Bush squandered his chance to strengthen the US military

By Anatoly O. 04.15.2001

In February 1998 U.S. Marine jet severed a gondola cable at an Italian ski resort, sending 20 people plummeting to their deaths. Right after the accident, Italian officials demanded that the U.S. landing rights be revoked at bases in their country. A year later marine captain Richard Ashby has been acquitted of all charges in connection with the cable car accident. Calling it a "slap in the face," Italians expressed outrage at the acquittal of the pilot. The undersecretary of defense, Paolo Guerrini, said parliament should review the provisions of the NATO treaty. Italians have demanded that NATO bases in Italy be closed.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the need of NATO, as an alliance for collective defense, disappeared. The Department of Defense, the Navy, and the Marine Corps recognize the critical value of combat training. It became necessarily to create a mini-war for testing new weapons, combat training and restoring the importance of NATO. U.S. government used the situation in Kosovo. U.S. made the offer Serbs could not accept. This justified 30,000 sorties as part of NATO's air campaign against Yugoslavia.

February's sinking of a Japanese fishing boat by a U.S. submarine off Hawaii comes at a time of mounting criticism of the U.S. military presence in parts of Japan. The People of Vieques, with the unanimous support of all of Puerto Rico´s community sectors and with the support of the Puerto Rican Government, demand that the Unites States military forces in Vieques, Puerto Rico, cease permanently all war practices, exercises and other activities.

April 1st the US Navy plane EP-3 collided with a Chinese jet fighter and landed at Lingshui Airport in Hainan. Chinese held 24 crew members, (21 men and three women,) from the U.S. plane. It was excellent opportunity to test new navy weapons, to destroy Chinese submarines and destroyers, to give U.S. servicemen combat experience. Bush squandered this chance. Bush needs to ask for advice and help from members of the previous administration.