Editor’s Note: This popular post was first published on November 9 here.
I’m posting this column from an American warrior who had the courage to tell his countrymen the truth. I’m sending him a copy of the book I wrote with Ben Johnson, Party of Defeat: How Democrats and Radicals Undermined America’s War on Terror Before and After 9/11 to show him that a few of us on the home front understand what is happening. The book was endorsed by 18 members of Congress including the ranking members of the Intelligence, Armed Services and Homeland Security committees. It did not receive a single review in the leftwing, liberal or conservative press.
Posted: Sunday, November 7, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 7:27 am, Sun Nov 7, 2010.
By MIKE BANZET
I never expected to write this letter, but my Mom e-mailed me to get information about my career for a writeup on Veterans Day, and as this is the first such holiday in 22 years when I will not be on active duty, I felt compelled to let you know why I decided to quit.
Quit is a strong word, I know. Everyone I’ve talked to has repeated that I’ve had a marvelous career and that I’ve retired with honor. Maybe that’s true on paper; I guess that it’s reflected by the record. But that’s not how I feel. I feel like I’ve quit. And because I’m not a quitter, I feel I have to explain why — not that anyone is asking, but because perhaps they don’t know to ask.
Briefly, my career had been a representation of the promise of this country. Starting out on the lowest rung of the rank ladder as an F-4G Wild Weasel crew chief, continuing on F-16s and the F-117A Stealth fighter in Desert Storm, then a small part of Desert Fox as a nuclear Maintenance Officer and finally a pilot that took part in numerous deployments in Southern Watch, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. I finished up an awesome year on the ground in Iraq, and was selected to receive a coveted “Definitely Promote,” assuring me of promotion to lieutenant colonel. They don’t pass out many of those. My dreams were right in front of me. All I had to do was grab them. And then I retired. Why?
I had chosen, freely, to place my life between those that would do harm to the U.S. and those whom I would protect: her citizens. I had always believed in the best of America and the people of her lands; that despite occasional missteps there was a general “rightness” to our way. I lived that belief for 22 years, leading and following warriors into combat. I’m certainly no war hero; my brothers in arms have seen far more combat, more intense and personal than I. But I have become acquainted with death in a way that I hope you never do. My last tour, on the ground in Iraq was where my heart started to be hardened towards you, the electorate, and culminated in this letter, written two days before our elections. And here’s why.
You’ve elected officials who, for partisan points, spoke openly that the “…war is lost.” I happened to be in a dining facility in Baghdad that day, filled with the (mostly) young faces of (mostly) Army men and women. CNN was on the TVs, and things got very quiet when this elected official continued on, railing that the mission that some of these very people were here to do, had “…failed.” Yet, they would be donning their body armor, strapping on med kits and weapons, mounting HMMVs or MRAPs and heading outside the wire, ensuring that the newborn democracy in Iraq, purchased with so many lives, would be safe another night. The newly re-invigorated insurgents would be waiting, teeth bared back in a hateful smile, gripping the IED detonator, the RPG launcher, or the AK-47s to ply their trade with new energy, because the Senate Majority Leader had said they were winning.
You elected officials who continually defame and berate military members, whether it is the observation that if you’re not too bright, you’ll get “…stuck in Iraq” (this from a guy who has two Purple Hearts for self-inflicted wounds, and known for throwing someone else’s medals away in protest), or the calling of combat Marines cold-blooded killers (in a war; before trial). You’ve elected officials in the role of commander-in-chief who “loathe” the military, while using ROTC deferments and special treatment to avoid military service that the less “connected” take as a responsibility. On the basis of “change,” you elected someone who had close, ongoing associations with people who were part of an organization that tried to kill us [U.S. military] on our own soil.
You elected officials that promised to take property from some Americans, and give it to you, merely because they had more than you did. Those Americans that these officials have labeled as the “rich” are your neighbors, who provide jobs and pay far more in taxes than you ever will. That means they are already subsidizing your lifestyle choices; you just want more of their property without the responsibility of risking your wealth and labor to get it. You would rather hire someone to take it from them. And you have.