by Justin Raimondo
IS PEACE BREAKING OUT?
Amid a flurry of diplomatic activity, and after meeting the Rev. Jesse Jackson and a delegation of religious leaders just returned from Belgrade, President Clinton today gave the first hint that he might allow a "pause" in the bombing if certain conditions are met. In a statement that reportedly shocked his advisors, Clinton averred that "We have said all along that under the right circumstances we would be willing to have a bombing pause." Never mind that he never said any such thing at least, not in public until now: the fact is that he has said it, and this is enormously significant, coming as it does at the height of the Russian peace offensive. Taken in tandem with his remarks on the make-up of a postwar international security force, with possible participation by Russia, Greece, Ukraine, and other Slavic countries, the President's comments may be the beginning of the end of the Balkan war or, more accurately, the end of phase one. While nothing is certain, and the bombing not only continues but intensifies, the momentum is toward negotiations and a peace agreement. Jackson's triumphant mission to Belgrade was the catalyst, but the real motivating factor was undoubtedly the surprising (to liberals) transformation of conservative Republicans in Congress into what the Weekly Standard disdainfully called "GOPeaceniks." Clinton knows his poll numbers are plummeting, along with support for this war. He knows an unpopular war would be a potent political issue that could destroy whatever chance the Democrats have of regaining control of Congress and even retaining the White House. We went into Vietnam, and every major war in this century, with bipartisan support. Absent that, launching a war on the ground for Kosovo would exact a high political price one that the Democratic party may be unwilling to pay. And here is where the politics of Jesse's rescue mission come into play: for Jackson is not just an itinerant moralist and savior of Americans languishing in foreign jails, he is also the leader of the left-wing of the Democratic party, such as it is, and his "negotiations now" stance represents a split in the Clintonian base. Jackson wields tremendous moral and political authority within the activist left-wing base of the Democratic coalition, and his defection from the War Party means that Clinton is fatally undermined and effectively isolated. The Tom DeLay-Jesse Jackson alliance may just have derailed Clinton's war plans as least for the moment.
NOT SO FAST
But not so fast. The War Party is far from defeated. The bombing continues, so far without respite, and the administration has not even agreed to release the two captured Yugoslav soldiers as a reciprocal gesture. In the short-term, the prospects for peace could easily be diminished, degraded, and ultimately destroyed this favorite phrase of NATO-crats so like the chorus of some idiotic pop tune embedded in the collective consciousness by the deadliest weapon in the arsenal of the War Party: the KLA.
GULF OF TONKIN II?
In August of 1964, the news that two American ships, the Turner Joy and the Madison, had been fired upon by North Vietnamese war vessels in the Gulf of Tonkin set off a wave of war hysteria among the elites. This war fever culminated in the passage of the infamous Gulf of Tonkin resolution by the U.S. Senate, which President Lyndon Baines Johnson then used as a legal and political justification for escalating the Vietnam brushfire into a full-blown war on the ground. It wasn't until long after the event that the truth about this alleged incident in the Gulf of Tonkin was uncovered: LBJ had been carrying the text of the resolution in his back pocket for months, only waiting for the right pretext to submit it to the Senate. Whatever the literal reality of this accusation, revisionist historians have in any case shown that the "incident" was entirely manufactured, and that if anything the United States ships had crossed into North Vietnamese waters in what amounted to a deliberate provocation. Manufactured "incidents" have long been a favorite of the War Party, and the Balkans are rich with possibilities. The Kosovo Liberation Army has been operating out of Albania, and with semi-covert aid from the NATO powers, is seeking to reunite the army of Albanian recruits with the KLA veterans trapped inside Kosovo. KLA cadre have infiltrated the porous Albanian border with Kosovo, and, using cell phones and other means of communication, help NATO to track and pinpoint military targets. These border incursions have provoked Serbian counterattacks into Albanian territory, and any one of these incidents could provide a pretext for the beginning of the ground war. This would also give the NATO intervention at least some legal cover however gossamer-thin on the grounds that a sovereign nation (Albania) had been invaded.
WAR IS PEACE
There are so many tripwires built into the emerging "peace" plan that it would be more accurate to call it a recipe for war. Armed and trained by Western intelligence agencies, its ranks swollen by coercion and desperation, and lavishly financed by plenty of drug money (and probably more than a few U.S. tax dollars), the KLA would not just disappear in the wake of a negotiated settlement, but would devote all its energies toward disrupting any peace plan. The "refugee" camps proliferating on the Macedonian and Albanian borders of Kosovo are incubating a permanent army that no peace plan can appease: nothing short of merging Kosovo into a Greater Albania" is likely to assuage them. Instead of pacifying the Kosovars, vague promises of "autonomy" will only enrage them and increase their already overblown sense of grievance and victimization. The KLA is the major reason any "peace" plan brokered by the U.S. and Russia is likely to be temporary, if not fleeting, a short pause before the war reignites. The real danger of such a "peace" agreement would be the alleged necessity of stationing a "NATO core" of "peacekeepers" made up primarily of American soldiers a permanent army of occupation that would guarantee the territorial integrity of what would become yet another NATO protectorate on the Bosnian model. Such a force would be immediately caught in the crossfire of an ongoing civil war, and, longer-term, inevitably thrust eastward, deeper into south-central Europe, until it found itself on the frontiers of the former Soviet Union Kosovo write large.
KLA TO KOSOVARS: WHO NEEDS ELECTIONS?
A very interesting article by Chris Stephen in the Irish Times [May 3, 1999] notes that the KLA has few operational units inside Kosovo, and that the armed resistance inside the province is under the command of the rival FARC, loyal to Albanian "provisional president" Ibrahim Rugova, who is now pursuing the path of negotiations with the Yugoslav authorities. KLA leader Hashim Krasniqi says Rugova is guilty of a crime "worse than treason" for which the punishment is presumably a fate worse than death. This same Krasniqi, once a disciple of Rugova's, speaks of the KLA as embodying "the will of the people": his vision of a "liberated" Kosovo is one in which the KLA runs the state and elections do not take place "for at least a year."
NATO EVICTS XHUME KALLARI
Xhume Kallari loves her house: it may be small, and humble by Western standards, but she has lived in it for almost half a century, and it is a pleasant cottage ensconced in a grove of fruit trees, near Tirana airport. She lived there with her two sons and their families, a black milk cow, Lule, and a yellow dog, Luci, in rural solitude until the arrival of the NATO centurions. Now she is being forced out of her home, told to pack up her things as quickly as possible and get out not by Serbian ethnic cleansers, but by the U.S. Army. The NATO-crats have decided they need her land to expand the Task Force Hawk base at the airport that will be used to launch air strikes into Kosovo. While the doctrine of eminent domain has never been applied to other countries, we're sure that some clever functionary at NATO headquarters will think of writing up a clause in the new expanded NATO Charter to make it all retroactively legal.
A PROPHECY FULFILLED
Less people read the Weekly Standard every week than read one or more articles posted on this website, yet editor Bill Kristol is all over the tube as the chief spokesman, the Little Lenin, of American conservatives. Last night he was on Larry King, along with Bob Woodward and the demonic James Carville, and all four sang the same song in perfect harmony: the Republicans are practically traitors for daring to oppose the rape of Serbia. Asked if he thought that Jesse's mission to Belgrade was admirable, Kristol answered "No, not really," and proceeded to trash Jesse while ignoring the fact that he had brought the three captured Americans back alive and well. Woodward could not resist asking: "If one of those soldiers was your son, you would get down on your knees and kiss Jesse's private parts if you knew he was bringing him back alive," but Kristol denied it and I believed him. Here is a man who talks about "crushing Serb skulls," a dwarfish little would-be Napoleon who dreams of establishing American "world hegemony." Why should he care about the fate of a few ordinary human beings when the fate of his would-be empire is hanging in the balance? Snarling about "GOPeaceniks," he expressed astonishment at the transformation of the Republican Party and opined "that's why I left the Democrats. Now I think I'm going to have to go back." Why, it was only yesterday, in this very column, that I dared express the hope that the neocons might be traveling back to their ancestral home, the Democratic party little did I know that the exodus would begin so soon. Bill, we're going to hold you to your promise and, remember, anything we can do to facilitate your exit, you have only to ask.
BOYCOTT THE WEEKLY STANDARD
Ranting in the latest Weekly Standard that the GOP is "a simulacrum of Vietnam-era left-wing Democrats," Kristol asks "What's next? Sit-ins? Posing for TV cameras while sitting on antiaircraft guns in Belgrade?" Sit-ins have their place, but hopefully that won't be necessary after Congress cuts off funding for the air war and nixes the ground war before it happens. As for "posing for the TV cameras," Bill Kristol does that at least on a weekly basis, thanks to his corporate connections and now his ideological convergence with the likes of James Carville. The two of them made a great team on Larry King's show compared to Kristol, Carville seemed softer and less malevolent and it was quite a sight to see the would-be Svengali of the conservative movement nod eagerly as Carville emitted his pearls of wisdom on the subject of the war: "Well, you see," he growled, "there's the Good Guys, and there's the Bad Guys, and we're the Good Guys, and they're the Bad Guys."
You have to hand it to Kristol, though: the little twerp never gives up. He is not going to accept the verdict of virtually every conservative leader and intellectual, not to mention the overwhelming majority of Republican activists: it is now "up to the leading Republican presidential candidates to save the party from the ignominy into which the congressional Republicans threaten to plunge it." The only hope of the minuscule Republican branch of the War Party is in the "leading" Republican presidential candidates, whom Kristol ever the purveyor of the conventional wisdom identifies as McCain, Elizabeth Dole, and Bush II. He makes a special plea to George Jr. to "reiterate his position to win this war." Bush is probably wondering how he can reiterate something he never iterated in the first place: certainly he never enunciated his policy with such sparkling clarity. But Kristol would not be content even with this: he requires nothing less than the complete jettisoning of the Republican majority in Congress by the Bush campaign: "he should repudiate last week's votes" cast by Republican House members many of whom have endorsed Bush's presidential bid. One can only conclude that Kristol is not just contemplating leaving the GOP, but has in fact already defected and is now attempting to do as much damage as he can. Republicans should retaliate in kind: a boycott of Kristol's not-very-widely-read magazine might have a limited effect, given Rupert Murdoch's deep pockets, but we recommend guerrilla tactics: the next time you see the Weekly Standard on the newsstand, see if you can unobtrusively slip it behind a copy of The Nation, or, better yet, The Advocate, where no conservative is likely to find it.
The idea that the Republican nomination is locked up, if it ever had any validity, is now completely invalidated by the war. The political fallout from this fateful conflict is just beginning to be felt, but it is safe to say, even at this stage, that no Republican presidential candidate who supports Clinton's war is likely to get the nomination. The longer the war goes on, the more unlikely the War Party is to capture the GOP nomination. In the past, the internationalists have had control of both parties so that, as Garet Garrett put it in 1952, "Between government in the republican meaning, that is, constitutional, representative, limited government, on the one hand, and Empire on the other hand, there is mortal enmity. Either one must forbid the other or one will destroy the other. That we know. Yet never has the choice been put to a vote of the people." If this war goes on much longer, it will, finally, be put to a vote of the people and this is a contest the War Party will be hard put to win. If Bush II takes Kristol's advice, he will instantly lose his front-runner status, no matter how much money he has raised. This war is already an albatross around Al Gore's neck, and no GOP candidate can wear it and win.
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Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of Antiwar.com. He is also the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement (with an Introduction by Patrick J. Buchanan), (1993), and Into the Bosnian Quagmire: The Case Against U.S. Intervention in the Balkans (1996). He writes frequently for Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture. He is the author of An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (forthcoming from Prometheus Books).