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I understand TOMDGIMP's argument, and the vehemence behind it, but it raises additional questions.

Okay, you seem to take the position that we don't put American lives at risk unless the American way of life is directly threatened if we don't. That's fine as far as it goes, but it's not always easy to say when a threat is direct enough to make the difference in risking or not risking American lives.

We weren't exactly attacked in Vietnam. Our involvement there is usually explained as being to halt Communism and display our readiness to fight it to preserve our credibility around the world.

Is this a direct threat or an indirect threat we were responding to?

The next question is "Who decides?"

Robert McNamara's account of Vietnam, in which he apologized for his role, claiming, in hindsight that it was a mistake (now, after we lost 58,000, thank you) says that his generation, the World War Two veterans had a different view of the world than the generation of young, long-haired, dope-smoking, acid-rocking Hippies that we all remember so well. The WWIIers believed in upholding America'a word, i.e. credibility. The hippies said "bullsh*t!" to that.

Here we are saying stop the ethnic cleansing, and now our credibility is again at stake. So what do we do.

The answer to "Who decides?" is the President, atop his pyramid of generals and State Department people, and the rest of the cabinet, the party leaders, and our allies, such as NATO.

And we decide too, because he does read the polls. At least, he'd better. What else is he going to do, call up you and me? Like, "Hey, Bob, this is Bill; you think we should go to war or not? What does Tom think?" Better he should read the polls.

If too many of us are against it, we don't go. We're there.
And gearing up further.

Let me ask you this, TDG, don't we put American lives at risk when we send policeman (and firemen) into life-threatening situations daily?

Aren't we really saying that the value of public safety justifies the loss of life of these public safety officers?
Public safety, collective security, aren't these pretty much related concepts?

When we put together NATO, didn't we agree to protect the member nations if any were attacked? Was that going to help us? Any time an ally is attacked, don't we regard our national interests as being sufficiently at stake to go to war? Is that direct or indirect?

Okay, the Balkans is different. Not an ally, not a treaty member. This is really different.

But look where it is. Fire in the Balkans is like fires in your hometown. We send in the firefighters to put it out before it spreads across town.

Can we afford to leave a fire burning in Europe's basement? Don't we have a lot at stake in Europe? Isn't that why we've kept about five divisions in Europe at great expense for the last half-century and more? It's been very expensive fighting in Europe, rebuilding it, and staffing it for that long with peacekeepers. We must have thought there was a good reason for it. It took two world wars for Europe to unite into the "European Community." The hope is to prevent further big wars like that. Are we going to let the feuding Balkans threaten Europe as it stands today? I don't think we want to allow that to happen.

Europe is a bulwark against Russia, the perennial wild-card. Even former satellite countries like Poland and Hungary are in NATO. You want something to worry about, worry about wounded Russian pride.


Clinton, last night, said we couldn't afford to let Milosevic run wild. You may disagree with him, and a lot of people do, not without some reason, but that's what he said. He's made a helluva value judgment for us and the crows will be awhile in coming home to roost, but they will.

Is he justified? Will the country, by and large, support him? Those are two separate questions. I dunno the answers, but its clear he's counting on the support and is going to drum up as much as he can.

Interesting how little he, Clinton, actually appears in public to flog the issue. As though he's letting CNN do the talking for him via the videos of the refugees. Maybe he figures the less said by him the less the opponents to the war can pin it on his character or behavioral baggage. FDR had baggage of his own, but was smart enough, and the press was cooperative enough, that it didn't become really public until close to a half-century after the man died. What a difference in the way we are.

Stay calm folks, and give yourselves a chance to think. I get worked up myself and love to shoot the verbal gatling. Better when I take a deep breath and say if we do it this way, what happens next.

Problem is you can't always tell.

Great quote I saw the other day, attributed to LBJ, which goes something like this:

"Doing the right thing is easy. It's knowing what's right that's hard."

Guess that's why we pay the big bucks to guys who want to be president, so they can tell us what's right.

Hey, someone's got to do it.

Like maybe you wanted Jimmy Swaggart to do it?

Hell, sometimes Clinton reminds me of Jimmy Swaggart.

C'est la guerre.

-rs



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