David H. Hackworth
February 23, 1999
THOSE THAT DO THE DYING SOUND OFF ABOUT KOSOVO
Thirty years ago, President Clinton, National Security Adviser Sandy Berger and Secretary of Defense William Cohen seldom missed a war protest rally. When they were young and vulnerable to the killing fields of Vietnam, they just happened to be big time anti-war movers and shakers.
Now all three have morphed into high-profile members of the "Bomb 'em back to the Stone Age" club as they strong-arm the Serbs and Kosovors to the peace table.
In 1972, that's exactly what Nixon and Kissinger tried and failed to do in Vietnam. Remember Linebacker I and II and the bombs falling by the freight-train load? Remember how, when the bombing didn't work, those two hawks scrambled to settle for "peace with honor?" And how, in the end, there was no peace and no honor - and almost 400,000 U.S. casualties? Unless they've lost a screw somewhere, people who fight wars don't want anything to do with war. Those that haven't, like Sandy and the two Bills, are too often hot to trot whether war makes sense or not.
Since none of these born-again war mongers will be risking their own lives in the skies over Serbia or in the mud of Kosovo, I thought I'd ask some real warriors, those who'll do the dying or have already endured the insanity of battle, for their thoughts on the Clintonian Solution to Kosovo.
* An infantry sergeant: "They're amateurs playing with real bullets...Good people will get killed again for bad policy."
* A fighter pilot: "Our country is on a collision course with disaster. Congress, as usual, is rolling over and ducking their responsibilities. What ever happened to the War Powers Act?"
* A Navy CPO: "The Balkans have been a powder keg for a thousand years. If Clinton hadn't spent the '60s avoiding war, maybe he would have learned from the mistakes we made in Vietnam."
* An Army engineer: "Who will tell the mothers and fathers of those who are killed in action? Bet your boots it won't be those who order us there, but we who wear the uniform, we who bear the scars of battle."
* An Army colonel: "That place is not about freedom and independence....it's about hatred that oozes out of blood-caked dirt. We have no business sending American troops into that ethnic hornet's nest."
* A Navy commander: "We'll be going against well trained Serbian forces. Thirty-Two German divisions couldn't do it ( in World War II ). When our boys come home in body bags, what will the war enthusiasts tell the nation?"
* A Vietnam vet: "You can't occupy an unwilling country, nor change their hearts and minds with napalm and explosives. Think about it. Did the Germans win over France? Did we win over the Vietnamese?"
* An Air Force colonel: "Air power won't hack it over Serbia. We've bombed Iraq for eight years and they're still standing. And they're pussycats compared to the Serbian tigers."
* An Army sergeant: "We've forgotten the main lesson from Vietnam: Never get involved in another country's civil war."
* A Special Forces colonel: "Sun Tzu taught: 'Know your enemy.' We failed this lesson in Vietnam and now are repeating the same mistake in Kosovo."
* A former Army woman soldier: "Sending U.S. troops into Kosovo is a disaster. Aside from having no business there, we stand to lose much and gain nothing."
* An Air Force captain: "I don't mind dying for my country, but I'll be damned if I want to die as part of Clinton's New World Order."
* A Navy pilot: "It'll be a slugfest in rotten terrain, with serial killers much like the Russians faced in Afghanistan. This isn't a peace mission, it's a kamikaze raid!"
* An Army major: "Has anyone thought out an exit strategy? Is it open-ended like the mess in Bosnia? If it is, then say so up front and level with the American people who'll have to station troops there for decades as we've done in the Sinai."
Congress should talk to our warriors, past and present. They make a lot more sense then all the mumbo jumbo coming out of Washington. Maybe it's because they've been there and done that -- the hard way.