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Tucson Weekly Off With His Head!

What Better Way To Deal With A Petty Tyrant Than To Target Him Specifically?

By Jeff Smith

APRIL 5, 1999:  THIS THING ABOUT making the overthrow of Slobodan Milosovic the thrust of America's foreign policy in the Balkans is the best idea Jesse Helms has had in, what, 300 years.

Actually it's the only even halfway good idea I can recall from the South Carolina troglodyte, but just on account of being the red-headed stepchild of a mouth-breathing moron don't mean a half-baked notion can't grow up to be fully baked. Let's work with it.

Hearkening back to the Gulf War, concensus holds that the uttermost failure of Coalition policy in that adventure was the failure to deliver the head of Saddam Hussein on a platter, to Salome. Having brought all of the Coalition's (read, America, England and France) videogames to bear on the outclassed air force and air defenses of Iraq, and then summoned the will and the votes to send in the ground troops, we had our best--perhaps under the prevailing politick and ethic, only--chance to frag the swarthy bastard, but George Bush pulled up lame.

Saddam survived and even seemed to draw strength from the fray. He went on to murder masses of his own countrymen, consolidate his political strength, assassinate some unneeded sons-in-law, and become an even bigger pain in the ass than before. And an inspiration, one cannot doubt, to his fellow head of state in the land of Tito. (Not Puente, not Jackson.)

Since the Balkans are populated by mammals more hysterical, sanguinary and vengeful even than Shiite Muslims--and more broodingly ill-tempered--and given the fact that they have no ocean of oil underlying their rocky and inhospitable homeland, the Western powers for quite some time resisted their missionary impulses and let Serb and Croat, Muslim and whatever murderously have at one another. But as ultimately plays the pattern in the home of the vampire, Byzantine politics of no real pertinence to our national interests suck us all into a situation pregnant with promise of global conflagration.

Must every odd-numbered World War be triggered in Sarajevo?

Anyway, here we go again, as Ronald Reagan sort of said, and we're heading down the slippery slope, following first a phalanx of high-tech fighter/bomber aircraft, and then--one hopes not, but fears--a human wave of ground troops? It makes no sense.

Sure, it makes a certain amount of moral and ethical sense. Milosovic is a butcher. He murders and he lies. He comes from a murdering, lying tradition. The former Yugoslavia is a fractionalized, divided, uncongenial cauldron of close cousins who drink together, bowl together, fight together, breed together and hate each other's guts and livers. A global power such as the United States, or even NATO, is hard-pressed to justify its role as international policeman if it sits back and watches a bully like Milosovic commit genocide against civilians in his own country, or provinces which once were part thereof.

And yet we must, if we are realists, recognize that our chances of bringing true peace and harmony to such a hotbed of unresolved family hatreds are slim and none. Especially by the blunt-instrumentality of air strikes against the Milosovic forces, followed by who knows what. And who fears the worst.

Nope, Jesse Helms has the right idea this time. Get rid of Slobodan, wink, wink.

Kill him.

It amuses me to read the pieties spouted by other heads of state, presumably flowing from reason, civility and conventions inspired in Geneva and other edens of peace and harmony. We are not assassins, they tell us, and we do not condone terrorism. How much more civilized to send our sons and daughters in their millions to dash themselves on the merciless spears of the sons and daughters of that madman's nation.

Know what I think? I think the guys who are making these arguments are scared that those brooding zealots in Baghdad and Belgrade will retaliate by sending hit squads of the Sons of Allah (or of Vlad the Impaler) to crash the White House and catch Willy with his pants down. So to speak.

Back in the good old days, when conflicts of state reached impasse that even armies could not resolve--e.g., Desert Storm, Son of Desert Storm, etc.--each side would choose a champion, and they would duke it out, mano a mano, to the death, winner's side take all. Much more efficient, less bloody, almost poetic in its distillation of great global forces and timeless human struggle to a scale that at once ennobles the two combatants and, appropriate to the time, makes terrific television.

Well, clearly Bill Clinton and Tony Blair want no part of any renaissance of the tradition of champions. They're lovers, not fighters. Besides, Slobodan Milosovic and Saddam Hussein would eat Bill and Tony's lunch.

Better to send in the boys with the double O license to kill. Jesse is right. And if, after all the money and all the time our nation has spent on the CIA and its hit squads, and the Brits have spent on Bond and so forth, they prove inadequate to the task, we could pursue one of two courses:

Sub the job to the Israelis and their Mossad, or offer a billion bucks for the head of Milosovic (and the same for Saddam, or three for the pair) to anyone with the wit and the will to deliver. And a guarantee that we will meet and beat any counter-offer.

True, this may for a short while start a rush on the heads of state. Literally, figuratively. But that will die down as soon as the current crop of renegade despots exits the international stage. And a job like that, with all that power and prestige, ought to carry a certain element of risk beyond the supermarket tabloids.

I believe the prospect of paying with one's life, of dying for one's people, as their leader and champion, would reinvigorate the class of world leaders. And save a lot of wear and tear on the world's innocent civilians and underpaid armies.


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