- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 16, 2000

Nobles: The 150 British paratroopers who braved death to save six hostages. The sun may have set on the British Empire, but it still shines brightly on that nation's understanding of how to use the military. This understanding could be clearly seen this week as 150 British paratroopers stormed a Sierra Leone stronghold that held six soldiers hostage.

The end result was amazing and indicative of what happens when great nations muster the courage to fight for what is right. In all, 26 bandits were killed, many others were captured and the stronghold was crushed. All six hostages were also freed and none too soon, for their haggard look revealed the ill-treatment they had received. The hostages were also British soldiers who were in Africa helping train Sierra Leone's troops. They were captured a few weeks ago.

Regrettably, one British paratrooper died and several others were wounded. But the unseasoned unit, filled with troopers who had never been in combat before, performed remarkably well, according to The Daily Telegraph in London.

The troopers braved machine gun fire seconds after leaping from helicopters and into a swamp. They waded through the chest-deep water as bandits skimmed the surface of the water with automatic weapons fire with weapons England had given to Sierra Leone's government and which were likely stolen by the bandits. The choppers provided suppression fire as the troopers advanced and stormed the stronghold. The hostages were under protection of the paratroopers within a few minutes, but the whole exercise took about two hours before the remaining bandits were captured, killed or driven off.

In America, military leaders should have watched the operation closely. Many military leaders in this country often refuse to contemplate a policy that could cause the death of a single American soldier, whatever the merits of the policy. This approach to foreign policy deserves a good chiding, which it got in a recent Wall Street Journal article by Max Boot. That article persuasively argues against a zero casualty policy. Such a skittish policy is exactly the wrong approach for a large, powerful nation. It simply makes keeping the peace harder to do, because timid military leadership encourages belligerents.

Thanks to the British approach any surviving bandits in Sierra Leone will think better of taking a British subject hostage. For this the world owes many thanks to the boys who waded into the swamp.

Knave: Al Gore's campaign staff in Michigan, for discriminating against a disabled reporter from the Flint Hill Journal.

"There are millions of Americans who are held back, not because they have a disability, but because that disability is misunderstood," Al Gore said last July. Unfortunately, it seems Mr. Gore's campaign doesn't understand that those with disabilities would also like access to campaign events which certainly makes the Gore campaign knavish.

Chad Swiatecki, a young reporter for the Flint Journal in Michigan, has been confined to a wheelchair since childhood. He says it has never really prevented him from doing what he wanted to do; that is until he tried to cover a Gore campaign event in Michigan recently. He was stopped and told the event was not wheelchair accessible; he would not be allowed to ride in the press van or follow the motorcade in his own car.

Mr. Swiatecki was not only held back, he was left out. He wasn't able to cover the event so he wrote a terse first-person article for his paper, which caught the eye of the national media. Soon CNN and many other large media outlets were searching for details of his story.

All of this led to several apologies from the Gore campaign and even a phone call from Mr. Gore himself. Too bad Mr. Gore can talk the talk on equal treatment for the disabled, but when it comes to actually working with those who cannot walk, the vice president and his team can't walk the walk.

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