Dereliction of Duty: A Matter of Honor

As many of you know, I was an Air Force officer and pilot. In 1996, I was asked to serve at President Bill Clinton’s side as his “nuclear football” carrier and military aide. When I retired from the Air Force in 2001, I was compelled to tell my story and expose the truth about the Clinton’s. The result was the highly acclaimed New York Times bestseller “Dereliction of Duty.” To this day, it continues to be one of the most honest and objective glimpses into who and what Bill and Hillary Clinton really are. If you want to know what happened, they happened. Here is an excerpt from that book and the preface:

I worked for President William Jefferson Clinton from May 1996 to May 1998. I was his Air Force aide, one of five trusted officers who serve the president directly in a variety of duties, most sensitive and classified in nature, including – and most important – being the officer responsible for carrying the nuclear “football” necessary to launch a nuclear strike. I arrived in this position filled with professional devotion and commitment to serve. I left disillusioned and disheartened.

I don’t pretend to speak for the United States military establishment or its members. I am but one of countless soldiers, sailors, and airmen who have dedicated themselves to the service of their country. But I do speak as a career Air Force officer who had the rare opportunity to participate in combat operations in the 1980s and 1990s and later serve directly for the commander in chief. By chance, I happened to be a man who, in a highly turbulent time in our history, had a front-row seat in the Clinton administration.

As a military man, I was taught the manifest truth that the world is a dangerous place – and I was trained to prepare for dangerous contingencies, to meet the challenges, and to defend my country. What, in my patriotism and sense of duty, I had not been prepared for was to serve in close proximity to our commander in chief in the White House, on Air Force One, and elsewhere, bearing the nuclear football that was the most fearful responsibility the president bore, and to find that he – the man who led our country and our armed forces – regarded the military with contempt, his duties as a playground for ambition and personal perquisites, and the country as a mass to be manipulated rather than defended.

I do not mean to arrogate myself to the viewpoint of a secretary of state or secretary of defense. But to my presidential aide’s eye view, and as a serving military officer who had been sent in harm’s way around the world, I was utterly dumbfounded and appalled to see the president treat foreign policy as an afterthought and, apparently, as a distraction that was important only insofar as it impinged on domestic politics and the media. I could regard it only as arrant irresponsibility toward our national security and foreign policy, which, in my opinion, exposed us to the disaster of the terrorist attacks on September, 11, 2001. President Clinton had not only lowered America’s guard to an injustifiable level but had also established to the world and to those who conducted the day-to-day work of foreign and defense policy that these things really didn’t matter, that the country was probably as invulnerable to danger as he was to the many scandals he so successfully dodged, and that really these things could be handled cynically, haphazardly, and on the fly. In the post-Cold War years, it was safe, the thinking went, to play social engineering and vague humanitarian politics with the American military. That this lowered morale and effectiveness distracted the military from its real duty and stretched our troops all over the world on ill-defined, but often dangerous, missions (while sharply cutting their numbers as one benefit of the “peace dividend”) didn’t matter to the Clinton administration. The inevitable reckoning was horrific.

Looking back now, I believe many of the same things would have been said by the military aide to Barack Obama. Our military, today, is suffering from the incredibly damaging legacies of Clinton and Obama. In the days to come, I will be writing on this website about the means to which the American Left abhors, disdains, and attacks the U.S. military. Stay tuned.

Lieutenant Colonel Robert "Buzz" Patterson, United States Air Force (Retired), is a military combat pilot, distinguished White House military aide, bestselling author, and popular conservative public speaker. Among Patterson’s literary efforts include two New York Times best sellers, Dereliction of Duty and Reckless Disregard. His most recent books include War Crimes and Conduct Unbecoming. Patterson was born in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He is a Distinguished Graduate from the Air Command and Staff College; he has his Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Virginia Tech University and a Master's in Business Administration from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri. He, his wife and their three children currently reside in California. 

Buzz Patterson


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