In the Atlantic, Matt Ford probes the works of William Bradford, the controversial (and now dismissed) West Point professor whose berserker visions of unhinged state terror, at home and abroad, in the “war against Islamism” give General Buck Turgidison (“I’m saying no more than 10 or 20 million killed, tops!”) a run for his money. After a thorough examination of the views Bradford has been teaching the nation’s future military leaders, Ford ends in puzzlement at how this situation arose in the first place. But surely there is no mystery to that.
Bradford believes that all those who are guilty of “skepticism of executive power,” “pernicious pacifism” and “cosmopolitanism” — especially among his fellow law professors and their enablers in the media — can and should be targeted as “unlawful enemy combatants,” just like the Taliban and al Qaeda. Not only are the traitors themselves “legitimate targets,” but also the institutions that employ them or transmit their evil into the public discourse: universities, law schools, media companies. What’s more, with iron Cheneyian logic, Bradford also says the traitors’ homes should be targeted too — presumably, as Ford notes, with the targets’ spouses and children inside.
Bradford also likes to muse aloud in learned journals about a “hypothetical” military coup in, say, 2017 to be exact, against a “US president attempting to ‘fundamentally transform the United States of America.’” This, as Ford points out, is the mindset of a man “charged with instructing the nation’s officer corps.”
As the Guardian notes, Bradford also argued that
“total war” against terrorism ought to include military targeting of “Islamic holy sites”, in order to restore an American deterrent. He acknowledged “great destruction, innumerable enemy casualties and civilian collateral damage” were entailed in his proposal, and suggested that dissent ought to be curbed. “[D]oubts and disputes about this war [should] be muted lest around them coalesce a new set of self-imposed restraints that prevent Western forces from waging war with sufficient ferocity and resolve so that either Islamism is discredited and the political will of Islamist peoples to prosecute a jihad collapses, or, if necessary, all who countenance or condone Islamism are dead,” Bradford wrote.
A ludicrous but sinister figure then, meet to be made into media mulch and cast aside. But in the conclusion of his article, Ford, bless his heart, is baffled by what appears to him to be an impenetrable mystery. He writes:
Bradford’s resignation severs his affiliation with the United States Military Academy. But it leaves unanswered the question of how he got hired there in the first place, given his checkered past and allegedly exaggerated credentials. And it also fails to explain how a scholar pushing these ideas seems not to have raised red flags any earlier.
But, as noted above, there is absolutely no mystery at all about how “a scholar pushing these ideas” got hired by the nation’s Big Brass mill, or why these visions of murder, tyranny and the ‘moral’ necessity of military rule did not raise any “red flags” at the Point or in the Pentagon.
Obviously they hired him because they liked the cut of his unhinged jib, saw nothing unusual or dangerous in his ideas and were more than happy to have them pressed upon the future leaders of America’s “generational” war against the terror it somehow keeps creating in one nation after another. Bradford was unlucky that his record — which includes exaggerating his military service, and clouded sojourns at other institutions — was rumbled by the Guardian, so West Point moved quickly to flush away the bad PR. But there can be little doubt that Bradford’s views resonated on many levels with those who hired him.