Student feedback sought on Bosnia troop plan Rep. Bartlett visits college to talk about Clinton plan

November 29, 1995|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

A congressman came to class at Carroll Community College yesterday, sampling opinion on the president's proposal to send U.S. troops to Bosnia.

The idea is "to get feedback from people most directly affected," said Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, a 6th District Republican. "Ultimately, the mission to Bosnia cannot be a success without public support."

In his audience were about 30 students, several local residents, veterans and relatives of members of the military.

One student said he wondered why the United States seemed to be constantly trying to save the world.

"As soon as the world saw what was happening in Bosnia, they looked to us," said Steve Redmer, 19. "They knew we would do something. We do every time."

A sense of moral outrage should compel Europe to help one of its own, Mr. Bartlett said.

"I am appalled at the lack of response from Europe to this holocaust in miniature," he said. "The Muslims have every right to look at Europe and say their lack of action is allowing genocide. If the victims had been Jewish, can you imagine the reaction?"

Some students said the United States should continue its traditional role as a key military presence in world affairs.

"Bringing stability to Central Europe is vital to our interests, and I agree with the president wholeheartedly," said Ken Ruby, a Vietnam veteran.

Other students, many with friends in the military, reserved their support. Mark Riggs, 23, called the Bosnian situation a losing battle.

"These people have been fighting since the Middle Ages and will continue to fight forever," he said.

Matt Heard, 20, asked why Americans will make up a third of the peacekeeping force, estimated at a total of 60,000 troops. "Other countries are sending much smaller numbers," he said.

Mr. Bartlett said U.S. military analysts fear that if left unchecked, the civil war could spill south into Greece and Turkey, U.S. allies. Others worry that the conflict could move north into Ukraine or Kazakhstan, among the largest nuclear powers.

Linda Boyer of Finksburg has two sons of military age. "I am not willing to ask them or any of these kids here to give their lives for no good reason," she said.

Mr. Bartlett said his staff is hearing similar sentiments repeatedly. Calls to his legislative office are running 40-to-1 against the president's proposal, he said.

"The president is very good at arguing," said Mr. Bartlett. "We need to continue our support of NATO, but I am not convinced we need our youth on the ground in Bosnia."

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