DEFENDING AMERICA
David H. Hackworth
January 31, 1995

DON'T FALL FOR THE SMOKE AND MIRRORS

While the citizens of our nation are glued to the tube watching O.J. and company's sick/slick performance in what promises to be the longest dope opera in U.S. history, America quietly sinks deeper into the Bosnian swamp. Some cynics say since O.J. lost his Hertz-hustling contract on a bloody LA pathway, he's been working for the Military Industrial Congressional Complex (MICC), and the trial is a giant smoke screen to distract us from noticing the creeping U.S. involvement in ex-Yugoslavia.

If the media were focused on anything but the O.J. trash and trivia burlesque of U.S. law, they'd have picked up that USAF air controllers are deployed on the Bosnian killing fields with laser guidance systems ready to direct NATO air strikes against the Serbs. The fact that these "peacekeepers" are wearing UN blue helmets to hide their NATO identity wouldn't have escaped an alert press corps, as it certainly hasn't their Serbian targets.

Nor would the press have failed to report to our couch potato citizens that the concealed U.S. taxpayer cost of the war (not including a billion-dollar-plus-a-year UN contribution for that mess) has already reached almost another $1 billion-a-year. This tab for U.S. air cover, air drops, naval blockade, ground Task Force Headquarters and rip-off high rent for Special Forces air and logistic bases in Italy and Croatia, will soar even higher as our commitment widens.

Another hardly noticed step into the swamp is the appointment of former Gulf War commanders British Lt. General Rupert Smith and retired U.S. General Frederick Franks as, respectively, commander of the UN troops in Bosnia and military advisor to the Muslim-Croat federation.

Smith replaced British Lt. Gen. Michael Rose, who, taking great pains to insure UN neutrality, was frequently at war with the NATO brass because he banned their bombers from Bosnia. Smith may well reverse Rose's wise reticence to use NATO air strikes in an attempt to bomb the Serbs into stopping the war.

General Franks' advisory role to the Croat/Muslim military alliance is the wild card that could drag us much deeper into the muck, because advisors are like cancer: they always start small, multiply rapidly and before you can say "body bag," they need strong injections of U.S. combat power to save the patient and themselves.

Vietnam started with 254 advisors in 1954, and by 1965 our effort had grown to 35,000 advisors. By then, the fat was in the fire, and the only way to save the Saigon government -- and of course, the advisors -- was to commit U.S. regular troops. We began with a few Marines; three years later, a half million Americans were hunting "Cong" and being hunted by Hanoi's relentless revolutionaries.

The reason advisors' strength grows so quickly is because the MICC, once it has its general in place, insists the host government be sold U.S. gear. With complicated aircraft, armored vehicles and artillery pieces, sergeants and captains are needed to advise on how the stuff works. Soon these small cogs are supervised by bigger cogs. Then bigger wheels are added to fatten the bureaucracy and recite their "We are winning" chants to visiting firemen.

Come spring, Carter's peace will melt like snow on a hot cannon, and the fighting will start with gusto. Without Rose, we can expect the bombs to fall, even though air strikes will surely fail to convince the Serbs, just as they failed to persuade the WWII Germans and Japanese, the Korean and Vietnam Reds or even Saddam Hussein's fast runners.

Predictably, our advisers will be shot at by both the Serbs and Muslims. The Serbs will gun them down because they've taken sides, while the Muslims will zap them on the sly and finger the Serbs. Eventually, regular troops will be called in to bail them out.

The solution: get the tube/media off O.J. and back on Bosnia; check out the Vietnam War classics from the library; then raise informed hell with our politicians, most of whom, like the Baby Boomer twins, Bill and Newt, dodged the draft during Vietnam. We must stop them from allowing the MICC to replay the Vietnam War -- the worse tragedy in recent American history.