THE LEGACY

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.


Sam Orr sorr@metrolink.net
World Traveler
and Philanthrope
(Location Unknown)