THE KOSOVO CARD
lost, 53 to 47, according
to the New York Times, with "at least two or three
Republicans saying they were swayed by Governor Bush, who
called it a 'legislative overreach' that would tie his hands
if he became president." There can be little doubt that Dubya
provided Clinton with the margin of victory in this fight
with the Republican Congress. Without Dubya's support, Clinton
would have been forced to bring the troops home by July. But
that didn't stop the Bushies from playing the Kosovo card,
cynically seeking to cash in on to growing noninterventionist
sentiment within their own party. They sent Dick Cheney out
to do the job a bit of irony that resonates with those
who know that Cheney, during his tenure as CEO of the Halliburton
Company, personally made a killing on Clinton's Kosovo
adventure. After all, it was Brown and Root, a division of
Cheney's company, that received the noncompetitive government
contract to build the facilities for US troops in Kosovo.
Yet here he was saying that maybe we ought to get out, as
the Times [September 1, 2000] reported:
addressing the merits of the Clinton administration's initial
decision to send troops into Bosnia and Kosovo, Mr. Cheney
said today that it was time to consider pulling the remaining
American ground troops out of the Balkans, perhaps while still
keeping a small presence there to gather intelligence and
help the remaining international force with logistics. 'We
might continue to do that," he said. "But troops on the ground,
in Europe, in the Balkans in particular, now that the crisis
supposedly has passed in Bosnia and Kosovo, strikes me an
appropriate role for our European friends and allies.'"
QUICKIE, REPUBLICAN STYLE
that Cheney and his buddies have made billions, and there
are no more barracks
to build and mess
halls to maintain at bases like Camp
Bondesteel, in northern Kosovo, it might be time to bring
the troops home that is, if it doesn't upset the Europeans
too much. A foreign policy of "take the money and run" is
as close to noninterventionism as any Republican on the national
ticket is allowed to get.
Kosovo war gave leftwing European politicians the chance to
get up on their high horses and declaim against "genocide,"
all the while striking noble poses and clamoring for US intervention.
But when it came time to pay the bill, they executed what
you might call the old "eat and beat" maneuver: eat your fill,
and then slip out the door hopefully unnoticed. Cheney is
naturally critical of the Europeans welshing on their debts
especially since that debt is owed to the Halliburton
Company. The GOP vice presidential nominee only recently gave
up any financial interest in his ex-employer. You'll remember
he divested his stock shares only with extreme reluctance,
and no wonder: Halliburton's soaring stock prices have made
Cheney a rich man, and he might've been even richer if only
those European ingrates had paid their bills and those
media spoilsports hadn't made such a fuss about a "conflict
of interest." Is there no justice in this world?
bid for the "isolationist" vote enraged the Clinton White
House. Joe Lockhart bellowed that Cheney "now has an obligation
to come forward and say which deployments he was opposed to.
Was he against our action in Haiti? Was he against our action
of returning peace to Sarajevo and Bosnia? Was he against
reversing ethnic cleansing in Kosovo? Was he against eight
years of containment of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of
mass destruction? I think those are questions he should answer."
But don't hold your breath, because the answer is: none of
the above. Now, quick: which major presidential candidate
opposed each and every one of those deployments? No guessing,
and please don't tell me Dave
Phillips, or Harry
Browne I said major, or at least major-minor.
The answer to our pop quiz question is to be found at the
end of this column, but, no, we aren't there yet. . . .
lies of politicians often come back to haunt them, but rarely
has a brazen fib boomeranged so quickly. The Bushies may have
thought that Warner-Byrd was dead and buried, but rumors of
its death turn out to have been greatly exaggerated. Looks
been resurrected by those mischievous House Republicans,
who restored it to their version of the 2001 military appropriations
budget. The measure would cut off money for nearly 6,000 United
States ground forces in Kosovo by April 1, unless Congress
votes for an extension and once again the Bush camp
is trying mightily to drive a stake through its heart. The
House and Senate versions of the budget must be reconciled
before Congress adjourns for the year, and this is the last
sticking point. "We feel pretty strongly about it," said Representative
Dick Armey of Texas, the House majority leader. "The question
is, how long will we have people over there, and when will
we have a clear definition of what they're doing?" With the
same fine appreciation for legalistic hairsplitting displayed
by our current President, Bush and his advisors are reiterating
their "legislative overreach" argument but not too
loudly, in the hope no one will take notice, the House Republicans
will capitulate in the end, as usual, and the whole issue
will go away. . . .
the issue isn't going away, as recent events in and around
the former Yugoslavia make all too clear. Kosovo is a ticking
time-bomb that may or may not be set to go off before Election
Day 2000. The Bushies are betting that it won't, but with
Election Day in Yugoslavia September 24 fast
approaching, all bets are off. The same game is being played
out in the Persian Gulf:. As a war scare drives the price
of oil to new heights, the market is betting on bombs over
Baghdad and so, no doubt, is Al Gore, who would be
delighted with an "October
surprise" as a kind of going away present from the President.
He may, however, get more than he bargained for. In the final
months of his presidency. Clinton's legacy of shame may turn
out to be an inheritance of blood which will stain
the next President's hands as well as Clinton's.
didn't start this war" the Republican mantra is not
hard to divine "but we sure know how to finish it.
Since we're in it we've gotta win it!" How many times
did we hear John McCain utter this mindless rationale for
mass murder, while puffing out his chest and smiling with
clenched teeth? As Secretary of Defense in a Bush administration,
Madman McCain will be unleashed: instead of just talking
about sending American ground troops into battle in the Balkans,
he'll have the chance to do it provided he has
the ear of one of Dubya's
foreign policy tutors. . . .
HAGELIN, AND THE FOOD FETISHIST VOTE
Republicans who mistook Cheney's highly conditional half-promise
to get us out of the Balkans as a solemn commitment were bound
to be disappointed. There is only one major candidate in this
race who would pull up stakes at Camp Bondsteel shortly after
being sworn in, and now, finally we are come to the answer
to our pop quiz and, no, it isn't Ralph Nader. While
Ralph has been in the news a lot I thought it was charmingly
counterintuitive if a bit impolitic the way he came out against
medically-assisted suicide while campaigning in Washington
state, where a "right to death" measure passed the
world is still waiting for the word "Kosovo" to pass his lips.
I think we're going to have a loooooooong wait. He'd much
rather talk about the alleged dangers of bioengineered oats,
a fetish issue on which he has a stance eerily similar to
that of Harvard-educated physicist and crackpot John Hagelin,
the presidential candidate of the Transcendental Meditators,
and the only candidate who thinks he can fly. Now if Nader
wants to really crack the crackpot vote, and horn in on Hagelin's
racket, maybe he can investigate the joys of "yogic flying."
Okay, folks, enough is enough: coming right up is the
answer to our pop quiz. Did you get it? Let's see. . . .
PLEASE . . .
one major presidential candidate has opposed each and every
foreign adventure, each foray into overseas folly, since the
end of the cold war, and that is Pat Buchanan. The Reform
Party candidate, who came roaring back from a brief illness,
rested and refreshed with a $12.5 million infusion into his
campaign coffers, is not trying to send voters a subliminal
message. Pat is upfront and in your face about it: in
his speech to over 2,000 cheering students, faculty, and Reform
party activists at
Bob Jones University, world capital of political incorrectness,
he denounced the war moves of this rotten administration:
Buchanan promised that if elected he would bring American
troops home not only from Europe but also from the Middle
East, averring that we need to redeploy them on the Rio Grande
as a shield against rampant illegal immigration because
our very sovereignty is threatened. He then turned his sights
on Kofi Annan and the delegates to the UN Millennium gabfest,
where the nightmare of a world government was portrayed as
the dream of benevolent visionaries. As is his wont, Pat addressed
the elites directly, gleefully detailing the ignominious fate
awaiting them under a Buchanan presidency: "We want the United
Nations out of the United States by year's end,'' Buchanan
said. "If you have trouble leaving, we'll send up 10,000 Marines
to help you pack."
REPUBLIC, NOT AN EMPIRE
understands, like no other political figure today, the centrality
of the concept of national sovereignty in the post-cold war
world. All the other candidates repeat the "globalization"
buzzword, but only in a limited economic sense of the term.
What they don't talk about is the globalization of American
military and political power, except to exalt it: none but
Buchanan points to the deadly dangers. Deadly not only to
the lives of our soldiers but to the life of our Republic.
A republic, not an empire this the title and theme
most recent book (a scholarly but very readable and accessible
history of American foreign policy) and the leitmotif of his
campaign. It will become the slogan of a new generation of
activists and a new politics, born in the shadow of war and
of a monstrously overgrown and overweening American Imperium.
Let it be our battlecry.