American Commander

American Commander: Serving A Country Worth Fighting For And Training The Brave Soldiers Who Lead The Way by Ryan Zinke SEAL Team Commander and the only (now first) U.S. Navy SEAL in Congress and Coauthor Scott McEwen. Pic. by M.C.
American Commander: Serving A Country Worth Fighting For And Training The Brave Soldiers Who Lead The Way by Ryan Zinke SEAL Team Commander and the only (now first) U.S. Navy SEAL in Congress and Coauthor Scott McEwen. Pic. by M.C.

Usually for the 9/11 event that occurred September 11, 2001 bringing down the Twin Towers in New York City, I write about books that have uncovered the shady happenings behind the scenes. For my novel research, I read American Commander: Serving A Country Worth Fighting For And Training The Brave Soldiers Who Lead The Way by Ryan Zinke SEAL Team Commander and the only (now first) U.S. Navy SEAL in Congress and Coauthor Scott McEwen. So that it’s not one sided here, I thought I’d share a military person’s point of view of what happened after the attack on U.S. soil.

The book starts out before 9/11.

In the prologue, Commander Zinke recounts his time in Kosovo. It’s a reminder of how horrible it was during the Bosnian war from 1992 to 1995. Twenty to forty thousand Bosnian Muslim women were raped. The International Criminal Tribunal called it “genocidal rape.” The leader of the Bosnian Serbs, Radovan Karadzic, had weapons caches in small, easy-access towns to drugs, military equipment, and human trafficking.

Right away Zinke gets into why I read the book—the mindset of a SEAL. He explains what it takes to plan a mission. It isn’t just the U.S. Navy SEALs who go on the missions. In this case, they also worked with the army’s elite counterpart and with Special Forces—the U.S. Navy’s elite special warfare operators. Zinke recounts SEALs and foreign military forces conducting reconnaissance missions, search-and-rescue missions for downed pilots, intelligence-gathering operations, and Personal Security Detachment (PSD) missions that escorted and protected American and NATO leadership.

I found it interesting that it was President John F. Kennedy who established the SEALs in 1962.

In 1987, Zinke was assigned to SEAL Team One in Coronado, California. Around that time, he recalls seeing the movie The Untouchables starring Kevin Costner as Prohibition-era treasury agent Eliot Ness. Ness’ assignment was to bring down crime kingpin Al Capone. The bootlegger-extortionist-murderer was too smart to get caught, so the government looked at his accounting practices. Capone was sentenced to eleven years for tax evasion.

Capone was the moral counterpart in Iraq, a cleric by the name of Muqtada al-Sadr. Zinke goes on to question the cleric’s morality saying he makes a mockery of the word “religious” by spreading hate and lies like “The United States is targeting Islam, the Muslim and Arab states in the Middle East and beyond. It wants to control the world.” Sadr was Iran’s chief surrogate and operations officer in Iraq. (I do have to point out that back home in the U.S. the mainstream media news was using the words Muslim and Islam in a derogatory manner. But I wouldn’t exactly say it was the United States spreading the lies and hate. What Americans hear on the mainstream news and media is from corporations. And who owns those corporations? Or rather who controls the CEOs of the media? They are not always American. What I learned from studying 9/11 is that some involved had a dual citizenship. Also, a person or persons can hide behind a corporation and it seems act under their own sovereignty. I can’t find the exact law and information I want to share, but I’m pretty sure I heard it from Sarah Westall years ago much more eloquently. So here is a link to for some current information on corporations.)

With details of reconnaissance and surveillance they found Sadr’s accountant and go on a mission. Most of the missions are so well-planned that when “the guy” is grabbed it can happen in a minute. The SEAL team drove from the Baghdad International Airport about eighty miles south to a location between Karbala and Hillah. They breached the gate and house and secured the compound. Within minutes, the operators secured all floors and family. Everything needed was tagged and bagged like computers, records, and weapons. The accountant, his family, and the books and computers were taken. The Quick Reaction Force ensured the route back to the base. In less than an hour, the team had finished the sweep and gone. Sometimes it’s a matter of jumping out of a Humvee and doing the “grab” of “the guy” with his keys in his car. It’s the element of surprise.

With the “grab” of the accountant, they saw a rise in insurgent activity all over Iraq in 2004. It became easier to see and target Muqtada al-Sadr’s Shia militia and the Sunni insurgents.

Zinke explains at first, they didn’t realize they weren’t dealing with one country against the other. In Iraq, patronage and loyalty goes like this: immediate family first, then tribe, then faith, and finally country. He said it is a low-trust society. He explains why there is fighting between Shiites and Sunnis.

In the seventh century AD, the prophet Mohammad died and his friend and acolyte Abu Bakr as-Siddiq became caliph, the leader of Islam instead of his cousin and son-in-law Ali ibn Abi Talib. Abu’s supporters were the Sunnis and Ali’s supporters were the Shiites. Going back—Saddam was a Sunni and didn’t think of Shiites as “humans” or “Iraqis” Zinke says.

And if you really want to know how horrible it was in Iraq, Zinke talks about the Abu Ghraib prison in 2004, which isn’t far from Baghdad. It meant torture to men, women, children, and animals (sometimes family pets). Once you were there, you would never get out of the walls within walls. He says, “the prison at Abu Ghraib is a stain on all of humankind. It’s a cautionary tale of what happens when leadership lacks a moral compass and a population becomes so terrified, so submissive, that it becomes indirectly complicit in the process.”

He’s not blaming the Iraqi people. But he notes how Nazi Germany is an example of how the government can crush its population with an iron heel. Zinke warns his fellow American to be vigilant. He says this is why he went to Washington—“To make sure that the voices of the people are heard and to fight for those voices with the same absolute conviction that I fought in Iraq. When federal institutions—whether a president or an Internal Revenue Service or a Department of Justice, as we have recently seen—begin to act unilaterally, by fiat, treating our precious Constitution as if its words were merely suggestions, it’s time to vote out the leaders or those institutions.”

“The Iraqi people did not have that option or that opportunity. Abu Ghraib was the Infamous result.”

Since this is a post for 9/11, I would say we were dragged into this war with deceit, which I explain in previous posts. There is so much confusion surrounding the attacks on the Twin Towers, Building 7, and the Pentagon. Joseph P. Farrell points out there was a third group involved when someone phoned the White House with code words.

In one of the last chapters of American Commander, Zinke talks about the killing of Osama bin Laden. I agree with Zinke there was too much media on the SEALs. And it does seem odd to give so much coverage to the SEALs when what they do is meant to be in secret. There was the rumor that Osama bin Laden had already been killed. Of course, I’m not saying the SEALs knew that. They are busy doing their job.

As a side note, Osama bin Laden was friends with the Bush’s according to Farrell in his book Hidden Finance, Rogue Networks, and Secret Sorcery: The Fascist International, 9/11, and Penetrated Operations by Joseph P. Farrell.

I had my 9/11 post written months ago. It’s important to study currents events in order to see the patterns. On August 8, 2023, fires broke out in Lahaina, Maui and decimated the small town. What happened was not natural. Police Chief Pelletier said the fire burned a mile a minute. And a few are saying directed energy weapons (DEW) were used. What kind of fire melts metal? 9/11 taught us about melting points. And some believe through their research that DEWs were used on the Twin Towers. I’m not saying the same people were involved in these acts of war, but perhaps studying the facts can lead us to the technology and the few who have access to that technology. And I don’t know, were the Lahaina Fires an act of war? I can only go down the rabbit hole to find out.

Happy Vegan!

Past 9/11 Posts:
2020 Post-Nineteen Years
2021 Post-Solving 9-11
2022 Post-9/11 Rogue Networks

© 2023 Melissa Crismon

Checkout my MerSea series books about an ordinary woman who becomes a mermaid.

Aboard a conservation ship, Sarah Sumner has an identity crisis while morphing into a mermaid and fighting whalers at fellow deckhand Gunner’s side. She seeks answers to her mutation, but through her journey, she finds deeper meaning in helping the whales. The MerSea series is an urban fantasy romance filled with action, adventure, and an inspirational, transforming tale.


The Hunger Games Trilogy

The Hunger Games Trilogy with red rhododendron blooms. Pic by M.C.
The Hunger Games Trilogy with red rhododendron blooms. Pic by M.C.

I finally read The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I am currently writing a trilogy and needed a good example of how to write one. I find young adult books or books written in first person are helpful in learning how to write a story.

In general, the young adult genre is helpful to read because it is in first person. The reader can feel what the character is feeling. If I switch the first person to third person in my head, I can then write in deep POV in third person.

The Hunger Games seemed to spark controversy. A writer told me that kids are killing kids, which upset her. A teenager told me that she wanted the author to get on with the story. None of those comments deterred me. I almost think negative comments spark more interest.

The Hunger Games starts out with the perfect first chapter because it sets up the story. In the first paragraph, we learn about the reaping and that it can’t be a good harvest. Katniss, the main character, feeds her mother, sister, and cat by hunting illegally with a bow and arrow her father made her before he died in a mining blast. The reader quickly has empathy for her. At the end of the first chapter, Prim, Katniss’ younger sister, is chosen to fight in the games. Everything changes.

In chapter two, the reader learns the goal, motivation, and conflict. The goal is no longer just to survive—it is to save Prim from going to the games. Katniss is motivated to volunteer because she wants to save her sister’s life. The conflict is the Capitol, which is debatable. It’s always their rules and they can change the rules.

Catching Fire doesn’t set up the same way. The set up seems to be in the last chapter. It’s another Hunger Games but with the tributes. We don’t find out until the last chapter what Haymitch and the other past tributes have been up to. I would have preferred not to be strung along, but it’s an interesting way to write a book.

Mockingjay provides relief with a new setting in District 13 that was thought to be destroyed. There is bloodshed and the Capitol is taken down. In a conversation between Katniss and Plutarch, we are schooled about the power between the people and the government. Plutarch is the Head Gamemaker in Catching Fire. He becomes a commander of the rebel forces in District 13 in Mockingjay. In real life there was a Greek Middle Platonist philosopher named Plutarch. In book three, Plutarch Heavensbee shares his philosophy as he explains to Katniss why there needs to be a wedding. The excerpt below shows how the philosopher influences Collins’ Plutarch.

            “‘Oh, the city might be able to scrape along for a while,” Plutarch says. “Certainly, there are emergency supplies stockpiled. But the significant difference between Thirteen and the Capitol are the expectations of the populace. Thirteen was used to hardship, whereas in the Capitol, all they’ve known is Panem et Circenses.”

            “What’s that?” I recognize Panem, of course, but the rest is nonsense.

            “It’s a saying from thousands of years ago, written in a language called Latin about a place called Rome,” he explains. “Panem et Circenses translates into ‘Bread and Circuses.’ The writer was saying that in return for full bellies and entertainment, his people had given up their political responsibilities and therefore their power.”

            I think about the Capitol. The excess of food. And the ultimate entertainment. The Hunger Games. “So that’s what the districts are for. To provide the bread and circuses.’” (The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, p. 223)

The bread and circuses mention is inspired by Decimus Junius Juvenalis (known as Juvenal), who was a Roman poet, from the first and second centuries. Juvenal is referring to our ability to be easily distracted and ignoring our civic duty. I do appreciate Suzanne Collins’ research.

As for the trilogy as a whole I would say it’s about teenagers surviving a killing game and then fighting for freedom. It’s not about the romance, which I don’t even get into. The Hunger Games is mostly Katniss surviving her first game. The second book, Catching Fire, is Katniss in the games again, but as a tribute. In the background, other characters are helping her, but she doesn’t know it until the end. I feel like the second story of a trilogy sometimes gets lost in the reader’s mind. I was interested to see how Collins’ handled the second book. Sometimes readers don’t like it when information is kept from them. As I said before the last chapter is revealing. By book three, Mockingjay, Katniss is on a journey to find and kill President Snow. The tributes focus on taking the Capitol down and getting their freedom. I had a chuckle when Collins brought in the lizard mutts into the mix because I brought in a lizard creature into my third book of the MerSea series. I think by the third story in a trilogy it’s hard to come up with more story. She did a great job with the war and Katniss catapulting the people forward to support the campaign.

I suppose I like The Hunger Games trilogy because the voice is pragmatic. The second reason is because it feels like it could happen in the states and particularly in California. We deal with political whiplash from Gavin Newsom, our governor. He threatened martial law during the lockdown, which is unconstitutional. Then he threatened to shut down our beaches. Recently he sent us Californians checks to offset the cost of gas just around voting time. (It worked. He was voted back in.) I suppose we are to remember the latter when he is on the ticket for President of the United States. Newsom reminds me of President Snow and Effie Trinket all rolled into one, more the latter with his well-coifed hair (even during lockdown) and stylish, ironed suits. And didn’t he enjoy a fancy restaurant in LA without a mask and then went to Hawaii while the rest of us hunted for toilet paper and stayed home. I will not be snowed by political trinkets.

Happy Hunger Games! And may the odds be ever in your favor!

Happy Vegan!

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Copyright 2023 Melissa Crismon