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Unnatural Disaster

Why America Has Already Lost the Serbian War

Orson Scott Card

I am not anti-war. I know there are times when wars must be fought. There have been just wars. There are some wars I think we should have fought and didn't.

And as a Latter-day Saint, the issue becomes even more pointed -- and ambiguous. The Book of Mormon and LDS history are thick with examples of wars fought and wars avoided, and both have been counted as righteousness, depending always on the righteous motivation of the people and their leaders.

Speaking as both an American and a Latter-day Saint, I believe that in Serbia we have embarked on a course of action that will have only negative consequences for America and for the world at large. I also believe that this war marks the beginning of the kind of unrighteous and prideful warfare that has led to the destruction of nations, as scripture and history both show. The United States of America is full of itself as the world's "only great power." We have forgotten that there is only one "great power" -- God -- and nations that fancy them-selves great and act out of hubris will be abandoned by God and humbled by what inevitably follows.

*

I remember very clearly the beginning of the Vietnam War. The American people supported it for many years. And why? Because no one on Earth should have to suffer under Communist rule, we believed. We couldn't free those who were already in bondage. But we could prevent another conquest.

Or could we? The long sad course of that war has been the study of many historians more learned and better acquainted with the facts than I. Since I did not serve there, I can say nothing from direct experience. But I was aware and alert, and I formed my own impressions of how we came to lose that war.

I believe that, at the root, we lost because we were never asked to win. I don't speak here of military strategy, or even of diplomacy. I speak of our national character, our collective will. It was young people who were the battering ram of opposition to the war -- those only a few years older than me. Why did so many young men and women not behave as the youth of our parents' generation did in World War II, and again in Korea?

I believe it was because not one of the presidents during the Vietnam War gave us the chance to join together in a common national effort. Instead, thinking us to be selfish children and fearing public opinion polls, they endeavored to give us a painless war. No rationing. No gearing up of industry to focus on a war effort. No attempt to make us single of mind and heart.

So those soldiers who went off to fight went off, in effect, alone. They suffered hardship, loneliness, terror, and the imminence of death and killing -- knowing, through it all, that back home people were dancing and partying, going to school, making money, living completely ordinary lives.

And what of those of us still at home, who knew we were potential soldiers? We saw the same lack of national will and concern, and mingled with our fear of being drafted and facing death was an even deeper fear: that if we died, it would mean nothing, no one would notice, they would go about their lives untouched. They would turn from the late news to Johnny Carson. They would flip past the front page death statistics and read Peanuts and Ann Landers.

If there is one thing youth demands, with its romantic heart, it is significance. We wanted the war to matter, if we were to fight it. If it did not matter, then why should even one of us die?

The reason a guns-and-butter policy does not work is because the men who carry the guns -- the young, romantic men -- are sustained through fear and horror by a knowledge that they are the saviors of their people. And when they are not given that honor, when their people scarcely notice they are fighting, they can hardly be expected to be willing to give their lives.

Now we are walking down the same road -- a war run by fools, with the pretense that it isn't really a war at all. We are not being united in a noble cause. We are not required to join together in sacrifice. Those who are not in the army will buy and sell, work and play as always, noticing the war only between ads on the nightly news. Right now, the huma-nitarian excuse for the war makes it sustainable. It is only a matter of time until the bitterness sets in, and this time worse than before.

For this war is not just a repeat of Vietnam. It is not merely doomed to fail. It is also the beginning of our self-destruction as a nation. And this is why:

1. This war is illegal. We have attacked Serbia in defiance of international law and custom. When we entered the Vietnam conflict, we were invited by South Vietnam, a sovereign nation, to help defend its borders. But there is no nation of Kosovo. Instead, there is a nation of Yugoslavia, and within it a state of Serbia, of which Kosovo has for generations been a part. Kosovar rebels have been in revolt for some years, and Yugoslavia's response has been brutal. But under international law, the right of a nation to suppress rebellion within its borders has long been recognized. We insist upon that right ourselves. But by interven-ing militarily in an internal conflict within the nation of Yugoslavia, we have declared that the concept of sovereignty no longer applies.

And what is our pretext? We know that the Serbs have allowed their lunatic nationalist fringe to run amok. We watched, doing nothing, while Serbia invaded the sovereign nation of Bosnia and slaughtered unarmed civilians, and we were, rightly, ashamed of our government for its dithering while innocents were slain. So this time, we are trying to make up for our previous inaction. We are hoping to draw a line and say, we did nothing in Bosnia, we did nothing in Rwanda, but by heaven we will stand for no more!

In other words, our motive, as a people, is noble and humanitarian, just as it was in Vietnam, as it was in the Gulf War. But our pure motive does not change the fact that laws matter, and may not lightly be struck down.

What will we do when China declares that it must wage a humani-tarian war to free the common people of Taiwan from the domina-tion of cruel capitalists who exploit their labor and pretend that the ordinary people are "free"? We have set the precedent -- war may be waged on a sovereign state by claiming a humanitarian interest in a portion of the people who live within it.

And to those who say we needed to strike against Serbia as we should have struck against Hitler, it is worth remembering that our illegal assault on Serbia, far from preventing geno-cidal ethnic cleansing, spurred it on. And when Serbia did the same thing and worse only a few years ago in Bosnia, the same leaders who now tell us how nobly they are "saving" Kosovo did nothing at all. We cannot wipe away the illegality of our actions by citing the very moti-vations that did not bring us into legal wars only a few years before.

2. Our war policy is hypocritical. There is just as much oppression and suffering in Tibet, and has been for generations, as there was in Kosovo before our interven-tion. But we do not intervene there or even speak an unkind word, for China is a big and powerful nation with which we wish to do business.

The people of Portuguese Timor have been hideously mistreated at the hands of the Indonesian government, but our foreign policy has been to promote stability of a pro-American government in Indonesia and ignore the suffering of the Timorese.

The Catholics of Northern Ireland were oppressed and mistreated under the Protestant government there, but we have steadfastly supported Britain in its suppression of their revolt. The British are much nicer about it than the Serbs. But it is plain that we have a double standard: We will intervene in protection of a rebel province in the name of humanitar-ianism -- but only if our opponent is not our longtime friend, and is very small, and is not an important trading partner, and can be success-fully demonized in our press.

3. This war is stupidly led. I keep hearing how brilliant President Clinton is, but in his handling of foreign policy -- indeed, in every-thing except manipulating public opinion -- I have seen not even the faintest spark of intelligence, or any sign of understanding of how international politics and conflict work. In this, Clinton is the opposite of George Bush. He also is Bush's imitator, but like a parrot, he imitates without any conception of why or how his predecessor waged a successful war.

Clinton thinks that, like Bush, he has built a winning coalition. Because to Clinton everything is about polls, he thinks that sharing the burden of war is something you do for domestic consumption. He misses the point entirely. There is no chance that George Bush would have embarked upon this Serbian venture without first securing the support of the people and govern-ment of the only nation that matters to it: Russia.

Bush would have begun by holding a summit with Yeltsin, would have let Yeltsin seem to take the lead in denouncing the actions of Milosevic and it would have seemed to all that our opposition to Serbian action was part of our new era of cooperation with Russia. By the time Clinton bothered to notice that he was not as popular in Russia as in the United States, it was far too late. The harm is done.

With the Russian people furious about NATO's action, Clinton has turned this "humanitarian" venture into a bipolar confrontation. Every bomb that drops makes the Russian people even more implacably anti-American, and that consequence of this war will far outlast whatever outcome the war has on the ground. The Russian people now see NATO as a belligerent that kills Slavs in defiance of Russian opposition. In the old days, the Russian people had hope in America. They were not our enemies. Now they are.

Worse, this gives fuel to the political ambitions of the worst sort of nationalist demagogues. We are begging for a Hitler to arise in Russia, lifted on his promise to defy NATO and restore Russian strength and greatness, to expunge the shame of Russian helplessness before the contemptuous behemoth of America. All this because Clinton is a fool, thinking no farther ahead than the next poll.

Aside from international politics, Clinton's stupidity extends to other fields. There is no chance that George Bush would have announced or even hinted that ground troops would never be used. That's exactly the stupid mistake that was made in Vietnam, when Johnson made it clear that there would never be an invasion of the North. When you tell the enemy that you will not use the only weapon that he fears, why should it be surprising that he laughs in your face? Milosevic knew going in that he would not lose this war, because even if the time comes when he must yield his position, without NATO ground troops the war will end with Milosevic in power -- and something of a hero to much of the world for having defied the United States.

Worst of all, Clinton was fully informed of this in advance by the Joint Chiefs, who laid out for him precisely the plan that would need to be followed in order to achieve any semblance of victory. Their plan followed long-proven military doctrine: When you decide to use force, use devastating force at once to eliminate the enemy's ability to make war. Milosevic would not have been able to conduct his "ethnic cleansing" of Kosovo because his entire power apparatus would have been reeling from crippling blows by the full might of the United States. Instead, Clinton rejected the effective and intelligent plan prepared by those who know something about war -- including the woeful cost of doing it badly -- and substituted for it the same kind of thinking that gave us the Bay of Pigs and the Johnson-led Vietnam War. And yet Clinton's willful stupidity remains virtually uncriticized in the media and in Congress.

As I write this, public opinion polls have shifted. The American people now understand that there is no victory without ground troops. But it is too late. If Clinton had left the threat of ground troops open at the start, they might never have been needed. If he had used them at the outset, they might be on their way home by now. But because he committed America's prestige and power without that threat, he vastly increased the probability that ground troops would actually have to fight a long, dangerous, bloody campaign in order to prevent a dangerous and humiliating loss of prestige and therefore of power in the world.

Following polls instead of leading them may be smart in poli-tics, but it is counterproductive in government and dangerously stupid in war. Clinton, the quint-essential figurehead, the unleading leader, had a responsibility to commit us only to wars that we should fight and could win, and to conduct them in such a way as to minimize longterm risk and maxi-mize benefit to the nation. Instead, because he does not under-stand war or international politics, at every step he did the opposite, merely giving the illusion of minimizing risk, because the illusion gave better poll numbers than the correct actions would have given.

In one sense he did minimize risk and maximize benefit -- the risk and benefit to William Clinton personally, and to no one else.

These are merely the most obvious examples of Clinton's utter incompetence as commander-in-chief. We have entrusted the might of the United States and the lives of our soldiers to a selfish fool who will waste both in a foreign adventure that saves no one. And his judgment will not improve. As things get worse and worse, he will become more and more like himself -- poll-driven, frightened, angry, and willing to sacrifice anyone or anything else in order to do what he thinks will benefit himself.

This is the man we chose because we believed the lie that "it's the economy, stupid." The economy is the thing over which the president has the least control. The one thing that he utterly controls is the foreign policy, including the military actions, of the United States. And we entrusted that responsibility to the second least qualified man to have won the nomination of a major party in my lifetime.

4. Our war leaders are cynical. At the time of the Gulf War, the American people rallied in support of a small country invaded by a large one. But in the years since then, that motive has been forgotten, and the common wisdom now has it that we intervened cynically, solely in order to protect our oil supply. In fact the global strategists did conclude that we had to protect our oil sources, and while that would hardly have served as a rallying cry to unite the people behind the war, it was a major contributing factor in our decision to risk American lives and take foreign ones.

But many people in the years since then have decried such cynicism. Therefore I wait -- in vain -- to hear those same voices declare the much greater cynicism of this war. For it is obvious that our government is using the humani-tarian excuse as a cover for the real reason why this president, who never cared about international affairs before, who sat idly by through horrible crimes in Bosnia, Rwanda, Tibet, and Timor, has now decided that, with far less humanitarian provocation prior to our interven-tion, we have passed the threshold that requires immediate military action.

That obvious reason is Monica and the impeachment. People are dying at our hands, and our own soldiers are at risk of death, because Bill Clinton is desperate to win a positive place in history. This man, who has shown himself the weakest and most selfish person ever to be president and the second most foolish and incompetent president in the history of our country, this man whose every footstep in the White House stains it and steals honor from it, this man has no qualms about killing people in other countries if it will serve the cause of his personal advancement.

We know this because he has done it before. To wit:

5. This is a duel between war criminals. Bill Clinton is the exact moral equivalent of Slobodan Milosevic. They differ only in the scale of their actions, and in the response of the American press. Milosevic allows or encourages -- and perhaps orders -- the demonizing and then killing of detested peoples in order to win the approval of his own people and cement his hold on power. We recognize that he has the blood of innocents on his hands.

We would recognize the same thing about Bill Clinton, if our press and politicians were not so grimly determined to sustain his presidency (or, in the case of Republicans, to avoid running afoul of those who bork anyone who opposes him).

Back when Monica was being deposed, Clinton's advisers suddenly discovered not only who committed the terrorist act of bombing our embassies in East Africa, but also that there was imminent danger of more attacks. Therefore, to prevent those attacks, we sent cruise missiles against terrorist camps in Afghanistan and against a chemical weapons factory in Sudan. The timing was pure coincidence.

Except that every part of that statement is a lie. Seymour Hersch documented it thoroughly in an article some months ago in The New Yorker, and no evidence has been produced to refute his account. Our government had no serious evidence that Abu Nidal had done the bombing. Even if they had, the targets in Afghanistan were so badly chosen that two of the camps turned out to be operated by Pakistani intelligence -- so that we caused loss of life among our allies. And the chemical weapons factory in Khartoum did not make weapons of any kind. It made medicine that supplied the needs of much of Africa. It wasn't even guarded.

There could not possibly be "compelling evidence" that there was an emergency, that we had to strike suddenly, on that very day that Monica's evidence was set to damage the president. When the information is false to begin with (and in the case of the "chemical weapons" factory, the evidence was obviously and ludicrously false, if anyone had bothered to confront it with the slightest skepticism), it is hard to claim there is an emergency so dire that that day was the only one that could possibly have been chosen.

And the clincher is that our attack was utterly ineffective -- as cruise missile attacks against terrorist camps will always and inevitably be ineffective, like trying to weed dandelions by throwing darts -- so if there had been an imminent terrorist action planned, then it should have gone forward without a hitch. And it did not. So there was none.

Some argue that the absence of terrorist acts "proves" that our bombing was effective. Just like the old joke about scaring away the elephants. There are no elephants here! See? It's working.

Bill Clinton, against the advice of his attorney general, without consultation with the Joint Chiefs, without a present emergency and without a declaration of war from Congress, launched a military attack against badly identified targets, causing loss of life and damage to property in sovereign countries which had not attacked us, and he did so at a moment when the only compelling reason for the attack was to distract the American public from coming revelations about Clinton's own lies and misdeeds. This all made Clinton appear to be "presidential."

People died for Bill Clinton's poll numbers. There is no other reasonable interpretation of those events. Of course, Clinton is in office today only because an astonishing number of American opinion leaders are willing to appear on television and in print, touting utterly unreasonable interpretations of Clinton's actions -- making Johnny Cochran's defense of O.J. Simpson look like an even-handed pursuit of truth.

These defenders of the indefensible have sacrificed their own integrity, step by step; but I find it unfathomable that they have been able to ignore illegal killings and indiscriminate bombings carried out by the armed forces of the United States at the orders of a chief executive whose only motive was to save his political future. The Oklahoma City bombers face the death penalty for identical acts, and various Serbians are under indictment for similar crimes. The only difference is in numbers of victims and in the fact that they did their dirty work with their own hands -- that and the fact that they didn't have the entire Democratic Party and the American press establishment grimly determined to help them avoid responsibility.

In the eyes of the Left -- which includes our "mainstream" media -- Clinton has been absolved in advance for all his sins. Apparently Martin Luther did not succeed in stopping the sale of indulgences. But at the risk of being called "judgmental," I must say that to this citizen, at least, these silent "leaders" have become accessories to war crimes after the fact.

The lesson is clear: America is a big bully. We can bomb anything and kill anyone and no one can hold us to account. The American people don't care as long as the victims are perceived as "towel-heads" and labeled as "terrorists."

Sadly, for America under its current leadership to condemn anybody for anything is ludicrous. And even if Milosevic is guilty of everything he is charged with -- and I think it's likely that he is -- for consistency's sake, shouldn't we be "forgiving" and "put this behind us"? After all, our president's perjury and adultery and bald-faced lies to the American people have been "forgiven" and "put behind us," and his war crimes have been utterly ignored. Why not give Milosevic the same break? His poll numbers in Serbia are high, too.

Until we Americans can clean up our own house, we are not fit to judge anyone else's.

6. We are harming the people we're supposed to help. At this moment, the beginning of May 1999, the only impartial evidence we have indicates that not only have our bombs and missiles failed to bring Serbia to heel, they have also provoked countermeasures that caused infinitely more suffering and loss of life and property to the Kosovars than they had ever suffered or were likely to suffer before our intervention. That in itself constitutes adequate proof of failure.

7. Success has been defined in terms impossible to achieve. Clinton has declared that our objec-tive now is to restore the Kosovars to their homes and establish them in a virtually independent state under international protection. The only way to achieve such an outcome would be to send ground troops to occupy Kosovo in its entirety and establish a buffer zone in Serbian territory sufficiently large to protect Kosovo against guerrilla incursions and artillery attacks. This will require a massive occupation at best and, more likely, a war that will continue for decades, for the Serbs have nothing to lose from continuing to attack the military forces occupying part of their territory.

The only way to end the war would be to conquer all of Serbia. But this would impose even greater costs: A larger army of occupation and the undying hostility of the Russian government and the Russian people. The presence of a conquer-ing American or NATO army occupying a sovereign state and installing a puppet government in a Slavic country is one that no Russian leader can tolerate and remain in office. The possibility of a wider war is not remote. The election of an anti-American nationalist demagogue would be certain.

In short, we cannot achieve the outcome Clinton has declared we want.

Where Are the Protestors?

In Chicago the other day I rode past a group of protestors in front of a hotel where, presumably, Al Gore or some other political luminary was staying. They carried signs urging the U.S. to stop killing Serbian children. It was obvious that these were people who believed that Serbia was innocent of all charges and the U.S. attack was utterly unjustified. They were not against war; they were not for justice; they were just for Serbia.

I am not for Serbia. I felt nothing but contempt for the hypocrisy of the protestors who clearly felt no pity for the Kosovar men, women, and children murdered by Serbian thugs working under the protection and probably the orders of Slobodan Milosevic.

I also felt contempt for the protestors who were not there. Why is Jane Fonda silent, for example? Where are all those middle-aged Americans who once marched against the Vietnam War? They demanded that we stop the bombing and bring the troops home in 1968. They called Johnson and Nixon war criminals. If that war was unjust in these protestors' eyes, where are they now, when we are not answering the plea of an invaded nation, when our own president really is a war crimi-nal, when our bombs have provoked our enemies to cause more harm to those we would protect than they had suffered before we intervened?

Those who once claimed to be the people's watchdogs are now lapdogs to another master.

We Have Already Lost

If the Serbs, for some reason, decide to negotiate and give Clinton what he wants -- or if the return of our captured soldiers is used as an excuse to claim victory and quit -- nothing can undo the damage that has been done. We cannot win, as victory has been defined. Nor is there any definition of victory that we can achieve, unless we redefine "victory" the way Clinton redefined "sex," "adultery," and "perjury."

Count on it, though: In such an event we will hear Clinton's toadies praise him for his victory and tell us how he has been redeemed in the eyes of history.

But in truth we have already lost. The Kosovars do not have homes to return to. The Russian people will never be our friends as they once could have been and wanted to be. We have shown the world how ineffective our military is, and how unreliable we are, coward and bully by turns. We have shown the world we have no honor and will not repudiate even a president who lies to us and commits war crimes in our name. And we live in a world now where international law has been replaced by a kind of useless altruism that strikes randomly and with paltry force, correcting relatively small injustices and letting monstrous ones go unnoticed.

America was a shining beacon to the world. It was also a fortress and a scourge to the enemies of freedom.

So, in ancient days, was Athens. Until, full of hubris and responding to the wish to be popular with a misguided multitude, the city used its might to cruelly punish the people of an island who had given them offense. The punishment far out-weighed the crime, in the eyes of some. To others, whether the victim deserved the punishment was irrelevant; the mere fact that Athens would use its power so flagrantly and with so little need was frightening.

The result was a league of nations in opposition to Athens. The result was the Peloponnesian War. The result was the fall of Athens, and while its cultural glory lingered for many years, politically it never ruled again.

Is Kosovo such a triggering event for us? Perhaps not. But since we seem likely to learn nothing during this time when we are hypnotized by the lies of that cobra, Clinton, we are ripe for more such missteps. Badly led, we "forgive" the leaders who are destroying our position in the world because, they tell us, they have made us rich.

How cheaply we are bought! The president has given us nothing -- the economy is a gift we give ourselves. But he has put his name on the gift tag: To the people, from Clinton. And so we thank him profusely as he robs our house of everything that made it a safe and lovely place to live.

The Church Is Not America

But in all my woe-saying, there is this to consider: The Mormon Church is not and never has been an American church. We got confused for a while and thought it was, but the Lord and his prophets have always known that we are perfectly capable of untying ourselves from any nation.

Furthermore, the land of promise in the Book of Mormon is not the United States. It's all of America, north and south. And if America is in the process of wrecking itself -- only the speed of the collapse remaining to be decided, it seems to me -- that only means that the Church must become less dependent on its American cradle.

For instance, when our bombing began in Serbia, the Russian people were so outraged that our missionaries were required to remain indoors as much as possible, and when on the street were forbidden to speak anything but Russian to each other in order to avoid provoking violence. In effect, missionary work stopped cold. Russia is not the first and will not be the last place where the American citizenship of most of our missionaries abroad is a serious barrier.

So ... why should we send Americans to Russia at all? Canada is not a solution -- Canadians tend to look and sound like Americans, and mobs don't care about fine points of citizenship when provoked by the sound of English and the sight of missionaries who look American.

But we have a vast pool of young missionary-age men and women in Latin America. Especially in Mexico and Brazil, where already they are meeting a large part of the need for missionaries in their own country. But since we can train Americans to speak Spanish or Portuguese and serve missions in those countries without much difficulty, why not use Mexicans and Brazilians to preach the gospel in Russia and other countries where Americans are suspect? I'm aware of no seething resentment of Mexicans in Russia. I've never heard of anti-Brazilian riots in Vietnam or China.

A Spanish- or Portuguese-speaker can learn Russian or Vietnamese as easily as an English-speaker can. All we lack right now is the teachers to staff the MTCs in Mexico and Brazil. But that problem is easily solved. With some missionaries already being called to three-year missions in certain areas, I'll bet there are plenty of American-born missionaries serving in Russia who could be persuaded, as a service to the Church, to spend several months learning Spanish or Portuguese as a third language -- learn it well enough to be able to teach Russian to Mexican and Brazilian missionaries until there are enough returned missionaries who are bilingual in Spanish and Russian or Portuguese and Russian to take over the teaching load.

In only a few years of transition, we could shift the entire burden of missionary work in Russia away from American-born missionaries. Then when America's corrupt and decadent government gets us into more trouble abroad, or when we try to get into countries where America is unloved, the Church's work of saving souls can go forward without a hitch.

Indeed, this is such an obvious thing to do that I would not be at all surprised to learn that it is already under way, and simply hasn't been announced.

As America becomes more and more unrighteous, it is imperative for the Church to become less and less American.

And if anyone detects in this a fulfilment of the common belief that the Lord has told us the Lamanites will build Zion, who am I to say they're wrong?

Righteous Soldiers in an Unrighteous War

Nevertheless, I am an American, and like most readers of Vigor, I must live with the consequences of American actions.

So let me make this clear:I do not think the soldiers who go to war in Kosovo and Serbia are unrighteous. They are serving their country, and their motive is to save a persecuted people from destruction. They are fighting nobly in a noble cause.

Likewise, the American people who support this war are not all unrighteous. Believing what they have been told and largely unaware of what they have not been told, their support for the war arises from compassion for others, just as our support for the Vietnam War was compassionate. The American people will not be condemned for that in the eyes of God or of history.

But the American people are guilty of putting a known liar and adulterer into the presidency and keeping him there even though he has broken almost every promise he ever made -- to the American people, to his friends and supporters, and even the public promises he made to his wife. And we did not do this in ignorance. The Democratic Party and the American Left knew what he was when they nominated him. The people knew what he was when we elected him. Congress knew what he was when they declined to expel him from office despite irrefutable evidence of guilt.

So we are guilty of burdening the entire world with the consequences of this man's selfish, cynical, and brutal leadership. If the Serbian people must bear the consequences of maintaining Milosevic in office, then the American people must bear the consequences of maintaining Clinton.

And let's give this "forgiveness" excuse a rest. We know perfectly well that not one soul who spoke of "forgiveness" for Clinton -- with the possible exception of Orrin Hatch, who spoke only of forgiveness if Clinton repented -- would have mentioned forgiveness if the man who did these things had been George Bush or Ronald Reagan or even Jimmy Carter.

And it isn't just our opinion leaders whose "forgiveness" is slimy with hypocrisy. Our motives may be altruistic in waging this war, but the polls make it clear that our motives in supporting Clinton have depended utterly on money. Believ-ing that Clinton is responsible for a booming economy, we have decided that we are being paid enough money to overlook the corruption of Clinton and his government. The fact that Clinton has not really paid us anything does not change the fact that we, as a people, took his bribe. It only means that besides being greedy, we are dumb.

When you know you're dealing with a con man, when you've already been conned, you must bear com-plete responsibility for continuing to do business with the same crook.

What Should Happen?

To my mind, the only honorable thing for America to do is for Congress to put an immediate stop to the funding for this war, and instead fund long-term, massive humani-tarian aid to the suffering Kosovars. We must open the doors to any who wish to come here -- it was our bombs that got them expelled from their homes -- and we must provide longterm investment in Albania in order to help that impoverished nation absorb a huge increase in population.

We must treat Serbia thereafter exactly as we treat Cuba -- a ban on trade and travel. But we will kill no more Serbians as long as Serbia does not invade other nations. And to that end, we will make our judgment completely clear: Yugoslavia no longer exists. Instead there are only sovereign nations of Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Croatia, and Slovenia. Any movement by Serbia against any of these other nations will be treated according to international law, as Iraq was treated for invading Kuwait.

Congress can compel the executive branch to do precisely this, if they have the will. Unfortunately, they cannot compel the media to report it fairly and tell the American people that they are ending the war because it is illegal and because it is harming the very people it is supposed to help. The only way to stop the media from continuing their campaign to support Clinton no matter what he does is for the large minority that sees Clinton clearly to boycott the media -- news shows and newspapers -- that support him. Even if that only amounted to a quarter of the national audience, the advertisers would be horrified at the huge drop in ratings and circulation.

After all, the reason the media have encouraged us to believe that it's all about money is because to them, it really is. If their corporate income drops alarmingly, they will suddenly discover what an awful president Clinton is. Because, like Clinton, their principles last only as long as they don't interfere with their lofty position.

As for Clinton himself, it is too much to hope for that we can redeem our own honor by impeaching him and throwing him out of office for his illegal attacks on Afghanistan and Sudan in the summer of '98. But Congress can recover its dignity and remember its duty well enough to begin, immediately, an urgent and wide-ranging investigation of those missile attacks, following the path laid out by Seymour Hersch. Clinton has brought shame on this country, and the only way to recover our honor is to hold our president, and therefore ourselves, accountable for the crimes committed in the name of our nation.

Anything less than this is to acquiesce in the destruction of the American ideal of freedom and honor, replaced by a shameless scrabbling for dollars. And if the American ideal dies, so also dies any reason for God to protect this nation as he has protected us in the past.

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