Demonstrating a cluelessness beyond anything previously imagined, Iranian President Ahmadinejad announced that he will save the American people from the dictator Obama:
“All the anti-human plans in the world are carried out under [Obama] and his administration. All the occupations, massacres, and human rights violations are perpetrated under his administration, yet along he comes with complaints about our nation.” “Today, the harshest dictatorship is the one operating against the American nation….The American people do not have the right to demonstrate freely or to oppose the crimes of their politicians….From now on, one of the main demands of the Iranian nation is to rescue the American people from its non-democratic, bullying administration.”
Not quite sure whether to thank him or sock him in the mouth. Surely, we’re not responsible for the massacre of Iranian dissidents following the election last summer, although one wonders if Obama had responded with passion in favor of the regime’s opponents if Khamenei would have dared sent the religious police into the streets to go after the rioters.
Anyway, here’s Ed Lasky:
Such are the fruits of engagement, endless praise of Islam (including fictionalizing its history to glorify it – see Cairo Speech, for example), calling Iran the ‘Islamic Republic of Iran; endless turning of the other cheek; somnolence towards Iranian human rights abuses and election fraud (where protesters plaintively and ineffectually asked-“Obama, are you with us or with them?); apathy towards missed deadlines on its nuclear weapons program; shipping of Iranian weapons to Hezbollah and Syria (violating UN embargoes on export of weapons-but hey, who cares?); allowing Iran to become a member of UN Women Rights Commission; abolishing funding for a Boston-based Iran human rights group; etc.
And for all that “engagement,” this is the thanks Obama gets?
I think we need a reset of Iranian relations with the US…
By: James Jay Carafano
Why are we so shocked by implausible events of massive consequence?
Nassin Nicholas Taleb explores that question in his bestselling book, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable.
Taleb is Lebanese. As a child, his world seemed like paradise. His parents told him war was impossible. When war came, they said it wouldn’t last. Yet violence wracked Lebanon for decades. In retrospect, the spiral of destruction seemed inevitable not inconceivable. How could they have not seen it coming?
It was a question the mathematician and scholar pondered throughout his adult life.
Taleb uses black swans metaphorically. From time immemorial, he writes, Europeans believed all swans were white. They never expected to see anything else. But, when Europeans landed in Australia, they found black swans galore.
The lesson of the black swan—you don’t know what you don’t know.
Disasters are unimaginable because we don’t imagine them. Taleb argues we “overvalue” factual information, pretending like Old Europe that this is all the information that is out there. Worse, we sometimes ignore facts we don’t like because they might lead to conclusions we don’t want to make.
Taleb’s book offers plenty of lessons for thinking about future disasters. Unfortunately, the White House seems oblivious to all of them.
On the one hand, the president acts as though he can prevent future disasters simply by eliminating risk and controlling everything. Yet no nation can be “child-proofed.”
The Obama administration is living a black swan fantasy if it thinks they can know it all—and that only they know what is best.
Case in point: Obama’s knee-jerk response to the spill. His suspension of deepwater drilling did nothing to stop the leak or clean up the spill. It just put more people out of work. He then doubled-down, pressing for climate control legislation that will cost trillions and kill millions more jobs while lowering temperatures by a mere fraction of a degree. In his quest for environmental utopia, he ignores the enormous economic risks he creates.
Or consider the president’s push for ratification of the New START treaty. Again, his utopian quest for a world without nukes leads him to ignore the obvious facts that 1) Russia continues to modernize its nuclear arsenal, 2) that the pace of nuclear proliferation is accelerating and 3) the treaty addresses neither of these realities. Meanwhile, the Pentagon crafts plans for spending cuts and troop withdrawals, despite evidence that the world is becoming less—not more—stable and secure.
All these initiatives can be justified only by a belief that the president has mastered knowledge of world events, present and future: that the black swans are not out there; that a series of improbable events won’t combine to produce the next catastrophe; or that the once-in-hundred-year event won’t happen tomorrow.
Those comfortable assumptions didn’t work out for Lebanon and they won’t serve America well, either. The White House must start dealing with the facts it now ignores and admitting there is a lot it can’t know.
The best way to prepare for future shock is to build up strength now. On defense, Obama should drop the New START “peace through palaver” approach and follow Reagan’s proven model of “peace through strength.”
Likewise, rather than hamstring the economy with job-killing regulations and taxation, the White House should cut it loose. The occasional bad bank or irresponsible oil company is no excuse to put the government boot on the neck of free markets.
Facing the unknown with a pack full of guns and butter is better than sauntering into the wilderness hungry and unarmed.
An open letter from actor Jon Voight to President Obama:
June 22, 2010
You will be the first American president that lied to the Jewish people, and the American people as well, when you said that you would defend Israel, the only Democratic state in the Middle East, against all their enemies. You have done just the opposite. You have propagandized Israel, until they look like they are everyone’s enemy — and it has resonated throughout the world. You are putting Israel in harm’s way, and you have promoted anti-Semitism throughout the world.
You have brought this to a people who have given the world the Ten Commandments and most laws we live by today. The Jewish people have given the world our greatest scientists and philosophers, and the cures for many diseases, and now you play a very dangerous game so you can look like a true martyr to what you see and say are the underdogs. But the underdogs you defend are murderers and criminals who want Israel eradicated.
You have brought to Arizona a civil war, once again defending the criminals and illegals, creating a meltdown for good, loyal, law-abiding citizens. Your destruction of this country may never be remedied, and we may never recover. I pray to God you stop, and I hope the people in this great country realize your agenda is not for the betterment of mankind, but for the betterment of your politics.
With heartfelt and deep concern for America and Israel,
Here is the full text of John L. Perry’s column on Newsmax which suggests that a military coup to “resolve the Obama problem” is becoming more possible and is not “unrealistic.” Perry also writes that a coup, while not “ideal,” may be preferable to “Obama’s radical ideal” — and would “restore and defend the Constitution.” Newsmax has since removed the column from its website.
Obama Risks a Domestic Military Intervention
By: John L. Perry
There is a remote, although gaining, possibility America’s military will intervene as a last resort to resolve the “Obama problem.” Don’t dismiss it as unrealistic.
America isn’t the Third World. If a military coup does occur here it will be civilized. That it has never happened doesn’t mean it wont. Describing what may be afoot is not to advocate it. So, view the following through military eyes:
# Officers swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Unlike enlisted personnel, they do not swear to “obey the orders of the president of the United States.”
# Top military officers can see the Constitution they are sworn to defend being trampled as American institutions and enterprises are nationalized.
# They can see that Americans are increasingly alarmed that this nation, under President Barack Obama, may not even be recognizable as America by the 2012 election, in which he will surely seek continuation in office.
# They can see that the economy — ravaged by deficits, taxes, unemployment, and impending inflation — is financially reliant on foreign lender governments.
# They can see this president waging undeclared war on the intelligence community, without whose rigorous and independent functions the armed services are rendered blind in an ever-more hostile world overseas and at home.
# They can see the dismantling of defenses against missiles targeted at this nation by avowed enemies, even as America’s troop strength is allowed to sag.
# They can see the horror of major warfare erupting simultaneously in two, and possibly three, far-flung theaters before America can react in time.
# They can see the nation’s safety and their own military establishments and honor placed in jeopardy as never before.
So, if you are one of those observant military professionals, what do you do?
Wait until this president bungles into losing the war in Afghanistan, and Pakistan’s arsenal of nuclear bombs falls into the hands of militant Islam?
Wait until Israel is forced to launch air strikes on Iran’s nuclear-bomb plants, and the Middle East explodes, destabilizing or subjugating the Free World?
What happens if the generals Obama sent to win the Afghan war are told by this president (who now says, “I’m not interested in victory”) that they will be denied troops they must have to win? Do they follow orders they cannot carry out, consistent with their oath of duty? Do they resign en masse?
Or do they soldier on, hoping the 2010 congressional elections will reverse the situation? Do they dare gamble the national survival on such political whims?
Anyone who imagines that those thoughts are not weighing heavily on the intellect and conscience of America’s military leadership is lost in a fool’s fog.
Will the day come when patriotic general and flag officers sit down with the president, or with those who control him, and work out the national equivalent of a “family intervention,” with some form of limited, shared responsibility?
Imagine a bloodless coup to restore and defend the Constitution through an interim administration that would do the serious business of governing and defending the nation. Skilled, military-trained, nation-builders would replace accountability-challenged, radical-left commissars. Having bonded with his twin teleprompters, the president would be detailed for ceremonial speech-making.
Military intervention is what Obama’s exponentially accelerating agenda for “fundamental change” toward a Marxist state is inviting upon America. A coup is not an ideal option, but Obama’s radical ideal is not acceptable or reversible.
Unthinkable? Then think up an alternative, non-violent solution to the Obama problem. Just don’t shrug and say, “We can always worry about that later.”
In the 2008 election, that was the wistful, self-indulgent, indifferent reliance on abnegation of personal responsibility that has sunk the nation into this morass.
By Mark Steyn
Foreign-policy “realists,” back in the saddle since the Texan cowboy left town, are extremely fond of the concept of “stability”: America needs a stable Middle East, so we should learn to live with Hosni Mubarak and the mullahs and the House of Saud, etc. You can see the appeal of “stability” to your big-time geopolitical analyst: You don’t have to update your Rolodex too often, never mind rethinking your assumptions. “Stability” is a fancy term to upgrade inertia and complacency into strategy. No wonder the fetishization of stability is one of the most stable features of foreign-policy analysis.
Unfortunately, back in what passes for the real world, there is no stability. History is always on the march, and, if it’s not moving in your direction, it’s generally moving in the other fellow’s. Take this “humanitarian” “aid” flotilla. Much of what went on – the dissembling of the Palestinian propagandists, the hysteria of the United Nations and the Euro-ninnies – was just business as usual. But what was most striking was the behavior of the Turks. In the wake of the Israeli raid, Ankara promised to provide Turkish naval protection for the next “aid” convoy to Gaza. This would be, in effect, an act of war – more to the point, an act of war by a NATO member against the state of Israel.
Ten years ago, Turkey’s behavior would have been unthinkable. Ankara was Israel’s best friend in a region where every other neighbor wishes, to one degree or another, the Jewish state’s destruction. Even when Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) was elected to power eight years ago, the experts assured us there was no need to worry. I remember sitting in a plush bar late one night with a former Turkish foreign minister, who told me, between passing round the cigars and chugging back the Scotch, that, yes, the new crowd wasn’t quite so convivial but they knew where their interests lay. Like many Turkish movers and shakers of his generation, my drinking companion loved the Israelis. “They’re tough hombres,” he said admiringly. “You have to be in this part of the world.” If you had suggested to him that in six years, the Turkish prime minister would be telling the Israeli president to his face, “I know well how you kill children on beaches,” he would have dismissed it as a fantasy concoction for some alternative universe.
Yet it happened. Mr. Erdogan said those words to Shimon Peres at Davos last year and then flounced off stage. Day by day, what was formerly the Zionist entity’s staunchest pal talks more and more like just another cookie-cutter death-to-the-Great-Satan stan-of-the-month.
As the think-tankers like to say: “Who lost Turkey?” In a nutshell: Kemal Ataturk. Since he founded post-Ottoman Turkey in his own image nearly nine decades ago, the population has increased from 14 million to more than 70 million. But that fivefold increase is not evenly distributed. The short version of Turkish demographics in the 20th century is that Rumelian Turkey – i.e., Western, European, secular, Kemalist Turkey – has been outbred by Anatolian Turkey – i.e., Eastern, rural, traditionalist, Islamic Turkey. Ataturk and most of his supporters were from Rumelia, and they imposed the modern Turkish republic on a reluctant Anatolia, where Ataturk’s distinction between the state and Islam was never accepted. Now the Anatolians don’t have to accept it. The swelling population has spilled out of its rural hinterland and into the once solidly Kemalist cities.
Do you ever use the expression “Young Turks”? I heard it applied to the starry-eyed ideologues around President Obama the other day. The phrase comes from the original Young Turks, the youthful activists agitating for reform in the last decades of the Ottoman Empire. The very words acknowledge the link between political and demographic energy. Today, the Young Turks are old Turks: The heirs to the Kemalist reformers, who gave women the vote before Britain did, are a population in demographic decline. There will be fewer of them in every election. Today’s Young Turks are men who think as Mr. Erdogan does. That doesn’t mean Turkey is Iran or Waziristan or Saudi Arabia, but it does mean that the country’s leadership is in favor of more or less conventional Islamic imperialism. As Mr. Erdogan’s most famous sound bite puts it: “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers.”
Some Western “experts” like to see this as merely a confident, economically buoyant Turkey’s “re-Ottomanization.” But the virulent anti-Semitism emanating from Mr. Erdogan’s fief has nothing to do with the old-time caliphate and is all but undistinguishable from the globalized hyper-Islam successfully seeded around the world by Wahhabist money and enthusiastically embraced by third-generation Euro-Muslims. Since Sept. 11, 2001, many of us have speculated about Muslim reform, in the Arab world and beyond. It’s hard to recall now, but just a few years ago, there was talk about whether Gen. Pervez Musharraf would be Pakistan’s Ataturk. Instead, what we’re witnessing is the most prominent example of Muslim reform being de-reformed, before our very eyes, in nothing flat.
Demography is destiny, for the most part. For example, European Muslim populations are young, fast-growing and profoundly hostile to Jews. European Jewish populations are old, fading and irrelevant to domestic electoral calculations. Think of your stereotypically squishy pol, and then figure the reserves of courage it would require for the European establishment not to be anti-Israeli and, indeed, ever more anti-Israeli as the years go by.
But demography alone isn’t always destiny. A confident culture can dominate far larger numbers of people, as England did for much of modern history. Bismarck’s famous remark that if the British army invaded Germany, he’d send the local police force to arrest them is generally taken as a sneer at the minimal size of Her Britannic Majesty’s armed forces. In another sense, however, it’s a testament to how much the British accomplished with so little.
Mr. Erdogan would not be palling up to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran and Boy Assad in Syria and even Sudan’s genocidal President Omar al-Bashir, the Butcher of Darfur, if he were mindful of Turkey’s relationship with the United States. But he isn’t. He looks at the American hyperpower and sees, to all intents, a late Ottoman sultan – pampered, decadent, lounging on its cushions, puffing a hookah but unable to rouse itself to impose its will in the world. In that sense, Turkey’s contempt for Israel is also an expression of near total contempt for Washington.
Is Mr. Erdogan wrong in his calculation? Or is he, in his own fashion, only reaching his own conclusions about what Israel, India, the Czech Republic and others are coming to see as “the post-American world”? Well, look at it as if you’re sitting in the presidential palace of some Third World basket case. Iran is going nuclear in full view of the world and with huge implications for everything, not least the price of oil. Meanwhile, NATO’s only Muslim member has decided it would rather be friends with Iran, Sudan and Syria. And all this in the first decade of the 21st century. So much for stability.
By Lance Fairchok
Memorial Day is a day of remembrance and respect for those who have given their lives for the freedoms that bless this nation. Most Americans no longer visit memorials and cemeteries; our nation’s wars do not touch them except for quick sound bites on the news. Fewer still actually know a service member or understand the sacrifices they make with their service, the time away from home and family, the inherent risks and the real possibility that they will sacrifice their lives. Since September 11, 2001, 5,456 American service members have perished fighting terror in all its forms. They all have family and friends who mourn their loss. They are the human face of this long conflict, and they will not be the last — the fight goes on, as it must. They were the best of us, and they deserve to be honored by the nation they fought to preserve.
Senior Airman Bradley Smith was killed in southern Afghanistan supporting the 4th Infantry Division on January 3, 2010. His foot patrol was ambushed by the Taliban, who detonated a series of bombs as they entered the small village of Ashoque. Two soldiers were killed from the initial blasts, two severely wounded. Airman Smith and the unit medic moved forward to render aid to the wounded and recover the dead. As they reassembled, a second bomb detonated. Airman Smith was standing on it. In all, five members of the patrol perished, and six were badly wounded, including Airman Smith’s fellow Air Force member Senior Airman Michael Malarise, who was blinded by shrapnel and is still recovering from his injuries.
Senior Airman Michael Malarsie (left) & Senior Airman Bradley Smith (right):
Both Airmen were part of an elite group of Air Force warriors known as Tactical Air Control Parties (TACP). These remarkable airmen accompany forward Army units to coordinate air support to ground operations. Their training is rigorous and demanding. Their school at Hurlburt Field Florida has a high washout rate. Only the best get to wear the black beret with its distinctive crest. Airman Smith was one of the best, a battlefield airman, who always strived to excel, who always put in the extra effort, who earned the respect of all who knew him.
Brad was born on Sept 11, 1985. It was his birthday when hijacked airliners hit the Twin Trade Towers and the Pentagon. He was sixteen. He and his brother Brian both joined the Air Force. Most Americans spend their whole lives without doing a thing for their nation, but the Smiths had two sons volunteer to serve, to go into harms way, to do what has to be done. Their family has given us their most precious thing: the life of a son, their joy and their pride and their legacy. It is impossible to repay that sacrifice. It should make every American bow his head and say a prayer of thanksgiving that we have such families among us who raise our heroes and know such grief.
As much as Brad was a warrior, he was gentle — he fed the homeless and mentored young people at his church. He was loyal friend, a loving husband and proud new father, who called his wife Tiffany and their baby daughter Chloe Lynn every day, even from the war zone. Brad loved them with the same irrepressible energy with which he approached everything in his life.
At Brad’s funeral, after the service had ended but before the interment, a long line of young men in blue uniforms and black berets slowly walked past the graveside. Each one briefly stopped to murmur private words of thanks and pressed the crest from their beret into the wood of his casket. A hundred and fifty were pinned there when the line ended. Then, in unison, those men, his comrades and fellow TACP airmen, saluted — a final farewell to a fallen brother. On their chests were purple hearts and awards for bravery, symbols of sacrifice and a commitment to duty we can only imagine. They have faced our enemies for us in all the perilous places of the world. They have fought the depravity of his ideology to bring freedom to those who have never known it.
Remember Brad on this Memorial Day. Bow your head in thanks for the terrible sacrifice his family has made for us. Remember Tiffany and Chloe as they struggle to cope in a world without their beloved husband and father. Remember Senior Airman Michael Malarise, who suffers with grievous wounds still. Remember all who now serve, far from home, in harms way, to guard the freedoms we too often forget were bought for us with the blood of fine young men like Senior Airman Bradley Smith.
The brave men who fell on 3 January 2010 in southern Afghanistan:
SGT Joshua Allen Lengstorf
B Co., 1-12 IN
SPC Brian Robert Bowman
B Co., 1-12 IN
SPC Robert John Donevski
B Co., 2-12 IN
PFC John Phillip Dion
B Co., 1-12 IN
SrA Bradley Randall Smith
10th Air Support Operations Squadron
The Tactical Air Control Party site http://usaftacp.com/ has photos of Brad’s funeral and Tiffany and Chloe.
Democrat Bill White Would Disenfranchise Thousands of Overseas US Military Members
AUSTIN — Today, the Friday before Texans remember America’s fallen heroes on Memorial Day, the Bill White campaign attempted to defend his past statements on military voting rights by referring to a 2003 Houston Chronicle article quoting Bill White on military members and their sacred right to vote.
…Bill White stated his support for military voters’ right to vote in local elections and described his support by saying, “Military voters have every right to vote where their children are enrolled in school. Military personnel should be allowed to cast ballots in local elections that determine city or county taxes, police and fire protection, etc.”
“Anyone who knows anything about the military knows that White’s statement is the very opposite of supporting the military,” said US Air Force veteran and Texas GOP spokesman Bryan Preston. “When I was stationed in Tokyo for four years, my home of record remained Texas. Bill White would have disenfranchised me because I didn’t have children at the time, and if I had, they would have been with me and attending a Department of Defense school at my overseas base.
Thousand of military families serve together at US military bases all over the world, from Italy to the UK to South Korea and Japan. And liberal Bill White’s attitude seems to be that even if they have spent their entire lives in their stateside home of record, that time serving their country at Yokota or near the Korean tripwire would cost them their right to vote back home. That’s a travesty. It tells us quite a bit about how little Bill White really knows about the lives of sacrifice that our military families endure to keep us free.”
Our serving military families endure a great deal on all our behalf. We should encourage them to vote, not find ways to restrict their rights as Bill White would.”
More info here.
By Colleen M. Getz
His name was Marine Lance Cpl. Justin Wilson – although I did not know it when his life brushed mine on March 25 at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Lance Cpl. Wilson was not there in the terminal that afternoon; at age 24 and newly married, he had been killed in Afghanistan on March 22 by a roadside bomb. A coincidence of overbooked flights led our lives to intersect for perhaps an hour, one I will never forget.
I did not meet his family that day at the airport, either, although we were there together that evening at the gate, among the crowd hoping to board the oversold flight. I did not know that I had a boarding pass and they did not. I did not know they were trying to get home to hold his funeral, having journeyed to Dover, Del., to meet his casket upon its arrival from Afghanistan.
I also did not know that they already had been stuck for most of the day in another airport because of other oversold flights. But I did not need to know this to realize what they were going through as the event unfolded and to understand the larger cause for it. No matter how we as a nation have relearned the lesson forgotten during Vietnam – that our military men and women and their families deserve all the support we can give them – despite our nation’s fighting two wars in this decade, it is all too easy for most of us to live our lives without having the very great human cost of those wars ever intrude.
But it did intrude heartbreakingly that day at the airport gate. It began simply enough, with the usual call for volunteers: Anyone willing to take a later flight would receive a $500 flight voucher. Then came the announcement none of us was prepared to hear. There was, the airline representative said, a family on their way home from meeting their son’s body as it returned from Afghanistan, and they needed seats on the flight. And there they were, standing beside her, looking at us, waiting to see what we would decide. It wasn’t a hard decision for me; my plans were easily adjusted. I volunteered, as did two women whom I later learned sacrificed important personal plans.
But we three were not enough: Six were needed. So we stood there watching the family – dignified and mute, weighed with grief and fatigue – as the airline representative repeatedly called for assistance for this dead soldier’s family. No one else stepped forward. The calls for volunteers may have lasted only 20 or 30 minutes, but it seemed hours. It was almost unbearable to watch, yet to look away was to see the more than 100 other witnesses to this tragedy who were not moved to help. Then it did become unbearable when, in a voice laced with desperation and tears, the airline representative pleaded, “This young man gave his life for our country, can’t any of you give your seats so his family can get home?” Those words hung in the air. Finally, enough volunteers stepped forward.
I had trouble sleeping that night; I could not get out of my mind the image of the family or the voice pleading for them.When I met my fellow volunteers the next morning at the airport, I found I was not alone. One had gone home and cried, and another had awakened at 3 a.m.; all of us were angry and ashamed that our fellow passengers had not rushed to aid this soldier’s family and consequently had forced them to be on public display in their grief. We worried that this indifference to their son’s sacrifice added to their sorrow.
It turned out my destination was his hometown, so I was able to learn his name and more. I learned he had been a talented graffiti artist and had married his sweetheart, Hannah, the day before he deployed to Afghanistan. They planned a big wedding with family and friends for after he returned home. I learned how proud he was to become a Marine in January 2009. I learned that he and his fellow Marines liked to give the candy they received from home to Afghan children. In sum, I learned that he was the kind of honorable, patriotic young person we want defending our country and how great our loss is that he had to give his life in doing so.
I posted a message to his family on the online condolence book. I told them I was sorry for what they went through in trying to see their son’s body home, but because of it, many more people were going to have heard of Justin and his dedication to his country: I was going to tell everyone I knew about what I had witnessed and tell them his name. And I have.
I thought that was enough, until I received a thank-you note from Lance Cpl. Wilson’s father-in-law.It was a completely humbling experience; he wrote that he was glad I had been able to learn about Justin, and he wanted me to know that Justin “served knowing the risks, but felt it was his obligation and privilege to serve his country.” At that moment, I realized that in this day of an all-volunteer military and a distant war that touches so few of our lives directly, more people should hear the story of Lance Cpl. Wilson and his family.
I’ve thought a lot about what happened that day in the airport, and I choose to believe my fellow passengers were not unfeeling in the face of a soldier’s death and a family’s tragedy. They were just caught off guard – they were totally unprepared to confront the fierce consequences of the war in Afghanistan on their way to Palm Beach on a sunny afternoon.And I believe it was for this reason that people did not rush to the podium to volunteer their seats. It was not that they did not want to, and it was not that they did not think it was the right thing to do. Rather, it was because they were busy trying to assimilate this unexpected confrontation with the irrevocable cost of war and to figure out how to fit doing the right thing into their plans – to fit it into their lives not previously touched by this war. In the end, enough of us figured out how to do the right thing, and it turned out as well as such a painful situation could.
But still I wonder: Barring some momentous personal event that necessitated a seat on that flight, how could any of us even have hesitated? How could we have stopped to weigh any inconvenience to our plans against the sacrifice Lance Cpl. Wilson and his family had made for our country? In such circumstances, it is not a question of recognizing the right thing to do; we should know it is the only thing to do.
From what I have learned of him, in his short life, Lance Cpl. Wilson created a legacy of courage and patriotism that will not be forgotten by those who knew him. I hope there’s a greater legacy as well. I hope through this account of his family’s struggle to see him home, if ever again the war intrudes unbidden on my life or yours, we will know what we must do, and in their honor, and for all those who serve and sacrifice, we will do it.
Colleen M. Getz works in the NATO policy office of the Department of Defense.
By: Oliver North
This year falling on May 15, Armed Forces Day was designated in 1949 to recognize active-duty soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen and Marines. Memorial Day, now a “nearest Monday” federal holiday, has been observed at the end of the month since 1868 in tribute to America’s war dead. It’s ironic that this year, these two dates celebrating those who serve in our nation’s uniform are bookends for a political candidate accused of inflating his claims of military service.
On May 17, The New York Times, The Associated Press and just about every other news outlet on the planet made it known that Richard Blumenthal, the attorney general of Connecticut and a candidate for the U.S. Senate, has made a habit of portraying himself as a veteran of the Vietnam War. He is quoted as having told a Connecticut veterans group in March 2008, “We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam.” At a Veterans Day event later that year, he said, “I wore the uniform in Vietnam, and many came back to all kinds of disrespect.” He has emotionally recalled being “spat on” and claimed, “We couldn’t wear our uniforms (when) we returned from Vietnam.” On other occasions, he apparently has reflected on “the taunts, the insults, sometimes even physical abuse” he suffered after coming back from Vietnam. At a 2003 rally of support for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said, “When we returned, we saw nothing like this,” and he often has made reference to “the days that (he) served in Vietnam.” Unfortunately, none of this is true. Jane Fonda has more time on the ground in Vietnam than Blumenthal.
Confronted by the evidence that he never really was deployed overseas, the Senate candidate called a news conference to say, “I regret that I misspoke on those occasions. I take full responsibility.” He went on to explain to reporters that his claims to have served in Vietnam were “absolutely unintentional” and “a few misplaced words.” That affront to those who really did serve — and who now serve in harm’s way — was apparently acceptable to those who stood beside the attorney general in his Mark Sanford moment.
In fairness, Blumenthal did enlist in the Marine Corps Reserve in 1970 — after receiving at least five draft deferments. He apparently made it through Marine boot camp at Parris Island, S.C. — no mean feat. The publicly available record shows that after completing basic training, he never deployed overseas, but he did fulfill his obligated service in a Washington, D.C.-based Civil Affairs detachment and a Motor Transport unit in Connecticut. That entitles him to wear the same Eagle, Globe and Anchor that adorns my uniform. But that doesn’t give him the right to demean the service of the young Marines and Navy corpsmen with whom I served in that long-ago, faraway war — or those from the present fight who have volunteered to go in harm’s way.
Blumenthal’s lies about his service aren’t simply a problem of “misspeaking,” as he now claims, or just a matter of padding a r?sum?. His deceptions and distortions had but one self-serving end: to advance his political career by establishing affinity with veterans and their families, no matter what price they had really paid. Apparently, he was so good at it until now that no political opponent, veterans organization or enterprising reporter ever analyzed Blumenthal’s DD Form 214 or his Service Record Book to determine the truth of his assertions.
Blumenthal now maintains he isn’t going to talk about this matter anymore and is moving on to “issues that make a difference now and in the future to the people of Connecticut.” Whether “moving on” and “putting this behind us” will prove to be a successful political ploy remains to be seen. In the 1990s, then-Rep. Wes Cooley, R-Ore., who falsely claimed he had served in the Korean War, was thrown out of office by his constituents after being caught up in his lies. Rep. Mark Souder, R-Ind., resigned this week when his extramarital affair was revealed. These men are no greater charlatans or frauds than Blumenthal, who must know that others — such as Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa — have survived self-serving “expansions” of their own military records.
Blumenthal says he is going to continue his quest for the U.S. Senate, so the issue of his credibility and his “war record” ultimately will be decided by the people of Connecticut. It will be interesting to see whether the state that gave us Revolutionary War heroes Nathan Hale and Israel Putnam wants to seat a hypocrite like Richard Blumenthal in the U.S. Senate with a real American hero like Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va.
That’s all ahead for the nice folks in the Nutmeg State. For the rest of us, please remember that Memorial Day is more than a day off. It’s our opportunity to honor those who indisputably served our country in harm’s way. They are buried in cemeteries all over this globe — including one near you.
Examiner columnist Oliver North is nationally syndicated by Creators Syndicate.