Why did Rep. Dan Crenshaw call Pentagon official ‘stupid’? It involves Mexico and drugs | Opinion

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One of the many things that makes America unique is her military, particularly its strength.

To hear some Republicans tell it, the military is growing weaker because it’s focused on political correctness, diversity training and implementing “woke” policies into the ranks.

In mid-February, the Defense Department riled up conservatives on social media because it characterized the Pentagon’s diversity and inclusion initiative as “a strategic imperative critical to mission readiness and accomplishment” in a tweet.

Even Elon Musk tersely responded: “Your strategic imperative is defending the United States.” Whatever your ideology, it’s hard not to disagree.

In a recent letter to the Army, a pair of Republican lawmakers demanded the Army release survey findings on why fewer young people don’t want to enlist. Service officials had said safety concerns were recruits’ primary issue, not “wokeness.”

Recently, I interviewed Rep. Dan Crenshaw, the Houston-area Republican congressman and former Navy SEAL, and asked him if the military was on the “brink of wokeness.” His response:

“I think there’s some problems. … You’re talking about an organization that’s full of hundreds of thousands of people and conservative media does have a tendency to — and I’m a part of this problem, I’ll take blame for this too — we certainly highlight the problems but I don’t want people to have the perception that as soon as they join they want to have rainbow-colored glasses. That’s just not true.”

The strengths and weaknesses of the military isn’t the only thing on Crenshaw’s mind. He’s been more vocal in the last year about curbing Mexican drug cartels from his position in Congress, a position he said he wouldn’t give up to run for Senate in 2026 should Sen. John Cornyn retire. Crenshaw sits on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and House Energy and Commerce Committee and doesn’t want to give those positions up.

Rather than target the border fiasco from within Texas, such as arguing for more funds or more border security personnel, Crenshaw offers a different strategy, one with significant heft — and controversy. He wants an Authorization for Use of Military Force from Congress to President Joe Biden to target Mexican drug cartels that continue to wreak havoc on border security, particularly, bringing in fentanyl-laced counterfeit drugs.

Comedian Pete Davidson, right, shakes hands with Dan Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL and Texas Republican newly elected to Congress.
Comedian Pete Davidson, right, shakes hands with Dan Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL and Texas Republican newly elected to Congress.

Not everyone is on board with this — including Mexico’s president, who recently denounced Crenshaw’s idea, and some officials at the Pentagon.

On March 8, Melissa Dalton, the assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and hemispheric affairs, told House Armed Services Committee members the Pentagon’s stance on quelling the increasing violence in Mexico and influx of fentanyl across the border. Though she found both “deeply concerning,” she was also wary of any calls for U.S. military action.

Crenshaw didn’t mince words about this meeting, which he attended, or his opinion of Dalton.

“I heard a stupid Pentagon official say recently, ‘We’re worried this would hurt relations with Mexico.’ She needs to shut up. She needs to shut her mouth. I am so angry about that. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about…What relations? Relations where they let tens of thousands of Americans get killed? She needs to get her priorities straight. … She needs to get her priorities straight and represent the American people instead of [being] worried about a little spat with Mexico.”

Crenshaw has maintained that he doesn’t want to wage physical war on cartels, but he does want them to know the U.S. is serious about the damage incurred fentanyl poisoning and even cold-blooded murder. He believes a show of strength could go far. Americans were recently killed while in Mexico by drug cartel members who were arrested.

The Texas Senate just passed a bill to allow prosecutors to charge fentanyl distributors with murder, a step towards recognizing the damage caused by fentanyl poisoning. Time will tell if real life logistics make such charges difficult to prove.

The military is one of America’s most powerful resources. While it certainly has issues, it’s important to use it where and when we can to strong arm enemies and to continue to strengthen it where it is weak. Rep. Crenshaw believes the military is still “an organization that wants to kill our enemies.” Crenshaw medically retired from military service in 2016. He lost his right eye after he was hit by an IED explosion while deployed in Afghanistan.

“I’d still be in the military if I could be,” he said. “I miss it.”