The keynote speaker at this Saturday’s Libertarian Party of Minnesota convention will go a long way towards perpetuating the stereotype that libertarians are unhinged and anti-military. Meet Adam Kokesh-
Adam joined the US Marine Corps in 1999, one of the few sensible choices he seems to have made in the last decade or so. In 2004, while serving with a civil affairs unit in Fallujah, he decided to violate military regulations as well as theater specific orders for Iraq by bringing home a war trophy-a fully functional pistol. I’ve never heard if it was an Iraqi Army weapon, or a military issue 9mm that he appropriated, but either way war trophies are strictly and expressly forbidden, and was since the very beginning of the war.
While many soldiers and Marines get court martialed for war trophies, Adam got lucky and was given an Article 15 non judicial punishment, demoted (Sergeant to Corporal) and barred from re-enlisting. In 2006, he was honorably discharged from active duty and transferred to the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), which is a duty status for soldiers who are not actually in a military unit, but still have a military obligation. In essence, the Corps pushed him out of active duty, but did not release him from his full 8 year enlistment contract.
In March 2007, while still in the IRR and thus still a member of the military, Adam wore his Marine uniform during an anti war protest in Washington DC. This was the point at which he came to the attention of the veteran community, and the folks at This Ain’t Hell have nearly made a cottage industry of following Adam’s craziness. As Adam later admitted, wear of the uniform for political protest by current members of the military or those who are retired is also strictly prohibited by regulation. After being recognized in a news photo of the protest, the Corps brought charges against Kokesh for wear of the uniform during a protest. Kokesh doubled down on stupid by emailing the investigating officer in the case, saying that his actions were justified because ‘we’re at war’, insinuating to the officer that the Corps had better things to be doing with its time than investigating him, and then, the piece de resistance, he told the commissioned officer in the US Marine Corpswhat he could go do with himself. Military regulations in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, article 89, take a dim view of disrespecting an officer.
In May 2007, after a hearing to review the evidence brought to light by the investigator, Adam Kokesh was given a General Discharge from the US Marine Corps. Not as odious as a dishonorable discharge, a General Discharge means you did something that the military considers bad enough to tarnish your entire military service. Put in layman’s terms, it means the Corps says that while Adam Kokesh may have served in uniform, he did not serve his full time honorably.
After a short stint as one of the ringleaders of an anti war group called Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) which was notorious for its shock jock style protests and encouraging vets to come forward to talk about war crimes they had witnessed (Winter Soldier), Adam lit out for greener pastures and landed in New Mexico, where he decided to run for Congress. Adam reinvented himself as a patriotic American who loved his country (despite accusing the US of empire building) and a loyal veteran of the Marines (despite telling a commissioned officer to go f#*k himself). Adam ran for the GOP endorsement, and when he lost, labored on to lose again on primary day.
Pivoting from running for political office to talking about politics, Kokesh struck it big with a nationally syndicated show, “Adam Vs The Man“. One small problem-he was picked up by Russia Today, the state sponsored entertainment and commentary arm of the new improved Mother Russia.
“No, no—we put the fact that this is propaganda right out front. We’re putting out the truth that no one else wants to say. I mean, if you want to put it in the worst possible abstract, it’s the Russian government, which is a competing protection racket against the other governments of the world, going against the United States and calling them on their bulls#*t”
The big time gig lasted all of 6 months, before Kokesh was fired by Russia Today after he endorsed and solicited donations for Ron Paul. While free speech is his right, the fact that Adam was a paid employee of a foreign owned corporation when he endorsed Paul ran afoul of the FEC, which frowns on foreign entities trying to influence American elections.
While Kokesh still introduces himself as the host of his show, he tends to leave out the fact that Adam Vs the Man is now a Youtube broadcast, making him little more than a video blogger. Check out this ‘broadcast’ of Adam Vs The Man where he talks about breaking off a chunk of a dead Iraqi’s skull to bring home as a war trophy for his girlfriend. He titled the episode “I don’t support the troops.”
Adam Kokesh is a celebrity in his own mind, who moves from one scam to the next sucking people in and making a living off of their generosity. He admitted after losing the endorsement fight in New Mexico that he had to keep campaigning to keep accepting donations, which were his only source of income at the time. He rationalized that with no problem.
The Libertarian Party of Minnesota would do well to make it known that Adam Kokesh is not their poster boy, or they run the risk of minimizing their already tenuous image among mainstream Minnesotans.