DEFENDING AMERICA
David H. Hackworth
October 31, 1995

JUST SAY NO

Retired Col. Larry Joyce and his wife, Gall, will never forgive Bill Clinton for his decision to resort to the military solution in the Somalia fiasco that took their son Casey's life.

Casey died on Oct. 3, 1993, along with 17 other warriors, while on a mission to snatch Somali Gen. Mohammed Aidid's henchmen.

Pictures of our dead soldiers being dragged through the streets caused the America people to demand that our forces be pulled out. The people well knew that the 45 mainly young men who died there died in vain, and the $2 billion spent there disappeared down a rat hole.

Somalia is once again a runaway casualty list, with brother killing brother in a tragic civil war that won't go away. So much was lost and nothing gained when Clinton confused humanitarian aid with war fighting.

My son Ben is just 18 -- dying age. As the Joyces loved their Casey, I love Ben. They had great hopes for Casey, and I have great hopes for Ben. Perhaps, one day, Ben will make this unforgiving planet more forgiving. Perhaps, I pray, one day he'll influence humankind to find some way to resolve its differences other than blowing each other up.

Now Clinton -- who like so many of our shakers and movers now in Congress and the administration was a stalwart peacenik in the 1960s, only to morph into a superhawk in the 1990s -- wants to stick our kids into another war in which the United States has no vital interests other than saving NATO from a long over- due obituary. He wants to uphold his pledge to send Americans to keep peace in a land which, like Somalia, is not ready for peace.

Clinton is not going to stuff Ben into a body bag and then, as he did with Casey, lie about how he got there. I'll follow Clinton's example and send Ben to London to demonstrate with foreign antiwar protesters against a president's policies. I'll do whatever it takes to keep him alive. Mr. Clinton, Ben Hackworth ain't going to help you find a way out of the mess you've made!

I never wanted Ben to be a soldier because soldiering is a hard, dangerous and lonely life. But if an enemy threatened our country, I would want him to join up, and I would fight alongside him, just as Hackworth fathers and sons have done ever since we helped free this land from the British long ago.

Congress is doing its usual theater about whether to send troops to the Bosnian killing fields, saying things like "Sending U.S. peacekeepers is dumb." But when it comes to the final vote, Congress will cave in, even though Bosnia hasn't one damn thing to do with America's security.

Unless stopped, Congress will send our loved ones to die at the hands of extremists on all three sides in that hate-driven civil war and to be blown sky-high by the million and a half mines that litter that war-torn land.

And count on it, not one U.S. lawmaker will have a grunt son there who will be in harm's way. Nor will Chelsea, like her dad before her, ever suffer a foxhole, a rucksack or an enemy shot.

A well-placed Republican says, "Here's the Republican game plan: Gingrich and Dole, after much grand-standing, will let Clinton commit troops to Bosnia, and when things go to hell in 1996, they'll lead the charge to beat him up."

Do I think this is the straight skinny? Having lived through decades of Tonkin Gulf shams, Vietnam deceptions and lies about what happened in Latin America, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Watergate and Contra Irangate, I believe most professional politicians will do anything to increase or hang on to their power, and that includes filling body bags with American youth.

Every concerned citizen must ask, Would I give my life to stop the Bosnian civil war? If the answer is no, then ask, Should my Ben, should the Bens and Caseys and their sisters who live next door or across town give their lives to police a civil war that can never be stopped by outside force7

Hey, it's your country, your kids and mine. It's up to you and me to tell Clinton and Congress to smarten up!