Rufmord is character assassination. My good friend Sebastian Gorka has become its latest target. Sometimes the media assassins also enjoy sniping at his wife, Katharine. Since this formidable lady has been swatting at cyber hacks most successfully on social media, I shall focus on her rather restrained husband. I am only sorry I had to wait so long before speaking up because certain crucial facts from Dr. Gorka’s life have been made public only recently. I was not at liberty to divulge them.
There are several charges against Seb.
The most serious one is that he allegedly lacks credentials and experience to serve as Deputy Assistant to the President of the United States Donald Trump and that he sports “Nazi sympathies.” That is complete bunk. Dr. Gorka actually has had a stellar, sustained track record in national security and military affairs for over 25 years. However, because the target of the Rufmord campaign worked for a long time in such type of vineyards where discretion is a must, there is precious little about his accomplishments outside of primary sources and eye witnesses, most of them sworn to secrecy. Suffice it to say that already in college in the UK, he was affiliated with the British military intelligence. Afterwards, Seb handled sensitive information and worked in confidential matters. In other words, he was involved in national security.
As for academic credentials, Sebastian Gorka earned his BA at the University of London and his Ph.D. at Corvinus University in Budapest. He also held fellowships at NATO Defense College in Rome (1997) and Harvard (1998). He co-founded and/or headed a number of think tanks and policy outfits, including The Council on Emerging National Security Affairs, The Center for Euro-Atlantic Integration and Democracy, The Institute for Transitional Democracy and International Security, Threat Knowledge Group, and The Westminster Institute. He also worked for the RAND Corporation.
Further, focusing on irregular warfare and counterterrorism, Dr. Gorka has taught in a number of specialized schools focusing on national security and military affairs. Those included George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany; United States Special Operations Command Joint Operations University, MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, FL; National Defense University, Fort McNair, Washington, DC; Marine Corps University Foundation; and Georgetown University.
In 2005 Sebastian Gorka first became acquainted with The Institute of World Politics: A Graduate School of International Relations and National Security, Washington, DC. He taught for us as an adjunct for several years, before coming on board as full time faculty last year. It was at IWP that Dr. Gorka had an opportunity to become involved with the Boston Marathon Bombing case. I know because I likewise chimed in on the Tsernaev Brothers at the time. Rather than l’art pour l’art of mindless punditry of talking heads, this was intended for America’s protectors in the intelligence services. The nature of our school facilitates permanent, interactive links to the intelligence community. I mention this because Sebastian’s detractors have doubted the account of his involvement.
Also at IWP, Dr. Gorka dealt with the global jihadi threat to the West. However, instead of producing a scholarly monograph (of the sonorous kind with a gazzillion footnotes I specialize in), he published a popular volume on this burning topic which became a bestseller: Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War. To put his point across, the author decided to pursue a non-academic format because we live in a democratic country. In a democracy the people ultimately decide policy. Dr. Gorka has passionately argued for years for a decisive and comprehensive showdown against the global jihadi terrorists. Hence, the objective was to persuade the persuadable – the American people – and not the politically correct and incestuously hermetic foreign policy elites in DC. Apparently, the author has succeeded. That also explains why Dr. Gorka agreed to become a national security editor for the populist Breitbart.
At IWP we teach the art of strategic communications. In electoral politics Breitbart carries more weight than Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs, and many other expert periodicals on international relations (perhaps also because most of them wax lyrical about “global security”, instead of focusing on national security which tends to be much more near and dear to the heart of the American people). Incidentally, before hooking up with Breitbart, Seb contributed for over a decade to prestigious Jane’s Intelligence Review from the early 1990s to the early 2000s. Did anyone notice outside of the esoteric circle of experts and friends? Exactly.
In addition to all the above, after 1989 Sebastian Gorka volunteered to assist in protecting freedom in newly liberated Hungary. He worked at the Ministry of Defense for the staunchly anti-Communist prime minister József Antall Jr., the nation’s first freely elected leader following decades of Soviet occupation. A passionate transatlaticist, Dr. Gorka’s duties included paving the way for Hungary’s admission to NATO. Of course, discretion was a must. However, when matters of principle were at the stake, my intrepid friend lifted up his visor and stepped up.
First, in the wake of 9/11 he championed America’s anti-terrorist cause for the Hungarian media in a stellar tour de force of public diplomacy and Western unity. Second, Dr. Gorka risked his career to unmask Hungary’s post-Communist prime minister Péter Medgyessy as a pre-1989 Communist secret police agent. Unvetted and unremorseful, Medgyessy disingenuously claimed that he had neither spied nor harmed anyone, a standard default position for the likes of him throughout the old Soviet bloc. Seb helped unleash forces which ultimately swept post-Communism away in Hungary a few years later. And when he disagreed with the direction the new government was taking, he moved away and became a US citizen.
So much for an alleged lack of credentials and experience of Dr. Gorka. Now for accusations of “Nazi sympathies”. You know that you have arrived when the scribal assassins resort to the reductio ad Hitlerum historionics against you. They are not bothered by the general rule that if one descends to name calling and, in particular, to invoking Hitler, one has already lost an argument.
What prompted the historionics?
Seb has been publicly wearing with pride the Order of Vitéz (Vitézi Rend). For him, this is a sentimental symbol on several levels. First, the Order was awarded to his late father Pal (Paul) Gorka by the Hungarian émigré authorities in 1979. Coming from a conservative Catholic milieu, Gorka senior opposed both the Nazis and Communists. After 1945 he became involved with the British intelligence and organized a youth group preparing ground for Hungary’s liberation. He was caught, tortured, and sentenced to death. This was commuted to life at hard labor. During the Hungarian Rising of 1956, the anti-Communist insurgents broke into his prison and liberated Pal. He fought against the Soviets and then fled to the West with a teenage girl he would shortly marry: Seb’s mother. The Order of Vitéz is practically the only recognition Pal ever received for his gallantry and perseverance. It would be churlish if his son failed to cherish it.
Further, the Order of Vitéz, is not just a decoration, it is an actual order of chivalry. It is based upon the medieval paradigm of chivalric orders, like the Knights of Malta. The Order of Vitéz was established in 1920 after the Hungarian patriots (with some outside help) triumphed over the short lived Soviet Hungarian Republic of Bela Kun. Having vanquished the Bolsheviks, the newly elected regent of Hungary, Vice-Admiral Miklós Horthy de Nagybánya, devised a land distribution program to benefit Hungarian military veterans. Those who served the nation well and acquitted themselves gallantly on the battlefield were awarded farms. And they were invited to join the Order of Vitéz. The Order remained a prominent reservoir of Christian conservatism and patriotism in the interwar period and afterwards. However, during the Second World War, it experienced internal splits with some members opposing Nazi Germany. Since that was the position of the Gorka family (and people like József Antall Sr., who was a Righteous Gentile), there should be no reason why either Pal should refuse the distinction or Seb to continue the tradition.
Finally, Sebastian Gorka appreciates the Order of Vitéz because of his family’s background. The Górkas are medieval Polish nobility of Wielkopolska. In 1848 some of them traveled to help their Hungarian brothers to fight for freedom during the Hungarian Insurrection at the time of The Spring of Nations. A few stayed behind and became Magyarized. But they never forgot that “vitéz” (witeź in Polish) means an intrepid knight. And that Seb is. QED. #CyberhatepurveyorsofRufmord beware.
Dr. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz is the Kościuszko Chair at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, D.C. where he conducts research on East Central Europe and Russia. His expert areas include History, Democracy Building, Communism, American Foreign Policy and International Relations. His most recent book, “Intermarium: The Land Between the Black and Baltic Seas”, was published in 2012 by Transaction Publishers.