Yugoslavia: Where do we go from There?
by Jan Baughman

Drop the bombs, leave behind myriad soldiers, and let Europe pay for the mess. In the aftermath of all the attention we put toward Yugoslavia, our own house needs a good cleaning. President Clinton says he "came back to Washington, after my trip to Europe, with a renewed energy for the domestic agenda". Where else can we go from here? There's no place like home. And, after all, it's only 18 months until the next presidential election. As the Serbs become the refugees and the hope of a united Balkans continues to crumble, it will all become a short paragraph in the newspaper. We've got some serious fund raising and campaigning to get to!

Two long years have gone by since the last time the House voted on a flag burning amendment. What better time to try passing it again than after our victorious campaign in Yugoslavia, when Americans are all talking about how proud they are to live in the strongest country on earth in the greatest democracy of all time in the best place on earth? There's no time like the present.

In the meantime, as usual, we'll use money - whether it be withheld, as in economic sanctions [cf. Iraq], or offered, as in a $5 million reward for Milosevic - to flex our muscles and show we're still doing something to solve the world's problems. Don't we have the truth, after all?

Weapons and money; money and weapons.

And so we look inward. And then what? Whether it's Bill Clinton or Al Gore or one George Bush or another, nothing seems to change. A little more spending here; a little less there. Clinton talks about "a new covenant between America and its government; an agreement with the citizens and their government that we would jointly pursue opportunity for all Americans, responsibility from all Americans, and a community of all Americans." Do you feel that you have a covenant with your government? Or are we merely 270 million covenantees following the scriptures of our leaders? If we citizens are all so pro-education, pro-health care, anti-gun, why is there so little movement in these directions?

In a general mathematics and science assessment given to 21 nations, U.S. high school students scored 19th in math (beating out Cyprus and South Africa) and 16th in science. We may not be smart, but we're powerful. We can kill! One day, the rest of the world will outsmart us and we'll be inspired to drop our weapons and go back to our books. But don't count on that any time soon. In the words of President Clinton's inspirational conclusion to a speech he gave to Georgetown University presidential scholars: "I believe in your future. I believe America's best days lie in the new millennium. I ask Congress to help me make it so."

It seems the only covenant that exists is between the executive and legislative branches of the government and the 1% of the population that owns this country. Where do we go from here? We have to stay involved and make our voices heard. Don't become complacent. Write to your elected officials about issues that matter. Take a stance. Vote. Otherwise, there's nowhere to go, but nowhere. Before you know it, we'll be looking for another Yugoslavia to remind the world of just how strong we are. And we'll find ourselves wondering, once again, what are we doing there, and in the name of what?


This Week's Other Articles:

Kosovars Vs. Kurds:
Similar Crises Get Divergent Treatment in The New York Times

Seriousness - Silliness - Horror by Milo Clark

Articles Published on Swans Regarding the War in Yugoslavia and its Aftermath

Published June 27, 1999
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