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G.I. Joe Trotsky

As far as anyone can tell, the US military is not on the verge of an internal breakdown, let alone primed to stage a coup d’état. But few predicted anything like the US Capitol riot before protesters equipped with body armor, stun guns, and zip-ties breached the building.

NEW YORK – Leon Trotsky may not claim a mass following nowadays, but the revolutionary tactics that he pioneered remain very much in use, and not only by communists or in today’s Russia, where they are called “political technology.” One such tactic, known as “entryism” – when members of an extremist group join, subvert, and ultimately take over a more powerful organization, which they then use as a political weapon – has gained adherents among far-right groups in the United States. Their target: America’s military.

On January 6, the US got a glimpse of how far this infiltration has gone. Of the hundreds of supporters of former President Donald Trump who stormed the US Capitol in an effort to disrupt the certification of President Joe Biden’s election victory, around 15% have served or are currently serving in the US military (about 7% of US adults are veterans). According to The Washington Post, of the 380 of the people now facing federal charges stemming from the riot, some 44 are current or former US armed forces members.

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin – a retired four-star general and the first African-American to lead the Pentagon – is now attempting to reckon with the implications of these findings. Almost immediately after his confirmation, Austin ordered a 60-day “stand down” of all US military forces. In other words, virtually every unit in the armed forces would have to hold a discussion about the prevalence of white supremacy and extremism in the ranks.

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