DEFENDING AMERICA
BY DAVID H. HACKWORTH
12 September 2000

GROUND "WILD BILL" BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE

Bill Clinton didn't write the script for the movie "Wag The Dog." But the commander in chief sure learned a thing or two from the flick about a president who -- in trouble over a young girl -- hires a Hollywood producer to create a fake war as a diversion from his sins.

Bill's first "WTD" operation was executed in 1998 -- as Monica-gate was peaking -- when he flung missiles costing a half-billion bucks at what turned out to be a vitamin factory in Sudan and an old CIA camp in Afghanistan.

Take that, terrorist Osama bin Laden. Don't you mess with us!

Bill flexed America's military muscles before a nation that suddenly found itself focused on terrorists and missiles instead of blue dresses, cigars and congressional inquisitors.

Since "WTD" worked so well, in 1999, when Clinton once again found himself in deep poo -- this time over his playing fast and loose with Red China -- he quickly launched "WTD" II against Serbia.

Militarily, the op was a bust. Our air power knocked out a few tanks at a cost of a billion bucks a tank, then NATO and the U.S. Air Force declared they'd won the first war in history that used only air power.

Bill scored from the phony war, too. "WTD" delivered once again as his troubles went south at the expense of the millions of Yugoslavians who were savaged in Kosovo and Serbia.

Now he's ordered "WTD" III, a two-Wag-in-one op: the deployment of Patriot missiles to Israel, supposedly to save the Israelis from Saddam Hussein's Scuds; and the dispatch of Delta Force warriors to Bosnia to grab war criminal Radovan Karadzic.

Of course, as with all Bill's "WTD" ops, there are a few problems with reality:

1. Israel didn't know it needed saving. Its prime minister clearly stated that there was no need to send U.S. Scudbusters. Then there were snafus. The Patriot unit rushed there at great taxpayer expense wasn't combat-ready and must now be replaced by a unit from Germany. But there's another hang-up. That unit won't be good to go because it doesn't have the intelligence gear to do the job -- the supersecret stuff they need is in the States and isn't exactly mobile.

2. If Patriot units from Germany are sent to Israel, our 80,000-strong Army Corps there won't have the right air-defense protection from enemy missiles. And if the Pentagon claims there's no real threat, then why are we still in Germany -- especially since the Cold War is long over? If these units were returned to the United States, we could save about $50 billion a year, which could go a long way toward solving problems for our not-combat-ready military.

3. Our Delta Force snatch-and-grab unit is America's best. Already deployed in Europe, they know Karadzic's every move, including how many sheets of toilet paper the very paranoid former Bosnian Serb leader uses. But Karadzic knows they're coming, and his thugs might fight back just as Mohammed Aidid's gang did in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1993 -- when 18 of our warriors were killed and more than 100 wounded.

Just like "WTD" I and II, there's no military necessity for "WTD" III. It's all about:

* Legacy. Capturing Karadzic will give Clinton -- in his desperate need-for-glory mind-set -- at least one feather in his cap after eight years of military misadventures gone awry.

* Votes. Defending Israel with Scudbusters could swing a lot of Jewish-American votes to Gore/Lieberman and Hillary.

* Readiness. Scooping up Karadzic and deploying missiles -- even if they don't work -- could smear egg on Dubya and Cheney over their charges that our military readiness is shot.

It's common inside-the-Pentagon knowledge that when President Nixon was under Watergate siege, the Pentagon was told not to execute his war orders.

Now that Bill's "WTD" game is so apparent, Congress should take a long, hard look at his self-serving behavior with our military and consider setting up similar restrictions. It's time our elected representatives did their duty and took the keys to the Pentagon away from this desperate lame duck. His track record leaves no doubt that he, like Nixon, is far too dangerous to leave behind the military wheel.