DEFENDING AMERICA
David H. Hackworth
March 5,1996

CLINTON BET'TER HEAR THE DRUMBEAT

During the past four years, Bill Clinton's performance as commander in chief of the United States armed forces has been as unsound and dangerous as skipping through a Bosnian minefield.

As a Vietnam War protester he wrote, "No government really rooted in limited parliamentary democracy should have the power to make its citizens fight and kill and die in a war they may oppose, a war which even possibly may be wrong, a war which, in any case, does not involve immediately the peace and freedom of the nation."

In 1992, still in his 'I loathe the military" phase, Clinton cut the defense budget and tried to put gay soldiers in the foxhole.

But in 1993, when his anti-military stance and pro-gays-in-the-military gig had sunk him to the bottom of the polls, Clinton got the message and did a sharp about-face. Once his war protest signs were burned, he scurried to add $11 billion to the defense budget, and he scuttled the gays, whose money had helped get him into the White House.

As soon as he'd kicked off his "I love the military" campaign, Clinton started visiting bases and ships, wearing military hats and jackets, snapping Boy Scout salutes and uttering frequent homilies about "looking after our fine soldiers."

He got so carried away by his warrior chieftain role that he sent a Hunter-Killer force to Somalia, which ended up in total disaster -45 American dead and 175 wounded. Then he bugged out exactly as we did in Vietnam, the very war he so actively opposed.

In 1994 an I-hate-soldiers presidential aide snubbed a general, and the public promptly clobbered Clinton. He quickly compensated by whipping a fourth star on his soon-to-be jogging mate and public relations prop, Gen. Barry McCaffrey, and continued his heavy courting of the armed forces by giving the Pentagon a $25 billion bonus.

Next, he stuck U.S. forces in another rat hole, Haiti, an operation that has cost one American life and billions of dollars. The debacle unwinds this week with the U.S. pullout. In anticipation, crime, killings and mob rule have already returned to the streets of Haiti, and Clinton's gunboat-installed voodoo government is totally dysfunctional.

In 1995 Clinton caved into a GOP defense bill that porked up the Pentagon with $9 billion more defense dollars than requested! He also placed our forces in Bosnia on a mission that's sure to end up a nasty mixture of Vietnam, Somalia and Haiti, once again costing us both casualties and billions of dollars.

By 1996 Clinton had elevated Gen. McCaffrey to drug czar and used him as a Charlie McCarthy TV prop during his State of the Union speech. He continues to suck up to the troops, who call him"CandyBar6" for bringing 5,000 chocolate bars to Bosnia, when all they wanted was a mission that is not futile.

After Army Sgt. Donald Dugan was killed by a mine in Bosnia, Clinton rushed to get on the tube to spin that he'd "told" the American people about the dangers of land mines. His aides had to put on the brakes until Dugan's next of kin were notified.

"Why is my dad dead, and what are we doing in Bosnia?" was Dugan's daughter's response to Clinton's attempt at damage control.

Already in 1996, Clinton has gone bananas swapping presidential pork for votes. He's wasted billions of dollars for weapons and systems his own Pentagon doesn't want, such as the Seawolf submarine, the V-22 half-airplane/half-helicopter and more, such as the B-2 bomber and the C-17 transport plane, which, like the others, does two things well: costs heavy money and makes the porkers sing.

Buying votes has been around since Socrates, but by combining it with carefully targeted polling, Clinton has refined their purchase into an art-especially in California, where the overproduced C-17 and the B-2 mean thousands of jobs (read ballots) and, more important, 54 electoral votes.

Wrongheaded White House policies that endanger our warriors' lives and buy Systems that add nothing to America's national security must end. Bill Clinton must ask not what slick politicking can do for him, but what he can do for his country.