By Robert Ross

Star Wars and Other Wars


"Let the force be with you"
- from the movie, Star Wars

There's this force that's been gnawing at me for the past two months. It's a sense, a feeling, and it follows me wherever I go. I can't shake it. It's a feeling that something is . . . is wrong in the world.

Memorial Day weekend, 1999. Americans acknowledged this holiday with barbeques at the beach, trips to the mountains or visits to the local movie theater to see the much touted Star Wars. And this Memorial Day weekend, like others in the past, had the usual recycled speeches by politicians, the usual local newscasters exploiting what they could of past wars and fallen warriors, and lest we not forget, the usual red tag Memorial Day sales.

While Americans were enjoying their hot dogs on the beach, there were reports of severe bombings by NATO in Yugoslavia. Bombings led extensively by the U.S.

Star Wars and Real Wars
Not wanting to be left out of the Memorial Day "happenings," I thought it might be fun (and appropriate) to see the movie Star Wars. We did. It was impressive. If you're a science fiction buff, it's a must see for the special effects alone. But there are also messages sandwiched between the laser gun shoot outs and bizarre creatures. There's the concept of the ever present "force." The force is an all pervasive, all knowing something that is in the universe and of the universe. It's a feeling, inexplicable, but there. For those tuned into this force, it can work on your behalf. The Jedi Warrior (from the movie Star Wars) is trained to tune into the force, feel its presence and use this mystical power.

The Force
After the movie, I was drawn back to reality, back to an awareness of a "force" that has been plaguing me for the past two months. This feeling started while on a trip to China. I was in China the day the bombing started in Yugoslavia. There was something ominous about it, in spite of the positive spin put out by the politicians. Perhaps it was the fact that there appeared to be no plan, no exit strategy, no definition of victory. Whatever it was, it was very unsettling.

The media calls the bombing in the Balkans, a war. Some of the news channels even have special logos and music to introduce the subject. This war report is usually sandwiched in between sports scores, weather reports and accounts of the record earnings from the movie Star Wars.

Bombing . . . war . . . Star Wars . . . red tag sales . . . hot dogs on the beach . . . there's a disconnect here. Why doesn't this fit neatly into the scheme of things? Why is this so troubling? In spite of the well-groomed media people telling me that NATO just needs a little more time, the force is telling me, there is something wrong.

Purple Hearts and Veiled Threats
As I put the pieces of this column together, I scan the Internet for last minute information on the Balkans. The Drudge Report ( ) has a story that the Pentagon has ordered nine-thousand Purple Hearts. has numerous quotes from Boris Yeltsin - threats of World War III. I read that after all the hoopla, the Apache helicopters were never intended to be used in the Balkans anyway. I read that Slobodan Miloshevic has just been indicted for war crimes. And there are the polls in Greece indicating that the population overwhelmingly would like to see Bill Clinton indicted for war crimes.

Finally I come across a quote from a colonel who had had Wesley Clark (Supreme NATO Commander) as a student: "Gen. Wesley Clark was a student of mine at the War College," says Col. Sam Gardiner USAF (Ret). "If he had proposed a campaign like the one we have in Kosovo, he would have been laughed out of class."

What is going on here? What have we gotten ourselves into? Our friendly relations with Russia have been shattered. We've seriously damaged our relations with the Chinese by bombing their embassy. And three quarters of a million Kosovar's have lost their homes as a direct result of our bombing. Where is this going?

Hot Dogs and Jedi Warriors
Nobody can say with certainty how this will resolve itself. I hope it all works out. I hope a peace deal is struck soon. I hope that my "force" is nothing more than misguided catastrophic thinking. I hope. Perhaps I should head for the beach, have a hot dog, enjoy the holiday. After all, I did flunk out of Jedi Warrior school. What do I know? Who am I to speak?

Copyright 1999 by Robert Ross, all rights reserved 

Robert Ross can be reached by e-mail at 


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