DEFENDING AMERICA
David H. Hackworth
November 7, 1995

HOW TO AVOID THE BOSNIAN MINEFIELDS

"Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government." -- Hugo Black, Supreme Court Justice, 1971.

Remember the 1960s? Millions of Americans using people power to get our country out of an insane war; the demonstrations that exploded throughout this land; the weekly casualty lists of mostly 19-year-olds from mainly blue-collar families, families without connections, standing by, helpless, numb, as their sons were fed into the LBJ/Nixon death machine; and the chant outside the White House: 'Hey, hey, LBJ, how many did you kill today?'

It took almost a decade for this flower-powered revolution to get the word to the politicians that the American people wanted out of Vietnam. Sadly, this was after 60,000 American youngsters had lost their lives.

Hundreds of thousands more were downed by shot and stress, wounds that would never go away in a lifetime, especially in the dark of night when the horror show could run without interruption. Ten insane years where no participant on the battlefield or at the protest rallies would ever be the same again.

Nor would this nation, which was ripped asunder, recover easily from the apocalypse. Nor would the Vietnamese, whose land and people were pummeled by three times the bomb tonnage dropped in all of World War II.

Finally, in 1975, Congress ended the bloodbath by cutting the war machine's money flow. No money, no bombs, bombers nor any more American cannon fodder for body bags. Shutting off the money ended the Vietnam civil war. And, contrary to White House propaganda. no dominoes fell.

There are lessons to be learned from the Vietnam War. One is, Don't get involved in someone else's civil war. Another is, The people must be informed of all the facts and must fully support the war before their sons and daughters are committed.

The media failed America during the Vietnam War. They gave us only bang-bang, shoot 'em up stuff, war stories about who screwed up and what went wrong. We saw the blood drip from the tube every evening, but we were seldom told the higher truth that it was both a bad war and a fight that didn't involve America's vital interests.

In the former Yugoslavia, the American media, especially television, have failed us again. The main- stream news is Vietnam garbage recycled. Few in the Fourth Estate have risen above the fray to sort out what's really going on and to challenge the lies of Clinton, his war makers and the three jackbooted combatants.

Most Americans are confused about what has gone down in the Balkans. With O.J., they know all. With former Yugoslavia, they know next to zilch. Generally, the media has painted the Serbs as the black hats, the Muslims as victims and the Croats as the American Pal.

The media have failed to tell the people that all three sides are mass murdering thugs and that the three leaders are Hitler clones who would have sat in the front row at the Nuremberg trials.

Cynics say the American press will never do its duty and inform the citizenry, as it has too many vested business and political interests and too many IOUs owed to the power brokers who determine the wars our children fight.

Here's how to stop American ground troops from going to Bosnia -- an action no general or soldier I have talked to favors:

· Demand the media cut the O.J. stuff and cover the Balkan story more completely and honestly.

· Arrest Alija Izetbegovic of Bosnia, Franjo Tudman of Croatia and Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia, and put the three presidents in a U.S. prison until they can be shipped to The Hague for trial. They, like the Nazi leaders who were hanged after World War II, are war criminals. They designed and directed a Yugoslavian holocaust that has cost a quarter of a million lives, created 3 million refugees and destroyed their once-shared homeland.

· Insist Congress amend the 1996 defense authorization bill to cut off all military funding if one American grunt places one boot on Bosnian soil to secure an impossible peace.

Unless we act now, next year's sad chant outside the now-barricaded White House will be, 'Bill, Bill, what's your latest lie? Tell us how many more will die?"