Ask This General

Brigadier General Peter B. Zwack {Ret.}

Rachel Vindman’s CNN interview on Monday was a tour de force of grace, courage and patriotism. After her husband, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, testified during the House impeachment hearings in October 2019, the Vindmans became the target of vile threats and thuggish retaliation that no American family should have to endure. The most vocal detractor was President Donald Trump, who took aim at Vindman for daring to speak up. In the year since the impeachment hearings, the Vindman family has been harassed and threatened online and by mail by Trump supporters.

“What happened to us could happen to anyone,” Rachel Vindman calmly warns listeners in a new political ad by The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump Republican campaign organization. This steadfast former Army wife, who represents the best in American values, never imagined she would be speaking in such an antagonistic public arena.
The Vindmans’ year-long ordeal stands in stark contrast to the freedom enjoyed by political operative Roger Stone, a convicted felon coddled by President Trump and his cronies. Emboldened by the commuting of his prison sentence by Trump in July, Stone careens from one dubious media outlet to another, spouting conspiracy theory nonsense and opining that Trump should declare martial law if he loses on November 3.
Polar opposites in every way, the Vindmans and Stone represent the best and worst of America at a deeply painful moment in our nation’s history. President Trump’s unjustified pardon of a convicted liar and his vindictive treatment of a career military family should offend anyone who values integrity, backbone and the courage it takes to speak truth to power — especially when that power is exercised by a vengeful and petty President who utterly lacks all three qualities.
Alexander Vindman worked for me earlier in his career and is hands-down one of the finest and principled officers I’ve had the privilege of knowing. He’s also the quintessential American self-made success story. His widowed father emigrated with his three young sons to Brighton Beach in Brooklyn from then Soviet Ukraine in 1979. Vindman learned English, excelled in school, put himself through college (State University of New York at Binghamton and Cornell, where he chose the military as a career and joined the ROTC). Years later the Army sent him to Harvard for graduate school. In Iraq in 2004, he was wounded by a roadside bomb and received the Purple Heart. In 2008, he became a Foreign Area Officer, serving with me in challenging Moscow as an Army attaché and later was elevated to high-level roles with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the National Security Council.
No one should have to pay the heavy price that Lieutenant Colonel Vindman and his family have for fulfilling his oath to “uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic.”
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