COLUMN: End to Bosnian war should be goal, not partisan issue

by Sheffy Gordon

LAST SUNDAY, as the Clintons returned from their trip to Europe to examine the United States' role in European wars, the order was made official that the United States supports the peace efforts to end a four-year bloody ethnic and religious war that has ripped apart the former Yugoslav republic of Bosnia.

Republican congressional leaders are trying to make Bosnia yet another partisan issue, this time with people's lives at stake. It is imperative that the American people support their troops and the commander in chief because without NATO and the United States there would be no peace.

The stability and freedom of Europe have always been vital to our national and economic security.

We fought the Cold War and two world wars, and we instituted the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War II.

NATO signifies the longest period of peace in modern European history, but a Bosnian war threatened NATO's survival and America's leadership role in the world. But to enter Bosnia is beyond our strategic interests; it is our duty.

Implementing this peace agreement can end the terrible suffering of the Bosnian people. Two million people -- half the population -- were driven out of their homes and forced to live as refugees. Whole neighborhoods have wintered for a year on schoolyards and in alleys.

Others have not been so lucky -- they were victims of the warfare or of mass executions or prostrate to the campaigns of rape and terror. I shudder when I think of the horrors that Europe is capable of.

By standing by, we were sanctioning a second holocaust.

Last month the United States convinced the Serb leaders to sign an accord with the Bosnian leaders. In Dayton, Ohio, they agreed to split the former Bosnia into two countries.

The formal peace treaty to be signed on Dec. 14 is extremely fragile and unquestionably dependent on NATO's presence and contingent upon the United States.

The United States is not going to commit 20,000 troops to war; we are joining a multi-national peace-keeping force necessary to protect lives from the horrors of ethnic cleansing. These American men and women are not draftees like in Vietnam, but professionals who have voluntarily joined the armed services to fight for the American way.

The president had supported our efforts in Bosnia before he came to office, and he remains adamant in a situation that requires strong leadership. We can not let this monumental but delicate peace collapse due to political infighting.

As Clinton quotes Pope John Paul II from a recent conversation, "I have lived through most of this century. I remember that it began with a war in Sarajevo. Mr. President, you must not let it end with a war in Sarajevo."

U.S. Political Scorecard: Key Republican lawmakers refused to say whether or not the federal government will shut down again later this month, even though Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole had said earlier that Congress would avoid a shutdown.

If a budget agreement is not reached by Dec. 15, it would mean the second federal shutdown this year.

Chairman of the House Budget Committee John Kasich (R-Ohio) and Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee Pete Dominici (R-N.M.) have said it was up to the president to avoid a governmental shutdown even though they have rejected the president's budgets. They then canceled the budget talks last week and now appear uninterested in reaching a compromise.

Clinton is demonstrating principled leadership by not making concessions when it comes to the health care of the poor and elderly.

The Republicans want to reduce the budget at the expense of those that can afford it the least.

Also in the headlines this week: Sheila Jackson Lee, freshman Democrat in the House whose district includes Rice University, is one of three U.S. representatives from Texas whose district is being challenged in court.

The gerrymandering of the 18th District has generated a predominantly minority district. The court is determining if it is unconstitutional to have a district representing mostly one race.

Rice's '95 commencement speak-er Senator Bill Bradley (D-N.J.) has been meeting with various other politicians to discuss solutions to the nation's problems.

They call themselves "centrists" who have become disenchanted with their respective political parties.

Other participants include former Massachusetts Sen. Paul Tsongas, former Connecticut Gov. Lowell Weicker, former Illinois Rep. John Anderson, former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart, former Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm, Maine Gov. Agnus King and former Minnesota Rep. Tim Penny.

The Rice Young Democrats will meet again next semester. Look for anouncements.

Sheffy Gordon is a member of the Rice Young Democrats and a Jones College sophomore.

This item appeared in the Opinion section of the December 8, 1995 issue.

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