Robert M. Bowman: Open Letter to Military Officers


Richard Moore

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Duty, Honor, Country 2007

An Open Letter to the New Generation of Military Officers Serving and Protecting
Our Nation

By Dr. Robert M. Bowman, Lt. Col., USAF, ret., National Commander, The Patriots

Dear Comrades in Arms,

You are facing challenges in 2007 that we of previous generations never dreamed 
of. I'm just an old fighter pilot (101 combat missions in Vietnam , F-4 Phantom,
Phu Cat, 1969-1970) who's now a disabled veteran with terminal cancer from Agent
Orange. Our mailing list (over 22,000) includes veterans from all branches of 
the service, all political parties, and all parts of the political spectrum. We 
are Republicans and Democrats, Greens and Libertarians, Constitutionists and 
Reformers, and a good many Independents. What unites us is our desire for a 
government that (1) follows the Constitution, (2) honors the truth, and (3) 
serves the people.

We see our government going down the wrong path, all too often ignoring military
advice, and heading us toward great danger. And we look to you who still serve 
as the best hope for protecting our nation from disaster.

We see the current Iraq War as having been unnecessary, entered into under false
pretenses, and horribly mismanaged by the civilian authorities. Thousands of our
brave troops have been needlessly sacrificed in a futile attempt at occupation 
of a hostile land. Many more thousands have suffered wounds which will change 
their lives forever. Tens of thousands have severe psychological problems 
because of what they have seen and what they have done. Potentially hundreds of 
thousands could be poisoned by depleted uranium, with symptoms appearing years 
later, just as happened to us exposed to Agent Orange. The military services are
depleted and demoralized. The VA system is under-funded and overwhelmed. The 
National Guard and Reserves have been subjected to tour after tour, disrupting 
lives for even the lucky ones who return intact. Jobs have been lost, marriages 
have been destroyed, homes have been foreclosed, and children have been 
estranged. And for what? We have lost allies, made new enemies, and created 
thousands of new terrorists, further endangering the American people.

But you know all this. I'm sure you also see the enormous danger in a possible 
attack on Iran , possibly with nuclear weapons. Such an event, seriously 
contemplated by the Cheney faction of the Bush administration, would make 
enemies of Russia and China and turn us into the number one rogue nation on 
earth. The effect on our long-term national security would be devastating.

Some of us had hoped that the new Democratic Congress would end the occupation 
of Iraq and take firm steps to prevent an attack on Iran , perhaps by impeaching
Bush and Cheney. These hopes have been dashed. The lily-livered Democrats have 
caved in, turning their backs on those few (like Congressman Jack Murtha) who 
understand the situation. Many of us have personally walked the halls of 
Congress, to no avail.

This is where you come in.

We know that many of you share our concern and our determination to protect our 
republic from an arrogant, out-of-control, imperial presidency and a compliant, 
namby-pamby Congress (both of which are unduly influenced by the oil companies 
and other big-money interests). We know that you (like us) wouldn't have pursued
a military career unless you were idealistic and devoted to our nation and its 
people. (None of us do it for the pay and working conditions!) But we also 
recognize that you may not see how you can influence these events. We in the 
military have always had a historic subservience to civilian authority.

Perhaps I can help with whatever wisdom I've gathered from age (I retired in 
1978, so I am ancient indeed).

Our oath of office is to ³protect and defend the Constitution of the United 
States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.² Might I suggest that this 
includes a rogue president and vice-president? Certainly we are bound to carry 
out the legal orders of our superiors. But the Uniform Code of Military Justice 
(UCMJ) which binds all of us enshrines the Nuremberg Principles which this 
country established after World War II (which you are too young to remember). 
One of those Nuremberg Principles says that we in the military have not only the
right, but also the DUTY to refuse an illegal order. It was on this basis that 
we executed Nazi officers who were ³only carrying out their orders.²

The Constitution which we are sworn to uphold says that treaties entered into by
the United States are the ³highest law of the land,² equivalent to the 
Constitution itself. Accordingly, we in the military are sworn to uphold treaty 
law, including the United Nations charter and the Geneva Convention.

Based on the above, I contend that should some civilian order you to initiate a 
nuclear attack on Iran (for example), you are duty-bound to refuse that order. I
might also suggest that you should consider whether the circumstances demand 
that you arrest whoever gave the order as a war criminal.

I know for a fact that in recent history (once under Nixon and once under 
Reagan), the military nuclear chain of command in the White House discussed 
these things and were prepared to refuse an order to ³nuke Russia .² In effect 
they took the (non-existent) ³button² out of the hands of the President.. We 
were thus never quite as close to World War III as many feared, no matter how 
irrational any president might have become. They determined that the proper 
response to any such order was, ³Why, sir?² Unless there was (in their words) a 
³damn good answer,² nothing was going to happen.

I suggest that if you in this generation have not had such a discussion, perhaps
it is time you do. In hindsight, it's too bad such a discussion did not take 
place prior to the preemptive ³shock and awe² attack on Baghdad . Many of us at 
the time spoke out vehemently that such an attack would be an impeachable 
offense, a war crime against the people of Iraq , and treason against the United
States of America . But our voices were drowned out and never reached the ears 
of the generals in 2003. I now regret that I never sent a letter such as this at
that time, but depended on the corporate media to carry my message. I must not 
make that mistake again.

Also in hindsight, President Bush could be court-martialed for abuse of power as
Commander-in-Chief. Vice President Cheney could probably be court-martialed for 
his performance as Acting Commander-in-Chief in the White House bunker the 
morning of September 11, 2001 .

We in the U.S. military would never consider a military coup, removing an 
elected president and installing one of our own. But following our oath of 
office, obeying the Nuremberg Principles, and preventing a rogue president from 
committing a war crime is not a military coup. If it requires the detention of 
executive branch officials, we will not impose a military dictatorship. We will 
let the Constitutional succession take place. This is what we are sworn to. This
is protecting the Constitution, our highest obligation. In 2007, this is what is
meant by ³Duty, Honor, Country.²

Thank you all for your service to this nation. May God bless America , and 
sustain us in this difficult time. And thanks for listening to the musings of an
old junior officer.


Robert M. Bowman, PhD, Lt. Col., USAF, ret.
1494 Patriot Dr , Melbourne , FL 32940
home phone (321) 752-5955; cell (321) 258-0582

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