most common complaint, of course, is that the doggone war simply
didn't do enough damage to the Yugoslav infrastructure and that
NATO lied about the amount of damage it was doing while the bombing
war was underway. The bombing apparently didn't destroy 122 tanks,
as NATO spokesmen had claimed, but perhaps 13. The Serbian troops
seemed to withdraw from Kosovo in good order, with their morale
in relatively good order. And Slobodan Milosevic, clearly identified
in a Leon Wieseltier piece in the June 28 issue of the New Republic
as the primary villain, still rules in Belgrade, even as Saddam
Hussein still rules in Baghdad, thanks to wimpy western tactics.
Heilbrunn, in the same issue of the New Republic, laments
that "the Kosovo conflict has raised a fundamental question
that the Clinton administration has not yet squarely confronted:
namely, whether the United States should champion sovereignty or
self-determination in dealing with foreign nations and their internal
national minorities and national liberation movements." After
making a few concessions to strategic realities and acknowledging
that the United States can't intervene everywhere or in every instance,
Heilbrunn concludes that "the problem with American foreign
policy is not that it challenges national sovereignty but that it
does not challenge it often enough."
notion that the United States should be, as John Quincy Adams put
it, the friend of freedom everywhere but the guarantor only of its
own, is apparently not even worthy of consideration.
the most noxious comment on the war's aftermath came from John Judis,
writing a TRB column in the same issue of the New Republic.
Noting that the debate over Kosovo was distressingly abstract, he
put it down to "the detached relationship that Americans have
to the military and, by extension, the national government."
The cure for this fraying of the communitarian bond, he says is
some kind of universal military training. He laments the failure
of the Truman administration to enact UMT in 1948, heaping scorn
on opponents like former Senate Majority Leader Robert Taft, who
viewed universal military training as "contrary of the whole
concept of American liberty."
sees the Clinton administration's Americorps as a nice try in theory
but flawed in practice because it is a small, purely civilian pilot
program. He would prefer the grandiose National Service ambitions
of Northwestern University sociologist Charles Moskos, who wanted
virtually every high school graduate enrolled in some kind of government
service program, "intended to attract an overwhelming majority
of 18-year-olds and to affirm the universality of national obligation."
has hope, however. "Kosovo demonstrates once again the urgency
of such a plan not in order to fill the ranks of the military
but in order to repair the frayed links among American citizens,
their nation, and their nation's foreign policy."
you or I be surprised that modern "liberals," social democrats
and quasi-socialists are so enamored of the idea of enforced service
to the state that they can uproot their temporary Vietnam-era aversion
to the military and become advocates of universal military training?
No, we shouldn't be. The earliest 19th-century socialists explicitly
admired the military as a model of order, discipline and service
to a higher state-ordained purpose and a great leveler as well.
Many thought the entire society should be organized just like the
military, with a clear hierarchy and those at the bottom well trained
to follow orders.
you create a loving and humanitarian order by teaching people to
kill other people which is what the military is about
is apparently not a question worthy of consideration, let alone
imperial skeptics might be worth courting, however. Steven Rosenfeld,
writing in the Washington Post and quoted with approval by
Elliott Abrams in National Review, acknowledged that "it
turned out that the principal shortage ... was of viable military
and economic targets. Serbia being a small, middle-level country,
the number of these began to run short. The gap was made up by verging
into targets that could be hit only by putting civilians at extra
risk." Abrams believes this is the "fundamental humanitarian
problem of the Kosovo war," and worries that the shift from
being the arsenal of democracy to being the purveyor of relentless
bombing campaign could be "an honor we may wish to refuse."
Kissinger, who supported the bombing campaign once it had begun,
albeit with apparent reluctance and reservations, was even more
explicit in Newsweek: "No issue is more in need of rethinking
than the concept of humanitarian intervention put forward as the
administration's contribution to a new approach to foreign policy.
... Moral principles are expressed in absolutes. But foreign policy
must forever be concerned with reconciling ends and means. At every
stage of the Kosovo tragedy, other mixes of diplomacy and force
were available." The final result, he believes was "more
refugees and casualties than any conceivable alternative,"
meaning the Kosovo war "deserves to be questioned on both political
and moral grounds."
Andrew Bacevich, professor of international relations at Boston
University, writing again in National Review, seems genuinely
troubled, not only at the cost of the uncertain victory and its
$2 to 3.5 billion a year in ongoing peacekeeping operations, but
by the precedents it set, including the degrading of the concept
of sovereignty. "Contemplating the implications of Kosovo,"
he writes, "Todd Gitlin, reformed antiwar activist turned crusader,
observes that 'just wars are not only possible but legion.' Certain
that their intentions are righteous, Americans can look forward
to one, two, many Kosovos."
also notes that "a new warrior emerges from this conflict:
the highly skilled pilot of a B-2 Stealth bomber, flying from his
base deep in the American heartland, entering the Balkan war zone
without being detected, delivering satellite-guided ordnance to
demolish an unseen target, and then returning safely home in time
to take the kids to Little League or Burger King. The pilot is anonymous
and is unaware of the effects achieved at the target area. Let us
not burden him or ourselves with worrying about such
things. For our cause is just and our intentions honorable. Surely
others will respect that, and the bombs that turn bridges, factories,
and apartment blocks into rubble will bring us the peace we seek.
bet on it."
very few of these second thoughts do we find an acknowledgment that
the actions of the United States resemble not so much those of a
humanitarian rescuer but of an imperial ruler, determined to punish
those who veer from the path of order and willing to establish protectorates
around the world to be ruled de facto by the United
States, NATO, the United Nations or whatever instrument is most
conveniently to hand. Nor is there much consideration of the implications
of such an imperial policy here at home for the freedoms and rights
Americans are supposed to cherish. The domestic populace is still
expected to continue working and being taxed and to kill
and die when called upon to keep the empire running smoothly.
It's just that the imperial elite should be smarter and more prudent
in deploying its resources.
while American elites in all areas of the political spectrum seem
comfortable with the idea of an American imperium empowered to intervene
whenever a conflict in some foreign nation displeases them, I still
don't think the American people relish the idea of an American world
empire. President Clinton's public opinion ratings, which had seemed
utterly impervious to any scandal, actually declined somewhat during
the Kosovo war. I don't think that's because most Americans had
detailed doubts about the military strategy in Kosovo. I suspect
it's because an increasing number of Americans started asking what
the hell we were doing intervening in this fight and couldn't find
a satisfactory answer.
something to build on.
contribution of $20 or more gets you a copy of Justin Raimondo's
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the Balkans, a 60-page booklet packed with the kind of intellectual
ammunition you need to fight the lies being put out by this administration
and its allies in Congress. Send contributions to
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