Monday, January 7, 2008

Moral Cowardice

In my research for the Case Against Hilary post, I came across the ancestors of blogs, primordial rightwing tirades documenting the sins of the Clintons. Neverending "scandal" lists, body counts and cases for impeachment. One of the more frequently cited nuggets of Clinton demonization is the November 9th, 1998 Washington Times op-ed by Marine reserve Maj. Daniel J. Rabil entitled "Please, impeach my commander in chief".

I emailed Mr. Rabil to give him a fair chance to discuss his op-ed in a civilized and respectful exchange. He told me he would contact me from a private email address but never did so. I was moved to reach out to him and write this when I saw on the Huffington Post that he had contributed $250 to Ron Paul's campaign. This raised a host of questions, namely how have his views changed, does he still stand by his op-ed, does he apply the same kind of standards to the current President, and why is it that so many military votes are lining up in support of a clearly anti-war, anti-aggression candidate like Paul?

Here is the op-ed in it's entirety. It is a case study in the arguments, obsession and unhinged anti-Clinton venom of the time.

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Please, impeach my commander in chief
By Daniel J. Rabil

The American military is subject to civilian control, and we deeply believe in that principle. We also believe, as affirmed in the Nuremberg Trials, that servicemen are not bound to obey illegal orders. But what about orders given by a known criminal? Should we trust in the integrity of directives given by a president who violates the same basic oath we take? Should we be asked to follow a morally defective leader with a demonstrated disregard for his troops? The answer is no, for implicit in the voluntary oath that all servicemen take is the promise that they will receive honorable civilian leadership. Bill Clinton has violated that covenant. It is therefore Congress' duty to remove him from office.

I do not claim to speak for all service members, but certainly Bill Clinton has never been the military's favorite president. Long before the Starr report, there was plenty of anecdotal evidence of this administration's contempt for the armed forces. Yes, Mr. Clinton was a lying draft dodger, yes his staffers have been anti-military, and yes, he breezily ruins the careers of senior officers who speak up or say politically incorrect things. Meanwhile, servicemen are now in jail for sex crimes less egregious than those Paula Jones and Kathleen Willey say Mr. Clinton committed.

Mr. Clinton and his supporters do not care in the least about the health of our armed forces. Hateful of a traditional military culture they never deigned to study, Mr. Clinton's disingenuous feminist, homosexual and racial activist friends regard the services as mere political props, useful only for showcasing petty identity group grievances. It is no coincidence that the media have played up one military scandal after another during the Clinton years. This politically-driven shift of focus, from the military mission to the therapeutic wants of fringe groups, has taken its toll: Partly because of Mr. Clinton's impossibly Orwellian directives, Chief of Naval Operations Jay Boorda committed suicide.

So Clinton has weakened the services and fostered a corrosive anti-military culture. This may be loathsome, but it is not impeachable, particularly if an attentive Congress can limit the extent of Clinton-induced damage. As officers and gentlemen, we have therefore continued to march, pretending to respect our hypocrite-in-chief.

Then came the Paula Jones perjury and the ensuing Starr Report. I have always known that Clinton was integrity-impaired, but I never thought even he could be so depraved, so contemptuous, as to conduct military affairs as was described in the special prosecutor's report to Congress. In that report, we learn of a telephone conversation between Mr. Clinton and a congressman in which the two men discussed our Bosnian deployment. During that telephone discussion, the Commander-in-Chief's pants were unzipped, and Monica Lewinsky was busy saving him the cost of a prostitute. This is the president of the United States of America? Should soldiers not feel belittled and worried by this? We deserve better.

When Ronald Reagan's ill-fated Beirut mission led to the careless loss of 241 Marines in a single bombing, few questioned his love of country and his overriding concern for American interests. But should Mr. Clinton lead us into military conflict, he would do so, incredibly, without any such trust. After the recent American missile attacks in Afghanistan and Sudan, my instant reaction was outrage, for I instinctively presumed that Mr. Clinton was trying to knock Miss Lewinsky's concurrent grand jury testimony out of the headlines. The alternative, that this president --who ignores national security interests, who appeases Iraq and North Korea, and who fights like a leftover Soviet the idea of an American missile defense -- actually believed in the need for immediate military strikes, was simply implausible. And no amount of scripted finger wagging, lip biting, or mention of The Children by this highly skilled perjurer can convince me otherwise.

In other words, Mr. Clinton has demonstrated that he will risk war, terrorist attacks, and our lives just to save his dysfunctional administration. What might his motives be in some future conflict? Blackmail? Cheap political payoffs? Or -- dare I say it -- simply the lazy blundering of an instinctively anti-American man? It is immoral to impose such untrustworthy leadership on a fighting force.

It will no doubt be considered extreme to raise the question of whether this president is a national security risk, but I must. I do not believe presidential candidates should be required to undergo background investigations, as is normal for service members. I do know, however, that Bill Clinton would not pass such a screening. Recently, I received a phone call from a military investigator, who asked me a variety of character-related questions about a fellow Marine reservist. The Marine, who is also a friend, needed to update his top-secret clearance. Afterward, I called him. We marveled how lowly reservists like us must pass complete background checks before routine deployments, yet the guardian of our nation's nuclear button would raise a huge red flag on any such security report. We joked that my friend's security clearance would have been permanently canceled if I had said to the investigator, "Well, Rick spent the Vietnam years smoking pot and leading protests against his country in Britain. His hobbies are lying and adultery. His brother's a cocaine dealer, and oh, yeah -- he visited the Soviet Union for unknown reasons, while his countrymen were getting killed in Vietnam."

Do I show disrespect for this president? Perhaps it depends on the meaning of the word "this." If Clinton were merely a spoiled leftist taking advantage of our free society, a la Jane Fonda, that would be one thing. But you don't make an atheist pope, and you don't keep a corrupt security risk as commander- in-chief.

The enduring goodness of the American military character over the past two centuries does not automatically derive from our nation's nutritional habits or from a good job benefits package. This character must be developed and supported, or it will die. Already we are seeing declining enlistment and a 1970s-style disdain for military service, squandering the real progress made during the purposeful 1980s. Our military's heart and soul can survive lean budgets, but they cannot long survive in an America that would tolerate such a character as now occupies the Oval Office. We are entitled to a leader who at least respects us -- not one who cannot be bothered to remove his penis from a subordinate's mouth long enough to discuss our deployment to a combat zone. To subject our services to such debased leadership is nothing less than the collective spit of the entire nation upon our faces.

Bill Clinton has always been a moral coward. He has always had contempt for the American military. He has always had a questionable security background. Since taking office, he has ignored defense issues, except as serves the destructive goals of his extremist supporters. His behavior with Paula Jones and Kathleen Willey was bizarre and deranged -- try keeping a straight face while watching mandated Navy sexual harassment videos, knowing that the president's own conduct violates historic service rules to the point of absurdity.

For a while, it was almost possible to laugh off Mr. Clinton's hedonistic, "college protester" values. But now that we have clear evidence that he perjured himself and corrupted others to cover up his lies, Bill Clinton is no longer funny. He is dangerous.

William J. Clinton, perhaps the most selfish man ever to disgrace our presidency, will not resign. I therefore risk my commission, as our generals will not, to urge this of Congress: Remove this stain from our White House. Banish him from further office. For God's sake, do your duty.


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There are some real gems in here worth analyzing.

He leads out strong, declaring, "We also believe, as affirmed in the Nuremberg Trials, that servicemen are not bound to obey illegal orders." I would ask Mr. Rabil if the same standard would apply to those being asked to use "enhanced interrogation" methods which have historically been illegal and immoral.

"Yes, Mr. Clinton was a lying draft dodger, yes his staffers have been anti-military, and yes, he breezily ruins the careers of senior officers who speak up or say politically incorrect things." Would he characterize the never-seeing-action chickenhawks Dick Cheney, Richard Perle, and many many other neocons as draft dodgers? Clearly in his mind there were few things so contemptible as avoiding military service. And what does he have to say about the firing of generals like Shinseki and Casey who dared to tell King George what he didn't want to hear?

He goes on, "After the recent American missile attacks in Afghanistan and Sudan, my instant reaction was outrage, for I instinctively presumed that Mr. Clinton was trying to knock Miss Lewinsky's concurrent grand jury testimony out of the headlines. The alternative, that this president --who ignores national security interests, who appeases Iraq and North Korea, and who fights like a leftover Soviet the idea of an American missile defense -- actually believed in the need for immediate military strikes, was simply implausible."... "In other words, Mr. Clinton has demonstrated that he will risk war, terrorist attacks, and our lives just to save his dysfunctional administration. What might his motives be in some future conflict? Blackmail? Cheap political payoffs? Or -- dare I say it -- simply the lazy blundering of an instinctively anti-American man?"

If he takes such offense to wag the dog scenarios and taking risks to save a President's political hide, is this the kind of offense that brings Mr. Rabil to support Ron Paul now?

The real money shot for me however, is this characterization of the military... "The enduring goodness of the American military character...". Enduring goodness? This fallacy, this fantasy, this rightwing assumption that our military and Americans in general are some who inherently "good" is the most dangerous concept ever to arise in America.

Where is the "enduring goodness" to be found when Americans are abusing and stacking naked Iraqis in piles to humiliate them for kicks? Where is the "enduring goodness" when American security corporations are allowed to gun down dozens of innocent Iraqis and gang-rape young women without punishment? We are the most incarcerated population in the world, and yet every single soldier or KBR/Halliburton/Blackwater employee that we send off to represent us is inherently "good", even though they are drawn from the very same DNA pool that produces, junkies, rapists, sadists, serial killers and school shooters.

Perpetuation of the myth that Americans are by nature good is simply a mechanism to prevent any and all introspection. It is designed to destroy conscience and remorse and shame. It is designed to remove our humanity so that we become indiscriminate killing machines, unthinking and unwilling to examine our own behavior in the sunlight of morality.

Where are "patriots" like Mr. Rabil as their precious military is used as a backdrop for propaganda, like the floodlight square in New Orleans? Where are they now that the military is but an extension of the defense contractors? Why are they not applying the very same standards of outrage to what has happened in the last 7 years and standing up with the same volume and speaking out?

Because to do so would be to admit their own errors, hypocrisies and humanity. Supporting Ron Paul is not enough. It is time for Mr. Rabil and his contemporaries to own up their mistakes and take their medicine like the tough guys that they claim to be.

3 comments:

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Weaseldog said...

I hate spammers...

"The real money shot for me however, is this characterization of the military... "The enduring goodness of the American military character...". Enduring goodness? This fallacy, this fantasy, this rightwing assumption that our military and Americans in general are some who inherently "good" is the most dangerous concept ever to arise in America."

You're right. If we didn't believe that we are morally superior beings, we couldn't slaughter the 'lesser beings'.

This is a continuation of the myth that all foreigners are savages.

JR said...

Um... having sex isn't a crime you conservative idiot. Neither is cheating on your wife. And yes, immoral people get to lead the military when elected as Commander in Chief for one reason: people have a legal right to be immoral in this country.

The sad thing is that this idiot's vote counts as much as mine.