- Published: Friday, 19 December 2008 13:33
I sent this letter directly to the Commander of Lithuanian Special Forces
To: Aitvaras Commander
From: Michael Yon
The words I wrote about Lithuanian Special Forces were meant as the highest praise. Yet I understand that those words have been widely misinterpreted in Lithuania. One Lithuanian journalist contacted me saying that normally a gigantic story in Lithuania spawns around a 100 comments on their website, but that this one about my commentary on Lithuanian Special Forces has gotten well over 400 comments.
A number of U.S. military personal have reached out to me privately in defense of Lithuanian soldiers. My long time readers realize that my reference to LithSOF being a "weaponized version of Borat" was tongue-in-cheek. I did not realize that there are so many Lithuanian readers of my work, or how some might take offense to those four words, when the rest of the story was clearly very complimentary of LithSOF. And so I am writing this apology to Lithuanian readers and to you not to take pressure off of me from you; but to take pressure off of me from American soldiers who greatly respect the Lithuanian Special Forces. Our soldiers admire the courage and competency of Lithuanian soldiers, and their willingness to kill terrorists. And so our soldiers don't want four words from a writer to damage their relationship with your Special Forces. One key American officer contacted me this morning saying of you: "a leader and warrior any American would be proud to serve alongside under any circumstances."
A Lithuanian journalist contacted me and I was very clear that my words were meant as highest compliments (if tongue in cheek), but apparently that interview did not percolate as widely in Lithuania, if it was printed at all.
Sir, I think the real Borat here is me. It takes special "skill" to insult an entire country with only four words. I should have realized that certain types of journalists might take those comments and run with the opportunity to spin, yet I simply had no idea that apparently huge amounts of Lithuanians are reading my work.
And to those people, I say now, America respects Lithuania. American soldiers have only one complaint about Lithuanian soldiers: There are not enough of them!
Sir, please consider me -- an embarrassed American writer -- to be a friend of Lithuania who will be more precise with his words in the future. If I am not careful, I'll have to deal with American soldiers who energetically come to your defense.