Published on: September 24th, 2019

Social Engineering in the Military

By Krystina Skurk

Does ideology or readiness drive the decisions made about the military?

James Hasson, author of “Stand Down: How Social Justice Warriors Are Sabotaging America’s Military,” answered this question at a Hillsdale in D.C. event on Tuesday September 10th. He argued that under the Obama administration a progressive agenda was imposed on personnel, policy, and the culture of the armed forces at the expense of combat readiness.

James Hasson is an attorney and a former captain in the U.S. Army. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law and the U.S. Army Ranger School. Hasson received the Bronze Star Medal in Afghanistan.

Hasson describes his book as a “cautionary act of journalism” that details what went wrong in the armed forces under the Obama administration. He writes in the opening lines of the book that today’s military is almost unrecognizable from the one we had before President Obama took office. He details how social engineering was prioritized over actual military training. Hasson persuasively argues that culture wars do not belong in the armed forces because they distract from the real mission of the military, the protection of the United States of America.

“Mr. Hasson illustrated how the progressive agenda has infiltrated the military and consequently compromised the safety of those who protect our nation,” said Hanni Warner, an attendee at the event. “He presented his arguments not from a place of personal or political motive, but from a rational and humble perspective that seeks only to empower and prevent harm to the men and women who serve.”

Hasson talked about three strategies the Obama administration used to transform the military: Hiring ideologues instead of military leaders, implementing policies focused on inclusivity and gender equality instead of military training, and changing the culture within each branch of the military.

“Personnel is policy,” Hasson told the audience. Instead of choosing experienced men with a military background to run the military, Obama hired men like Ray Mabus as Navy secretary. Mabus had no national security background. His job prior to being hired by Obama was as a governor and an environmental activist.

“When people making decisions have very little experience in the military and they disdain its mission and they use it as a vehicle [for] a political agenda, our service members suffer and the mission is compromised,” Hasson stated.

“Our military’s job is not to be woke, but to win wars,” Hasson said. As Hasson describes, the Obama administration implemented many policies in the military that in no way contributed to combat readiness. Hasson also points out that the Obama administration completely ignored the objection of the Marines regarding gender neutral ground units.

Hasson said that the Marines conducted a study where they compared two different kinds of squads- one squad was all male and the other had both sexes. The Marines found that the all-male squad outperformed the mixed male and female squads 70% of the time. Further, “the injury rates for the female marines who were participating were astronomically higher- 40% of them suffered muscular skeletal injuries,. Marine leadership complained that putting women on these squads was depriving them of their best female marines due to the fact that injuries were cutting the careers of these women short. When the marines presented this study to Mabus, he refused to even read it.

Cultural changes are more pernicious because once they are entrenched they are hard to reverse, Hasson said. At the Naval Academy there are safe place placards outside the doors of some instructors. They announce that the faculty have participated in Trans 101, a sensitivity course put on by contractors from Google. “Of course there are no safe spaces in Afghanistan,” he said.

Hasson argues that this new focus on identity politics inverts the traditional military ethos of the common good and instead focuses attention on the individual. Worse, time and resources are being used to socially engineer our soldiers instead of training them to win wars. According to Hasson, “When military readiness suffers the lives of the men and women we send on our behalf into harm’s way, our national security is at greater risk.”

In response to a comment from the audience, Hasson said that we have a responsibility to say something if we think a policy is going to hurt men and women in the military. Another audience member asked what people like him could do to help reverse Obama’s course. Hasson said we must “understand it’s a moral issue… and [we can] press elected officials to do the right thing.”

About Hillsdale in D.C.

Hillsdale in D.C. is an extension of the teaching mission of Hillsdale College to Washington, D.C. Its purpose is to teach the Constitution and the principles that give it meaning. Through the study of original source documents from American history—and of older books that formed the education of America’s founders—it seeks to inspire students, teachers, citizens, and policymakers to return the America’s principles to their central place in the political life of the nation.

About Hillsdale College

Hillsdale College is an independent liberal arts college located in southern Michigan. Founded in 1844, the College has built a national reputation through its classical liberal arts core curriculum and its principled refusal to accept federal or state taxpayer subsidies, even indirectly in the form of student grants or loans. It also conducts an outreach effort promoting civil and religious liberty, including a free monthly speech digest, Imprimis, with a circulation of more than 5.7 million. For more information, visit