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join the discussion: What are your views on when, where, and how the United States should use its military force?


Dear FRONTLINE,

How can we expect good leadership and any reasonable long term views and plans when our society has been accustomed to the quick fix and its thrills?

Speaking as a Depression baby, I know that progress does not happen overnight, that very complex situations such as the Balkans are certainly not resolvable by the blunt instuments of war brought from on high. Even the military tells us that. We must not allow people like Richard Holbrook, who clearly has a personal psychological confusion about war, to be dragging our country and all its resources into an unwinnable war that suits his thwarted sense of missing the glories of combat.

Let's suit up Richard and his ilk and send them instead of our young people into the jaws of combat that they so desire for others. So handy to send someone else to face the real dangers.

So whatever happened to gladiators and hand to hand working it out? Much more honest. It is way beyond time to disarm warmongers, educate ourselves for both peace and communication as if they were truly possible, and they are. But not with confused and immature people assuming high levels of authority.Let us develop a longterm peace plan. This conflict cannot continue as the coin of the realm.Baby Boomers, it's time to grow up since you want to be in charge. Maybe you can do it better.

robin birdfeather
occidental, ca


Dear FRONTLINE,

We will never realize the goals of changing Yugoslavia until the statesmen and the militqry leaders work out their strategies together. All we can do in the Balkans is contain the problem until events move the population to more modern concepts of living together. I think we should pulverize Belgrade and then standby with overwhelming force for the fall out. Lets admit that those Kosovars will never get back home until they fight their way back. I think the history of the modern Israeli state in the midst of the former Palestine is analgous to what could happen in Serbia/Kosovo.

David Murton
la mesa, ca


Dear FRONTLINE,

What is going on in Kosavo that was not going on in Nam? Nothing. Mr Holbrroke wants these war criminals brought to justice. There is a large bounty on the heads of the major players and he not being "scarred by Vietnam" should collect it. If Billy boy has found a moral war why doesn't he sign up to fight it. Robert E. Lee was 52 years old when the Civil War broke out. He was probably not as healthy as Billy at that time. Go to war when the objectives are important enough for the President's family to invest a child.

Richard F. Landry
methuen, ma


Dear FRONTLINE,

As a Canadian, I couldn't help but think about the Canadian experience with peacekeeping in Cyprus. That island's inhabitants are from different countries--Greece and Turkey. They are divided by culture, religion, language and old quarrels. Does this sound familiar?

In 1964, Canada sent 1,200 troops to Cyprus to help the UN end the conflict between Greek and Turkish Cypriots. Troop strength declined over the next several years to a low of 480 soldiers. In 1974, Turkey invaded Cyprus and the Canadian contingent was increased to about 950 troops. Canada maintained this troop strength until 1993.

As part of the UN Peacekeeping mission, Canada had ground forces in Cyprus for over 30 years. If the US sends troops into Bosnia, be aware they will be there for a very long time.

Pat Jones
victoria, british columbia


Dear FRONTLINE,

I would like to commend you on a well done program. To see Holbrooke and Mr. Smith in more than sound bite form was most interesting. The choice of music was also well thought out. As for the substance of the story and the actual situation in the Balkans, I must say that our administration has its heart in the right place, yet I am afraid we are once again in a position of telling the military how to do their job rather than simply giving it the mission and letting it finish said mission. Milosevic is no match for Nato forces if they are not hobbled by Nato politicians. Bosnia showed us that soldiers hobbled by politicians get chained to bridges and 'safe havens' get cleansed which is why I am happy this is not an UN mission. Let our military handle the military and elections be damned. No civilians should have to die as they did in 96 due to upcoming elections. The politicians need to listen to the military in this time of war and the military needs to be less resentful of the politicians and be willing to accomplish their duty, even in the face of danger, unlike their behaviour with the Bos. Serb war criminals.

Let us remember the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians depend on what we do in the next month or three....let us not be too afraid to risk our professional soldiers in the effort to save them, and let us not allow craven politicians to allow lust for votes to overshadow the value of the lives of women and children which hang in the balance.

J. Smith
w. los angeles, ca


Dear FRONTLINE,

Here we are 6 years into the "Coward in Chief's" administration and look in disbelief at the ineptitude of our President and his circle of Carter failures. Why are we surprised? What has changed since we found out what Clinton's moral values really are? Clinton does not have the first idea on what the military is for and is capable of doing. The military is not the "nice police". Because of his, and his "peace ,love and hari-krishna" advisors disdain for the military, Clinton totally disregards the wise council of the military leaders. Bureaucrats like Holbrooke, Strobe Talbot, and Tony Lake hold sway over our foreign policy much to the detriment of our world image and position.

The high level bombing is rediculous, has no possibility of affecting a lasting resolution to the problem, and only makes us look like petty tyrants. Either we enter to win or we don't enter at all.

Roger Cunliffe-Owen
murrieta, ca


Dear FRONTLINE,

Mr. MacMaster is very wrong about LBJ's reluctance to discuss Vietnam. Obviously, he did not have available to him the tapes which LBJ recorded of the numerous conversations which he had with dozens of people about Vietnam. LBJ wanted to stay out of Vietnam, but he feared that he would be blamed for its "loss". Mcnamara and the Joint Chiefs are to blame for convincing him that he could prevent its loss. Of course, he was ultimately responsible as Clinton is for the current debacle.

Armen PANDOLA
phila, pa


Dear FRONTLINE,

I compare Kosovo to world war II rather than Vietnam. I was a young woman in the '30's when Hitler was wreaking havoc in Europe. Americans closed their eyes to what was going on, and I among others worked in the anti-war movement. I believe that Bosnia and Kosovo are the equivalent Bosnia and Kosovo are the equivalent of what was happening to the Jews and others in Germany and later in all of eastern Europe. It must not be allowed to happen again. My own feeling is that when a dictator like Milosovec raises his ugly head he should be disposed of, by that I mean killed by some courageous person. One man can do terrible damage to civilized society.

Lillian Adams
carbondale, il


Dear FRONTLINE,

There are 27 men I can still name who were KIA in 'Nam. The lessons we learned there that became the essence of the "creed" were paid for by the blood and bones of them and 58000 brothers. When I stand before the wall, and I see their image from within staring back at me, my eyes fill with tears that Americans could elect people who would forget those hard earned lessons. Though I did not vote for this regime, this "elect," this group that has decided to violate these lessons, I feel compelled to apologize. WE SHOULD PARTICIPATE in NO conflict unless we have FIRST allowed the oppressed (from our point of view) to have their OWN weapons. The arms embargos go back to President Bush, I know, but before we put one American life on the line, for GOD's sake, let us not play God. Allow the Kosovars arms, they are strong people, but unarmed, they are only flesh and bone standing against a fully equipped army.

warren kirbo
nashville, tn


Dear FRONTLINE,

First, the United States never won the Gulf War. By Smith's rules, America should have left the Middle East the day after the "alleged" victory occurred. But, American soldiers are still there today.

Smith's problem is that he is afraid to lose and so he can't fight. He is just like Union General George B. McClellan who President Lincoln could not get to fight the confederates, yet alone win.

Genocide must be punished. There is no way to measure victory in Kosovo as Smith wants to measure it. Just when did Smith think Hitler surrendered to the allied nations during WW2?

Hitler did not. Instead Hitler led his country into total ruin rather then surrender. No different then Milosevic's behavior today.

What Milosevic is betting with is the lives of the Serbian People in Yugoslavia knowing that NATO will never do to Serbia what the Allied Powers did to Hitler's Germany. If NATO totally levels Belgrade and all of Yugoslavia, then Milosevic lost.

Genocide can not be rewarded with silence nor indifference.

Michael Milillo
philadelphia, pa


Dear FRONTLINE,

The one thing missing from your program is the substantial force and acquisition reduction that has occured during the last ten years. How can we have an activist policy with an isolationist budget?

orlando, fl


Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank God for hog farmers who teach their sons not to lie. They will never get us into war unless we are willing to see our sons die in it. War is not won on the cheap.

olney, maryland


Dear FRONTLINE,

I found the Frontline episode "give war a chance" to be a thinly-veiled plea by baby boomers to restore some guilt they felt in Vietnam. It should have been very clear to Holbrooke before pushing for involvement in the Balkans that bombing targets from a ceiling of 20,000 feet is not going to accomplish any military objective. If the plea is now: we need young men to fight for the "moral imperialism" we will all soon see that these are not the proper objectives of a military.

The military should be used to secure disputes between countries and continents, and to defend our own country and territories, not to correct the internal affairs of one country. This is not an isolationist view, it is a rationalist view. A war on foreign soil with no clear objectives and a seat-of-your-pants diplomacy only makes the US look like buffoons and agressors.

Snuffy Smith had it right on the money--the military is filled with trained soldiers, not morality policemen. If the military is being used as policemen, I know that they can't do much at 20,000 feet. Perhaps Holbrooke should revisit his days as war correspondent, when he felt that every young man should experience war. Holbrooke appeared to be a bureaucrat and a scoundrel, and has none of my respect.

bloomington, in


Dear FRONTLINE,

When a hog farmer avoids dealing with his farm's run-off into rivers, it reveals his limited understanding of the land and his responsibilities. Similarly, when a one time hog farmer like smith proclaims the flawed creed that the military is not the police, it reveals the short-sighted responsibility of our "super power" as it fails to understand that the seeds of civility need nurturing. Understanding this in the long run off, we can grow trading partner of the kind the Marshall Plan saw. Of course, Congress will have to act mother-like in their generosity - and in these time, if we don't, who will?

Dave C
new york, ny


Dear FRONTLINE,

I believe the US should be prepared to use force to prevent the wholesale slaughter of defenseless human beings no matter where in the world this occurs. Despots must learn that there is a price to be paid for naked aggression and greed. This should include ground forces. I understand the reluctance to send our children in harm's way, but we have a tradition of fighting for liberty and this should not be confined to just ourselves.

Robert Frank
ballwin, missouri

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