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So far the country, and NATO, are acting on the premise that the situation in the Balkans is threatening the whole region, Europe and parts of the middle East, i.e. Turkey vis-a-vis Greece.

There seems to be unity that military action should be taken, hence the 19 members of NATO signing on to what's clearly, to me at least, a U.S. led action, because, to me at least, the European nations are incapable of getting their act together to stop what's going on with Milosevic.

The only other unity I'm seeing is that NATO is unified, to date at least, in professing not to want to send in ground troops, despite the idea that air power alone hasn't been enough to win without troops on foot to secure the ground.

Air alone doesn't seem to be achieving the goal of protecting the ethnic Albanians of Kosovar who are bearing the brunt of either the reprisals for the bombing or Milosevic's plan to cleans Yugoslavia of these people.

I never met an Albanian I didn't like, or a Ruandan, either, for that matter. Of course, I never met any of these folks. Nor come to think of it, a Vietnamese when we were getting into that war. Nor a Korean. Nor a Japanese or a German. Or a Russian during the cold war.

We always seem to be fighting against, or fighting to protect, or ignoring, people I never heard of at the time, much less met.

Usually our political leaders tell us we must engage in this fight because it's so important to us and the world. FDR was leaning that way, towards intervening in Europe, what with Lend-Lease and all, because he apparently had Hitler pegged for what we now all know he was, a maniac bent on overturning Europe. Milosevic's immediate goal may be to cleanse Yugoslavia of non-Serbs, but in doing so he's creating a refugee problem that's causing consternation with the neighboring states of Albania and Macedonia. And he's throwing out hundreds of thousands of people innocent of anything except being Muslim Albanians. This latter point reminds some of us too much of the Holocaust to encourage us to stand by and do nothing.

Do we have enough of a threat to our national interest to warrant our, I mean U.S. troops, fighting and dying on the ground in Yugoslavia. If humanitarian violations alone are driving us then why didn't we intervene in Ruanda, Africa, where we saw the reports and pictures and refugees of that slaughter.

I don't think the Administration has laid out the case well enough.

Pres. Clinton said the other day at that statement to the newspaper editors in San Francisco that he spoke to the troops and their families and he had one negative comment and overwhelming sentiment in favor of accomplishing the current Allied Force mission. Since he was reporting what the troops and their families were saying, and I would expect them to have been briefed so they knew what they were doing, and were predisposed to support an action they felt they understood, I didn't have any problem accepting the president's report, despite his other credibility problems.

I also think the country remains of the usual three states of mind when it comes to these things: for, against, and see me later I'm still thinking about it.

Unless and until Milosevic sinks the fleet at Pearl Harbor in a Sunday dawn sneak attack, I think this is the way it's going to be for awhile.

In the meantime, I'm not surprised to see the contrasting views strongly expressed. After all it's a free country.

Meanwhile, let's keep trying to clarify the reasons why we take the positions we do; that makes for a worthwhile discussion.

I'd feel a lot better about this thing if the argument I've suggested as being important, the stability of Europe being in America's direct interest, were endorsed by the nations of Europe.

Shouldn't they be begging us to support their ground troops with our air power, or am I, or they, missing something?

-rs



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