Daily Archives: December 4, 2009

The Enemy Camp is in Afghanistan, not at West Point by Gregory Hilton

President Obama, our Commander-in-Chief, made the right decision when he visited West Point on Tuesday night to unveil the new troop surge for Afghanistan. The President was speaking to those his decision impacts the most. Many of them will be graduating next May as second lieutenants’ and will be deployed to Afghanistan.
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said the President made an “interesting decision” when he agreed to speak at “the enemy camp.” The liberal commentator believed the Corps of Cadets lacked “warmth,” and exhibited “if not resentment, skepticism.” A few hours later after MSNBC was subjected to a barrage of criticism, Matthews came back on the air and said “maybe earlier tonight I used the wrong phrase, ‘enemy camp,’ but the fact of the matter is he went up there to a place that’s obviously ‘military.’”
Perhaps Matthews does not understand the non-partisan role of our military? He would benefit from meeting cadets such as Arron Conley, the president of the class of 2010, who explained “My role is not to advocate policy but to execute it.” His words accurately describe the mission of officers in the U.S. Army.
Another outstanding cadet is Ben Salvito who will also be graduating next May. He said “Cadets are trained in acceptance of orders, and the Commander-in-Chief was effectively issuing an order to all who were present. No cadet will be spared from the effects of President Obama’s remarks — his message has been received and internalized by all who were present in Eisenhower Hall.
“I am humbled by the President’s decision to announce his new strategy at my school and completely reject the notion of any who suggest that West Point is in any way ‘the enemy camp.’ The enemy camps are in Helmand province, where soldiers are currently engaged in the President’s mission. As a member of the Class of 2010, I am preparing to graduate and utilize the skills and lessons West Point has taught me to join those deployed and contribute to the Afghanistan conflict. I am confident my classmates all feel similarly, and it will be an honor to serve beside them.”
Similar sentiments were reflected by National Review:
“Whether out of professionalism (the vast majority of cadets) or fear of punishment (the rest of them), the Corps of Cadets would never be disrespectful to the Commander-in-Chief. In fact, West Point may be the only place in America where President Obama can simultaneously trash George W. Bush and announce an increase in troop levels in Afghanistan and not be booed from the right or the left.”
Finally, General Douglas MacArthur’s farewell address to the Corps of Cadets on May 12, 1962 said it best, “Others will debate the controversial issues, national and international, which divide men’s minds. But serene, calm, aloof, you stand as the Nation’s war guardians, as its lifeguards from the raging tides of international conflict, as its gladiators in the arena of battle. For a century and a half you have defended, guarded and protected its hallowed traditions of liberty and freedom, of right and justice. Let civilian voices argue the merits or demerits of our processes of government. . . .
“The long gray line has never failed us. Were you to do so, a million ghosts in olive drab, in brown khaki, in blue and gray, would rise from their white crosses, thundering those magic words: Duty, Honor, Country. This does not mean that you are warmongers. On the contrary, the soldier above all other people prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war.”