WASHINGTON — Win Without War Executive Director Stephen Miles released the following statement regarding President-elect Biden’s selection of General Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defense:
“There are a number of reasons to be concerned about President-elect Biden’s decision to select General Lloyd Austin as Secretary of Defense: his position on the board of Raytheon, his role as Commander of U.S. Central Command at the time that the United States first became involved in the war in Yemen, and that his nomination requires a waiver of the law designed to ensure civilian control of the military. As the Senate prepares to exercise its constitutional role to advise and consent, we hope that they will dig into these questions and address these concerns.
“Raytheon is one of the most powerful arms manufacturers in the world, emblematic of all that is wrong with the corporate capture of U.S. foreign policymaking. We were vocal opponents of Donald Trump’s Secretaries of Defense and their ties to General Dynamics, Boeing, and Raytheon, and we are similarly concerned by Gen. Austin’s ties to industry. Gen. Austin must use the weeks ahead to address the ethics concerns raised by his connection with Raytheon and should, at minimum, commit to recusing himself from any decision relating to Raytheon.
“Further, the National Security Act of 1947 prohibits the nomination of recent military officials to head the Defense Department for a reason: the U.S. military should be controlled by U.S. civilians. Both the House and the Senate must scrutinize if Gen. Austin should be granted a waiver for this nomination for only the third time ever and the second time in four years. Having been strongly opposed to the multiple recently retired generals who populated the Trump Administration with disastrous results, we are deeply skeptical that such a waiver will ultimately be warranted.
“Finally, the United States’ support for the Saudi- and UAE-led intervention in Yemen is one of the most pernicious foreign policy decisions in decades. Gen. Austin’s leadership of CENTCOM at the time of this decision calls into question his approach to U.S. defense policy. As a military leader, we do not fully know Gen. Austin’s policy positions on this and other missions he oversaw, yet such questions are at the core of his fitness to be the Secretary of Defense. Gen. Austin must not only share how he will further President-elect Biden’s vision, but what his own views are on the many policy choices he will be confronted with should he be confirmed.
“Gen. Austin has broken barriers throughout his career and, should he be confirmed, will do so once more as the first African American Secretary of Defense. The historic nature of this nomination is indeed laudable, and we share the President-elect’s commitment to an administration that looks like the country it serves. Yet, as with all nominations, we hope that the questions raised by this record will be addressed by Gen. Austin and the Biden administration during the confirmation process.”
Win Without War is a diverse network of activists and national organizations working for progressive foreign policy in the United States.