TRAIN THEIR COPS
That same day President Clinton finessed
the situation by signing a directive providing for $10 million for
a US program to train foreign police forces. "In peacekeeping
missions from the Balkans to East Timor," quoth Our Boy Bill,
"establishing basic law and order has been among the most important
– and formidable – challenges." Secretary of State Madeleine
said the State Department would be setting up an office to run the
program, saying it would improve US capacity to provide police overseas
in coordination with the United Nations.
Maybe the former commandos – er, commanders – at Waco could be called
upon as instructors. They don’t seem to be doing much except standing
by to participate as witnesses in a civil trial that might or might
not go forward.
Again, I might just have missed the part about how this appropriation
originated in the House of Representatives, as the US Constitution
requires all appropriations to do. Surely the executive branch doesn’t
have authority to appropriate $10 million for a brand-new program
that could have entangling long-term consequences for US relations
with a host of others countries without first getting the go-ahead
from Congress, does it?
It’s only in empires, not in constitutional republics, that the
emperor’s whim is law. Isn’t that right?
REINFORCEMENTS, NOT REDUCTIONS
By March 13 Spring was just around
the corner, but Admiral Venturoni’s hope that by Spring some troop
reductions might be in order had hardly been fulfilled. Instead,
the murmurings about possible additional troops being needed had
become an official request from our pal, US General Wesley Clark,
the NATO supreme commander. He needed several thousand more troops
– maybe 2,000, maybe more – in three battalions.
The French agreed to provide one battalion, but it wasn’t clear
where the others would come from. US Defense Secretary William Cohen
noted that "we have quite a contribution to date," with
5,500 of the 44,000 troops then in Kosovo being American. But he
noted that there were 2,200 Marine personnel, including 1,150 combat
troops, on US ships in the Mediterranean.
HAPPENED TO UNITY?
the good admiral missed in his forecast that it might be possible
to start thinking about troop reductions in the Spring. How accurate
did his comment that the Kosovo war had improved unity among the
NATO powers turn out to be?
not especially accurate. On March 13 Chris Patten, the last British
governor of Hong Kong and now the EU’s commissioner for external
affairs, was warning that strains over finding of Kosovo’s "reconstruction"
could poison relations between Europe and America and lead to a
serious transatlantic rift.
Madame Madeleine had made a comment in Sarajevo about the "need
for pledges to be fulfilled," which was taken by most as a
complaint that the Europeans weren’t kicking in enough money. Mr.
Patten said the Europeans had done their share, "but it’s important
to convince the [US] Congress."
Stephen Castle, writing from Brussels for the London Independent
put it: "EU-US ties are already tense, with several trade disputes
pending and America increasingly suspicious about Europe’s new defense
initiative. Mr. Patten warned against opening another front that
could ‘contribute to a serious problem for our relationship.’"
In essence, then, Admiral Venturoni,
the official NATO spokesman, was almost 180 degrees wrong in his
anticipation last October of how things were going and how they
would progress. He was guarded in his optimism, of course, but he
expressed it. But by Spring NATO troops were being beefed up in
Kosovo rather than drawn down. And NATO unity was in tatters.
March 13 was a genuinely busy day for
NATO. That was also the day Amnesty International accused NATO and
the United Nations of failing to observe high human rights standards
in Kosovo. During the late unpleasantness in Mitrovica, said the
group, an Albanian had been killed by the NATO-led KFOR force. The
circumstances were such, said Amnesty International, that an independent
investigation into the incident was required.
There was also the matter of 49 people detained by French forces
in the aftermath of the violence in inhumane, cold and unsanitary
conditions – an unheated small gymnasium when the temperature was
around zero – and denied them basic rights like being told any reason
for their detainment.
are concerned that the violations we observed that day in Mitrovica
are illustrative of a wider pattern of disregard for human rights
by KFOR and UNMIK [U.N. Mission in Kosovo] while operating in the
capacity of a law enforcement agency in Kosovo," said Liz Griffin,
an Amnesty field worker in Kosovo who co-wrote the report. "We
note at present that there is absolutely no accountability for the
actions of KFOR and UNMIK in Kosovo," she noted a bit later.
It really should be considered, in
light of the Amnesty International report, that NATO and UNMIK have
become the kind of rogue regimes – systematically cutting corners
to the point of abuse in carrying out what they conceive to be the
mission – the administration is always warning us about when it
requests new funds and new powers to do surveillance on the Internet
to fight against terrorists.
That raises a larger question yet. In light of the oft-demonstrated
incompetence and malfeasance of NATO, a coalition of nation-states,
has the time of that human institution started to run out?
THE GOD IS DYING
Lew Rockwell put it recently, "The main political project of
the century has been to exalt the state to a god-like status."
Even as the kept intellectuals struggle to revive respect for the
state as an essential institution under new labels or with new goals,
like bolstering national greatness, however, the statist project
is in tatters. Everybody but the kept intellectuals knows the state
– at least the 20th century mega-state, whether expressed
as a communist, Nazi, fascist or welfarist institution – is incompetent
and increasingly desperate.
The idea that sheer chaos would ensue if the state and its minions
didn’t manage almost all aspects of human existence is being replaced
by the dawning notion that state management produces more chaos
than it ameliorates – even when the intentions are good, the cause
is just (like peace in Kosovo) and the mission seems clear. The
state is proving to be a bungler in almost all it undertakes.
The modern nation-state assumed approximately the shape it still
has in the 1600s. But all human institutions and empires eventually
become bloated and fail, giving way to some new mode of organizing
human activity. It might not be the twilight of the nation-state
as such just yet. But the bloated monster that most nations have
allowed to be built during the 20th century is overdue
for a reassessment.
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