DEFENDING AMERICA
David H. Hackworth
November 28, 1995

IS BOSNIA WORTH DYING FOR?

Beginning this week, the send- 'em-to-fight gang in the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon -- Secretary of Defense William Perry and Gen. John Shalikashvili -- and all the seedy, greedy arms makers will go into overtime and overdrive, stretching truths and twisting facts to convince us Bosnia is worth dying for.

So get ready for the relentless hype as they breathlessly play their go-to-Bosnia commercial during the next few weeks as though it's this year's hit Christmas carol.

Of course, as has been the case on every killing field since Vietnam, it won't be their daughters and sons who will do the dying.

Superhawk Madeleine Albright, our ambassador to the United Nations who couldn't tell a hellhole from a golf hole, sings the same tune as much of the rest of the Clinton choir:

America has a regular military establishment. We pay them to go to places like Bosnia. So what if a few of these professionals lose their lives? You can't get hamburgers without killing a few cows. Why else do we sacrifice our tax dollars to support them? Taking chances comes when they put on a uniform. What do they expect, to just sit around, draw good money and never do anything except retire after 20 cushy years ? They'll go where we send them, like it or not!

To set the record straight, the purpose of the U.S. military is to protect our national security and vital interests. Our soldiers aren't firemen to be used whenever an alarm bell rings; nor robocops to be used as international policemen; nor paid Foreign Legionnaires to be flung into hot spots.

U.S. soldiers joined up to defend our Constitution and our country. They are America's hope, kids amazingly like your sons and daughters and grandchildren, not suicide troops to use and lose. They must be employed judiciously,

Bosnia is not a U.S. vital interest. It's not worth the life of a single young American.

The hawks insist: America's leadership is at stake.

Damn right it is! But not over Bosnia or any of the other two score wars going on around the world. Our leadership is in trouble right here at home. Clinton should eyeball the capital's ghettos right outside his front window rather than lamenting over the 250,000 Balkan dead or 2 million refugees.

In the last 43 months, while ex-Yugoslavia played the genocide game, we have taken that many dead and wounded from gunshot wounds within our inner cities, most of which need rebuilding as badly as downtown Sarajevo!

And if you count all the homeless people on our streets, we easily beat the Balkan refugee count caused by the various ethnic cleansings.

NA TO will have a stroke if we don't join them in the fight in their back- yard.

Good riddance. When the Berlin wall came tumbling down, NATO became history. Since then, it's been an organization looking for a mission, a tripwire to suck us into more of Europe's fights.

Most Europeans don't want us there, and if NATO survives, its only purpose will be to further line the pockets of the weapons merchants.

The Balkans war will spread if we don't jump in.

BS. Remember Vietnam's domino theory bunk? Yugoslavia has been torn apart by a three-way civil war. Cross-border invasions rarely boil out of a civil war. The Balkans won't cause World War III but will be an American running sore if we get stuck in there.

Our forces can do the job in the Balkans.

They can if they stay 10 years, not in the one year that Clinton is promoting, and we must be prepared to pay a high price in casualties and national treasure.

Our soldiers will be sitting targets. We bombed the Serbs, and some of their diehards will strike back, doing an eye-for-an-eye. They'll have other reasons, too, as Clinton plans to arm and train their enemy, the Bosnian government. Shades of Vietnam and Lebanon!

Congress will hold Bosnia hearings in the next few weeks. It would be smart to ask Robert McNamara and some of the 3 million vets, from Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia for their views before creating a new generation of disabled veterans.