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A book review 

                                Dereliction of Duty

                      by Lt. Col. Robert "Buzz" Patterson, USAF [Ret.]

Normally there's little to be gained from living in the past, but if you live in rattlesnake country you'd best never forget their dangerous habits.  Snakes don't love or hate; they are indifferent to the hurt they can inflict on us. We study them, and learn to recognize their hiding places and the noises they make just before they strike.  If we're bitten we know there are antidotes to lessen the damage, but they can kill. The very old, the very young, and the weak are especially vulnerable, but rattlesnakes don't especially target these groups: they'll strike at anything that comes within reach, if they happen to be in the mood. 

Lt. Colonel Buzz Patterson worked at the Clinton White House carrying the nuclear "football" for the president, and was in frequent, close contact with Hillary and others of the Clinton administration.  He learned their habits and on occasion felt the sting of their imperious, angry self-importance. He stood amazed at their disorganization, their lack of ethical integrity, and their constant focus on personal ambitions instead of the nation's business. Above all, he dreaded the consequences of their dismantling of our military strength and the undermining of our national security. 

Consider: in less than three years the Clintons massively increased deployment of our forces  around the world, but reduced their number from 2.1 million to 1.6 million.  This was not the focused, purposeful downsizing coupled with increased training, improvements in pay-scales, and funding for maintenance and new technology, aimed at a more efficient and deadly fighting force, which is occurring today under the leadership of President Bush. 

No. The loss of manpower during the Clinton years was in part due to Al Gore's "reinvention of government" -- a reduction in the size of government -- but the reduction occurred in the military, not the massive, overpaid, entrenched federal bureaucracies.  Losses also occurred because fewer young men and women were enlisting; more soldiers decided not to re-inlist because of fatigue from constant overseas deployments, military pay-freezes (which left many military families with no recourse but to apply for food stamps and welfare); and the pressures imposed by the administration using the military as a social laboratory -- in response to feminist and homosexual special interest groups. 

And morale was an overriding factor. Patterson says: " As commander in chief, President Clinton seemed to believe that he was privileged to conduct himself at a much lower code of conduct than the men and women he would repeatedly order into harm's way.  At a time when his military was sending non-commissioned officers and senior military officers to prison for sexual misconduct, President Clinton was, notoriously, having his own personal behavior problems." 

In consequence, there were "historically low levels of respect for the commander in chief. In one of President Clinton's first visits to a military unit of any sort, the sailors aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt were openly derisive and disrespectful. On several occasions, the separate services were forced to warn their members not to make "insulting, rude, or disdainful comments about the president." 

Well, as every parent knows, you can't act the slut if you are demanding virtue of your sons and daughters. A morally undisciplined commander in chief known to regard his military forces with contempt does not inspire trust and respect in any army. Clinton's contempt embraced not only the officers and lower grades, but also his Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

Patterson said it was painfully evident that those in the Clinton administration had little knowledge about the military services, their histories and the appropriate use of them except what they'd gleaned from "movies and the anti-war movement of the sixties."  That lack of knowledge or interest also translated into neglect: by the end of his administration, "we were spending less on new weapons and equipment than at any time in the last forty years. Spending on research and development programs had been cut by nearly 60 percent." 

During the nineties, the world was fast becoming more dangerous for Americans even as Clinton neglected and abused our fighting forces.  Following the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993 which "killed 6 Americans and injured more than one thousand...the Clinton administration adopted the theory that it was a simple criminal act....In no way did the administration see this terrorist attack as rivaling in importance its preferred issues of 'it's the economy, stupid,' socializing health care, and lifting the ban on homosexuals in the military."

Patterson reminds us that the "Black Hawk Down" incident in Somalia occurred because Clinton refused to provide equipment the Rangers needed to do the job he sent them into danger to do.  And he reminds us of the escalating incidences of terrorism against Americans abroad that were not dealt with in any focused manner, and which culminated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001 resulting in the deaths of 3000 souls. 

The Clintons are finally gone from the White House and Al Gore was defeated in his presidential bid but that doesn't mean we can forget these people or their dereliction of duty while they stood at the head of this nation. Any attempt to "move on" and ignore their continuing activities will place us at great risk. Cleaning out one nest of rattlesnakes is no defense against the ones that sneaked away and others still out there ready to strike if you get careless.

The Clintons, Hillary and Bill, remain in control of Democratic national politics.  Those who worked in their administration are scattered around the country still promoting the Clinton brand of corruption and contempt for America. And there are plenty of Democrats at the state and local levels who follow the Clinton creed:  increase taxes, increase interfering bureaucracy, undermine the rule of law, divide Americans against each other, and thwart the reasonable use of the military in our defense and funding its strength -- whenever possible.

In Dereliction of Duty, Patterson tells us what he learned while working as a military aide in the Clinton White House.  Many Americans wanted to believe the Clinton rhetoric that they served us well, but the details of this book which includes first-hand accounts of racism in the Clinton administration, the callous exploitation of women inside the White House as well as inside Air Force One, a contempt for U.S. law and for the U.S. military, tell a different tale. Our best defense against all the forces that threaten our security is a good knowledge of those enemies and their habits. 

                                                   -- Peggy Whitcomb

© 2003 Oregon Magazine  Book cover is a link to Amazon.com page

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