11 July 2000


In 1992, American warriors were sent to Somalia to feed the poor. A few months later, "Wild Bill" Clinton took charge and changed the rules of the game from feeding to fighting. By 1993, American policy had become "shoot first, ask questions later."

Folks around the globe are wondering: Has the United States returned to its Wild West past where trouble was too often resolved from the mean end of a gun or a rope?

The world has plenty of reasons to ask. Since our aborted Somalian misadventure, U.S. bombs were dropped in Bosnia and Croatia and continue nonstop over what's become our permanent bombing range, Iraq.

Then there was the futile "peaceful" invasion of Haiti, followed by the 1994, near-nuclear high-noon in Korea. I was at ground zero there at the time and almost witnessed my first atomic fireball. No wonder the two Korean presidents are as much into unification as squirrels are into acorns -- togetherness beats glowing for 250,000 years.

And, of course, there's the aspirin factory in Sudan that missiles disappeared by mistake. And the Afghan camp built to train CIA-sponsored Freedom Fighters that went up in smoke -- from missiles that missed their intended terrorist target, Osama bin Laden.

For a former peacenik, "Wild Bill" has slapped a powerful lot of leather during the past eight years. Apparently, there's nothing more dangerous than a former flower child with his hand on the trigger of the world's most awesome military arsenal.

His record also proves that "Wild Bill" and his ABC gang -- war-hawk sidekicks Albright, Berger and Cohen -- share a much different opinion about the military solution than they did 30 years ago, when they were young, idealistic and oh-so anti-war.

Now, Amnesty International wants to sock Clinton, Tony Blair, Gerhard Schroeder and the rest of NATO's leaders into the slammer for war crimes committed during last year's 78-day NATO bombing campaign of Serbia.

Amnesty wants to do unto "Wild Bill" and fellow gunslingers like Nuremberg did unto Hitler's shooters.

They rightly say that churches, hospitals, bridges and roads packed with civilians, and TV stations, are not military targets. And that using CBUs -- baseball-sized bomblets that have a high dud rate and cause horrible casualties to civilians, especially children who pick them up thinking they're a toy -- constitutes a war crime.

For sure, a trial would tell present and future world leaders that the military solution used recklessly isn't morally OK even if they see themselves as good folks with the purest of intentions.

A Nuremberg-type trial for the world to witness would also send the lesson to world leaders -- present and future -- that the military solution no longer works. Not only does the military hammer seldom resolve conflict anymore, it's gotten too destructive.

Once long ago, circa year 1000, wars were mainly fought on sunny hills and open plains, between the principal combatants. Warriors slashed and hacked away until one side won. But then gunpowder and industry came along, causing war to move from intermittent, contained mayhem to more frequent, and bigger, worldwide violence.

But a thousand years after the Magyars raided Constantinople, huge cities such as London, Berlin and Tokyo -- filled with civilians -- had become the battlefield. During World War II, whole countries were being reduced to rubble.

Following that global holocaust, conflict between the Soviets and the West morphed into MAD -- Mutually Assured Destruction. MAD was as mad as it gets -- total insanity. At the end of the day, it wasn't supposed to matter that nobody less the cockroaches would be around to watch the victory parade.

Today, with silos bristling with enough weapons to destroy this planet a hundred times over, highly educated and supposedly civilized scientists and engineers are busy making even more apocalyptic weapons. Smart horror devices to lase, spray, fire or release destruction capable of zapping more human beings in an hour than have been killed in all the world's wars put together.

Even though war has proven very profitable for big business and just peachy keen for certain American politicians, we need another way to resolve conflict. Because these days after a fight, there are no longer any winners.

So let the trial begin. It might just keep planet Earth around for another hundred years.