Friday, June 29, 2007


War Crimes

Retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Buzz Patterson announces the release of his new book, War Crimes: The Left’s Campaign to Destroy the Military and Lose the War on Terror, posting short excerpts over at The Corner.

Buzz has spent the last couple of years building his case for War Crimes, in his many interviews with military and MILBLOGGERS on Rightalk Radio, and his dedication to amplifying the wattage of MILBLOGGER voices. He’s been guest of our inaugural MILBLOG Conference, and a guest contributor to MILBLOGS. All that, and he very graciously quoted me from one of my anti-media tirades, sent me an early draft for review, and invited me to contribute a blurb for the book jacket. (Suffice to say, this won’t be an entirely objective review. That’s okay. I’m not a journalist even if I don’t write in my pajamas.)

Buzz saw War Crimes as a mission he could accomplish: to give the American public an opportunity to hear military voices responding to media ignorance, apathy, hostility, and other journalistic malpractice and malfeasance. Here’s how he sees the current media climate, and his solution:

Realities on the ground often go unnoticed or under-appreciated. The American soldier has often lacked a voice to articulate his mission and his successes amidst the cacophony of defeat in Congress and public opinion polls. I invited warriors to weigh in with their perspectives, interviewing hundreds of soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines, many on the battlefields of Iraq. Together, their interviews constitute much of War Crimes: The Left’s Campaign to Destroy the Military and Lose the War on Terror. And the picture they paint of their fellow citizens at home is anything but rosy.

Read Buzz’s posting, or better yet, check out his book for what soldiers have to say about the war within.
Much of the mainstream media (MSM) and political opposition to US efforts to fight back against radical Islamic terrorism have been hateful, dishonest, disloyal, mean-spirited and self-aggrandizing. There are those who object and seek to change US foreign policy on principle, morally or ethically, and with seriousness see the war in Iraq as a grave mistake. Unfortunately, those in the opposition who reach their position through reason are not in positions of power nor editorial control in the media, or in politics, or in entertainment.

Having said that, I still prefer to view those whose position against the war is illogical, inconsistent, hypocritical or partisan-gain-seeking as ill- and mal-educated, other- and self-deceived, rather than traitorous. The premise of Buzz’s book makes me uncomfortable. I know how violently the targets of his wrath will clamor for his head and denounce his book. I know many reasonable people on both sides of the argument will say he’s gone too far, he’s branded honorable people with a harsh and unwarranted indictment that could be deserved by very, very few.

And yet. I am even more uncomfortable with the notion, which steadily creeps up in my consciousness, clamoring for my attention, that Buzz may have it more right than wrong.

Haven’t we allowed our political differences to justify all manner of evil in pursuit of our political goals? We pulled off the kid gloves and abandoned civility altogether, didn’t we? No Queensbury Rules for Twentieth (and now 21st) Century Politics.

Starting in the years since World War Two, didn’t we convince ourselves that the ends justify the means, that if our enemies were wrong, they were also evil? The 40s and 50s saw red-baiting against otherwise well-intended socialists, however wrong they might have been. The 1960s and 70s witnessed the denouncing of the architects of an idealistic fight against communist oppression as fascists and hate-mongers, and those in the military as baby-killers. Likewise, the rebels in the 60s and 70s were branded peaceniks, hippies, drug addicts and freaks. In the 80s, Reagan and his conservative supporters were crazy anti-communists, and arch-types for the Stepford Wives. In the 90s, how many right-side commentators pilloried Bill and Hillary Clinton as the embodiment of pure evil in the world? Granted, the Clintons provided plenty of ammunition, but were they really Mr. and Mrs. Anti-Christ?

Last but certainly not least, can Bush and Cheney Derangement Syndromes on the Left possibly develop any more poisonous variants as what we’ve seen since 2003?

I am absolutely certain that partisans on both sides of the war in Iraq will see evil and ill-intent only in the eyes of their opponents in the descriptions above, and completely dismiss the sins of commission of those who share their political affinities.

Still, call it a remnant quaintness on the part of Conservatives, but we reserve our insults for our political opponents, and sought to preserve the notion that politics ends at the water’s edge, and those who serve in the military would be treated with a special honor and respect, whether we agreed with their purposes and missions, or not.

For the targets of Buzz’s indictment in War Crimes, this is not the first time they have demonstrated they feel no such reservation about insulting, demeaning, disgracing and demoralizing their men and women in uniform. They have a criminal history in that regard.

And while I would never state my horror, revulsion, and anger towards the Left and their media and entertainment industry collaborators in terms as stark as Buzz, I know what he’s talking about, and I see what he sees for what it is.

The US military does not want to be in the middle of any kind of partisan bar-room brawl which diminishes their pride in nation, or service. Yet, in the current state of political discourse, the military is left with few options, none appealing. They can continue to watch and listen as opposition to their efforts continues to insult, malign and dishonor their service, or violate the longstanding reluctance of career military to take sides in political skirmishes.

Buzz can do what he wants, and he can do it well, with a bigger audience than I ever could. I don’t believe any of the contributors to War Crimes wrote the letters or blog posts they did, intending to contribute to an indictment such as War Crimes. Our testimony was not solicited, but sprang from the righteous anger of public servants tired of libel and hypocrisy.

As such, Buzz serves as public prosecutor, who gathered the testimony of men and women in uniform to form his indictment. It is up to the readers, to the American Public, to render a verdict. Many will bitterly attack his book, and angrily object to its premise. Many others will affirm his accusations.

But as a soldier whose words are included in that book, I would ask readers to ask themselves. Have you listened to the military? Do you know what we think, those who serve as defenders of our nation, our national interests, and who risk our lives as the human instrument of US Foreign Policy? We ask not for your patronage, nor do we ask for largesse, nor matronly protection. We ask only to be heard, and not disgraced.

When we cry “false” or “foul,” we expect to be taken seriously. When we support a fight in which our own lives are at stake, we expect you to do so as well. And if the opponents of our military would behave with honor and respect for our service, they wouldn’t need to worry about hearing accusations of treason. There wouldn’t be any.

Buzz realizes that the plea to listen to our military remains just that, a plea, and there are others who must listen, and then take action:

As with all wars, America’s fate resides in the hands of the vocal elite manning the editorial desks, congressional offices, and studio back lots. As we approach the birthday of our independence, let us add another voice to the dialogue: the uniformed men and women who, then as now, granted and preserved our freedom. Our way of life is at stake, as is the plight of 25 million Iraqis. Shouldn’t we listen?

W. Thomas Smith Jr., posting at The Corner, linked to Patterson’s press release today, while earlier in the week, Matt Burden posted a review and commentary on Patterson’s War Crimes over at Blackfive, and Glenn Reynolds made note of the book with a couple of short observations.

Glenn linked to Rusty Shackleford, who along with Glenn stirred up a defensive-seeming reaction from those on the other side of the issue: Kevin Drum and Oliver Willis. They view Patterson’s book as part of an orchestrated (read VRWC) to find a way to blame the “failure” in Iraq on Democrats.

For “fairness,” James Joyner posted a much less favorable review at Outside the Beltway.

As I said, this latest from Buzz may very well stir up quite the bee’s nest of angry left reactions. I have family within the hive – heck, I wonder how a family of bees could produce one lone ant -- so at least some of those angry barbs may be headed my way.

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