The Washington Times
"Loss of trust and confidence"
Dr. Gerald L. Atkinson
14 March 1999
A young active-duty captain in the U.S. Army Special Forces tells us that, "I distrust my commander-in-chief. When called upon to serve in a 'hostile fire zone,' I will question the justness of the cause...I still love my country and the Army, but I have lost my trust and belief in the credibility of our civilian leadership."
When a nation loses confidence in its democratic institutions, and they become corrupted at the highest level, we know that it is on a downward path toward decline, decay, and dissolution -- on a path toward chaos.
Loss of trust and confidence
President Clinton and his Secretary of Defense make much of the importance of "credibility" in defending NATO's involvement in Bosnia and now in possibly waging war on Yugoslavia. Meanwhile, a huge gap in trust and credibility separates these politicians from the troops they would send into the field to fight and die for NATO's "credibility." A young active-duty captain in the U.S. Army Special Forces has published a letter in the Fayetteville Observer-Times (2/17/99), in which he states,
"As a United States Army officer, I have always loved serving my
country. Military service is a higher calling, a desire to protect
something greater than myself. There should also be security in
knowing that the president is our commander-in-chief. As a civilian,
the president swears an oath to faithfully execute the laws of the land
and is ultimately answerable to the American people. I have always
believed that, even if our civilian political leadership makes mistakes,
they are honest mistakes, made with the good intentions of protecting
the United States."
With that said, he goes on to say:
"But something remarkable has happened. The Senate has acquitted a
president of impeachable offenses, a president who deliberately misled
both the American people and a jury in a civil lawsuit. This disturbs me
so much as a military professional that I feel compelled to express my
Then he tells us the hard facts.
"I distrust my commander-in-chief. When called upon to serve in a 'hostile
fire zone,' I will question the justness of the cause. I will worry that my
subordinates' lives are being risked to cover up another of the president's
false statements. I also worry that Congress may fail to hold the president
accountable for breaches of integrity, perhaps even if those breaches risk
the lives of American soldiers."
"I still love my country and the Army, but I have lost my trust and belief in
the credibility of our civilian leadership."
Wow! This heartfelt letter takes me back in time, 33 years ago, when I was a Navy carrier-based aviator flying reconnaissance missions over North Vietnam. We were an adventurous lot, a proud band of brothers, a group of professionals who knew who we were and why we were there. We also did not give a damn about those bearded, pot-smoking hippies demonstrating on university campuses. But I will tell you, there is one thing we did care about: that we would not be betrayed by those above us in the chain of command, and in particular, the commander-in-chief.
How did that trust display itself? At least once a week, we were reminded of this well-placed trust in that one of us would be shot down over enemy territory and the A1 Skyraiders would come swooping in, cannons blazing, followed by the A4s with rockets, and finally, the big beautiful Jolly Green Giant helicopter -- to pick us up and remove us to the safety of our ship. Most of us even carried "ball" ammunition, rather than tracer, in the event that killing a few would-be captors at the last minute might be the difference between the Hanoi Hilton and a return to our ship. This happened time and again while we were there and, let me tell you, there is nothing stronger than the trust you develop for those brave rescuers, the chain of command that made sure they were there when needed, and a president who would leave no stone unturned to make it happen.
In retrospect, it may appear to some that such trust and confidence may have been misplaced in President Johnson and his political advisers. But I have been assured by senior Navy officers whom I respect and admire that these politicians were at least open to the urging of the Navy senior officers who made sure we "warriors" were not betrayed.
If we went down, they would move hell and high water to try to get us out. This was most vividly apparent in President Nixon's approval of the POW rescue raid on the Son Tay prison camp west of Hanoi toward the end of the war. No matter what others might think of President Nixon, we were in admiration and awe at this display of guts, determination, and trust. So where are we now?
Those of us who won the Cold War by virtue of overseas deployments, dangerous occupations, separation from family -- and who afterward migrated to productive lives outside the military, now see the sixties counter-culture hippies running the major institutions of America, including the presidency. We see the collapse of morale in our armed forces. We see distrust of, and a complete lack of credibility for the president by those whom he would send into harms way. We see a president who has rained cruise missiles on sovereign nations, Afghanistan, Sudan, and Iraq for purely domestic political objectives. We see a weak and ineffective Congress which allows this blatant aggressive use of military force (including the threatened bombing of a sovereign nation, Yugoslavia) in spite of the fact that it is solely their prerogative to declare war. We see the same distrust for the president's advisors (including high-level military advisers), and now, even the Senate which has given Bill Clinton a pass on his egregious breaking of the law and undermining the rule of law. All of this before we just recently find out that the president is most likely a rapist.
And the Senators did not care enough to even look at the evidence. Indeed, not only is Captain Scott H. Morgan, U.S. Special Forces, a brave and courageous young officer, but he is telling us at the gut level, at the level where young people put their lives on the line for the rest of us, that he is losing faith in our leaders -- and ultimately, in their intention and ability to preserve our constitutional republic. It is not a loss of trust in a man, President William Jefferson Clinton, but of his generation. What Scott Morgan is telling us is that he is no longer confident that yesteryears "Jolly Green Giants" would rescue him in enemy territory unless it were in President Clinton's best domestic political interest to do so -- or in the best interest of the power elite of the Boomer generation.
When a nation loses confidence in its democratic institutions, and they become corrupted at the highest level, we know that it is on a downward path toward decline, decay, and dissolution -- on a path toward chaos. We dismiss Captain Morgan's warning at our peril.
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