(Wall Street Journal Op-Ed) The current era is marked by fading trust in U.S. institutions, but confidence in one pillar has held up: the military. But now even that is eroding, and the question is whether the brass will get the message.
The Reagan Institute releases an annual survey of public attitudes on national defense, and this year only 48% reported having “a great deal of confidence” in the U.S. military in results first detailed here. That’s down from 70% in 2018, and within the margin error of last year’s 45%.
This is consistent with other surveys. Pew Research this year noted a 14-point drop since 2020 in Americans who said they had a great deal of confidence in the military to act in the public’s interest.
The Reagan poll asked Americans what is driving the decline. It isn’t the ability to carry out missions or win in a fight. It is “things going on outside the core competencies of the military,” says Reagan’s Roger Zakheim. “Call it politicization, call it wokeness,” but that’s where “you can connect the dots.”
Some 62% said “military leadership becoming overly politicized” reduced their confidence some or a great deal. That includes trust in civilians who give the orders. Americans offered some of the worst ratings for decisions made by Presidents, and the U.S. retreat from Afghanistan comes to mind.
Some 52% also had reduced confidence in uniformed officers. Half cited “so-called ‘woke’ practices undermining military effectiveness.” . . . (read the rest)