‘You’re embarrassed by your country’ – Pentagon official Austin to Rep. Gaetz
At a House hearing Tuesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin accused Rep. Matt Gaetz of being “embarrassed by your country,” while the outspoken Florida Republican countered that Mr. Austin and other Pentagon chiefs have jeopardized US military superiority by supporting socialist ideals.
During a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, a heated exchange between the two men ensued, which was supposed to be a forum to examine the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2023 budget proposal. However, the third-term Republican member used his time to accuse the Pentagon of inviting socialists to lecture at military bases and pushing recruits to learn critical race theory.
Mr. Gaetz claimed that the military had spent much too much time on those matters while making “blown calls” on the American military retreat from Afghanistan, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and other global crises.
These claims appeared to enrage the normally quiet and reticent Mr. Austin, who got visibly irritated in the face of increasingly heated questioning.
“You guys have been blowing a lot of calls lately on matters of strategy, Mr. Secretary. You guys told us Russia couldn’t lose. You told us the Taliban couldn’t immediately win. So I guess I’m wondering: What in the $787 billion you’re requesting today is going to help you make assessments that are accurate in the face of so many blown calls?”
Mr. Austin first said he would let the Pentagon’s budget request “speak for itself,” but when Mr. Gaetz alleged that Russia and China are outperforming the US in hypersonic weapons research, he responded aggressively.
“What do you mean we’re behind in hypersonics? How do you make that assessment?” Mr. Austin said.
“I don’t know. I make that assessment because China is fielding hypersonic weapons systems and we are still developing them,” Mr. Gaetz replied. “I make that assessment because Russia actually used one.”
“While everyone else in the world seems to be developing capabilities and being more strategic,” Mr. Gaetz continued, “we’ve got time to embrace critical race theory at West Point, to embrace socialism at the National Defense University, to do mandatory pronoun training” in the military.
Mr. Austin then retaliated with his own incendiary claim.
“Again, this is the most capable, the most combat-credible force in the world. It has been and it will be so going forward,” he said. “And this budget helps us to do that. The fact that you’re embarrassed by your country … I’m sorry for that.”
“I’m embarrassed by your leadership,” Mr. Gaetz responded. “I’m not embarrassed by my country. I wish we were not losing to China. That is so disgraceful that you would sit here and conflate your failures with the failure of the uniformed service members.”