OVERREACH OR RECLAIMING THE CONSTITUTION?
presumptive Republican presidential nominee joined Clinton
and Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the administration's point
man on Kosovo, in calling for the defeat of the measure: Bush's
statement was key in winning over waverers like Sen. Thad
Cochran (R-Miss.). With typical Clintonian deviousness, Bush
spokesman Scott McClellan, said, "The Clinton-Gore administration
has failed to instill trust in Congress and the American people
when it comes to our military and deployment of troops overseas,
but the governor does not believe this provision is the way
to resolve the lack of presidential leadership." He added,
"Governor Bush views it as a legislative overreach on the
powers of the presidency." Never mind that the Constitution
clearly gives Congress the power to make war, and not the
President: this was enough for Cochran, who burbled: "I agree
with the governor. He would need the flexibility of a newly
elected president to make decisions with his own advisers."
wait a minute Dubya is not in the Oval Office yet,
as much as Republicans would like to believe that it's practically
inevitable. Doesn't he have to tell us just where he stands
on vital issues such as Kosovo first isn't that
one reason we bother having elections? Because it is not at
all clear what President Dubya would do. As the Kosovars gather
on the Serbian border, carrying their war for "liberation"
deep into Yugoslav territory, he may be forced to take a stand
before Election Day 2000 but given his previous statements,
which jump all over the map, it is hard to say just where
he will come down.
the one hand we have his own seemingly offhand remark that
the war ought to have been prosecuted more "ferociously."
On the other hand, we have the cautious and weasel-worded
policy papers and press statements of his advisors, who make
a strenuous effort to appeal to the noninterventionist instincts
of most conservative Republicans. When the war ended, the
Bush camp issued a statement
in which they averred:
they are returned to their homes, the Kosovars must be protected
by an international peacekeeping force with NATO at its core.
Any United States forces involved must be under United States
or NATO command. The President should also lay out a timetable
for how long American troops will be involved and when they
will be removed. If a residual force is needed, it is important
that over time United States troops are withdrawn and our
European allies assume most of the responsibility."
they didn't mean a word of it, because this is precisely what
the Byrd-Warner amendment would have accomplished. Senate
Republicans who were under the illusion that the Bush camp
meant what they said had the rug rudely pulled out from under
them and this is only the beginning. Just wait until
Dubya is elected President, thanks
to Ralph Nader: then their troubles are really
going to start.
STRING NOT FOUND
job of interpreting the foreign policy pronouncements of George
Dubya and Company is made easier by the dearth of such statements.
The Bush website is packed with information on every conceivable
issue under the sun, but to get to the foreign policy section
you have to scroll all the way to the bottom: a single speech
is listed in that category, in which the word "Kosovo" is
a "search string not found." Only the most determined researcher
is able to find their search engine in the first place
and that in and of itself says a lot. A search for "Kosovo"
turns up 10 items, including these two items on a long list
of foreign policy positions:
U.S. intervention in Kosovo because it was in our strategic
option of ground troops should not have been taken off the
table in Kosovo intervention"
if US intervention in Kosovo was "in our strategic interests,"
then on what grounds can the Bushians call for the phased
withdrawal of all US troops and refer to the US military presence
as "residual"? Is an alleged "strategic interest" to be suddenly
and so easily abandoned, without a thought or even an explanation?
My search for such an explanation on the Bush website proved
best the Bushies can come up with is to pledge, if Dubya
is elected, that he will
an Immediate Review of Overseas Deployments: As President,
Governor Bush will pledge to maintain longstanding commitments,
but will order a review of other overseas deployments. To
improve morale and preserve resources for important interests,
diffuse commitments will be replaced with focused ones. National
security planners will scrutinize open-ended deployments,
reassess US goals, and ascertain whether they can be met.
For example, as he has previously stated, he will work hard
as President for political solutions that allow an orderly
and timely withdrawal from places like Kosovo and Bosnia."
NEW ONE ON ME
there's one for the record books an example of a campaign
promise broken before the candidate is even elected.
Hat's off to the Bush camp: this is truly a feather in their
cap. Not only have they set a record for mendacity, they have
also managed to convince dullards like Senator Cochran and
sixteen other Republican Senators that the time to come out
with a policy is after the election is safely won.
This strategy of laying low until after November is made necessary
because of the threat posed by Buchanan to Bush's conservative
(and increasingly anti-interventionist base) and is
predicated on the hope that Kosovo doesn't explode before
the election. In any case, the battle within the Bush foreign
policy team over Kosovo is already over, and the interventionists
have won. As the Washington Post reported
back in November,
the group tries to reach consensus on major issues, Bush sometimes
has to choose between competing arguments. Last spring, for
example, he was confronted with a difference of views over
whether the United States should take military action to protect
the ethnic Albanian population of Kosovo. Zakheim was against
it. Wolfowitz was for it. In the end, swayed by arguments
that the crisis threatened European stability, Bush reluctantly
backed Clinton's decision to intervene."
AND THE WAR PARTY
was a leading light of the now-dormant Balkan
Action Council which functioned as the major Washington-based
American front group for the Kosovo Liberation Army
and lent his name to the BAC's propaganda, which had been
advocating an all-out war against Serbia since June of 1998:
In January of 1999 they issued the following statement, which
also appeared in newspaper advertisements, calling on Clinton
the international monitors immediately to prevent Belgrade
from using them as hostages and clear the ground for NATO
military intervention. Use NATO air power in sustained attacks
on Serbian police, paramilitary units and military forces
in Kosovo to compel their withdrawal back to Serbia proper.
Deploy NATO ground troops and reintroduce the OSCE monitoring
mission to Kosovo to forestall a return to violence. Impose
and enforce with NATO forces an interim settlement in Kosovo
that restores the elements of pre-1989 autonomy."
AND THE WOLF
statement was signed by Morton Abramowitz, Zbigniew
H. Taft, and Paul
Wolfowitz. A perceptive
piece from last year by Jacob Heilbrun on the "realist"
versus ultra-interventionist factions within the Bush foreign
policy team noted the predominance of the latter in spite
of the former's strength in numbers. Condolezza
Rice is revealed as the author of the "troops out of Kosovo"
pledge, noted above, but Wolfowitz an "impassioned" advocate
of worldwide intervention, is apparently on the ascendant.
While Ms. Rice was the chief inspiration behind Dubya's very
first foreign policy speech, in which the limits of American
power are at least acknowledged, Heilbrun writes that in Dubya's
second and far more widely reported second speech, "he took
the Wolfowitz line." Avers Heilbrun:
irony about the internal Bush team debates is that even though
George W. may not know much about foreign policy, he is playing
the same role as he is in domestic affairs with his call for
a 'compassionate conservatism,' namely, taming the worst instincts
of the GOP itself. As congressional Republicans drift into
the swamps of isolationism, he may be the last barrier against
a full-fledged Republican retreat from the international arena."
other words, the only thing standing between conservative
Republicans and the foreign policy of the Founding Fathers
is their presidential candidate, George Dubya Bush, and his
gaggle of neoconservative advisors as his betrayal
of Senate Republicans on the Kosovo vote dramatized rather
Republicans who are voting for Bush this year partly on the
basis of their belief that he will get us out of Kosovo and
out of the business of empire-building are setting themselves
up for a major disappointment and setting the rest
of us up for a renewed war in Europe that could make Kosovo
look like a Sunday school picnic. For Wolfowitz, in line for
a top job in a future Bush administration perhaps National
Security Advisor sees no end to the Cold War in spite
of the implosion of Communism. The Wolfowitz Doctrine, enunciated
in an infamous memo drawn up by him, is a vision of imperium
as America's inevitable and glorious future. Wolfowitz sees
Russia as America's major antagonist, and explicitly foresees
a US-Russian showdown over NATO expansion. In other words,
Europeans and Americans must be prepared to
lay down their lives so that the small Baltic nations of Latvia,
Estonia, and Lithuania can enter NATO and buy plenty of American-made
weapons with much of the bill going to US taxpayers
in the form of export subsidies and foreign aid.
only must we be willing to go to war for the sake of NATO
expansion, but we must also be willing to die for the imperial
principle of American hegemony on every continent, so as to
inhibit the development of any regional rival into a possible
contestant for global dominance. In the Wolfowitzian worldview,
Serbia is just a cat's-paw for Russia, and therefore must
be smashed. Chechnya is also a likely target of Wolfowitzian
intervention, where yet another gang of thugs is just waiting
to be put on the American dole and dubbed "freedom fighters"
coincidentally, in a region where a large quantity
of oil has recently been discovered.
INVESTMENT PAYS OFF
Republican victory in November would not only unleash Wolfowitz,
the would-be world hegemon, but also the Big Oil faction of
the Bush coalition: as
I have noted before, these folks have plenty of corporate
links to big Republican poohbahs such as former defense secretary
Dick Cheney. The oil companies have taken a big gamble in
the Caucasus, investing billions of dollars (not their own
money, of course, but taxpayer subsidies) and expending plenty
of political capital to strike it rich in the Caspian oil
fields. As American troops are mobilized to guard "democracy"
in Georgia, or Azerbaijan, or some other completely unpronounceable
Caucasian sub-"republic," in order to stop another alleged
case of "ethnic cleansing," it will of course be a coincidence,
albeit remarkable, that certain large oil-related corporations
reap enormous profits. Naturally, the costs of this venture
will be socialized by you, the taxpayer, with your
money and perhaps the lives of your sons and daughters
while the profits will be strictly privatized.
NEW COLD WAR
can bet your bottom dollar that the day after Bush gets into
office will mark the beginning of a new cold war, a new era
of increasingly polarized international conflict that directly
poses the threat of nuclear war. As
I have noted before, Buchanan's book, A
Republic, Not an Empire, has an excellent section
on the Wolfowitz memorandum and its sweeping recommendations:
the apparent rise of its author as the de facto leader of
the Bush foreign policy team does not bode at all well for
those well-meaning mainstream conservatives who opposed that
war and abhor its tragic results: they want to vote for Bush
and hope for the best. In hoping for the best, however, they
are certain to get the worst but I don't want to have
to say I told you so.
the viewpoint of those who see US intervention abroad and
the growing danger of war as the greatest danger to our liberty
here at home, choosing between the two major party candidates
for President is a hairsplitting operation that requires a
political microscope of awesome power. On the one hand, Gore
is the inheritor of the Clinton Doctrine, the policy of "humanitarian"
interventionism that measures the necessity of war on a scale
of political correctness, with the crimes of "racism" and
"nationalism" (synonyms to the Clintonistas) numbers one and
two on the list. On the other hand, the Bush-Wolfowitz vision
of America is frankly imperial, with Washington clearly positioning
as the kind of global arbiter that can make imperialism pay.
In his classic essay, "Ex America," Garet Garrett criticized
the American empire as a new and curious development, the
"empire of the empty purse," where "everything goes out and
nothing comes in."
Dubya gets in office, having raised the largest campaign war
chest in American history from these very same corporate interests,
a lot will come in that's the payoff. Think
of the Bush campaign as an investment, a drop in the proverbial
bucket compared to what is potentially a much bigger payoff
the profits from the biggest oil bonanza
in history. Taken together, these two historical firsts
coincidentally occurring during roughly the same period
are ominous in the extreme. While Gore has rather stupidly
attacked Bush for alleged "isolationism" Where? When?
I eagerly await any evidence of it he has rightly gone
after the Republican candidate for his antagonism toward Russia
and accused him of wanting to revive the cold war. This is
exactly what Wolfowitz and the radical wing of the War Party
are driving at and if Bush makes it to the White House,
Cold War II is practically guaranteed. Russophobia is on the
rise among some sadly misinformed conservatives, although
others, such as Paul
Weyrich and the foreign policy analysts who write for
Chronicles magazine and have now organized the
for International Affairs are notable exceptions.
GORE AND BUSH
Gore versus Bush from a noninterventionist perspective, we
are faced with the choice of sanctimony and fear-mongering.
Either we invade and occupy the rest of the planet for
their own good, or we do it for our own good
these are the Democratic and Republican alternatives, respectively.
As for me, I've made my personal stand for years, not only
in this column but long before that, that there is indeed
a third alternative, and that is in the presidential campaign
of Pat Buchanan. I've written plenty of columns about why,
but I just want to make the additional point that those Republicans
who argue that Bush is better than Gore at any price are by
no means making a certain case. Sanctimony at least implies
some standard of vaguely republican (small-r) virtue, while
fear-mongering in the nuclear age is dangerous and could lead
to nuclear annihilation. An argument could be made
although I am not the one to make it that, given only
two choices, Bush or Gore, from a strictly noninterventionist
perspective Gore is preferable on the grounds that Gore wants
to take on the smaller "rogue states," such as Serbia and
some in Africa, while Bush would go head to head with the
(relatively) big boys, nuclear-armed Russia and China. One
could indeed make the case that the latter course is far more
dangerous, and that therefore Gore represents the only alternative
to world annihilation but we'll have to leave explosion
of that particular fallacy in a future column.
to say that there is indeed a third alternative, one that
anti-interventionists of the left as well as the right are
rallying around, and that is the Reform party campaign of
man who proudly claims the legacy of America First, the
biggest antiwar organization in American history.
AGE WE LIVE IN
impact of domestic politics on our foreign policy is a lesson
bitterly learned by conservatives all through the Clinton
years. The bombing of an aspirin factory in the Sudan crowded
news of yet more scandal off the front pages. As the drive
to impeach the President reached its dramatic anticlimax,
so did the Kosovo crisis. The domestic uses of overseas intervention
are well known to conservative Republicans and perhaps
they have not seen the last of it yet. In any other era, the
following might fairly be termed a thoroughly outlandish conspiracy
theory, but in the Clintonian era I wouldn't rule it out.
. . .
the situation building along the Yugoslav-Kosovo border, and
the mini-republic of Montenegro a tiny tinderbox waiting for
a match, it would only take a small incident to spark a general
conflagration and resumption of US military action. The war
was never ended, but only interrupted, when it became clear
that the American public would not support it. But hostilities
could break out at any time, and this administration has the
power to make it sooner rather than later. Consider the political
implications of such an event: the outbreak of renewed warfare
would split the Republican party, and more than offset the
Nader factor in California (where the Green Party could cost
the Democrats the state). The main beneficiary of all this
would be one Patrick J. Buchanan which is all right
with Al Gore and his partisans.
course, the Democrats could overplay their hand: in the event
of a war involving US ground troops as it would this
time around the Buchanan campaign could very well take
off and garner a level of popular support way beyond the mere
15 percent required to get into the debates. The supposedly
solid Democratic party consensus on foreign policy would immediately
begin to unravel, and then we would begin to see the development
of a left-right coalition against the New World Order
but that really is another column.