by Karen Hall


Here's the first thing I need to have explained to me: We are the most powerful nation on the planet, but we are helpless if it's cloudy? We're hoping the weather improves, because otherwise our ga-zillion dollar bombs and planes are worthless? Show of hands, does this bother anyone besides me?

It is impossible to have organized thoughts on this war. Like everything else that Bill Clinton has had his hands (or any other part of his body) on, it has become such a pretzel, there is no telling where it stops and starts. His truth is as fluid as ever: first we were stopping the atrocities against the ethnic Albanians; then we were destroying Milosevic's ability to wage war; then we were "punishing" him. If that doesn't work, maybe we were just looking for a theatre to test our B-2's. If all else fails, hey, we were just providing a fireworks display to entertain the peace-keeping troops!

Here is what Bill Clinton needs someone to explain to him: he cannot get away with treating the rest of the world the way he treats his own people. As the Serbs have proven, his arrogance is not invincible. His henchmen can explain to America why we have to love him and do what he says, but it doesn't work quite so well on the rest of the world. And someone also needs to explain to him one of the bigger problems with Evil: charm doesn't work on it.

And neither do bluster, idle threats, or meaningless lines drawn in the sand. And, apparently, neither do cruise missiles, smart bombs and stealth bombers, which don't do us any good unless it's seventy-five degrees and sunny! (It is, of course, comforting to know that should the Bahamas ever become a threat...)

For once in as far back as I can remember, the entire country agrees on something: This is a mess. We might not agree on how or why it's a mess, or whose fault the mess is, or what we should now do about the mess. But we all do seem to agree that this is a mess. It would be difficult if not impossible to dispute that fact. And as the world looks on in frustration, helplessness and horror, the mess gets worse in front of our eyes.

I am nowhere near intelligent enough or educated enough or even motivated enough to try to unravel this mess. I don't know what went wrong, or when it went wrong, or who to blame. (That is to say, who, in addition to Bill Clinton.) I only have the same questions and concerns as any other everyday citizen. Besides the fact that I find it troubling to know that our forty-seven million dollar (per plane) stealth bombers can't be used in cloudy weather, I am also bothered by questions like this: if we can't, with the help of NATO, win a war against one bully in Serbia...what in God's name is going to happen to us if the Chinese, now apparently well-equipped with all of our military technology, decide that they don't want to be pals with us any more? Same goes for Russia. In fact, given the fact that we can't win a war against one tiny Yugoslavian country, doesn't the same go for anyone?

And aren't we in the process of demonstrating our weakness to the rest of the world? And isn't that, like, a bad idea? If nothing else, I'm sure Sadam Hussein is getting a good chuckle out of this. And isn't that a bad idea, too? And since all we have accomplished so far is to cause Milosevic to speed up his atrocious process of "ethnic cleansing" and to unify his followers, while showing the rest of the world that we are totally inept at backing up our many claims and that we are, in fact, perfectly available for being kicked around, should anyone else be interested...

Well. Maybe now Clinton's approval rating might dip a point or two? And if not, then what the hell would it take? (I have a friend who is convinced that Clinton is "demonically protected." It's starting to sound like a pretty good theory to me.)

This is the part where I would be intelligently attacking our foreign policy, if we had one. This is also the part where I mention, oh so gently, that I have pointed out in the past that this might someday pose a bit of a problem. And now this is the part where I begin to say "I told you so." Bookmark this page, I'll be pointing you back to it later.

God has proven to the world, time and again, that Evil and arrogance do not go unpunished forever. One way or another, Milosevic will pay. But one way or another, Bill Clinton will pay, too. The scary thing is, we are going to pay with him. All these years of "Oh, he's not that bad" are going to come back to, pardon my French, bite us in the ass. If not now, in the Kosovo mess, then later, in the next mess. He has laid the foundation for so many disasters, it would be silly to predict which will be the blow that sinks us.

To those of us who know this, the fact that we've known it all along will be of little comfort.