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For whom the bell tolls

Posted By David Hackworth On 07/30/1999 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled

Maybe you didn’t get the word that two American soldiers died in
Kosovo last week. The media were so busy bludgeoning the nation with
JFK Jr.’s sad story that none of the major networks bothered to report
on the deaths of these two Army grunts. Brokaw, Jennings and Rather and
the 24-hour news channels were all too busy wailing over past and
present Kennedy misfortunes, which — more than incidentally kicked up
TV rating numbers and brought in big bucks.

Thousands of newspapers around the nation also joined the mourning.
But few carried even a mention of the names of the two soldiers who died
in Kosovo, let alone told their stories.

These two soldiers were not Kennedy famous, so they didn’t rate much
media time. They were just plain grunts from ordinary American families
with the bad luck to be on patrol when their armored vehicle rolled
over. They were G.I. Joes, not much different from the tens of
thousands of American soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen deployed
around the world as the spearhead of “The Clinton Doctrine.” Like JFK
Jr., our two dead warriors had loved ones, hopes, dreams and
aspirations. But unlike Kennedy, they died doing their duty while
trying to bring peace to a province ripped asunder by 600 years of civil
strife.

Sherwood Brim and William Wright have now joined David Gibbs, Kevin
Reichert and Anthony Gilman, soldiers who also recently died in the
Balkans. Let’s not forget any of them or the scores of other service
men and women who’ve paid the supreme price just since 1993, when “The
Clinton Doctrine” received its baptism by fire and 18 American warriors
were killed in the streets of Mogadishu.

Since then, more than 100 uniformed guardians of this country have
died while on global duty executing Madeleine Albright’s “indispensable
nation” strategy. But you seldom hear about these deaths unless the
catastrophe is so big it can’t be hidden or ignored — like the shootout
in Somalia or the U.S. Air Force hotel bombing in Saudi Arabia.

We take for granted the grave dangers our warriors face in places
like Bosnia, Colombia, Haiti, Kuwait and now Kosovo, where, as I write
this, soldiers are at maximum alert for terrorist rockets, ambushes and
incoming hand grenades. Perhaps the reason so many Americans and the
majority of our media are so cavalier regarding these dangers is because
those serving are all volunteers from other towns, other neighborhoods,
other families. Perhaps the attitude expressed by Albright prevails
among most citizens who don’t have loved ones securing the new American
Empire — that if they get hurt, so what, they’re Regulars, they signed
up for it.

Maybe we should go back to the draft. Get back to sharing the pain
between the rich and the poor, the black, the brown and the white. In
Vietnam, once the upper classes started dying side by side with those at
the bottom, that bad war suddenly became every U.S. citizen’s concern,
not just the poor’s.

Had JFK Jr. bought it in that armored vehicle in the killing fields
of Kosovo instead of while winging off to the Cape for a weekend of
wedding fun, the media and certainly the powerful Kennedy family would
be asking some hard questions.

You can bet your 401K that if an Albright, a Gore, a Bush or a Gates
were blown apart in one of Clinton’s global villages, these questions
would be asked: “Why are we trying to police the world? Why are so many
of our soldiers put at such high risks? Why are so many body bags being
filled with our youth when our national security isn’t involved? Why is
Clinton still trying to fix all the problems in the world on our
warriors’ backs when those being ‘saved’ want Yankee to go home?”

On the seventh day of the media extravaganza on JFK Jr.’s death, an
Army recon plane went down over Colombia. All five missing soldiers are
presumed dead. Again, this story got little press coverage.

If we had a draftee Army again, the bell would not toll just for our
royalty, but for every American in this land of the free and the equal.

Bet you a buck, it would toll a lot less frequently, too.


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