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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,

A truly international force that can only be called into action at the request of the United Nations should be created. The use of military force for advancing narrow national interests only alienates others whose country does not have such forces. We should not act unilaterally, not even within NATO -- as the present mess shows us.

Neocles Leontis
bowling green, oh


Dear FRONTLINE,

In watching the program, sveral thoughts came to mind: 1. Why are not the alternative to war such as the United Nations and World Court examined? 2. Why aren't the diplomatic views of Russia and China explained? 3. Why does the program make Holbrooke out to be so altruisitc? 4. Why do we continue to view the US as the moral and human rights leaders of the world? 5. How can you possibly consider, in good conscience, using music of Beethoven as bombs are dropped? I thought the program was a mediocre examination of the situation filled with pop journalism and glorified Americas role as just contrary to the view shared by many other countries. There is no such thing as a just war and when the US abides by international law, works to reform the UN, and then abides by its rulings, we will achieve a key component of a global community.

new york, ny


Dear FRONTLINE,

Yugoslavia? There is no answer. It is beyond the ability of the US to act as a moral leader: (1) because moral leadership requires more sacrifice than we are willing to provide; (2) there is no profit in waring in Belgrade; (3) the war has demonstrated modern warfare has not replaced the foot soldier and, consequently, loss of young men on a major scale.

The Germans lost WWII largely because they lost air superiority. We lost in Viet Nam because we had only air superiority. A war cannot be won with air power only and a war cannot be won without it. We are involved in a noble, but lost, cause.

Keith Egli
gaithersburg, md


Dear FRONTLINE,

A Commander like Admiral Smith is the kind of man that men do not mind fighting and dying for, not a politician like our current President or Mr. Holbrooke. I am in my thirties and I am a Veteran of the Army during the Reagan years. I proudly served my country in Grenada and I pleased to report that friends from my age group respect the Military and that haven't much respect for the political machine that runs the military. I applaud Admiral Smith and his position and his approach to dealing with politicians. It shows that he is a true warrior. The politicians are not warriors. Our country needs strength that comes from true faith and courage. The liberals fail to remember that it was the military and the weapons of war that gives them the freedom to bitch and whine about military spending and guns in society. We need to keep our military strong and keeping Americans responsibly armed to defend themselves from all enemies and threats to freedom. I totally support the military and the total defeat of our enemies. Not just a half assed effort and then rebuild the enemy infrastructure. War criminals? What the hell is Hussein? We talk about bringing Serbian Leaders to Criminal Tribunals for violation of war crimes. I say again - what the hell is Hussein? He is a war criminal and most Americans I encounter that America has a reason to be there, but the methodology is wrong. I support Admiral Smith views about having to put an occupying force on the ground to ensure that the Serbs abide by the terms of surrender. I also think that Counter Guerilla Warfare Doctrine would eliminate leaders like Milosevic. CIA, Special Operations, Delta Force, and other elite units can perform if the politicians can back up the real warriors in getting the job done. Total Victory!!

irvine, kentucky


Dear FRONTLINE,

The policy of gradual and limited military involvement followed by the Clinton whitehouse to fight a battle not of our making, nor in our interest, has already begun to cost the nation dearly. The mistaken bombing of the Chinese embassy will allow the Chinese government to withdraw from inconvenient commitments which are deeply in our interest to have it pursue: nuclear weapons proliferation, international arms sales and trade agreements. The cost of the bombing in American treasure and lives is only the beginning - we will pay to bomb Serbia, and pay again to rebuild it. The cost will be in the many tens of billions. This is a fight we never should have gotten into. Where are the diplomats who so boasted that military involvement was not essential to an effective foreign policy?

Glenn Fontana
simsbury, ct


Dear FRONTLINE,

As a veteran of SFOR in Bosnia I feel I can truly speak for the soldiers in Bosnia and their opinion of the use of force. The soldiers over there are train to fight in wars and to kill their enemies. This training is highly inadequate when faced with the job of playing policeman. Very few of these soldiers can, or are willing, to play this role. I was one of these soldiers. That is why I left the Army while I was in Bosnia. This special on the use of military force is a perfect description of the differing mindsets and ideals of soldiers and politicians. Politicians see what they and their constituents want to happen and soldiers see what can happen. It is a wonderful thing we are doing in Bosnia and a large majority of the people in Bosnia love having us there, but it is not the job the military was made for. The mission there is vague, undefined and dangerous. Frankly, commanders like Admiral Leighton should be in charge of operations in any situation involving the use of military force. Those commanders are the ones who care about the welfare of there soldiers more then public opinion and caring about a soldiers welfare will make that soldier complete his mission.

Travis Galloway
lawrence, kansas


Dear FRONTLINE,

I felt your program was a very honest portrayal of the two foreign policy philosophies currently in play within the U.S. political establishment. In my view, your honesty revealed the sandy soil upon which the Clinton administration has built their Balkan doctrine. Keep up the good work.

rochester, ny


Dear FRONTLINE,

I couldn't agree with Snuffy Smith more. Clinton has bumbled and fumbled into an impossible situation and a war that appears to be run by the Marx brothers.

Bryce Stevens
grand blanc, mi


Dear FRONTLINE,

We must never get in a war that we do not intend to win and then it should only be because of a national interest. Once it is determined that we are in then let the professional military run it as Bush did in the Desert Storm. This war particularly has lousy civilian leaders who hated the military in Vietnam and now wants them right back in the thick of a civil war. Unbelievable!!!!

Robert Faunce
vero beach, fl



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