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“I want to see some action. It’s payback time,” said Sgt. Alexander
Aguilastratt, 24, from Miami. “The thing that makes me really mad is
that Serb units were behaving like they were returning war heroes. They
got their a– kicked.” He added, “When we see the leader of the Tigers
Brigade saying that, if Americans bring troops to Kosovo, it will be
another Vietnam, all we got to say is ‘bring it on.'”
The above excerpt
came from the June 18 online edition of the London Times, describing the
sentiments of some of the U.S. Marines from the 1st Division that have
been sent to enforce the peace in Kosovo. I can’t tell you how saddened
I was when I read this and other comments being made by U.S. Marines and
other American forces that have been sent to take part in yet another
dubious “peacekeeping” effort, compliments of the Clinton
administration. I can only hope that whomever is anointed with the Oval
Office in 2000 has the foresight and wisdom to get our military forces
out of regions like Bosnia and Kosovo before they become, in essence,
fortified zones on the caliber of North and South Korea. We’ll need the
next eight years to rebuild our forces after the decimation they have
suffered at the hands of the corrupt Clinton regime.
As a former naval reserve corpsman combat trained by the Marine Corps, I
have no illusions that the U.S.M.C. is very capable of stifling any
resistance they may encounter in Kosovo, be it from Serb army regulars
or KLA narco-terrorists refusing to give up their guns. What saddens me
is that our troops seem to have gone beyond the neutrality required to
be peacekeeping forces, and instead see their role in Yugoslavia as
something more than what it is. This is worrisome, because despite what
you may think about Serb forces, KLA forces in many cases are no better.
Anyway, this conflict isn’t now, nor was it ever, our fight to begin
Consequently, looking for “payback” signifies to me that both the U.S.
government and U.S. commanders on the ground have done a dangerous thing
in this civil conflict — they’ve taken a side. Not a smart thing to do
when you’re supposed to be bringing peace to all factions in the region.
Also not a smart thing to do after taking sides in the civil conflicts
of Korea and Vietnam.
I now wonder: has the Clinton administration successfully turned the
entire U.S. military into a force designed for retribution instead of a
force designed to protect and defend the United States? If that’s the
case, it’s no wonder the Founding Fathers feared a standing army.
Obviously they were afraid some future corrupt U.S. administration could
eventually turn any standing military force into something like what it
is today — well-armed policemen and paid political mercenaries to be
used against anyone, foreign and domestic.
My “hitch” in the reserves, which began during the last days of the Bush
administration, was enjoyable, rewarding, and fulfilling. Even though I
was a “swabbie” in a Marine Corps world — which had its risks — I was
able to learn to appreciate the Marine Corps and was more than willing
to “put it on the line” for the Marines in any platoon where I was
assigned. Those, however, were the end of the “good ol’ days” — before
military training turned more towards awkward and ambivalent
“peacekeeping” and away from good old fashioned combat training.
Perhaps our troops today don’t remember, but there have been plenty of
other political reprobates in the past with powerful militaries and axes
to grind. In many cases, their military misadventures were launched
because they convinced their people and their armies that it was
“payback time” for somebody who didn’t deserve it. Troops, eager to
please the boss, eagerly went forth and executed their missions
flawlessly, which led to years of conflict and much unnecessary death
God in Heaven, I don’t want to see that happen to our military.
At the outset of our involvement in World War II, it could easily be
said that, yes, we “owed some payback” to the Japanese for what they did
to us, but we’re not talking about a surprise attack on Sunday morning
against one of our largest naval facilities. Today, we’re not talking
about defending ourselves against an aggressor. We’re talking about
recrimination against Yugoslavian army soldiers who were doing what they
were ordered to do, and who never threatened the U.S. even once while
Thinking that we need to “payback” the Serbs is not only morally wrong
but it’s a slippery slope we don’t want to negotiate. If we apply the
logic the Clinton administration used in Yugoslavia to the rest of the
world, well, there are plenty of other regimes that need to be “paid
back” as well. Are we going to attack all of them too?
Then there are the regimes in the world who feel the United States ought
to be “paid back” for one thing or another. We may not see it that way,
but you can bet your jackboots they do.
What our gung-ho troops don’t understand is that perception is
nine-tenths of reality. Though they may feel the Serbs are at fault in
Yugoslavia, the Serb soldiers, for the most part, are convinced they
were acting in Yugoslavia’s national interests, which is more than I can
say for NATO and the U.S. Serb soldiers were attempting to rein in a
rebellious Yugoslav province.
You can forget the mainstream media ranting about “mass graves,” “Serb
reprisals,” and “ethnic cleansing,” because the ethnic Albanians have
done, and continue to do, the very same things Serbs have been accused
The point is, Serbs believe they were in the right. The KLA believes it
is in the right, and now, U.S. Marines and other “peacekeeping” forces
believe they are in the right. There cannot be three “right” sides in
this conflict; somebody has to be “wrong.” But whom? That depends on
which uniform you’re wearing.
With so much ambiguity regarding right and wrong, it cannot be
appropriate for U.S. forces to land in Kosovo with the feeling that they
somehow “owe” one warring faction more pain and suffering while ignoring
the other. Regardless of how “right” we think we are, before all of this
is over in Kosovo there will a number of different factions who disagree
with us. They will take their disagreements out on our forces.
“Payback” is not an appropriate reason for warmaking.