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Hey, I support the American Legion too, but only in my prayers. They're entitled to take any position they want; they make a good point, that we should have a better this and do a better that, but they're only one component of the American political process, and they have to compete with the rest of the voices.

Who gets to decide?

The president, naturally. That's what his job is all about, deciding among competing interests as to what we do as a nation.

Here, he's done what he's done. The American Legion doesn't like it. There are things about it I don't like either, like bombing allied embassies with uncanny accuracy.

However, the A.L. doesn't have a monopoly on political virtue. Respected views, certainly. Extra weight? Maybe. Monopoly? No.

I wonder what their position would have been if, say Ronald Reagan intervened in the Balkans, or John Wayne, if he had endorsed it, or someone like Ollie North, who appears on tv as a talking head these days.

The Powell (Colin) doctrine, if I recall it correctly, says we don't fight unless we have the support of the American people, go in big time to win, have a military objective capable of being achieved, and a way to get out so we don't stagnate overseas. Sounds good. I don't think we followed it this time around. Perhaps on the theory we can smash Milosevic and get out any time we want. Maybe yes, maybe not. So here we are. What do we do now?



PS. Presidents have a long history of getting us into stuff, sometimes for good reason, sometimes for what may have been a pretext, such as the Tonkin Gulf resolutions, a response to an imaginary attack on American warships off China/Vietnam around 1964. That was LBJ's contribution. Presidents typically send troops first and ask for Congressional approval after it's too late to say no. Teddy Roosevelt did something like that. He sent the U.S. Navy halfway around the world without enough funding to pay for the fuel to get the ships back. The Great White Fleet,it was called. I guess they painted the ships white in those days. At any rate, his position was, I sent them, let Congress pay to get them back. Congress did, of course.

Today the president has a 90 day grace period when sending troops abroad to fight. We're in about the 60th day of the Balkan war. Then he has to ask for Congressional support. With any luck, this thing'll be over by then. On the other hand, maybe it won't, and then the A.L. is apt to have a lot of support for its views.

Patience, again.

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