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Defending the Home Front

With all the furor about President Bush's Air National Guard service, I just want to say that I, for one, am glad that our future President was on the job in Texas in the early 1970s, defending the US against potential attack by the Mexican Air Force.

Wait a second. Does Mexico have an air force? I honestly don't know. I'm off to look it up.

Yes, they do. They fly one type of fighter, the F-5E / F-5F Tiger II. According to this site, as of 2000, they had 8 F-5Es and 2 F-5Fs, all at a single base in Santa Lucia. Other than that, the Mexican Air Force is "predominantly a transport force with a large presidential and VIP fleet." Okay, so now I know.

Anyway, President Bush, thanks for your valiant service keeping the home front safe during the Vietnam War.

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With all the furor about President Bush's Air National Guard service, I just want to say that I, for one, am glad that our future President was on the job in Texas in the early 1970s, defending the US against potential attack by the Mexican Air Force. [Read More]

Comments

Frank,

1. Don't knock the guard.
2. Attempted incursions by Soviet "Bear" bombers often came from the Gulf, in addition to the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. You just didn't hear about it. Not to say that the Guard was ever necessarily involved in interception, but remember Cuba is down there, too.
3. Bush has provided a greater and more valiant service to the country in 3.5 years as commander-in-chief than a) the self-admitted war criminal Kerry is likely to
ever achieve and b) Clinton in eight years at the same post.

Kerry proponents are getting a lot of traction on the non-issue of Bush's service during the primary silly season. He can't run on his own record from the time he left Vietnam, and stated for the record in 70's that he didn't want to be President. Cool. I don't want him either.

-dk

My satirical comments were meant in no way as disrespect to the Guard. As a former regular Army soldier, I respect the job they do. Having said that, let's be honest: during the Vietnam War, the primary attraction of the National Guard for many people was as a refuge from serving in combat. Was that Bush's motivation for joining? We can't possibly know, but the circumstantial evidence points in that direction.

As for Soviet flights near our coasts, if memory serves, the regular Air Force would have always handled that, right?

So far, so good. But now to your last comment:

Bush has provided a greater and more valiant service to the country in 3.5 years as commander-in-chief than a) the self-admitted war criminal Kerry is likely to ever achieve and b) Clinton in eight years at the same post.
Here are the criteria for the Silver Star:
The Silver Star is awarded to a person who, while serving in any capacity with the U.S. Army, is cited for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force, or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. The required gallantry, while of a lesser degree than that required for award of the Distinguished Service Cross, must nevertheless have been performed with marked distinction.
Oh, and don't forget the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts (which don't signify courage in and of themselves, but do speak to sacrifice).

I was fortunate enough not to see combat while I was in the military. I think those of us who have not seen combat -- and especially those of us who have not served -- must respect those who have. I would applaud the service of anyone from anywhere in the political spectrum who has fought on behalf of the US and done so bravely.

There is a disturbing trend among the Right these days to downplay military service and courage under fire. Could this have something to do with the fact that of the sitting President, Vice-President, Speaker of the House, House Majority Whip, and Senate Majority Leader -- a group of men that has led our country into war -- the total military service accumulated is three and a half years in the Air National Guard? This despite the fact that all of these men reached the age of 18 during the Vietnam War?

The definition of the word valiant reads:

Possessing valor; brave.

Marked by or done with valor.

And here's part of the entry for valor:
Courage and boldness, as in battle; bravery...

Strength of mind in regard to danger; that quality which enables a man to encounter danger with firmness; personal bravery; courage; prowess; intrepidity...

How exactly have President Bush's actions been courageous? What exactly is the danger the President has faced with courage?

I'm not sure how much of an issue Bush's service (or lack thereof) is. I'm of a mind that such issues matter when one is judging the character of a candidate running for office he or she has not yet held. But Bush has been President for over three years now. We know what he has done. We know how he responds to a variety of situations. We don't need to know whether he fulfilled his military obligations to know his character.

I fail to see how President Bush has provided a "greater... service to the country" as Commander-in-Chief. Al Qaeda is on the run but, according to the Administration itself, not defeated. Osama bin Laden is at large. Most of Afghanistan remains lawless, and its President has little effective power. Iraq has been conquered, but at the cost of over 500 American lives and rising -- and what again was the imminent threat it posed? Meanwhile, according to CIA Director Tenet, North Korea probably has one or more nuclear weapons, and we know they will soon have the capacity to launch them at Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

I believe it was the day after 9/11 that Jacques Chirac -- Jacques Chirac -- said, "We are all Americans today." Now "America" is a dirty word throughout much of the world. We have deeply fractured relations with some of our closest allies. And I, for one, feel no safer.

In no particular order:

William Jefferson Clinton used student deferments and backing out of promises to avoid even National Guard service. He opened the door for discussions on military service. Under his leadership, the U.S. military strength was drastically reduced (my own personal observations) while he engaged in military encursions into Bosnia and Haiti, with little or no direct threat to this country from those countries. In the case of the former, he did so at the request of European leadership with no effective exit strategy. In Haiti, he used a military show of force to shore up the reinstatement of a profiteering and murdering dictator -- who he still publicly endorses.

In Iraq, Operations Northern and Southern Watch continued throughout the previous administration despite shrinking budgets. We've been arguably "at war" with Iraq since 1991 if flying combat missions counts, but Clinton's foreign policy was ineffective in reducing the level of military commitment to the area (indeed, we mostly did ONW and OSW on our own). Even though the U.S. was taking the lion's share of the duty, he was ineffective in controlling the embargo, allowing French and Russian commercial interests in Iraq to illegally increase. "Oil for food" became cash for arms, Hamas, and anti-U.S. propaganda. These commercial and internal political European influences largely kept the UN from following through on their earlier resolutions. France was happy to appear to stand by the U.S. when it was a popular thing to do, but not when it threatened their commercial interests.

Kerry returned from Vietnam and, like Bush, received an "early out" from his military commitment. He used his new civilian status to protest a conflict in which he had been an enthusiastic participant while the country was under a Democratic president. His anti-war sentiments didn't emerge until the Republican party was in the White House.

During his anti-war protests, through lies and exaggerations, Kerry helped create and reinforce a stereotype of the U.S. military in Vietnam as "baby burners" and ignorant, unwilling, cannon fodder. During varous testimony he claimed that all levels of command were aware of violations of the rules of engagement and the Geneva Convention, and activities that were war crimes, even stating under oath that these behaviors were the norm. As an officer, if he had been aware of such violations, he was required by his duty to report and prosecute them. Instead, his lack of reporting war crimes that happened under his command as such constitute at minimum dereliction of duty, if not conspiracy and hindrance of prosecution. His attacks on the characters of soldiers and MIAs in Vietnam were a personal and direct betrayal of those still in country and the military profession since then, and constituted providing "aid and comfort to the enemy."

In his testimony before Congress he stated that he and other Vietnam vets "prayed God" to be allowed to forget their service. In a protest later he symbolically threw his medals back (but dragged the real ones out later when it became politically expedient). I'm happy to disregard his service medals, since he has been a disgrace to his uniform and the country since receiving them. Benedict Arnold was a decorated sellout, too, wasn't he?

Stating that the mission of the Texas Air National guard was/is to keep us safe from Mexico is ridiculing the service of those who have participated in it. While the regular Air Force was in charge of interception, the guard fighter-interceptor units (F102 had hardly any other duties) job would have been to supplement the active AF in case of conflict. If this is a mission fit for a satirical comment, have at it. But even after a week's hiatus, your statement still makes me angry.

It is more courageous to stand up for one's convictions in face of personal and public attack and ridicule than it is to change your direction with the wind -- as Kerry does not only with the defense and the military, but also with "Free Trade," the environment, and human rights. It is boldness to go forward with a correct action in spite of your allies' greed. As a former soldier, you are familiar with the term RHIP. Commensurate with the priviledges of rank are greater moral responsibility (positive and negative) and increased commitment to duty. I'll stand by the greater service and valor comment, especially since Kerry's service contributions is essentially nullified (at his own request and prayer).

If you feel a greater threat now than in say, late 1999, I can guess that it may be because that like me and almost everyone else, you were (or acted) blissfully unaware that we could be attacked "at home." Not surprising, since we all failed to learn the lessons from repeated but less dramatic attacks at home and abroad. Reducing the freedom of movement and the sources of income of terrorists through successful military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan has made us marginally safer. Taking action toward establishing internal security has also made us marginally safer. Like you, I am worried about the financial and social costs of the increased safety, but I do not think that either Kerry or Edwards is capable of providing a better answer.

I'm not afraid of being labeled as a conservative, although I don't think I fit the accompanying negative stereotype completely. Overall, I'd rather have Bush than a traitor.

-dk

We're going to have to agree to disagree. I could respond in a more detailed fashion to what you've written, but I think we're both pretty set in our positions on this general issue, and further discussion isn't going to do much good.

I do, though, appreciate you taking the time to share your opinions here.

Ya. Another time?

-dk

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