US Army photo of soldiers carrying the casket of Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene off the plane at Dover Air Force Base, August 7, 2014.
In "Confessions of a NATO Speechwriter" at Foreign Policy, Patrick Stephenson discusses what happened when he wrote a single sentence honoring the late Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene in a speech for the NATO secretary general in 2014. Gen. Greene, it should be recalled, was the highest ranking officer to be murdered by one of our Afghan "allies" in the spate of Afghan-on-Western (Muslim-on-infidel) killings that were a cost Uncle Sam was willing to factor into the US-led-Afghan alliance. The speech, to be delivered shortly after Greene's killing, was in honor of the sacrifice and service of all troops in Afghanistan.
As I typed, it occurred to me that including a line to honor a specific soldier would be more powerful than honoring “soldiers” as a group. So I wrote a sentence paying homage to Harold J. Greene, a U.S. major general who had perished in an insider attack that month in Afghanistan.
"Perished" is an antiseptic word to describe what happened on August 4, 2014, when a member of the Afghan National Army
fired some 30 rounds into a high-ranking delegation visiting a military training academy in Kabul. Gen. Greene, hit four times in the back, was killed on the spot. Eighteen others were wounded, at least two grievously, not that we were given many details.
Here is the column I wrote at the time about this Afghan-on-US/NATO attack, one of so many that lay waste to the concept of US-Afghan/Western-Islamic "alliance." Not that we were supposed to see it this way. The Pentagon sought to deconstruct the murder of Gen. Greene as "an isolated incident." Amid so many other "isolated incidents," however, the murder rate against US warriors (by their Afghan "allies") in was higher in Afghanistan than the murder rate anywhere else in the world but Central America and southern Africa.
Back to the story of the single sentence honoring of Gen. Greene in the NATO speech.
My tribute to Greene got me in big trouble. When the spokeswoman read the speech, she was shocked. Mentioning the general, she said, would offend the Afghans — presumably because an Afghan soldier had carried out the attack. She even tried to downgrade my annual performance review.
For readers of this website, it's probably not necessary to put words to the natural, sputtering reaction to this craven dhimmitude as married to bureacratic vindictiveness and predatory groupthink. What takes the incident out of the horrendous ordinary, however, is Stephenson's response.
In a follow-up meeting, I didn’t dismiss her concern, though the jump from my words to Afghan offense seemed to me a long one. But trashing a year’s worth of my work because of a single sentence paying homage to a fallen U.S. general? And in a “tribute to the troops,” no less?
It is one thing to share in the well of natural outrage over the supervisor's attempt to downgrade the speechwriter's "performance review" over a sentence about Gen. Greene. But note that Stephenson's position is not that NATO owes a murdered general one lousy sentence of tribute in passing, Afghan/Islamic feelings of offense be damned. Rather, h
e is arguing that his sentence wasn't offensive anyway. He "didn't dismiss her concern" -- he just didn't think his sentence warranted it.
Apparently, this former NATO speechwriter sees the whole issue as a struggle over getting "appealing" human interest content into speeches -- not the truth about blood and Islam and US government deception and waste.
In the end, my performance review was not changed because a deadline for revising it had passed. But I remain shocked: The last thing I wanted to be was a rebel. I was just trying to write an appealing speech. After all, what’s the use of pushing an uninteresting narrative that no one will listen to? It seemed far more natural to take a risk — say something meaningful to advance the conversation about the future of transatlantic security.
Well, thank goodness his performance review wasn't changed.