In the nearly forty years since counterculture leftists, the Students for a Democratic Society, and similarly minded radicals seized the Democrat Party moderates, the Democrats have elected only three presidents: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and, most recently, Barack Obama. From where I sit, and based on my military experience, these are the three worst commanders in chief this nation has ever had to endure and survive. Their national defense failures are undeniable: from the fall of the Shah of Iran, to the failure to engage the war on terror when Osama bin Laden first declared it, to the gutting of the policies of President George W. Bush, which kept this country safe from attack after September 11, 2001, to Obama prematurely pulling our forces from Iraq. In fact, it was this Obama-created vacuum in Iraq that directly birthed ISIS and its reign of terror, torture and death throughout the region.
All three of these Democrat presidents liked to pose as “citizens of the world” rather than stepping up to their leadership roles as elected citizen-leaders of America. In Barack Obama’s case, this appeared be more than a pose, it seems to be what he actually feels—indeed, part of the “change” he promised to deliver to existing American policies. For all three of these presidents, American nationalism was, or is, embarrassing, if not downright dangerous. The responsible thing to do, the liberal thing to do, is prevent America from asserting herself on the global stage, to play second fiddle to the United Nations, to play down our own national interests, and to pretend that we don’t have serious enemies. A return to "Ozzie & Harriet."
The consequences of their policies have been catastrophic. In betraying the Shah of Iran, a longtime American ally, and in failing to recognize what the Ayatollah Khomenei and his revolution represented, must rank as one of the worst, if not the worst, foreign policy disasters in American history. That colossal miscalculation created the first Islamic state-sponsored terror base, led directly to the humiliating Iranian hostage crisis and a tragically bungled rescue attempt, and to the creation of Hezbollah, the terror group that has been killing Americans routinely since 1983. Remember the US Marine Corps barracks bombing in Beirut?
Twelve years after Carter left office, Bill Clinton inherited a maturing jihadist threat which he failed to respond to after at least eight separate attacks on America and its citizens, from the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 through the bombing of the USS Cole in 2000. Clinton’s first director of Central Intelligence, R. James Woolsey, aptly summed up Bill Clinton’s impotence when he described the former president’s “PR-driven” approach to terrorism: “Do something to show you’re concerned. Launch a few missiles in the dessert, bop them on the head, arrest a few people. But just keep kicking the ball down the field.”
Eight years of Clintonian faux diplomacy, appeasement, and feigned resolve encouraged and emboldened our enemies while making America appear weak and vulnerable. With the grossly mistaken belief that the end of the Cold War was the end of armed conflict, liberals and some neo-conservatives viewed the crumbling of the Soviet Empire as “the end of history,” as an influential book by the foolish neo-conservative Francis Fukuyama put it. For the Left, it was easier that way.
With history supposedly over—No more war!—Bill Clinton swept into power and immediately began pursing social experimentation in the armed forces at the express cost of military capability and morale. The Clinton years, during which I personally served and witnessed, are best characterized by Mogadishu and the “Black Hawk Down” atrocity; inconsequential excursions into Haiti, Rwanda, and Bosnia; and the failure to respond effectively to Islamist terrorist attacks. In addition, he began the fueling of North Korea's nuclear weapon and missile technology that, today, directly threatens our homeland. Not only did Clinton appease, he enabled. He offered alcohol to an alcoholic.
The Islamists were taking notes. In May 1998, Osama bin Laden, referring to Clinton’s decision to cut and run in Somalia, told ABC’s "John Miller: “After our victory in Afghanistan [over the Soviets] and the defeat of the oppressors who had killed millions of Muslims, the legend about the invincibility of the superpowers vanished. Our boys no longer viewed America as a superpower. So, when they left Afghanistan, they went to Somalia and prepared themselves carefully for a long war. They had thought that the Americans were like the Russians, so they trained and prepared. They were stunned when they discovered how low was the morale of the American soldier. America had entered with 30,000 soldiers in addition to thousands of soldiers from different countries in the world.... As I said, our boys were shocked by the low morale of the American soldier and they realized that the American soldier was just a paper tiger.”
Osama bin Laden, as he’s learned to his cost, was wrong about the American soldier, but he was right about America’s commander in chief Bill Clinton. He, and his antecedents learned precisely the same thing about Barack Obama. Obama could not be counted on to assert America’s national interests, to aggressively defend America at home and abroad. He seemed far more comfortable apologizing for America, arguing that we need to understand our enemies and not provoke them, and encouraging a multiculturalism that, in his view, might just make the dangers of aggressive American nationalism fade away over time. The fundamental danger of the Obama administration was that it saw itself as a good citizen of the world rather than a guardian of American interests—and that is not what America needs now or ever."
Now, we have elected a commander in chief in President Donald Trump who talks loud and carries a big stick, which he's not afraid to swing. He talks, again, about American exceptionalism and pride. He admonishes pro football players for disrespecting our flag. He pats our military on the back and tells them "good job." It's a change, it's a vital change, it had to happen, for the good and survival of our nation.
It's time, fellow citizens, it's time to make patriotism and pride cool again. It's time to condemn and disavow the hollow ideologies of Hollywood and Silicon Valley. It's time to reclaim our nation, our foundation, and our uniqueness. It's time.
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.