Col. David H. Hackworth, author of "Steel My Soldiers' Hearts," "Price of Honor" and "About Face," saw duty or reported as a sailor, soldier and military correspondent in nearly a dozen wars and conflicts -- from the end of World War II to the fights against international terrorism.More ↓Less ↑
For a peace-loving nation, we sure have a lot of wars going on. Let’s
see: there’s the war that never ended with North Korea. And our
long-running war with Iraq. Then there’s the war against super-terrorist
Osama bin Laden. And now we’ve got our new war with Serbia.
Meanwhile, Clinton just keeps playing games with the truth. While he
was saying he didn’t “intend” to put troops on the ground in Serbia the
Pentagon started slipping more troops into Europe and Macedonia, where
one of our Army battalions, minus its tanks, is already dug in not far
from where the bombs are bursting.
The President sure has a way with words — “is” isn’t “is,” “sex”
isn’t “sex,” and now “intend” really means “Welcome to Yugoslavia.”
No question that the folks who make the million-dollar missiles and
other war paraphernalia are smiling all the way to the bank. But those
who do the dying are stretched to the breaking point. And the President,
Congress and our hawkish national security “experts” seem oblivious to
the true — near-cardiac arrest — condition of our armed forces. My bet
is that American troops will soon be stuck in the Serbian mud and
dodging hostile fire unless a bomb takes out Slobodan Milosevic. The
record of America’s military involvement shows that boots always follow
bombs. Remember Vietnam?
Congress doesn’t have a clue about what’s going on. Few have served
in the armed forces. Nor do any have sons or daughters patrolling the
dangerous Korean DMZ. None have loved ones tracking down terrorists or
flying through flack over Iraq or Serbia either. All “support our troops
all the way” and are right behind them. Yeah, way right behind
them. Secretary Madeleine Albright’s attitude is: What are the troops
grousing about? They’re regulars! That’s their job! What would they be
doing if they were not off on dangerous missions?
Most citizens are either confused about the purpose of our latest war
or have swallowed the misinformation put out by Clinton’s spin machine
or just plain don’t care.
Too many folks have disconnected. Few seem aware that America’s
acting like ancient Rome, locking us into life-and-death military
commitments in dozens of places that have nothing to do with our
national security. Many citizens also don’t seem to be concerned that
the sword that was designed to protect them is being blunted in
operations that have nothing to do with their defense or, for that
matter, our Founding Father’s position on foreign entanglements.
The average American doesn’t seem to understand that if you fight
everywhere you win nowhere, and that every military operation must have
an end game and an objective.
Veterans, those that are presently serving and all of their families
understand this criterion. But the majority of Americans just shrug and
seem more interested in finessing the Y2K bug or sweating the stock
market as it closes on 10,000.
An Army sergeant, a lifer as they’re known in the trade, recently
told me, “After 14 years in the Army, I don’t have much hope left. We’re
looked upon as mercenaries. Kind of like the Roman Legion. Clinton
screws up and lowlifes like myself and my comrades have to do the
This same attitude existed during the early stages of the Vietnam
War. When our troops first deployed they were all regulars, volunteers
just like our forces are today. So long as the body bags were filled
with only “lowlifes,” the nation did not become outraged over LBJ
getting us stuck into a civil war that had nothing to do with our
It was only after the draft kicked in big that the protests were
heard. Only after the banker, the doctor and the other folks who live on
the plush side of the tracks started losing their sons did the question
of “What are we doing here?” become a roar that finally brought down an
If draftees were in the ranks today, I can assure you that Clinton’s
enthusiasm for the military solution would be much like his attitude was
towards that war: “Don’t go. It doesn’t involve our national security.”
Bringing back the draft might be the only way to temper Clinton’s