CLINTON TO MILOSEVIC: FREE SOLDIERS By LAURA MYERS Associated Press Thursday April 1 5:35 PM ET WASHINGTON (AP) - President Clinton pledged today that the United States will do everything in its power to gain the return of three Army soldiers captured near the Yugoslav-Macedonia border, and he warned Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic that "the United States takes care of its own." "President Milosevic should make no mistake: We will hold him and his government responsible for their safety and their well-being," Clinton said to emotional applause from service members gathered in a hangar at Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia. Shortly before Clinton spoke, Yugoslav state-controlled television announced that the three soldiers would face criminal proceedings before a military court on Friday. "There was absolutely no basis for them to be taken," Clinton said. "There is no basis for them to be held. There is certainly no basis for them to be tried."
Honestly. What did everyone expect? We declared war on Yugoslavia. In a war situation, the capture of only three soldiers is really not very important. How many people have we killed with our bombs? How many people have the Serbs killed in their effort to rid their country of unwanted ethnicities? And our leaders and media are obsessing about three imprisoned soldiers as if they were innocent bystanders -- these men signed up for the Army. That in itself is enough to make me feel less sympathetic. If you want to sign up to be in the military, that is one of the risks you take. What do you think boot camp is preparing them for?
What gets me is how everyone, from Clinton to all the international law pundits, expects Yugoslavia to treat our captured soldiers humanely. (Because of course in war, killing is allowed, but torturing is not.) They are expecting this of a man, Milosevic, who is engineering a systematic purging of ethnic Albanians from his entire country? Whose army kills, what, hundreds, maybe thousands, of civilians a day? Who doesn't seem to really care much about terms like "humane?" Frankly, I'm surprised the soldiers are being put on trial instead of summarily executed.
Don't misunderstand me; I am cautiously in support of the war effort in Yugoslavia. I see the merit in using force to stop something as grave as "ethnic cleansing." However, to begin an offensive like we have, you must be aware of the nature of war. I have heard several "man-on-the-street" interviews in which the interviewee said something to the effect of, "I was in favor of the bombing, but now that bad things are happening to Americans, I've changed my mind." You can't jump into a full bombing campaign, then plead ignorant of the fact that our servicemen and women are being put into actual danger.