DEFENDING AMERICA
David H. Hackworth
October 18, 1994

OLIVER NORTH: A MODERN DAY BENEDICT ARNOLD?

Oliver North has this thing about opening his mouth and then sticking his boot in it. He was known as a "loose cannon" among warriors who knew him in the U.S. Marine Corps, and later at, the National Security Council (NSC), for frequently starting tanks rolling before putting his brain in gear.

"You had to keep an eye on him or he would get everyone in trouble," one of his leaders told me. Another, a senior Marine general, said that while North was at NSC, "He was always in over his head and doing dumb things." In short, he has a reputation for going off half-cocked.

North's most recent thoughtless blunder was delivered last week in northern Virginia during the middle of the Gulf crisis. He said Bill Clinton had sent a "hollow" force to Kuwait that. would have trouble stopping Saddam Hussein if his troops were to invade that, oil kingdom again.

This kind of irresponsible comment, could have put American warriors in the center of an exploding minefield and at the mercy of another master of miscalculation, Saddam Hussein. If an irrational Saddam had believed from such clap-t rap that our forces were not up to a fight, he could well[ have done something stupid. All he needs is the "right" misinformation and, bingo, our forces will be caught without bulletproof raincoats in another Desert Storm.

Nothing could be further from the truth than what North said. Our forces that Bill Clinton boldly and justly deployed are damn capable. Matter of fact, the deployment, rather than proving the U.S. forces were not ready, showed how strong and well-greased the U.S military machine is. When that much combat power—ships, aircraft and troops ~ can be moved thousands of miles and be ready to fight in such a short. period of time, it demonstrates just how combat-ready we are.

North's comment was not only an off-the-mark shot, it was an obvious attempt to make political hay against Clinton and North's opponent, Charles Robb, in the Virginia Senate race. Frequently, when they think it might juice a troubled campaign, loony-tune hustlers make wacko statements without thinking out the consequences of their comments. Such airheads put their cheap politics before the welfare of our uniformed sons and daughters, whose lives back up the line our policymakers draw in order to defend America and our worldwide interests.

This isn't the first time North has done something self-serving to put our forces at risk. When he served under Ronald Reagan in the NSC, North and a small band of "like- minded patriots" figured they were better qualified than anyone else in our checks and balances system to define matters affecting the national security of the United States of America. The constitution of our country and the laws of the land were looked upon as obstacles thwarting North's Rambo-style foreign policy adventures.

North was later convicted on charges of deceiving Congress about providing missiles and other hardware to the Iranian s who held American hostages during the Iraq/Iran War. He also dealt with the well-known Middle Eastern terrorist group, the Hizbollah, that carried out the 1983 bombing in which 241 of North's fellow Marines were killed. North was a big buddy of Panama dictator Manuel Noriega, a known cocaine dealer, election fixer, double agent and accomplice to murder. While playing footsie with Noriega, North directed the CIA to provide arms to the drug-dealing Nicaraguan Contra leaders while at the same time enriching the arms merchants who profiteered from illegal arms sales by North's misguided law-unto-himself style.

The "Semper Fidelis" with which North likes to end his political talks doesn't mean the "Always Faithful" that he raves about while on the political stump, wrapping himself around religion and the American flag as he reminds his audience ad nauseam that he was a blood and guts Marine. It means always faithful to old Numero Uno. It means putting himself first, the enemy second and American warriors right at the end of the line. Like Benedict Arnold, who sold out to the British during the Revolutionary War, North is faithful only to himself.