] Mona Charen
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Jewish World Review April 22, 1999 /6 Iyar, 5759

Mona Charen

Mona Charen
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Hey, hey, ... Bubba

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MY COLLEAGUE COLUMNIST MARK SHIELDS has made a crusade of assailing so-called "chicken hawks," politicians (usually Republicans) who avoided military service themselves but nonetheless were hot to sacrifice other people's sons in conflicts far from home, like Grenada or Iraq.

Today, we have a new phenomenon: Vitriolic haters of the war in Vietnam who cut their teeth chanting, "Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?" transformed into hard-liners on Kosovo.

It is difficult to make sense of the moral reasoning these new hawks employ. They opposed the war in Vietnam for many reasons, they said. They thought it was a civil war that we knew nothing about and in which we had no business interfering. They thought the North Vietnamese and Vietcong were patriots defending their country against foreign invaders -- first the French and then us.

(Another popular chant during anti-war demonstrations was "Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh.")

The United States, they argued, always sided with those "on the wrong side of history," the tyrants and dictators who put people in tiger cages and ruled through repression. The United States was interested, they thought, only in thwarting the world communist movement, which was a McCarthyite delusion anyway.

In truth, the motives of the anti-war protesters themselves were subject to unflattering analysis. As soon as the draft law was altered, effectively saving most college students from the danger of being drafted, anti-war zeal evaporated on campuses.

The domestic conflict over the war in Vietnam, though it is seen in retrospect as a left/right split, really wasn't. The Vietnam War was conceived and designed by a very liberal president, Lyndon Johnson, and came to be critiqued by a radical/liberal coalition. When Johnson lost the battle, it spelled the virtual end of anti-communism in the Democratic Party.

Today, the new internationalist Democrats argue explicitly that because the United States has no conceivable national interest at stake in Kosovo, our intervention is moral and right.

Is that true? Today, we have a totally volunteer army. And they are paid to do what the political leadership of the nation directs. But does that give the administration the right to put their lives at risk for nothing more substantial than the self-esteem of the leaders? It isn't clear that intervention for purely humanitarian reasons is the most moral action for a state.

When the wife or mother of a dead soldier or airman receives a condolence letter from the secretary of defense, it usually reads something like this: "On behalf of the United States, we thank you for the brave sacrifice of your son (or husband). He gave his life to ensure that America will remain safe and free." A citizen can make peace with that.

It's a bit more difficult to justify asking for sacrifice when the United States has no interests at stake and is merely chasing an impossible dream of world harmony. But even that would have been preferable to what we face: the prospect of sacrifice because this president so badly misjudged an aggressor.

The original purpose of this bombing (so reminiscent of LBJ's selective bombing in Vietnam) was to prevent Slobodan Milosevic from inflicting further harm on the Kosovars. The bombing achieved the opposite result. And now, we are being asked to sacrifice for something worse -- to maintain the credibility of those who have blundered.

"Dear Mrs. X: It is with greatest sorrow that we report the death of your son in Kosovo. He was on a very important mission to pull NATO's chestnuts out of the fire after the civilian leadership ignored military warnings that their 'pinpoint' bombing of a few Yugo plants and empty government buildings would not do the job. Unlike President Bush, who could (and did) warn Milosevic away from Kosovo, President Clinton has sent unfortunate signals of vacillation and empty bluster to tyrants around the world. It should hearten you to reflect that your brave son gave his life in an area of the world that has been fighting for centuries and in which we have no vital interests at stake. Sincerely yours."


04/19/99: Why we are in Kosovo
04/15/99: Hooray for the NYPD
04/09/99: How to do something about taxes
04/06/99:Can the private sector handle foster care?
03/31/99: The Flower Child goes to war
03/29/99: Foreign-policy meltdown
03/25/99: 'Just doin' it'
03/22/99: Return of pay equity?
03/16/99: St. Hillary
03/10/99: Rodney King in perspective
03/08/99: Monica's story: No morals
03/04/99: Not home but library alone:
3/02/99: Tuning our racial sensitivities
2/27/99: Cease-fire in war between sexes?
2/23/99: Where were the religious voices?
2/19/99: Depends what you mean by "acting"
2/17/99: As Minn., goes so goes the nation?
2/09/99: Prepare for post-impeachment spin
2/03/99: Teaching morality
2/01/99: What did he say?
1/26/99: The truth about the Peace Process
1/22/99: The vulgar decade
1/19/99: Was Jefferson libeled by DNA?
1/13/99: The backlash picks up speed
1/11/99: Who invented politics of personal destruction?
1/07/99: Shall we dance?
1/05/99: Try him!
12/30/98: The price of virtue
12/28/98: The gift of giving
12/22/98: Party of shame, party of shamelessness
12/18/98: Wag the country
12/16/98: Is this impeachment constitutional?
12/14/98: Republicans find courage
12/09/98: Nappy Hair and other racial slurs
12/07/98: Stranger in a strange land
12/02/98: Dangerous ground
11/30/98: Involuntary fatherhood?
11/24/98: Lies, damned lies, and sex lies
11/18/98: Another victory for cowardice
11/16/98: Separatism plus welfarism equals a dead end
11/10/98: Did conservatism lose campaign '98?
11/06/98: Democrat venality, Republican timidity
11/04/98: Are girls being shortchanged?
11/02/98: Believe the children?
10/28/98: What 'Measure 58' would do
10/26/98: The officers are bailing out
10/20/98: Using Matthew Shepard's murder
10/19/98: The school voucher that saved a family
10/14/98: Are powerful women different?
10/09/98: Can just sex be impeachable?
10/07/98: Repeal Miranda
10/02/98: Understanding the polls
10/01/98: What school texts teach about marriage
9/28/98: Fear of choice
9/23/98: A fork in the road: Bubba's fate and ours
9/18/98: Christianity and the Holocaust
9/16/98: The national dirty joke
9/11/98: Are we in crisis?
9/09/98: Does Burton's sin let Clinton off the hook?
9/07/98: Liar's Poker
9/01/98: One, two, three
8/28/98: Fat and folly
8/25/98: When homework is a dirty word
8/21/98: The unravelling
8/18/98: The wages of dishonesty
8/17/98: Sex, honor and the presidency
8/12/98: Pro-choice extremist
8/10/98: Switch illuminates biology's role
8/05/98: The presumption of innocence and the American way
8/03/98: An American hero
7/29/98: Lock up those who need psychiatric care
7/24/98: Making the military more like us
7/22/98: The 'Net sex hoax... and us
7/20/98: Disappointed by Cosbys
7/15/98: Feelings, not morality, rule
7/10/98: Guns as the solution?
7/8/98: Teacher preacher
7/6/98: The China behind the headlines
7/1/98: What is the First Amendment for?
6/26/98: The Republican city
6/24/98: Poison pen
6/22/98: Clinton: inventing his own reality?
6/16/98: Senator mom?
6/12/98: Wisconsin: a trail blazer?
6/9/98: These girls say no to sex, yes to excellence
6/5/98: Lewinsky's ex-lawyer would feel right at home as Springer guest
6/2/98: English? Si; Republican? No!
5/29/98: The truth about women and work
5/27/98: Romance in the '90s
5/25/98:Taxing smokers for fun and profit
5/19/98: China's friend in the White House
5/15/98: Look out feminists: here comes the true backlash
5/12/98: The war process?
5/8/98: Where's daddy?
5/5/98: The joys of boys
5/1/98: Republicans move on education reform
4/28/98: Reagan was right
4/24/98: The key to Pol Pot
4/21/98: The patriot's channel
4/19/98: Child-care day can't replace mom
4/15/98: Tax time
4/10/98: Armey states obvious, gets clobbered
4/7/98: A nation complacent?
4/1/98: Bill Clinton's African adventure
3/27/98: Understanding Arkansas
3/24/98: Jerry Springer's America
3/20/98: A small step for persecuted minorities
3/17/98: Skeletons in every closet?
3/13/98: Clinton's idea of a fine judge
3/10/98: Better than nothing?
3/6/98: Of fingernails and freedom
3/3/98: Read JWR! :0)
2/27/98: Dumb and Dumber
2/24/98: Reagan reduced poverty more than Clinton
2/20/98: Rally Round the United Nations?
2/17/98: In Denial
2/13/98: Reconsidering Theism
2/10/98: Waiting for the facts?
2/8/98: Cat got the GOP's tongue?
2/2/98: Does America care about immorality?
1/30/98: How to judge Clinton's denials
1/27/98: What If It's Just the Sex?
1/23/98: Bill Clinton, Acting Guilty
1/20/98: Arafat and the Holocaust Museum
1/16/98: Child Care or Feminist Agenda?
1/13/98: What We Really Think of Abortion
1/9/98: The Dead Era of Budget Deficits Rises Again?
1/6/98: "Understandable" Murder and Child Custody
1/2/98: Majoring in Sex
12/30/97: The Spirit of Kwanzaa
12/26/97: Food fights (Games children play)
12/23/97: Does Clinton's race panel listen to facts?
12/19/97: Welcome to the Judgeocracy, where the law school elite overrules majority rule
12/16/97: Do America's Jews support Netanyahu?

©1999, Creators Syndicate