This is the finest leader I’ve ever known…in fifty years of life, and after hundreds of leaders.
I was outraged at the travesty of Admiral Losey’s politically-driven railroading. I wrote the below article about it one month ago…and then decided to not share it. I knew that Brian, being who he is, would rather focus on the security of our society moving forward than on the wrongs done him. I didn’t want to embarrass him with a futile public defense.
But then I saw this weekend that our previous Special Operations Commander has shared his own op-ed on the farce. You can find that link at the bottom. I decided that if Admiral Bill McRaven were willing to open up about it, all bets are off.
It’s time for all SEALs, all warriors, all supporters, and all citizens to ask WTF of the U.S. national “leadership” who would bootlick a handful of vindictive malcontents and destroy the career of a genuine national asset for their own small political equity…the career of a man we need in the fight now more than ever. There are very few individuals in this country we should be seeking out by name to lead the global campaign to destroy ISIS. This is one. (Notice, most of all, that Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson has stated that he is open to reconsidering Admiral Losey’s fate.)
Here’s my story:
March 27, 2016
This politically-motivated lynching of a national hero sickens me to the soul. I will comment on it one time, then drop the issue to bake in the ancient ashes of generations of other destructively stupid and short-sighted choices.
Admiral Brian Losey is the most able leader I’ve ever served. He and his wife are treasured friends to my wife and me. Half of what I know about leadership I learned by observing Admiral Losey during my service. Much of the rest was taught to me by mistake, whenever “leaders in name only” would periodically creep into my chain of command. That type has just one redeeming quality: they demonstrate what NOT to do in guiding and mentoring subordinates toward mission success. Strong leadership is what the nation needs most right now. It is what a handful of activists in Congress have set out to destroy.
I used to hold a lot of respect for Senator John McCain; at the very least, for the very high cost of his own military service to our nation. But as he co-rouses this rabble, torch in hand, I’m forced to wonder how much he even remembers about the equally high stakes of command in time of war. And the higher stakes of commanding special operations. And the highest stakes, commanding special operations in North Africa, where many of the most vicious terrorist actors and groups are flourishing and spawning others like themselves with rape, enslavement, and mass murder.
This is the context in which Admiral Losey made command decisions for mission improvement that apparently wounded the feelings of some subordinates who didn’t measure up. Command decisions for which his second star has been withdrawn; he is therefore on course to leave the military service.
We as a country have just become a little bit weaker, a little less ready to defeat a growing global menace that decapitates children. At this time when the world needs all hands on deck, some self-interested political animals have severed our best right hand.
Leadership requires personal attributes including competence, courage, character, and compassion. Some excel at one. Many improve in two or three. Brian Losey embodies the best of all four. He is expert at “kinetic” elimination of terrorist threats yet, equally important, understands the root causes that can help us prevent some radicalization in future generations.
This is a man we need in the front of the spreading fight against barbarism. Yet some politicians would rather champion the hurt feelings of demonstrated non-performers than commit to our national security. There is one word appropriate to levy against the architects of this sad spectacle: Shame.
Here is the op-ed by Admiral McRaven: William McRaven: A Warrior’s Career Sacrificed for Politics
How often do you get to see a speaker’s original script? Here’s mine, below, from today’s Religious Freedom celebration. It was a great event. The home of religious freedom in America is considered to be Historic Fredericksburg, Virginia, where Thomas Jefferson and his team first drafted the concepts underlying our First Amendment. And in the heart of winter, following weeks of cold / grey / wet weather, we had a sunny, 60-degree Springlike day that might have indicated the approval of the Almighty Himself!
I was honored to deliver the keynote for today’s annual event, which was hosted by the Knights of Columbus and supported by the Freemasons. We had representatives from numerous faiths, including my friend Munira, whom you’ll remember from the pages of Powerful Peace.
My comments were lengthy, as you’d expect from a 12-minute keynote, but I thought I’d drop them in here in case you have the time to read them through and give them some thought.
Without further ado, my tribute to religious freedom:
Like every other person in the world, I had my own ideas about religious freedom. So to make sure I did not misrepresent the general understanding, I first consulted that great oracle of the 21st Century…Wikipedia:
“Freedom of religion or freedom of belief is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance.”
Actually, although I found the definition through Wiki, it is referenced directly from the UN’s “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” article 18, which states that:
“Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”
Look how similar that is to Thomas Jefferson’s own “Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom” from 1779, which we celebrate today:
“No man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer, on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men…
( …Or women, of course, was their ideal…)
…shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.”
In other words, you cannot be prevented from even becoming President by virtue of being a Jew, or an atheist … or a Catholic! But that’s exactly what happened in the United States for almost 200 more years until JFK’s 1960 run. According to his own Presidential Library:
“Only one Catholic, Governor Alfred E. Smith of New York, had ever been the nominee of one of the major parties. His 1928 campaign was derailed by claims that he would build a tunnel connecting the White House and the Vatican…
(… Are there any engineers in the house? How tricky would that project be? …)
… and would amend the Constitution to make Catholicism the nation’s established religion. He was overwhelmingly defeated nationwide.”
Does that sound ridiculous today? Let me now speak out on behalf of all of us in this “one nation under God:” less than a century later, we have a similar alarming trend—according to a poll by the Associated Press last month, about 8 in 10 Americans said protecting the religious freedom of Christians is important … in the same poll, about 6 in 10 said the same about Muslims. The Jews fell right in the middle, as 7 in 10 respondents said their religious freedom should be protected.
Eric Rassbach, a religious liberty attorney, said:
“People may not realize you cannot have a system where there’s one rule for one group and another rule for a different group you don’t like. No religion is an island. If somebody else’s religion is being limited by the government, yours is liable to be limited in the same way. Even if you only care about your own particular group, you should care about other groups, too, because that’s the way the law works.”
And this is the my main point on this issue: we have a system of law in this country, based on protecting religious freedom, and that system itself is designed to uphold the laws of the land. Some Mormons in Utah insisted on practicing bigamy, counter to the law of the land, and some of those are in prison for it. If any faith demands its way in opposition to the law of the land, it will be handled accordingly. We need to trust ourselves a little more and let the system work, rather than terrifying one another with dire threats about competing systems taking over. We’re better than that…although you wouldn’t know it from the frenzy on social media today.
In my own book, Powerful Peace, I unpacked this situation in what I hope are helpful terms. And this is in the context of the “mosque war” that raged regarding the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” in 2010:
[hold up and read these highlighted portions from chapter 37, “In defense of faith”]
“The mosque war caused some unacceptable and ironic casualties against deeply-held American values called freedom of religion and respect for diversity.
My two-part response to The Question that The Muslims are Waging a Stealth Jihad against America:
Answer Part A) YES…there is a stealth jihad underway.
Think about it: any group sophisticated enough to carry out the complex attack of 9/11 is smart enough to come at the problem (us) on multiple fronts. They told us who they are: al Qaeda. And AQ said it speaks for all of Islam.
Remember that Hitler said he spoke for all good Germans. Remember, too, that through the skillful manipulation of grievances and fears, he whipped up a fever pitch against another cultural-religious group, that he accomplished this through impassioned nationalism…and that the German language root for ‘nationalism’ led to the term Nazi.
Answer Part B) NO…it’s not ‘the Muslims’ who are after ‘us,’ any more than cop killer Eric Rudolph and his Christian supporters could be interpreted as proof that ‘the Christians’ are out to murder abortion doctors.
There are unsettling similarities between today’s warnings to WATCH OUT for Them-There Muslims and der Fuhrer’s earlier hysteria-laced speeches warning about the menace of Them-There Jews.
This appeal is not intended to raise Islam above Christianity, or vice-versa. I’m merely asking that we pause in our daily drama to consider where each of our fellow humans is really coming from. I believe in God, and I believe God made us all. I’m also pretty sure that each of us is flawed and sees only a small part of the whole picture.
Not one of us is big enough, brothers and sisters, to declare that we individually hold all of God’s truth. I suspect God finds our presumption either very amusing, or very irksome.”
I have a shocking admission: I haven’t always been a Christian. Before joining the Navy and circling the world for decades, I was raised a Protestant in a tiny village of 1,000 people in Upstate New York. Needless to say, everybody knew everybody—and everybody knew everybody else’s business. I was told that God loved honesty and right behavior…yet every Sunday I would see the adults sharing coffee and cookies with individuals we all knew had been doing some pretty bad things, and acting like nothing was wrong. In adolescent, intellectual disillusionment at this hypocrisy I left the church at 15. I first tried to be an atheist. That didn’t stick, and lasted about a week. I then wandered among other traditions like Buddhism and even paganism for about 20 years, finally being compelled by my re-reading of the Bible to return to my roots…with a wizened and skeptical eye for what people tell me about God.
Gandhi, who arguably lived a more Christlike life than many professing Christians, said:
“True religion is not a narrow dogma. It is not external observance. It is faith in God and living in the presence of God.”
We find a similar understanding and tolerance in the First Amendment of the Constitution, part of our American Bill of Rights:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
Think about this: every one of you here today has the inalienable right to start your own religion, if you’re so inclined. I thought about establishing Robism, but my Christian beliefs wouldn’t let that go very far. The point is, you and I are blessed mightily to be here in this land where the freedom to worship is not only a right; it is our responsibility to ensure for all others.
We have a privilege unknown to many around the world. This comes with an obligation to defend. I’ll leave you with these final wise words of Thomas Jefferson, found on this plaque that sits on my desk:
[hold up and read plaque]
“There is a debt of service due from every man to his country, proportioned to the bounties which nature and fortune have measured to him.”
Today I was asked why young men join terror groups. I’ll also be speaking to this on Al Jazeera America tonight (Sep 25, 11:00 p.m. Eastern) and tomorrow on The Morning Show (9:00 a.m.)
The complete answer goes all the way back to fundamental human nature: each of us chooses what he believes is the best option in any situation, according to his total body of values. Basic self-interest. This is true whether a person is standing by fearfully and letting a friend drown, or putting his own life in danger on the battlefield. I wrote about this in Powerful Peace.
The jihadi, like every other person, has a particular range of experience and information available to him. He can only know what he knows. Much of that knowledge is fed by external “authority” sources, each with its own agenda in mind, and they feed “facts” including the existential threat to society posed by evil Westerners or Crusaders. The young and impressionable man may be merely a thug pursuing personal rewards, or he may legitimately perceive that he is “defending” his people. Often it’s both. In any case, he is acting according to what he believes in—exactly like you and I and every other human on the planet. This is why we’re in a war of the mind as much as of the flesh.
I just posted a reply to a buddy in Facebook about the true nature of the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria” (ISIS). It’s only my analysis and only my opinion, but I thought this might add some value to the conversation which, from my POV, has become too focused on their “great threat” to America. I totally agree that unchecked, the disease of ISIS could sicken and severely harm America. But if we deal with them effectively now, which means comprehensively (which means the “full toolkit” of Defense and Development and Diplomacy in the region and worldwide), then we can recognize them today as just another blip on the radar of our history of hating each other.
Here’s that FB comment:
“One of my first goals in dealing with violent actors is to point out their in-significance and il-legitimacy in the social order. These are parasites on our species’ body. Maggots eat necrotic tissue. Terrorists thrive on rotting social flesh, too.
In this case an obvious contributor of unhealthy tissue is al-Maliki’s mistreatment of the Sunnis, as Hussein abused the Shi’as before him…each population inevitably grows resentful. So when ISIS came knocking in the Northwest for unhindered passage, Sunni leaders said “You’re going to kick Maliki’s ass and give us some leverage in Baghdad? Be our guests! Baghdad is thataway.”
(I may have oversimplified that a bit.)
The point is, in the final analysis nobody really wants their kids to have to walk past crucifixions on the way to school. We have to deal with underlying causes, CONTINUING all the kinetics demanded by whatever degraded reality we’re currently in, to have any hope of working toward a better future situation. And we don’t do ourselves any favors by fearing that these maggots have any real authority or real power. They’re just riding the wave of grievances…until they become the greater grievance. Hitler did the same.