Bartlett's Balkan stand imitates McGovern in '72


June 06, 1999

When I attended the College Park campus of the University of Maryland from 1968 to1972, it was the height of the Vietnam War.

As a Republican and supporter of Richard Nixon, I sometimes felt very lonely when we discussed politics. often. In fact, it was Nixon's strong stance in foreign affairs that attracted me to the Republican Party in the first place, along with the near-isolationist philosophy of the Democrats.

Given that, you can imagine the slow burn I've been doing the past two months as many Republicans in Congress are starting to sound like George McGovern over the war in the Balkans.

I'm not saying that President Clinton is handling the effort to force Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic out of Kosovo in the best way possible.

I am certainly no admirer of his, and someone needs to inform the man that the only way we are likely to eject the Serbs and allow the refugees back is by taking and physically holding the land. And for that you need ground forces.

However, many Republicans in Congress are criticizing President Clinton for even being there.

They question if it is in our national interest to be involved. They decry the fact that sometimes civilians have been killed, or that possibly our own people may become casualties of the fighting. Sounds like McGovern's arguments to me.

What set me off on this subject was a recent fund-raising letter from our own Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett proudly announcing thathe's joining in a lawsuit under the War Powers Act (a Democratic-passed law Republicans originally opposed) to, as he puts it, "stop the madness in Serbia." George McGovern, circa 1972, wanted to stop the madness in Vietnam.

Mr. Bartlett also boasts of meeting with members of the Russian Duma to hammer out an agreement to end the war. What our supposedly conservative congressman neglects to point out is that the Duma is dominated by reconstructed Communists and rabid anti-Semites, and is by and large very anti-American.

Here he doesn't remind me of George McGovern as much as Jane Fonda.

Perhaps Mr. Bartlett and his kind represent the American people on this issue, and once again, I'll start to feel very lonely. Maybe it is time to start a national debate over what our role in the world needs to be.

It is a truism that we are the only superpower left, but I've found that truisms are truisms mainly because they are true. And if it isn't in our national interest to try to end the atrocities in the Balkans, where World War I started with an act of Serb terrorism, then maybe we need to bring our troops home from Europe and possibly elsewhere.

Then we could retreat into an isolationism apparently Mr. Bartlett and others would be more comfortable with. The American people need to engage in some hard thinking and start making choices over which way they want to have American foreign policy head.

As for Mr. Bartlett and like-minded Republicans, I never considered voting for George McGovern. I guess I won't start now.

Frank H. Rammes, Finksburg

Pub Date: 6/06/99

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