The Unholy Alliance
Whereof what’s past is prologue, what to come
In yours and my discharge.
—William Shakespeare, The Tempest
On January 30, 2005, the face of the Middle East changed forever. In the cradle of civilization, whose people had never known self- determination, 8.4 million Iraqis braved attacks by Islamofascist terrorists and chose freedom. Sixty percent of eligible Iraqi voters turned out that day, closely approximating participation in the American presidential election three months earlier (where obstacles were significantly more pedestrian). Only through the noble efforts of the U.S. military, not American politicians, did such a moment occur.
U.S. Air Force major Eric Egland was an eyewitness to this birth of independence. A member of the elite U.S. Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Task Force, Egland and his team of soldiers patrolled the many voting sites around Baghdad in anticipation of the first-ever democratic elections in Iraq. At 8 a.m., just as the voting began, Egland’s group heard an explosion in the area of a polling site they’d visited the night before. A suicide bomber had detonated himself, killing two others in the process.
Egland’s unit responded expecting to find that the terrorists had achieved their desired result: potential voters dispersed and retreating to the safety of their homes. As they arrived at the scene, though, the soldiers witnessed the true nature of freedom and democracy.
The lines of Iraqis waiting to cast their first meaningful votes were not at all diminished by the terror; serpentine queues stretched around the block far beyond the soldiers’ field of vision. “The Iraqis were resolute in their will to vote,” Egland recalled when I interviewed him in Iraq a few months later. “And we watched them file past the remains [of the terrorist] toward the polling booths, some even taking time to loudly curse and spit on the murderer.” The significance of the moment was not lost on Egland, who was serving his country thousands of miles removed from his newlywed and his family. “I will put my faith in a people who, when attacked by a suicide bomber, not only do not run away but gather and stand to face the danger in order to have a say in their future,” he concluded.
U.S. Army sergeant Joe Skelly of the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion, from Danbury, Connecticut, patrolled the city of Baquba, Iraq, that day. Sergeant Skelly is the American fighting man personified—the citizen soldier that Thomas Jefferson envisioned. He was a professor of history at New York’s College of Mount Saint Vincent, and joined the military after the attacks of 9/11 when he realized his country was at war.
In Baquba, terrorists launched mortars and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) in an attempt to shatter the will of the Iraqi and American people. Skelly noticed, though, that the Iraqi security forces guarding the election sites had assumed a new posture; they were more engaged, con
dent, and alert. They had “ownership,” he realized. They knew “what’s at stake.”
“In a neighborhood called Al-Huwaydir, near the Diyala River,” Skelly told me, “I saw an elderly Iraqi dressed in his finest suit of clothes proudly walking past us to vote. He was strutting, his head held high, he was so proud, he was going to vote. His quiet dignity was moving. That’s what it’s all about. I knew at that moment that’s why I was there.”
Fearing democracy and freedom in Iraq, Islamic terrorists from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran targeted the Iraqis’ courage and commitment with the maximum strength they could muster . . . and the Iraqis gave them the finger.
Flashing purple fingers to the world, Iraq’s people joyfully announced their entry into the world of freedom and human dignity— concepts they could hardly have grasped in previous generations. With fallen despot Saddam Hussein incarcerated and awaiting trial, the nation of Iraq rose to celebrate the end of thirty-five years of ruthless oppression.
In the summer of 2005, I visited Iraq to see the truth for myself and to talk with American soldiers, whose stories had not been told in the mainstream media. What I was hearing daily from friends and peers engaged in the fight was not what I was seeing or hearing in big media or Congress. I had served as an Air Force officer and pilot for twenty years and been involved in combat operations in Grenada, Somalia, Bosnia, and the Persian Gulf. When I got on the ground, I was overwhelmed with the extremely positive nature of our soldiers’ morale and professionalism. I was equally struck by the emotional commitment of the Iraqi people.
One member of our traveling team, American filmmaker Brad Maaske, was embedded on patrol with the Iraqi Army in a very dangerous former Baathist area of Baghdad’s “Red Zone” when he was approached by a young Iraqi father holding his infant daughter.
“Please bless her,” the Iraqi asked in broken English.
“I don’t know what you mean,” Maaske said.
“Please bless her,” the man repeated and reached for the American’s hands. Placing them on the baby’s forehead, the father continued, “Please bless her with the freedoms that you have . . .
the freedoms of America.” Maaske suspected that he’d walked into an ambush. We had discussed the inherent danger of exactly this sort of scenario on our way to Iraq. Overcome with emotion, though, Maaske knelt over, kissed the child, and blessed her. Her father was beaming. Maaske was too.
On October 15, 2005, the Iraqi people took another dramatic step forward and again thumbed their noses at al Qaeda, as this time 78 percent of the voting-age population walked to the country’s 6,000 polling stations. Where al Qaeda’s soulless butchers had launched 147 attacks to disrupt the January 2005 elections, on this day they were capable of only 14.
Only two months later, in December, 11 million Iraqis elected the most representative Arab government in the Middle East. This was remarkable progress in a nation that had never experienced democracy and had spent nearly a quarter century under the brutal tyranny of Saddam Hussein.
But to the American Left, none of this mattered, just as the first democratic elections in Afghanistan the previous year had done nothing to inspire it. The Left’s leaders expressed no appreciation for, or pride in, their nation’s historic efforts in bringing law and elections to a land devoid of civil rights. Once again, they offered only acrimony and defeatism.
On the very day that Saddam was being arraigned in Baghdad, Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean wildly asserted, “The idea that we’re going to win the war in Iraq is an idea which is just plain wrong.”
West Virginia Democratic senator Jay Rockefeller claimed that America and the world would be safer if Saddam Hussein was still in power.
Democratic senator John Kerry, who had come close to becoming America’s commander in chief, slurred our soldiers in an interview with CBS’s Face the Nation. “There is no reason,” Kerry said, “young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women.”
Democratic congressman John Murtha, a former Marine, took the opportunity to call for a pullout of troops from Iraq. On NBC’s Meet the Press, Murtha explained his reasoning: “I’m absolutely convinced that we’re making no progress at all, and I’ve been complaining for two years that there’s an overly optimistic—an illusionary process going on here.”
On another occasion he said, “We can’t win this militarily,” and added, “The Army is broken, worn-out, and living hand to mouth.”
Proving there are no depths to which this lawmaker won’t stoop, he then accused U.S. Marines of “killing innocent civilians in cold blood” before an investigation into the incident at Haditha, Iraq, had been completed.
This was an irresponsible and incendiary claim that outraged soldiers from all services who were proudly defending their nation.
Former president Bill Clinton joined in the pile-on. Speaking just miles from the war zone, in Dubai, Clinton told students that the Iraq War “was a big mistake.” The former president, standing on foreign soil, continued to criticize the commander in chief’s decisions by saying, “The American government made several errors, one of which is how easy it would be to get rid of Saddam and how hard it would be to unite the country.”
Such comments swelled the chorus of defeatism that had been heard since the early days of the war. It didn’t matter that the United States went into Iraq with overwhelming congressional authorization, with the support of 70 percent of the American public, and with the consent of the United Nations (which had failed to enforce seventeen separate resolutions against Saddam’s Iraq). The Left quickly reframed America’s justification for combat to meet their reality, launching a ceaseless campaign of vindictive anti-American, antimilitary rhetoric.
Even when the gruesomely decapitated bodies of Americans were shown on international television swinging from a bridge in Fallujah, the Left could muster no outrage toward the enemy. The incredibly influential leftist blogger Markos Moulitsas Zúniga of Daily Kos wrote of the American civilian contractors, “I feel nothing over the death of merceneries [sic]. They aren’t in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them.”
After U.S. Army soldiers Kristian Menchaca and Thomas Tucker were abducted, tortured, and mutilated, their eyes gouged out by terrorists and their bodies so desecrated that DNA testing was necessary to prove their identification, the Left again found itself incapable of choosing good versus evil. Instead of condemning the horrific crimes of America’s enemy, Senator Dick Durbin, who had earlier charged American soldiers with the same crimes of Nazis in death camps and Soviets in their gulags, blamed his own government. “Unfortunately, this is a grim reminder of the price we’re paying for a failed policy in Iraq,” he said.
The story was much the same when, in late December 2006, Saddam was executed for his crimes against humanity. The New York Times editorial page did not celebrate the fact that justice had been done, and that the Iraqi people, under their new democratic government, had given the tyrant a fair trial (something he had never afforded his people). The Times instead condemned the “rush” to hang Saddam. The paper then seized the opportunity to trash the American war effort, adding, “After nearly four years of war and thousands of American and Iraqi deaths, it is ever harder to be sure whether anything fundamental has changed for the better in Iraq.”
Oh really? The millions of Iraqis who braved suicide bombers in order to exercise their newly delivered right to vote might disagree.
How could so many on the left ignore America’s extraordinary achievements in the War on Terror? How could they twist every victory into a defeat for the United States?
These are questions that millions of Americans have wrestled with, and that ultimately drove me to write this book.
In my years serving as military aide to President Bill Clinton, when I carried the “nuclear football” and thus had to shadow the president at all hours, I gained an intimate understanding of how he and other Democratic leaders regarded the armed forces. Not only didn’t the Left understand military culture, they regarded it with utter disdain.
Still, that alone did not explain the Left’s subversive behavior in the War on Terror. It was only on my return from Iraq that I had something of an epiphany.
Sitting in the Baghdad airport waiting for a massive sandstorm to pass, I struck up a conversation with another American who sat nearby, waiting for the same flight. It turned out she was an of
cial for the United Nations. Quickly our discussion moved to the horrific bombing of the day before: an indescribably evil terrorist had crashed his explosive-laden car into a crowd of Iraqi children who were receiving candy from a U.S. soldier, killing twenty-seven.
“Why do the soldiers do that?” the woman asked me in her Madonna-like faux–British accent. “They must know that sort of thing only attracts the terrorists. I wish they wouldn’t do that to those children.”
I was stunned. She was blaming the U.S. soldier for the deaths of the children! Al Qaeda’s car-bombing thugs had dictated the time and the place for their murders, and their evil scheme had claimed the lives of innocent Iraqi children and a caring American soldier. But this American of
cial did not direct her anger at the terrorists. Instead she indicted the U.S. soldier who was compassionately passing out candy to poor Iraqi kids.
It was then that I realized why America’s liberals could fail to process, or even acknowledge, the remarkable achievements in the Middle East, including the liberation of millions of oppressed people: They are so blinded by their pathological hatred for their own nation that defeatism is their only recourse. They cannot credit the United States and its armed forces with success because, to them, America and especially the U.S. military are the real enemy.
After 9/11, the question that dominated the discourse was: Why do they hate us? That question referred, of course, to the radical Islamic world, but as has become clear in the succeeding years, it could apply just as easily to the American Left.
In this time of national crisis, the Left has formed what my friend and colleague David Horowitz, a former left-wing activist, calls an “Unholy Alliance” with our Islamofascist enemies.13 America, unfortunately, has overlooked this internal threat, when in fact it represents the greatest obstacle to our success in the War on Terror. This conict is, as we knew it would be from the beginning, a long and arduous struggle, but seeing it through to victory is our only option if we want to preserve the freedoms the Islamofascists so detest.
Yet every day that passes, the Left saps more of our nation’s will to fight.
This is no accident. The Left’s campaign against America’s War on Terror is a well-coordinated, well-financed operation that involves individuals and institutions from all parts of our society. Leading Democratic politicians, major media outlets, academia, popular culture, and a host of deep-pocketed radical organizations combine to form a Fifth Column that undermines our military’s heroic efforts in this global campaign.
The frightening reality is that the United States will not win the war against radical Islam unless and until we defeat the enemy within.
In Bed with the Enemy
Throughout the Cold War, leftist Communist sympathizers and fellow America-haters across politics, academia, media, and the popular culture united in their opposition to the United States.From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from War Crimes by Robert "Buzz" Patterson. Copyright © 2007 by Robert. Excerpted by permission of Crown Forum, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.