice world and democratic socialism.

“Why should American taxpayers fund lectures at the National Defense University that promote socialism as a strategy against China?” He asked.

When Mr. Austin, who oversees the entire US Department of Defense, told the Florida Republican that the NDU was an “academic institution” and said he was unaware of the conference, Mr. Gaetz called his lack of knowledge about school-specific courses ‘surprising’ and asked if he agreed that ’embracing socialism’ would not be ‘an effective strategy to fight China’ .

He replied that he “definitely” disagreed with “embracing socialism”, in which case Mr Gaetz asked why a MoD academic institution “would invite people we are not with not agree to evangelize opinions and values ​​that we do not share”. rather than “learning a strategy on how to fight our enemies and making accurate assessments”.

The Florida Republican then proceeded to berate Mr. Austin, a retired four-star Army general, about how the Pentagon had recently, in his own words, “made a lot of calls lately on strategy issues.

“Mr. Secretary, you told us that Russia cannot lose. You told us that the Taliban could not win immediately. And so I guess I’m wondering what of the $773 billion you’re asking for today is going to help you make accurate assessments in the face of so many missed calls,” he said.

Mr. Austin said he would let the budget request speak for itself, but Mr. Gaetz kept nagging him about the United States being “late in hypersonics” and had “failed to deter Russia”.

“While everyone in the world seems to be building capacity and being more strategic, we’ve had time to embrace critical race theory at West Point, to embrace socialism at National Defense University, to take mandatory pronoun training,” he said. Secretary of Defense to intervene that the US military remains “the most capable” and “most combat-critical” military force in the world and “will be so in the future”.

“I’m sorry you’re embarrassed by your country,” the retired general said.

The Florida congressman, who is believed to be under investigation for alleged child sex trafficking, erupted at Mr Austin: ‘It’s so shameful that you sit here and confuse your failures with the failures of uniformed service members – you said that Russia would invade Ukraine in 36 days, you said that the Taliban would be held at bay for months”.

“You totally missed those calls and maybe we’d be better off if National Defense University worked a little more on strategy and a little less on revival,” he said.

Furious, Mr. Austin shouted, “Hasn’t it occurred to you that Russia didn’t invade Ukraine because of what we did and what our allies did?

Mr Gaetz replied that the ability of Ukrainian forces to resist Russia was “built into” the Defense Secretary’s “erroneous assessment”, although he did not specify how.

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