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Not much peace or good will is going down in many countries where our
peacekeepers are deployed this Christmas season.
Last week in Kosovo, a terrorist land mine blew Special Forces Sgt.
Joseph E. Suponcic to kingdom come.
The week before, Air Force Capt. Michael D. Geragosian and airmen
Travis Hall and Warren T. Willis were killed and 17 other airmen injured
when a major goof-up occurred as their C-130 aircraft tried to land at
Al Jaber airfield in Kuwait.
Geragosian, Hall, Willis and the 83 other passengers were being flown
a short distance on what the troops describe as a “taxi” flight to avoid
precisely what took Green Beret Suponcic’s life — a ground terrorist
The Air Force brass move their personnel around Kuwait almost
exclusively by aircraft rather than using ground transport — even if,
as in this case, it’s only a 30-minute bus ride from one base to the
Since the 1996 Khobar Towers terrorist attack killed 19 airmen, the
brass have made zero-casualties a top priority. But force protection
revved up to the max has become a major frustration to our warriors.
Around the globe, it’s the tail wagging our military dog. A
field-grade officer in Kuwait says, “We’re developing an over-reactive
force-protection policy here, and common sense has been thrown out the
This is equally true at almost every U.S. overseas base.
A pilot in Saudi Arabia says, “The Air Force’s top guys are so
worried, they’ve gone overboard and treat our airmen like Girl Scouts.
They’ve absolutely forgotten we are, in fact, armed forces more than
capable of defending ourselves.”
Now, because of overzealous force protection, three airmen are dead.
And it might have been worse. All 86 passengers and the eight-man crew
aboard the flight could have been killed during the attempted landing,
which drove two six-foot landing-gear struts into the passenger
Here we are, the most powerful nation in the world, the sole
surviving superpower, and around the globe our military folks are
hunkered down like inmates in maximum-security prisons. In dozens of
other overseas hot spots, our soldiers live in virtual barbwire-enclosed
fortresses and call themselves POPs — prisoners of peace.
Our warriors from Bosnia to East Timor wear their helmets and flak
jackets almost everywhere except in the shower. A senior officer who
recently returned from Kuwait says, “Just before I left that dirty
little needless war with Iraq that Clinton’s trying to keep a secret, I
warned that someday we’d kill people in order to save them. And now
we’ve done it.”
It will only get worse. Not only for our warriors, but also for American
The State Department just issued a warning that American civilians
traveling abroad are in great danger. The last seven years of
wrongheaded military missions and dumb statements such as the recent
threat by Clinton that “Russia would pay a heavy price” over the war in
Chechnya have upset a lot of folks around the globe. For sure, they’re
all busy out there figuring out how to get more than an eye for an eye.
As we celebrate the holidays, there are 67 wars grinding away, many
of them between Muslims and non-Muslims. The demise of the Cold War
brought the beginning of the end to multi-ethnic and
multi-civilizational states as we know them; these breakups are fueling
the horrific fires now raging in Russia, Yugoslavia, Indonesia and
If the United States doesn’t have significant national interests at
stake, there’s no other reason to place our soldiers in or near these
infernos. Despite the best of our intentions, we can only expect more
casualties — regardless of how careful our commanders are — if we
continue to play World Policeman.
The 2000 presidential primaries and election have got to revolve
around more than a pop quiz on foreign leaders’ names. For instance, the
candidates must be very clear about the conditions under which American
soldiers and sailors should be dispatched to foreign shores. The
ultimate force protection is: Don’t send our warriors on harebrained
We should demand well-considered strategies that put an end to any
more warriors dying in vain in places like the Gulf, Bosnia and Kosovo
from the sort of military failures and disasters we’ve witnessed this