The United States has led the way in trying to deal with criminals such as Saddam Hussein and Slobodan Milosevic and should do what is in America's best interests in future actions.
The world has seen more than its share of supervillains through the ages. Two of the newer additions to that list would be Yugoslavian president Slobodan Milosevic and Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein.
Both are totally unscrupulous and untrustworthy and both will try anything they think they can get away with, including mass murder, production of outlawed weaponry and just about any other atrocious behavior one can conjure up. And both seem to understand only firm, decisive and forceful action.
Saddam Hussein got his comeuppance via Operation Desert Storm seven years ago but was back at his old bad habits almost as soon as the United States-led United Nation forces were withdrawn. Only the promise of new armed intervention seems to push him into anything resembling decent behavior.
Milosevic is just as artful as Saddam at dodging responsibility of carnage and alteration of such trends, as witness his sanction of the bloody matters in Kosovo. He seems just about to capitulate on meaningful negotiations and then always finds a way to weasel out.
The United States is looked to as a modern policeman for the world. While that is flattering in some ways, it is draining and frustrating in others, particularly when other nations that should have every bit as much a sense of outrage about the Saddams and Milosevics decline to step forth and face them down with the only thing they seem to understand, force.
America has done more than its share in trying to improve the world citizenship of Iraq under Saddam and has been instrumental in trying to get Milosevic to follow suit. But while the United States could, if it so chose, do drastic things, it should get more help from the likes of Russia, France, Italy, Greece and others. They and others who stand to lose much have taken hang-dog approaches while America is pondering providing new manpower and equipment to the project, with the distinct likelihood that there will be high costs in lives and materiel.
In deciding what to do about Kosovo, President Clinton and his advisers would do well to ponder carefully a conclusion offered by the Albuquerque, N.M., Journal:
``This is European history played out with a European cast on a European stage. Washington should apply its influence and strength where it can make a difference and where it best suits U.S. interests, and not aspire to anything beyond a support role in this tragedy.''
We have paid enough of a price for our alleged ``short-term'' commitment to Bosnia. We should not allow criminals such as Saddam and Milosevic to lure us into further costly ventures on foreign soil.