PEACEKEEPING BEYOND KOSOVO

by David Sisler

I thought so then, I think so now. Almost two months after it ended, NATO's war to liberate Kosovo, restore ethnic peace to the Balkans, and drive Slobodan Milosevic from power still reminds me of another time when America's national leaders committed us to war, even though they were not committed to winning. It was a war where national policy shamed the soldiers who were fighting and dying, and where public opinion, wrongly and unjustly, turned against those who were giving their last full measure of devotion in the rice fields of southeast Asia.

Now we hear that the spectacular victory was not all that spectacular, and a victory may be been recorded only because, in a game of high altitude chicken, Mr. Milosevic blinked first. But if the cause of freedom can be advanced by a few weeks of mile high bombing, then with tongue firmly in cheek, there are a few places our strategic planners seem to have missed.

Even with Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan in custody and on trial for treason, the southeastern portion of Turkey is ripe for a good bombing. With the fifteen year battle for Kurdish independence showing no signs of letting up, with Ocalan's Kurdish Workers Party brutally killing thousands, we could, no doubt, drive them from power just as we did Milosevic.

After that, India and Pakistan would make good targets. India is determined to evict all the Pakistani fighters who seized a range of mountains in India-controlled Kashmir. In one recent battle, infantrymen stormed 13 guerrilla positions near the town of Dras. The guerrillas retreated, then launched a counterattack.

Shoot (sorry, poor choice of words), pick a side, and then win a great moral victory by bombing someone back into the stone age. And, of course, promise the American people that no American ground troops will be committed there, just as we promised in Kosovo. Oops, we already have committed American troops to the never- ending quagmire that is the hard won Balkan peace, haven't we? But, hey, we solved 600 years of ethnic strife, right?

Keeping to the East, the next target could be the Chinese-Tibetan border.

These good folks are locked in a spiritual battle, and that is always good for a few bombs. You see, the official, Chinese approved 11th Panchen Lama, leader of the Tibetan Buddhists, is a 9-year-old boy chosen in a Beijing lottery. Many Tibetans support the 10-year-old named to the position by the exiled Dalai Lama in 1995. The Communist regime in China is extremely sensitive to the continuing influence in Tibet of the Dalai Lama, feeling he is bent on breaking up the country. So we could bomb Tibet. That would show the Chinese that our technology is indeed worth stealing.

An overlooked place for the dropping of NATO bombs may be Northern Ireland. As evidenced by very recent political goings-on, they seem to need a constructive push towards peace. Rival negotiators struggle to come to terms as both sides push to clear away obstacles blocking the formation of a new Protestant-Catholic government. Just put a few "smart bombs" into a few pubs. That will surely win the day and secure peace. If a few billion dollars worth of bombs don't do the trick, we can sink a few dozen billion dollars into rebuilding what we blow up. It is, after all, the American way.

And what shall I more say? For the time would fail me to tell of East Timor and Indonesia, or of Rwanda, Uganda and the Congo. There are always possibilities.

Come to think of it, maybe Augusta Mayor Bob Young could draw a few battle lines. Nothing heinous, of course. Just order the closing of a down-town strip bar, or protest that citizens are not playing the lottery responsibly, or renew a state flag controversy. The Air Force could then drop a few kilotons of TNT, which, with luck, would hit the water processing site. Then when the mayor surrenders, Yankee troops could once again march into Georgia, rebuild the bombed out facilities, and the water crisis would be solved. Well, maybe not.

There will be wars and rumors of war until the Prince of Peace returns. Freedom must always be defended, sometimes with blood, but maybe the audacity of my "proposals" will sharpen the focus on my two-fold protest first, against the policies of old men and old women which hurl young men and young women carelessly into harm's way, gambling those young lives in armed conflict without formulating careful strategies for victory; and second, against leaders whose courses of action are driven by public opinion polls, thereby depriving them of the guts to do what really needs doing.

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Published in the Augusta Chronicle 7/31/99

Copyright 1999 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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