Nice job, Mr. Clinton. Pursuant to the initiation of NATO(spelled U. S.
Air Force) bombing of Serbian air defenses, communications networks, and
oil storage facilities that was intended to dampen Mr. Milosevic's ardor
for ethnic cleansing, roughly a million ethnic Albanians who once had homes
in Kosovo have been driven into exile from their villages. They exist
temporarily in the homes of local citizens or refugee camps just across the
border in Macedonia, Montenegro, and Albania, or are living homeless
somewhere within the province of Kosovo. Of course, Mr. Clinton cannot
take all the credit, since Ms. Albright, Mr. Cohen, and several other
members of the administration's inner sanctum concurred with the political
decision to unleash a barrage of cruise missiles from planes and ships, as
well as laser-guided bombs at carefully selected Serbian targets. As
president, though, we must award him the lion's share.
After all, Mr. Clinton was simply doing the people's work of which he
speaks so often, much as he was doing it the nights Monica Lewinsky
performed fellatio on the presidential phallus. Being noble and
sacrificing a lucrative career in law and lobbying for an ill-paying job
like president of the United States has its fringe benefits if a man is
sufficiently reckless, self-indulgent, and improvident. But I digress.
Domestic politics, at which Mr. Clinton is an acknowledged master, can be
successfully managed by a combination of good intentions, spin, word
parsing, duplicitous half-truths, pervasive lies, and forgotten promises.
They, as he has shown over the years, work beautifully in America's morally
relativistic culture. Unfortunately for him and for us, domestic politics
differ fundamentally from war. And even though Mr. Clinton regards himself
more as a mighty Zeus peering down intently from Olympus while hurling
thunderbolts with impunity onto wretched Serbian mortals, it is a WAR into
which he has led us. The two-dollar question is: now that he is on this
tiger's back, how is he going to get off.
First, a little speculation might be in order. It seems to me that three
months ago, Mr. Clinton picked himself up, dusted off his clothes, and
limped away from his impeachment trial a clear victor. He was anxious to
forget the past, an understandable desire considering this particularly
unsavory past for which the average Japanese politician would already have
disemboweled himself. He wanted to get on with the people's work, and he
had a burning desire to construct a noble and enduring legacy in his
remaining time in the Oval Office. What single edifice might he erect,
Phoenix like, from the ashes of his duplicity and mendacity? There wasn't
much to choose from on the domestic front. Social security, medical
insurance, and budget surplus issues would have to be fought through a
sullen Republican congress. They might not be worth the effort. Why not
undertake mankind's age-old and noblest enterprise, war! Further, this war
was devoid of any vital American interests, would be fought almost entirely
for humanitarian purposes, and could therefore easily be sold to the media
and liberals alike. It could be kept small, circumscribed in nature, and
in the opinion of his civilian advisers, be quickly and cheaply won solely
with air power, perhaps without the loss of even a single American life.
By using NATO as a straw man, some of the political responsibility would be
allocated to other countries, and the sum total of their military might
could be brought to bear on the miscreant nation selected to be humbled by
his administration's moral certitude. Serbia had appeal. The potential
upside gain was enormous, and the downside risk appeared small. He
scarcely needed a poll before making this decision! Snatching an enduring
victory from the jaws of Monica inspired defeat would be a fitting legacy
for the Comeback Kid.
Looking at the box score thus far, the war, which was waged in an attempt
to prevent the removal of ethnic Albanians from their homes, has gone badly
for Mr. Clinton and NATO. If the bombing was intended to discourage Mr.
Milosovic from proceeding with his plans and to bring him to the
negotiating table, it did not work. The Serbian army and paramilitary have
"Cleansed" Kosovo, scattered the insurgent KLA(an organization about which
not much is known except it appears to have Marxist origins, is highly
determined and unwilling to compromise, and employed terrorist tactics to
kill Serbian police), and actually unified the Serbs behind a man many of
them did not like, Slobodan Milosevic. So much for good intentions. True,
NATO's cruise missiles and air force have destroyed much of the Serbian
infrastructure: bridges; airports; oil storage tanks; and military command
and control centers have been hit. But wars that do not serve their
purpose are wars better not fought.
Please understand that I am not making a moral judgment of Mr. Clinton.
His personal approval ratings are already quite low, though our media slur
over that fact and state the president's approval ratings remain very high.
I am saying his foreign military policy is not only badly thought-out,
amateurish and shoddy, but is not working. Its results have been
appalling. Americans, who if the polls are to be believed, consistently
give him high job approval ratings, need to reassess their evaluation of
his job performance.
Pundits and media advisors have felt compelled to write ad nauseam of the
necessity of winning this war to preserve the honor of the United States,
NATO, and of the need to consider introducing American ground troops to
remove the Serbian army from Kosovo. These know-nothings with vast
theoretical, but zero combat experience and no great understanding of
honor, either, are trying to leverage us by poll into a ground war. In
total contrast, some of our generals are going on background to express the
belief too much military might is being diverted to address a thorny
political problem in Serbia which involves no vital American interests.
Military commands around the world where America's real interests are
concerned have been directed to draw down their aircraft and missile
capabilities so that they may be sent to augment NATO's already
considerable forces attacking Serbia. The generals are concerned Iraq,
North Korea, and even China might choose this time to initiate trouble.
None of them is stupid, and they could.
As a former navy frogman, thinking scientist, one who lived as a young boy
through WWII, served during the Korean War, and was still taking annual
active duty for training duty with UDTs and SEALs during Vietnam, my advice
is terse and unself-serving.
- Stay out of civil wars. The uprising in Kosovo is one of them.
- Admit you and your advisers made a mistake in initiating the bombing.
Stop it before we get into a scrap with Russia. As a veteran, I can take
and live with that slur on my honor. As a non-veteran, surely you can,
too. America and its congress decided nothing. You did. Our country is
not yet committed to an ugly combat situation in which many people,
including American troops, are likely to die. People make mistakes all the
time and, quite obviously, it isn't the first one Bill Clinton ever made.
- Your legacy is already horrible. Don't make it worse.
Sam Orr firstname.lastname@example.org