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Gordon Cucullu- Contributor

Former Green Beret lieutenant colonel, Gordon Cucullu is now an editorialist, author and a popular speaker. Born into a military family, he lived and served for more than thirteen years in East Asia, including eight years in Korea. For his Special Forces service in Vietnam he was awarded a Bronze Star, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and the Presidential Unit Commendation. After separation from the Army, he worked on Korea and East Asian affairs at both the Pentagon and Department of State as well as an executive for General Electric in Korea. His first major non-fiction work, Separated at Birth: How North Korea became the Evil Twin, is based in large part on his extensive experience in Korea and East Asia as a governmental insider and businessman. [website] [go to Cucullu index]


Separated at Birth : How North Korea Became the Evil Twin
Gordon Cucullu

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On Our Behalf
America’s Rough Men…
[Gordon Cucullu] 6/1/04

‘People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.’ George Orwell said those words several decades ago but the truth they capture will endure far beyond our short lives. We hope the ‘rough men’ protect us and our families from the barbarians who slaughter innocents by sawing off heads with knives. Over the years we Americans have become increasingly indebted to these ‘rough men (and rough women)’ because we have distanced ourselves from personal sacrifice, accepting protection in return for tax dollars.

This has been an acceptable norm in US society since the early 1970s when Congress made a decision to use a fully professional military - active, Reserve and National Guard - in place of universal military service requirements. From the mid-1970s to present day the nation has placed its trust in the all volunteer Army, along with Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps which had been staffed largely by volunteers for some years.

We have now had more than 30 years of experience with the volunteer system. Interestingly, the national conscription phase lasted 30-plus years too. So we have approximately equal blocks of time for comparison and evaluation. Is one better than the other? It depends on perspective.

In times of acute crisis such as World War II we had to field a force in the millions, far larger than could be raised through volunteers alone. The institution of a draft meant that the slots in the infantry and combat arms units would be filled if necessary with conscripts while the pressure of the probability of such assignments generally swelled the ranks of services such as the Navy and Air Force considered by some to be less dangerous or uncomfortable. Novelist Herman Wouk in The Caine Mutiny captured the sentiment when he described his protagonist as ‘preferring to go to the Pacific wearing blue rather than to Europe wearing green.’

Nowadays such mass mobilization is not necessary. Technology has helped, so has use of outside contracting support. But compared to WWII days military service is proportionally rare. Indeed enlistment in the military is considered so bizarre by certain elements of our society that other parents will express shock, concern and sympathy for parents whose sons and daughters choose to serve their country. This is especially so in bastions of liberalism but not exclusively.

Many Americans no longer share military experience hence have become distant. When Pat Tillman was killed in action recently he was jeered by some who considered him an ‘idiot’ and ‘patsy’ for turning down a lucrative football contract to serve. Yet during WWII and even the Korean War athletes and stars were proud to serve. Joe DiMaggio, James Stewart, Ted Williams lead a list longer than this space. They were cheered by fans.

About the time the country soured on war - during Vietnam - it became more socially acceptable to duck and dodge service. Cassius Clay changed his name to Mohammad Ali, converted to Islam, and ‘floated like a butterfly’ away from the draft so that he could continue to ‘sting like a bee’ for cash. He was largely applauded for his action.

When the war on terror came fully home on 9-11 we looked in desperation to our domestic first responders and to our military. Please save us, the nation begged. And they did. Police, firefighters, EMS personnel stepped up to the challenge at home supported in many cases by Guard units. Responding, we deployed military to distant, dangerous parts of the world to hunt down, capture or kill those who had attacked us so brutally.

Amazingly, even from the early days of Afghanistan (remember it?) those who opposed use of military or who hated George W. Bush, or both, began to denigrate our military. At first it was to question troop capabilities. How can we expect our people to do what the British in the 19th century and the Soviets in the 20th could not accomplish, they sneered. But our soldiers destroyed the oppressive Taliban and broke up al Qaeda terror training camps, eliminating more than half the leadership, chasing survivors into caves. Afghanistan is still tough turf but we are winning daily. What will emerge from the victory will be a new Afghanistan never previously seen.

Similarly in Iraq the initial major combat was, by historical standards, over almost before it got started. Despite profligate use of the word ‘quagmire’ and specious attempts to make Vietnam comparisons, the fight was swift, sure and extraordinarily well executed. Because of difficulties with an on-again, off-again ally Turkey, we did not have all the troops in the fight that were originally intended. The committed US units made up for that by ferocity of execution and consummate professionalism, exactly the qualities we hoped to attain 30-plus years ago when we switched to a volunteer force.

So what seems to be going wrong now? The US media has clearly declared war on George Bush so it skews coverage of the real war. The media is not so much pro-Kerry as it is ‘anybody but Bush.’ In order to make their cause more effective it becomes necessary to question, second-guess, and denigrate any successes the administration achieves, especially in the War on Terror since that is the defining element of Bush’s presidency.

What better way to knock the war than to knock the military? It is the same tactic they employed in Vietnam. It worked then so why not dust it off now? Start from the top down - attack Bush’s Defense establishment and you attack Bush’s best and brightest. So from the start Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, and their generals have caught heavy flak. Now it’s the soldiers turn.

A partisan media ignore success, overemphasize problems and even fabricate stories to make a point. The Boston Globe displayed totally bogus photos taken from an Internet porn site and headlined them ‘US Troops Gang Rape Iraqi Women.’ A lame apology was the best it could do when caught lying. Virtually all mainstream media has played and replayed the admittedly sordid prison photos far, far beyond the essential story value. They then gave credibility to the horrid murder of Nick Berg by justifying it as a ‘revenge’ act for the Abu Graib prison abuses.

Nonsense. The terrorists don’t need excuses. Islamist terrorists hate and despise our free and open system but are quite willing to work inside it to overthrow our entire culture. The media ought to be responsible enough to recognize this fact and not muzzle itself but at least exercise a sense of intelligent responsibility and decency before promoting a story. Instead the media has become so highly politicized that they seem unable to separate reality from a political agenda. If it hurts Bush then it is sufficiently ‘real’ to run as news. If it is seen as somehow assisting the president then it is buried or ignored. But this policy - and it is a conscious policy - is more shameful and harmful than merely attacking our wartime president, as despicable as that is. In this case it harms and shames our fighting men and women and for that reason is deplorable.

In Iraq, Afghanistan and other difficult places around the globe where we are fighting terrorists our troops are accomplishing what in other times would be considered virtual miracles. They are doing much, much more than we have a right to expect or demand with far too little in the way of personnel or equipment resources. They are enduring stress from combat, family separation and extreme environmental conditions without complaint. Everyone performs their duty.

Despite the unbalanced emphasis on a very few bad actors in a single unit in Iraq our soldiers have exhibited acts of bravery and courage that would be beyond the concept of most of us at home. They have performed selfless acts of kindness and charity to people who welcome and embrace them all the while enduring cowardly attacks from masked, bitter terrorist elements.

But this is not what the media midgets want you to hear. With the exception of Fox News Channel and talk radio all we hear are bad things about Americans. Even casualty levels are highly exaggerated and overstated. The professionals are not crying or wringing their hands about casualties - it is the whiny stay-at-homes who produce the most crocodile tears. War hurts. The troops know, understand and accept the price for freedom.

It is time that we the people take back our military from the media that cannot bring itself to respect them. As a people it is our responsibility if we are not fighting for our own safety to have a grateful, appreciative, supportive attitude toward those who do. Right now we have a president and an administration that is of, for and by the troops: foursquare, unswerving.

Our president and his cabinet are leading, not carping. Maybe they made a few mistakes along the way but they were honest and necessary: we are breaking new ground here and they are leading us across dangerous ground against a desperate, vile enemy bent on our total destruction. We need to cut them some slack.

And that goes double for the ‘rough men’ who put everything on the line for us without complaint. Sleep well, America. The ‘rough men’ are awake and alert. CRO

copyright Gordon Cucullu 2004




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