National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster is guilty of the same deceits, expediencies and tergiversations for which he sharply rebuked our military leadership during the Vietnam War in “Dereliction of Duty.” Mr. Master’s defection from his own gospel to the catechisms of the multi-trillion dollar military-industrial-counterterrorism complex was no aberration.
John Kerry began his political ascent by throwing away his Vietnam War combat ribbons and rhetorically asking before Chairman J. William Fulbright’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “[H]ow do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”
But Mr. Kerry ended his political career as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and then as Secretary of State by supporting a comparably unwinnable and pointless war in Afghanistan which his previous congressional testimony would have excoriated. Mr. Kerry complacently asked a man to be the last man to die in Afghanistan without any hope or even definition of victory. He asked men and women to die for the political lunacy of thinking the United States could metamorphose Afghanistan’s Neanderthal political culture into a popularly supported, rule-of-law, non-sectarian, non-tribal, non-misogynistic democracy.
Oh! How men and women readily sell their souls for the juvenile thrills of fleeting power and momentary fame.
In “Dereliction of Duty,” Mr. McMaster scolds military leaders for fighting the Vietnam War without a congressional declaration required by Article I, section 8, clause 11. But as National Security Adviser, he has acquiesced or supported fighting nine unconstitutional presidential wars in Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and against al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
In “Dereliction of Duty,” Mr. McMaster chastises military leaders for neglecting to insist on a clear definition of war aims and victory in Vietnam other than body counts. But as National Security Adviser, he has acquiesced or supported nine wars fought with the meaningless aims of degrading or destroying the enemy. Thus, neither he nor anyone else on President Donald Trump’s national security team has articulated any time frame for ending any of the conflicts or definition of military success. Just as we gradually escalated our military engagement in Vietnam with no concrete aims which lead to defeat, we are doing the same in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Libya on Mr. McMaster’s watch.
In “Dereliction of Duty,” he savages military leaders for deceiving Congress and the American people about what military plans were afoot in Vietnam and the dim prospects of victory. But as National Security Adviser, Mr. McMaster has been comparably complicit in deceiving Congress and the American people about nine unwinnable wars we are fighting and plans for mission creep. The wars are unwinnable because — as in the Vietnam War — not a single government or non-state actor we are supporting commands popular legitimacy or could stay afloat financially or militarily absent a United States life preserver. Our military strategy is indistinguishable from our delusional Vietnam strategy: Kill the enemy, and hope either a George Washington appears or Arabs and Afghans turn into Canadians before defeat. Yet Mr. McMaster is publicly silent about these truths.
In “Dereliction of Duty,” Mr. McMaster recognizes that the first loyalty of the military is to the U.S. Constitution, not to the temporary occupant of the White House. By that standard, Mr. McMaster should demand congressional declarations of war in our nine ongoing conflicts coupled with presidential confessions to the public that they are all as unwinnable as was Vietnam. “Dereliction of Duty” provides all the constitutional, philosophical and moral ammunition he needs.
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