DEFENDING AMERICA
David H. Hackworth
October 3, 1995

WE MUST NOT PROVIDE FODDER FOR THE BOSNIAN CANNONS

In August 1993, untested Commander-in-Chief Clinton changed the U.S. mission in Somalia from feeding to fighting. He simultaneously made another gross error by pledging to send American troops to Bosnia to enforce a peace agreement if all sides in that insane civil war put away their guns.

Clinton's inexperience got a lot of fine young men into a horrible hurt in Somalia -- 45 U.S. dead and scores more mutilated -- and has potentially set up a Vietnam-scale disaster in Bosnia if the United States deploys its combat troops there.

Should Clinton cave in on his promise to European leaders to dispatch U.S. warriors to become moving targets on a Firing range that never closes, the Comeback Kid is sure to be KO'd just before his '96 rematch.

If he deploys forces into a land that has been a body disposal for centuries, bags filled with ground-up American grunts will stress the morgues worse than this year's Chicago heat wave.

Now, our lawmakers in Congress must put America before the Democrat and Republican parties and bail Clinton out of the hole he's dug himself. In that body of legislators, there are veterans of many of the disasters caused by presidents and their teams of "experts" who pay no mind to history or consequences and keep sticking young men into the killing fields of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, Grenada and Somalia.

These vets -- many who saw these bloody mistakes from the bunkers of Capitol Hill and many more who felt them firsthand from an unforgiving foxhole -- should never forget what they've witnessed and should pass a binding resolution that prohibits spending any money for combat troops deployed to Bosnia.

That three-way civil war -- past, present or simmering, with a temporary lull in the fighting -- has zilch to do with the national security of the United States of America.

Clinton will protest that this action interferes with his presidential war-making powers and that as the leader of NATO he cannot walk away from his responsibilities. Congress must respond that he blew his war-making privileges in Somalia and that NATO's mission is as dead as the defenders of the Alamo.

America has been saving Europe for most of this century -- 1917 to 1918, 1942 to 1945, and from 1946 until today -- at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded American warriors and trillions of Yankee dollars. Perhaps, in the splendor of the tax-supported White House, Clinton hasn't noticed dollars are in short supply.

Until Somalia, the president probably thought foreign relations were his Mississippi cousins across the Arkansas border. He needs to be told NATO's been irrelevant since the Berlin Wall collapsed and that Europe is now composed of big boys and girls collectively richer than we are, who can well defend their national interests.

NATO currently plans to dispatch 60,000 ground-pounders to Bosnia. NATO will tap the good or dumb USA for 25,000 grunts, the French and Brits for 15,000 each, and more from other countries.

But hey, folks, Bosnia is not our backyard, and our dog is not in that fight or that peacekeeping mission. Contrary to the big-bang display of failed U.S. air power there last month, we, the U.S. taxpayers, should not be throwing billions more into the black hole of Bosnia (a Pentagon source says our Bosnian war tab now stands at over $4 billion) when parts of this country are fast becoming Third World have-nots.

Sure we should help if the peace process ever stops the genocide -- which I doubt will happen given the 1,000-year killing record between the Bosnian Hatfields and McCoys.

We can do this by staying at arm's length and providing transport aircraft and medical, logistical and humanitarian aid. And we can also provide experts to help resettle the tens of thousands of ethnically cleansed former Yugoslavians.

But we should not provide one grunt or one tank or one helicopter crew, or shed one drop of American blood or one tear over our dead sons and daughters.

Perhaps Congress, which has been trying desperately to prove to all of us that it indeed has vision, courage, and integrity, will finally stand tall and at last do its duty.