Last August, American
pilots became the desperate Bosnian government's surrogate air force.
What triggered the NATO bombing campaign against the Bosnian Serbs was
a U.S. Army officer's bogus report that a Serb mortar attack had killed
38 people. The objective of the air campaign was to bomb the combatants
to Dayton, where Richard Holbrooke would try to do the improbable: make
peace with those not ready for peace.
Recently, another American,
Robert McNamara, made wise from the pain of a warthat often bears his name,
was searching for the truth in the graveyards of a terrible American mistake:
McNamara asked Gen. Vo Nguyen
Giap what happened in the Gulf of Tonkin in 1964. Giap said the American-reported
Vietnamese torpedo boat attack which led to the U.S. bombing of his country
never happened, confirming what a Medal of Honor winner, retired Adm. Jim
Stockdale - who was flying above the nonevent - said long ago.
Giap insisted LBJ and his
brass hats made up the incident to suck the U.S. into the war - and it
worked. Within hours, the bombs started falling.
The rest is history: Congress
passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution; by 1968, one-half million Americans
were in Vietnam; and by 1973, almost 400,000 Purple Hearts had been awarded.
What a shame it took McNamara
30 years to dig up the truth. Had he only demanded absolute proof at the
time, had Congress only not blindly accepted LBJ's staged account, had
what lawyers call "due diligence" only been applied byCongress,
perhaps a great tragedy would have been avoided.
Tonkin Gulf-type ruses are
as old as war, and too often the follow-on jingoistic juggernaut is impossible
The chant "Remember the
Maine" triggered our war with Spain, even though there was no proof
Spain had sunk our battleship (ITAL) Maine in Havana harbor. Many historians
say Cuban guerrillas did it so we would come to their aid, and, just by
the way, scarf up a few of Spain's crown jewels as war trophies.
the American people been tricked again? CIA spooks and several NATO officers
plus a squad of U.N. ammo experts say so. All report that the mortar round
that kicked off the NATO bombing was fired not by the Serbs, but by Bosnian
British and French ammunition
experts arrived at Sarajevo's Trznica market 40 minutes after the attack
to do a shell report, a technique used by grunts almostsince the first
mortar round slid down a tube.
shell report or crater analysis will tell the size of the round and the
exact degree from which the shell came. We're not talking rocket science
stuff here,but plain old infantryman- putting-a-compass-in-the-still-hot-crater
The experts agreed the crater
was made by a 120mm mortar shell fired from a bearing of 170 degrees. This
meant the shell came from the same Bosnian government positions which had
been involved in other attacks, such as a rocket that hit Sarajevo's television
station in June, causing 35 Bosnian Muslim casualties.
to U.N. headquarters, the "shell rep" team walked into a Tonkin
Gulf-like ambush when a senior American officer - who hadn't even set a
boot down near the market - overruled their scene-of-the-crime findings.
brass hat ordered that the report say the mortar shell was fired by the
Serbs. It was the old military senior to subordinate drill: "You're
wrong. I'm right. You're out of here." Those who have worn a soldier
suit with a boss who's into cover-up or deceptions know the exercise well.
As with Spain and Vietnam,
just hours after the officer submitted his "official report,"
the bombs fell.
There was no shouting "Remember
the Maine" or "Remember the Maddox" (the U.S.destroyer that
was the Tonkin Gulf ploy) this time. Bosnian Muslim Prime Minister Haris
Silajdzic did all the protesting: "I want air raids, air raids immediately
to punish those who are killing innocent people."
Air raids he got. And now,
as with Cuba and Vietnam, we're about to send in another generation of
America "Rough Riders" to follow-up on the raids.
Unless, this time, Congress
practices due diligence.