Book Review – Oath and Honor: A Memoir and a Warning

Liz Cheney's book is a call to arms for every citizen to fight for this nation and democracy, and it is a warning to her Republican colleagues who are still defending the indefensible.

Liz Cheney has chosen the perfect title for her book. We are at a tipping point in American history as serious as any we’ve faced since the Civil War. Lincoln warned that this great nation would not fall to foreign domination but could only fall to an enemy that would rise up within our own shores. 

That dreaded moment has arrived. 

First, in the individual personality of a malignant narcissist who wants to be America’s first dictator, but also – and just as dangerously – in the abdication of duty via the inability of members of congress to live up to their oath to defend the Constitution.

Former Congresswoman Cheney has given us a memoir of a thorough investigation of an insurrection, a coup to topple our government, and a warning that we have less than one year to save this Republic from a party leader who is profoundly unfit for command and who devised a seven-part plan to thwart the peaceful transfer of power we have taken for granted since Washington relinquished the presidency to John Adams.

As a career military officer, I do not see salvation coming through persuasion of the Republican base about the truth of the 2020 election or the insurrection. I only see this being resolved by what I call the militarization of congress. 

Militarization conjures up images of weaponized police departments, but what I mean is the ability to live up to the oath to defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic — the same oath every single member of the military takes as they are sworn in. 

READ: Bucks County Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick Makes Another MAGA Move By Voting for Biden Impeachment Inquiry

The motto at West Point is “Duty, Honor, Country.” The Naval Academy and Air Force Academy honor codes declare that no cadet will “lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.” Donald Trump was found by a court of law to have a fraudulent charity and a fraudulent university after being elected, after becoming commander-in-chief over flag officers whose careers would end within 24 hours if they stole so much as a pack of gum from a 7-Eleven. This was a house divided that could not stand. And it was also the beginning of a molestation of the very institutions we rely on for national defense. 

In Helsinki the president of the United States told the world that an enemy leader assured him he did not engage in cyber warfare that was already proven; he slowly and repeatedly told the American people that our intelligence services were part of a Deep State of never-Trumpers, he declared the free press the enemy of the people, and on January 6, 2021, he completed the final stroke of a seven-part-plan to overthrow the government of the United States.

What Representatives Bennie Thompson, Liz Cheney and the other members of the January 6th Select Committee proved was the following: 

  1. Trump planned, even before the election, to claim it was fraudulent if he lost.
  2. Trump tried to pressure state legislatures and officials to flip official Biden electoral votes to Trump.
  3. Trump’s team created fraudulent Trump electoral slates for states that Biden had won.
  4. Trump plotted ways to have his Justice Department persuade state legislatures to create false slates and ordered the DOJ to lie to those states about election fraud.
  5. Trump repeatedly and relentlessly pressured Vice President Pence to break the law by refusing to count official Biden electoral votes.
  6. Trump summoned thousands of supporters to Washington and sent them to the Capitol to pressure the Vice President, threaten the vice president, with the goal to disrupt and delay the electoral vote. 
  7. Trump sanctioned the violence, witnessed violence unleashed on the capitol for hours, and refused to stop it despite many requests for him to call off his supporters; he publicly berated the vice president for not illegally counting false electors and privately mocked and refused a plea for help from the ranking Republican member of the house. At the end of the day he told those who had violently assaulted law enforcement to illegally break and enter a federal building, “you’re special … we love you.”

In 30 years of service in the military not once was I asked if I was a Democrat or a Republican for the simple reason that it is irrelevant. We are all on the same team, we all have the same mission, and we pledge allegiance to that founding document, never to an individual. Donald Trump started his betrayal of this country early on, but a definitive moment was June 18, 2019 when he kicked off his campaign for re-election and told a crowd in Orlando that the Democrats “want to destroy you and want to destroy the country.” At that moment he betrayed every military member under his command who was a Democrat or who had a family member who was a Democrat. It was the division of America and the military into separate tribes, it was aiding and abetting the strategic objectives of Putin’s cyber warfare, and it was proof of the anti-American, anti-Constitutional mindset that would lead to the first coup attempt in American history. 

Liz Cheney lived up to her oath of office, she chose country over party and the constitution over an individual — a requirement of every American who has ever served this country, a principle that too many have died for, and the duty that must be reclaimed by every member of Congress if we are to survive as a nation.

READ: Trump’s Violent Rhetoric Echoes the Fascist Commitment to a Destructive and Bloody Rebirth of Society

Liz Cheney never served in the military but, as her book title suggests, she understood her oath and the honor of protecting the constitution whatever the sacrifice. It cost her political career, but she was unwilling to betray those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for freedom, including Brian Sicknick, the Capitol Police Officer who sustained multiple injuries protecting every member of Congress and died January 7.

“Oath and Honor” is a must read; it is a call to arms for every citizen to fight for this nation and democracy, and it is a warning to her Republican colleagues who are still defending the indefensible. In her words as Vice Chair of the investigation of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol: “One day Donald Trump will be gone, but your dishonor will remain.”

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Steve Nolan

Steve Nolan spent 30 years in the military and 25 years as a mental health professional. He has published in numerous journals and his poetry was featured on National Public Radio, Morning Edition, upon his return from Afghanistan in 2007. He is the author of “Go Deep,” “Base Camp,” and “American Carnage, An Officer’s Duty to Warn.” His work reflects his commitment to social justice.

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