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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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Questioning their Patriotism
Kindergarten standards…
[Gordon Cucullu] 7/13/05

“I’m on base,” the slower kindergarten kid says, “and you can’t tag me.” The faster kid chafes with frustration but often grudgingly accepts the terms dictated in order to continue with the game. Sometimes political interactions assume similar contrived kindergarten playground characteristics. On the one hand it might be a way of informally handicapping the game; on the other it masks the truth: the kid hiding save on base really could not compete fairly without the imposition of artificial restrictions. In the political battlefield we occasionally a particular phraseology unfairly removed from terms of discourse by one party.

“You are questioning my patriotism!” is the latest adult manifestation of the kindergarten “base” concept. By classifying patriotism as an unchallengeable characteristic, one side gives itself free reign to say anything regardless of how egregiously damaging to our country. When called to account for their statements, the parties then assume the mantle of aggrieved victims. They seek refuge on “questioning patriotism base,” defying anyone to tag them as unpatriotic. As ridiculous as this posturing might seem, so far it has worked. People, including elected officials, have called the president, the vice-president, other officials, American service men and women, and our country in general the most repulsive names.

Senators like Dick Durbin and Ted Kennedy have raised Hitler’s ghost and resurrected the Cambodian killing fields and the Soviet gulags in order to destroy the image of the American military around the world. They have impugned the integrity, honesty, and loyalty of every American military member and of the entire chain of command from President Bush down to the newest-minted muddy boot grunt. Nor have such statements been, as they are occasionally rationalized, a mere “misstatement” or slip of the tongue. Such men as the above named Senators, Congress members like Nancy Pelosi, Charles Rangel, un-elected officials such as Howard Dean, and former officials like Al Gore, all have contributed to the hyperbole of the accusations all the while adroitly dodging personal accountability for their statements by using the “questioning by patriotism” dodge.

So, okay, let’s break the kindergarten standards by which they and others have managed to slip the bounds of responsibility: When people of their stature and position make the kinds of statements that they have done, flinging wild, unsubstantiated, false accusations at the American military and leadership in time of war they are not patriots. And no level of caterwauling about “questioning my patriotism” is going to remove them from the hook of personal responsibility upon which they have hanged themselves. It’s time to get down to basics: people are accountable and responsible for their actions and words, and in almost all cases the latter are more explosive than the former.

If a loopy former Klansman like Senator Robert Byrd stands in the well of the Senate and denounces President Bush for lying to the American people and the world, our enemies rejoice. When former vice-president Al Gore thunders that the president “betrayed us!” it makes the lead story on al Jazeera. When Ted Kennedy denounces the war in Iraq as a “hopeless quagmire” the terrorists knuckle down for a bit longer knowing that like the North Vietnamese they can wait out America’s impatient appeasers. When, in a nationally televised debate, former Reagan appointee Larry Korb says that “we are losing the war in Iraq,” the terrorists smile. And when Dick Durbin accuses American GIs of crimes equivalent to those of the SS Todenkopf murderers, jihadist recruits flock to join bin Laden and Zarqawi’s terror squads.

So we are faced with the reality of the situation: these people want to have a free pass to make the most egregious, unsubstantiated accusations against the military without bothering to fact-check themselves. When Durbin unleashed his most recent venom about the handling of the facilities at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba the administration and the military organized fact-finding trips and arranged Congressional visits (on which Durbin, Kennedy, Byrd, Pelosi, Rangel and the other critics were conspicuously absent). Like it or not, Americans and the world look to these people for the truth. Do they not want to know the truth?

Politicians have to answer to key questions such as, Senator, do you want America to win this war or not? Those questions cannot be ducked by phony protestations of innocence couched as apologies. In fact most have not apologized at all. Kennedy, in a stunningly shameless display, had the temerity to ask Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld “how many strikes should a secretary of defense be given?” Well, Senator, that question applies more properly to you. How many mistakes are you allowed before being held to accountability? Citizens of Palm Beach and the Kopechne family might supply some polling data.

Understand that we’re not talking about stifling reasonable dissent here. Rational, civil discourse is essential to the democratic process and a fundamental right and protection granted by our Constitution. If someone disagrees with policy that is legitimate grounds to debate the issue. But once joined, the discussion must be kept to a higher plane or it degenerates into accusation, name calling, and fear mongering. That is exactly what is taking place, and one does not have to be capable of designing machines to launch into space to figure out the motivation. The over-the-top rhetoric is strictly designed to undermine the political stature of the administration and pave the way for a change of leadership. Politics is hardball not beanbag, and the give and take in American politics has historically been tough: verbal fights on the Senate floor historically escalated into thrown inkwells, a fist fight, a horse-whipping, or a challenge to duel. Some of today’s statements make one nostalgic for those days of very personal accountability when a loose word might earn a well-deserved punch in the nose.

Even respecting the sanctity of free speech, it has become tradition since the early days of the 20th century to rally behind the president in time of war. That does not mean or imply blind acceptance of presidential policies but studious avoidance of tendering loose statements that offer aid and comfort to the enemy. Since the Vietnam War such niceties have unfortunately fallen by the wayside. Not only does it make the task of the country that much more difficult when we give the impression to the enemy that we are weak of resolve and ready to quit, but it is grossly disrespectful of our serving men and women who risk life on a daily basis to win a war that they hear called illegal and immoral.

As we’ve just celebrated 229 years of Independence it is well to gut check our resolve and recognize the fact that just as our soldiers take risks so do loose-lipped politicians and their followers. It is time we call shots maturely. If that treads on some sensibilities then it is about time. If their statements and behavior hurt this country then let us question their patriotism, and demand consequences.

God bless our troops and God bless America. tRO

Curious about North Korea? Learn more in Gordon’s best-selling book Separated at Birth: How North Korea became the Evil Twin became the Evil Twin, Lyons Press available at bookstores now.

copyright Gordon Cucullu 2005




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