The Arizona Republic
February 18, 1997

By Bob Djurdjevic

On January 21, President Bill Clinton swore to uphold, defend and protect the U.S. Constitution, along with all other things it stands for - like the liberty, safety and lives of American citizens. And as Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces, the President also reassumed his responsibility to care for our soldiers' safety and welfare, no matter where in the world they serve.

Less than two weeks later, our President has already breached his solemn vow...

During the night of Feb. 2, Slobodan Milosevic's riot police charged the pro-democracy peaceful demonstrators in Belgrade, Serbia, just as they were dispersing for the night. The police savagely clubbed and injured more than 80 people, including a female Serbian opposition leader.

But one victim also happened to be an American. Not an ordinary U.S. "tourist," lost in the streets of Belgrade past midnight, looking for a cheap motel. It was an off-duty U.S. Marine who worked at the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade.

Whether he was accidentally caught up in the melee, or whether the proud Marine was there to show his solidarity with the Serbian pro-democracy demonstrators, we don't know. We do know, however, that he "was caught and beaten by the riot police," according to the State Department spokesman, Nicholas Burns.

And we also know that, our supposedly "hawkish" new Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, and the newly-elected Commander in Chief of our armed forces, have done diddly-squat about a U.S. Marine being beaten up by the thugs of a two-bit dictator, Slobodan Milosevic.

Worse, for the proud Americans who have served with the Marines, this incident did not even rate a personal comment by the self-appointed defenders of the "free and democratic world" - whose salaries we pay. Clinton and Albright left it to the State Dept. press handlers to paper over the matter.

People in this country used to say that when things got really tough, it was time to "call in the Marines." Their harsh "code of honor," depicted in a Jack Nicholson/Tom Cruise/Demi Moore film, "A Few Good Men," only served to reinforce such an image.

But with a U.S. Marine left to bleed in a Belgrade street by his wimpy Commander in Chief, we ought to be asking ourselves - what is our country coming to?

Bob Djurdjevic
Phoenix, Arizona

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