David H. Hackworth
November 29, 1994
HELMS SHOULD BE HANDCUFFED AND LIPCUFFED
Last week, Jesse Helms said Bill Clinton needed protection from his own forces. This cheap shot from the loudmouthed lawmaker from North Carolina raises questions concerning not only that senator's mental competence, but his patriotism as well. His irresponsible remark insults every American and dishonors all those who have been or are in the U.S. military.
America's armed forces are not filled with two-bit mercenaries, as Helms seems to imply, but with well-educated, dedicated members of an all-volunteer force sworn to defend our Constitution. Bill Clinton is their president, and serving soldiers are respectful of his office and the laws of our land. They leave military coups to the banana republics and don't go along with using bullets for ballots.
When a president has issued an order, from George Washington to Bill Clinton, American soldiers have done their duty, frequently dying when wrongheaded White House politics replaced the proper use of arms. Korea was such a war, Vietnam was even worse and Somalia never computed from the get-go. Yet, our warriors fought in these hellholes as if they were defending the Statue of Liberty.
Soldiers being soldiers, they bitch about the leadership and damn everything and everybody in the chain of command including the occupant of the Oval Office for their misery and hard duty. But when their leaders give the command to move out, they cross the line of departure just as their forefathers did, from Valley Forge to Normandy Beach, and bravely walk, sail or fly into the valley of death.
Most warriors I've interviewed over the past two years don't respect or even like Bill Clinton as a leader, but they respect his office, and I have not doubt they'll follow his orders as they are doing now in Haiti, in the sky over Bosnia and around the globe.
Many members of our armed forces view Clinton as a slick politician who can't be trusted. His dodging the draft during the Vietnam War even though he was only one of 16 million, including presidential hopefuls Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney and Dan Quayle, who went to college or to Canada or took cover in the Reserves has dishonored him among most serving warriors.
Adding injury to insult, Clinton's politically correct agenda concerning gays serving openly and women in combat positions, in which he's tried to use an organization whose purpose if to fight wars as a laboratory for social change, has further alienated the majority of serving warriors.
Clinton keeps trying to overcome these obstacles, but that won't happen unless he makes changes that appear to be more than kin deep. He desperately needs advisors who understand the military mid, culture and war-fighting, people who have walked the walk and can talk the talk, not George Stephanopoulos-type know-it-alls with their open dislike for the profession of arms.
A move in the right direction would be for Clinton to fire "Boy George," discharge the White House Teeny-bopper coterie, adjust the PC quota by signing up more vets as advisors and follow FDR's example of not saluting. Among soldiers, the salute is a sacred sign of shared and mutual respect.
In a country that has seen enough of its commanders-in-chief gunned down by fruitcakes and fanatics, Helms' loose-lipped, mean-spirited outburst suggests the crazies can kill the president. It also send the wrong message to an unsettled post-Soviet world that looks to the United States for leadership: that our country is unstable, our president is unsafe and his office is not respected.
If you or I made such inflammatory comments, we'd be led away in handcuffs and locked up in the cell next to Francisco Duran. Helms, clearly on a dangerous power trip fueled by an outdated Senate seniority system, should not be allowed to utter his treasonous statements unpunished.
Holding Helms accountable sends the right message to the local
stalkers and a troubled world at large that there
is no double standard in the United States of America, and that
our president, for better of worse, is going to remain in office
until the end of his term supported and protected by his
proud and loyal warriors.