Lack Of Leadership Led To Morass In Balkans


In a time of conflict, armies require leadership and planning. Without it, motivation wanes and chaos prevails. You cannot tell the enemy what your forces will do and not do.

Having recently returned from the Balkans on a volunteer executive assignment, there are a few very serious questions we as Americans must address:

1. Where is our planning and foreign policy?

2. Do we have a qualified leader -- would we follow him in battle or take a poll first?

3. Will we learn to choose our leaders and role models more smartly?

Americans are admired for who we are, what we have achieved and that we can vote in a free enterprise system. As the Balkans struggle to be individual democracies, the one overwhelming answer when I asked, "Would you rather go back to a socialist communistic society or be in democratic free enterprise?", always was a resounding "No."

It is absolutely true that we must protect the Balkans for our own vital interests in Europe. However, what we are committed to today could have been avoided if we had stood tall in 1995 and 1996 and put out of power the dictator monster in Yugoslavia. Oh, those were election years and we could not upset the polls.

The only reason we are now on the horns of a dilemma is due to our constant lack of leadership, indecisiveness and moral problems at the top. We are once again viewed as the "The Toothless Paper Tiger."

I pray I am not grooming my grandchildren for more future battles. The following is the conclusion of my final report before I returned from war-torn Croatia on March 2:

"SUMMARY: This was an interesting assignment. It is over -- and yet I feel it has not begun. We all hope to make a difference in our lifetime -- as little or as large as it may be. I pray my role has served some little justifiable purpose.

"With very deep gratitude, I thank those who have assisted me, especially the past volunteers who were here before me. They set the thread to my path. I certainly could not have done it alone, in a land the language of which I do not speak.

"I recall my first view of Vukovar -- the vision I wish I could forget. Builders dream always a drive to excel -- to create anew. I will never forget my visit to the church of Saints Philip and Jacob. A Franciscan house of God, laying in rubble, wounded and scarred -- the torment of man.

"Can I ever forget the guardian Franciscan priest's words when first we met? Pointing to the ruins, he sadly said, 'This is what 20th century man has done.' Scripture tells us there is a time for everything under the heavens. Now is the time to build."

Anthony J. Alfano

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