Monday, April 25, 2005

And now...

First off, I’d like to explain why this article (and responses to readers’ comments) are coming late -- I’ve been busy celebrating Pesach (Passover). The first two and last two days of Pesach are separate from the days in between: On these days Jews are not supposed to work, write, make fire, drive, use electronics etc. Now that it is after nightfall on the second day my blog is fair game again.
I had planned to write an article about taxes. On discovering, however, that all that remained of a hefty paper I wrote on the topic last year is the bibliography, I realized that it’s going to take me several weeks to do all the necessary researching and writing so I can come out with a finished product.

In the meantime, I am in the process of being kicked off of my high school newspaper, ostensibly to make room for a conservative columnist to get practice for next year. The decision was made by the very Chief Editor who tried (unsuccessfully) to prevent me from conducting a rudimentary evaluation of the quality of our education (see my article “The Culture Quiz” in the January archives with the results listed in a March posting). He has decided to kick me off, despite that no columnist asked to replace me (one had to be recruited), that there is no shortage of space, that there are still people interested in reading my column, and that if one’s first column is actually published, like my successor’s will be, it is not practice or preparation -- it’s the real deal. In addition, the move to replace me was conducted behind my back, so that I only found out about it accidentally. The Chief said he kept his actions a secret from me because he knew that I “would act like this.” In other words, he knew that I would object to being removed, so he decided it would be safer (at least from his point of view) just not to tell me.

Now, to this chief’s credit, he has agreed to print a farewell column in the newspaper (I suppose he may change his mind in retaliation to this post though naturally I‘d rather be published). I thought I’d write a column on the most important topic I could think of -- namely support for the troops. I know that my post last week, on the Medal of Honor, is closely connected to this, and despite the fact the some people find this topic “boring,” I believe that we can never say enough about it.

So here it is:

The men who defend this country are paid very little money, they live in quarters that a civilian wouldn’t tolerate, they are split away from their families so they can fight in a desert half-way around the world, and by the very nature of their job they may be killed in the line of duty. So the question we have to ask is, why do these men volunteer? What compensation could they possibly get to make it worth it?

The answer depends in large part on you.

Soldiers fight for honor, and love of their country; they want to help spread democracy throughout the world. Most of all, perhaps, they want to know that the people they are fighting for appreciate their sacrifice -- that we guys sitting here reading the newspaper in both freedom and security understand that our military allows us to enjoy that privilege.

It is impossible to support the troops without supporting the war.

I divide the anti-warrites into two groups, the honest, and the dishonest -- those who make no qualms about their dislike of the military and those who ‘claim’ to like it (or at least to like the soldiers themselves). The honest sort is the type who drives around with a “No Blood for Oil” bumper sticker and flashes his middle finger at the SUV with the Marine Corps emblem on the back. They are the type of people who, during the Vietnam War, supported the now infamous “F--k the Army” tour -- a series of shows organized by Jane Fonda and preformed right outside military bases (as USAF Col. Patterson wrote, “a perverse USO tour in reverse”).

The dishonest anti-warrites are pathetically bad in a different sense. They pity the soldiers -- they feel sorry for them. ‘Here these men are, thinking that they’re defending freedom or whatever and what really happened is they got duped into fighting in this needless war -- they’re nice guys but they’ve been victimized. So of course we support them, we don’t want them to die, etc.’ This type of “support” of course does nothing for our troops’ morale. If you tell them that you support them, but not the war, you put yourself in a position of snobbish condescension. You’re still saying “f--k the army,” just in a different way.

Alright, now you say, ‘well I really do support the troops; I just can’t bring myself to support this war.’ What is it you can’t support -- ridding the world of a brutal dictator? Bringing freedom to millions of people for the very first time? Making the world safer for ourselves and the world’s other free nations? Maybe, of course, you question that that is what we’re really doing -- you still think that the military mission was launched and is being conducted over a big pack of lies (“f--k the army”).

The patriotic American does not look first to uncover the dastardly things that his own country is doing. He looks proudly at our history of defending freedom with young men who volunteer to be shot at. He knows that these men are fighting for him, so he does what he can to make that fight worthwhile. Without pretensions, reservations, qualifiers, or condescension, he says, “thanks.”

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

Last Friday my father published his first piece in what will now be a regular column in the LA Times. This piece is about US Army Sgt. 1st Class Paul Ray Smith, the first man to win the Congressional Medal of Honor in Iraq, and about the people who are against the war, but claim to honor Smith anyway.

SFC Smith, as his citation says, was working on the construction of a POW holding area on April 4, 2003, in Baghdad, when his Task Force of a hundred men was attacked by a company sized (100-250 men) enemy force. Smith organized a defense of their position, fought the enemy with hand grenades and anti-tank weapons, and organized the rescue of three men trapped in a damaged Armored Personal Carrier. Smith finally moved to man an exposed .50 caliber machine gun and continued to fire on the enemy until he was fatally wounded. The enemy attack was repulsed.

The Medal of Honor has always held a special fascination for me -- I’ve read hundreds of citations about men who ran into exposed positions to aid comrades, jumped on top of grenades, and single-handedly beat off enemy attacks. The citation will famously begin “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty…” and will often end, in the case of a posthumous citation, “He gallantly gave his life for his country.” Surprisingly enough, less than one in five of the more than 3,400 Medal of Honor citations are posthumous.

The following is one of the most remarkable citations I’ve read, awarded to Private First Class Gary W. Martini, who was killed in Vietnam in 1967:

“For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a Rifleman, Company F, Second Battalion, First Marines, First Marine Division in the Republic of Vietnam. On 21 April 1967, during Operation UNION, elements of Company F, conducting offensive operations at Binh Son, encountered a firmly entrenched enemy force and immediately deployed to engage them. The Marines in Private Martini's platoon assaulted across an open rice paddy to within twenty meters of the enemy trench line where they were suddenly struck by hand grenades, intense small arms, automatic weapons, and mortar fire. The enemy onslaught killed 14 and wounded 18 Marines, pinning the remainder of the platoon down behind a low paddy dike. In the face of imminent danger, Private Martini immediately crawled over the dike to a forward open area within 15 meters of the enemy position where, continuously exposed to the hostile fire, he hurled hand grenades, killing several of the enemy. Crawling back through the intense fire, he rejoined his platoon which had moved to the relative safety of a trench line. From this position he observed several of his wounded comrades lying helpless in the fire swept paddy. Although he knew that one man had been killed, attempting to assist the wounded, Private Martini raced through the open area and dragged a comrade back to the friendly position. In spite of a serious wound received during this first daring rescue, he again braved the unrelenting fury of the enemy fire to aid another companion lying wounded only twenty meters in front of the enemy trench line. As he reached the fallen Marine, he received a mortal wound, but disregarding his own condition, he began to drag the Marine toward his platoon's position. Observing men from his unit attempting to leave the security of their position to aid him, concerned only for their safety, he called to them to remain under cover and through a final supreme effort, moved his injured comrade to where he could be pulled to safety, before he fell, succumbing to his wounds. Stouthearted and indomitable, Private Martini unhesitatingly yielded his own life to save two of his comrades and insure the safety of the remainder of his platoon. His outstanding courage, valiant fighting spirit and selfless devotion to duty reflected the highest credit upon himself, the Marine Corps, and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”

It is impossible for us to thank men like these enough for their service, but we can at least know who they are -- go to a Medal of Honor site and read a few citations; they make you proud to be an American.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

A Weekly Blog

I have noticed that I tend to write one good article every week or so. To save you the bother of checking this blog every day, only to become frustrated when you notice that nothing has happened, I am now designating this a weekly blog -- check for a new posting every Monday.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Kennedy and the KGB

“I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God”
-Oath of Office, United States Senate

“Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”
-US Constitution, Article 3, Section 3, Clause 1

“Kennedy had instructed [former Senator] Tunney, according to the KGB, to carry a message to Yuri Andropov, the General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, expressing Kennedy’s concern about the anti-Soviet activities of President Ronald Reagan….Kennedy asked for a meeting with Andropov for the purpose of ‘arming himself with the Soviet leader’s explanations of arms control policy so he can use them later for more convincing speeches in the U.S.’….Tunney also told the KGB that Kennedy was planning to run for President in the 1988 elections.”
-Herbert Romerstein in Human Events, Dec. 8, 2003

There are three documents (that we know of) produced by the KGB during the Cold War that discuss Ted Kennedy and his efforts to strengthen the position of the USSR against the United States and to subsequently strengthen his own political position. These documents show, among other things, that Kennedy’s pro-Soviet stance was always present, irrespective of whether the US administration was right or left-wing.

The instances where the KGB discuss Kennedy were collected in a Dec. 8, 2003 article in Human Events entitled, “Ted Kennedy was a ‘Collaborationalist’” by Herbert Romerstein, a retired US government official and former Professional Staff member for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

The first of the three documents is a 1978 KGB report to the Communist Party’s Central Committee that was discovered in the KGB files after the collapse of the Soviet Union by Russian reporter Yevgenia Albats, who published the discovery in Izvestia in 1992. As Romerstein reports, the document said that:

“In 1978, American Senator Edward Kennedy requested the assistance of the KGB to establish a relationship” between the Soviet apparatus and a firm owned by former Sen. John Tunney (D.-Calif.). KGB recommended that they be permitted to do this because Tunney’s firm was already connected with a KBG agent in France named David Karr.

The second document is another KGB report to Central Committee; it was removed from the archives by Vasiliy Mitrokhin, a KGB officer who defected to the West; it reports that Tunney met with the KGB in Moscow on March 5, 1980, on Kennedy‘s behalf. Kennedy’s opinion, as Tunney explained to the KGB, was that “nonsense about ‘the Soviet military threat’ and Soviet ambitions for military expansion in the Persion Gulf…was being fuled by [President] Carter, [Natl. Security Advisor] Brzezinski, the Pentagon, and the military industrial complex.” Rommerstein writes that “Kennedy offered to speak out against President Carter on Afghanistan. Shortly thereafter he made public speeches opposing President Carter on this issue.”

If Kennedy was worried that President Carter was too anti-Soviet and anti-Communist, one can imagine his horror on seeing Reagan elected. The KGB did not have to be content with simply “imagining” Kennedy’s concern, though -- Kennedy kept them carefully informed through go-between John Tunney. The third KGB document, discovered in the archives by London Times reporter Tim Sebastian, dates from May 1983, and reports that “in Kennedy’s opinion the opposition to Reagan remains weak. Speeches of the President’s opponents are not well-coordinated and not effective enough, and Reagan has the chance to use successful counterpropaganda.” Kennedy offered to “undertake some additional steps to counter the militaristic policy of Reagan and his campaign of physiological pressure on the American population.” He also requested a meeting with Andropov for the purpose of “arming himself with the Soviet leader’s explanations of arms control policy so he can use them later for more convincing speeches in the U.S.” Here Kennedy actually wanted to know how the Soviets would be lying about their weapons policy, so he could make sure that he would be telling the same lies to us in America. Romerstein also notes that Kennedy, according to the KGB, was willing to help get Soviet views represented in the US mainstream media. Finally, the KGB document mentions that Kennedy hoped to run for President in 1988.

It is important to remember what a crucial role Kennedy played in weakening our intelligence capabilities and building the “wall” between the FBI and the CIA. One bill of particular interest is the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. Among other things, this bill curtailed Presidential wiretapping powers that had existed since FDR first used them in 1940. Romerstein writes that:

Kennedy worked with the ACLU to raise the [wiretapping] barriers as high as possible. Kennedy introduced the concept in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Bill that required evidence that someone was providing classified information to a foreign intelligence service. Someone who “only” had a clandestine relationship with a foreign intelligence officer and carried out covert influence operations for a foreign power could not be wiretapped.

Kennedy thus cleverly excluded the possibility of his own phone being tapped.

Kennedy adhered to the Soviets, he aided the KGB, and we can be sure they took comfort in hearing him blast their message across the United States.

I think this country has had enough of Senator Kennedy's "service."

Monday, April 04, 2005


Currently in the works, an upcoming piece about Sen. Ted Kennedy and his Cold War ties to the KGB. How this man helped undermine national security for his own political gain.