November 3, 2000


George W. Bush hasn't even been elected – yet – and already he's breaking his campaign promises! During the second presidential debate, in answer to Jim Lehrer's question on what he would do in the Balkans, Bush answered: "I'd very much like to get our troops out of there. Our military is made to fight and win a war" – not baby-sit the Kosovars. Underscoring what was an obvious attempt to reassure his conservative Republican base – which has persistently opposed the Kosovo intervention – and cash in on public skepticism of our interventionist foreign policy, his chief foreign policy advisor, Condolezza Rice, told the New York Times that a Bush administration would leave the Balkan quagmire for our allies to sink into, and that the US would seek to pull out its troops. The storm of criticism that followed, from Gore to Albright to anonymous "diplomatic sources," has obviously had an effect, because now, a mere 6 days before Election Day, Dubya's advisors are falling all over themselves trying to deny that they ever said it, or meant it.


In a highly unusual announcement, Lord Robertson, NATO secretary general, disclosed that he has been in touch with the Bushies and "received reassurances" from George W. Bush's campaign team not to take Boy Dubya too seriously. After all, as one analyst put it, everyone knows that

"If the Republican candidate wins, [Bush's] seasoned foreign policy team will talk him out of his stated plans to pull U.S. troops out of the Balkans and press ahead with an extended anti-missile shield regardless of international opposition." His Lordship went on to say "I am not taking sides in this election campaign," His Lordship went on to say, "but I am concerned that no ally would want to unilaterally pull out of what is a common mission in Bosnia and Kosovo."


Translation: We're all in this quagmire together, and don't you Americans forget it. Robertson, meanwhile, was determined to forcefully remind the Bush camp by going public with his fears. Backed into a corner, the Bushies were forced to admit that Lord Robertson had indeed called Bush security policy advisor Stephen Hadley, and, as the Reuters story put it, "Lord Robertson apparently found his words reassuring." I'll bet. After getting an earful from His Lordship, can't you just imagine Hadley's end of the conversation? –

"Look, your Lordship, don't worry about Dubya. He's dumb as a doornail, and, besides, he'll do anything we say. And don't forget, we can always bring in the father."


According to His Lordship, Hadley, who served the senior Bush as assistant secretary of defense with special responsibility for the European front, assured him that "there will be no unilateral action taken in relation to peacekeeping forces by a President Bush administration, if that is the choice." In other words: if the choice is to withdraw from the Balkans without the sanction of our NATO "allies," or stay in, then we're in – to stay.


That no one has taken notice of this outrageous intervention in American politics by a top official of the NATO alliance, and a British Lord to boot, is the measure of how decadent and basically spineless our ruling elites have become. How dare this Blairite s.o.b. presume to pontificate on American politics and try to get his two cents in a week before the election! The Bush reply to the Brits should have consisted of two words: bug off! Instead, they cravenly "reassured" London not to worry, it wasn't going to happen immediately – in effect pushing the prospect of a US withdrawal into the far distant future. What is truly indicative of the ordeal we face if Bush is elected President is that the Bushies are still maintaining that they haven't changed their position. The Clintonization of the Republican party proceeds apace: Clinton's "legacy," if it can be called that, will be to enshrine "spin" and weasel words as the official language of the American presidency.


There can be no doubt that Bush's remarks during the second debate sent shockwaves through the foreign policy establishment: especially all that stuff about how America can't go around the world imposing its will. That, after all, is what an empire does. But what Dubya himself thinks about the subject will have little to do with the actual policy that is carried out. At least for the moment, Lord Robertson, it seems, has more clout on this issue than the candidate himself. Will this situation change once he's in office? The Presidency confers an automatic gravitas that can only have a transformative effect on even the most prosaic personality, but in Dubya's case this will probably not mean that he will somehow become a statesman with the vision to stand up to the foreign policy establishment of both parties. As one European security official put it:

"If Bush came to NATO with those positions, it would be a recipe for a real crisis. But I think in the end, if there is a Republican administration, they will soften their positions. This talk of a division of labor where the Americans would do the 'big war' and the Europeans would do the 'soft security' tasks of long-term peacekeeping is a bit simplistic. A messy world is not going to allow such a mathematical division, even if it were desirable, which it isn't."


Yes, a messy world – made all the messier by the machinations of our faithless "allies." In the age of the American imperium, our satraps are our worst enemies: they can be counted on to badmouth and resent us, to lobby shamelessly and endlessly badger us, even going so far as to blatantly intervene in the final days of a presidential election. They carp and complain, bitterly averring that "everyone knows that the Europeans provide more than 80% of the troops" in Kosovo and Bosnia, while failing to mention the cost of the war itself – roughly $1 billion a month, all of it borne almost entirely by US taxpayers. Ah, but if you want an empire, then you have to pay for it: this is a lesson the Brits learned, to their sorrow, and now it is our turn.


If the polls are right, Dubya's doubletalk on the Balkans is just a hint of what we have in store for us – and not just on the foreign policy front. Four years of a Bush presidency will have conservatives – of every stripe – in a ceaseless lather. As soon as the euphoria of their final triumph over Clinton wears off and the honeymoon is over, conservatives will discover that their great victory is a Pyrrhic one.


Unlike Ralph Nader, Pat Buchanan has made our disastrous Balkan policy an issue in his campaign. Buchanan's address to the 1999 conference received a lot of coverage, and Pat has continually pounded the point home: we attacked a country that had never attacked us or threatened our legitimate interests, and we ought to pull out now. Team Bush, ever sensitive to the threat posed by Buchanan in what looks like a real horse race, tried to cover their flank with a sop to any conservative "isolationists" thinking of straying from the Republican herd. That's what the Condolezza Rice Dog & Pony Show was all about. Lord Robertson did us all a favor by exposing the Bushies for what they are: indistinguishable from their Democratic opponents not only programmatically, but also stylistically. Team Bush, like the Gore camp, will say and do practically anything to win the White House, and the lies won't stop when Clinton cleans out his Oval Office desk. Condolezza Rice's proposal had all the solidity and reality of a soap bubble or a hot-air balloon, and the Brits did us a good turn – without meaning to, of course – by pricking it.


Kosovo is off the front pages, for now, but the place is a ticking time-bomb, one that could go off shortly after – or before – the new President takes office. While we were all mesmerized with our own election, the stunning results of the Kosovo election were virtually invisible. For the victory of the determinedly pacifist Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) over the fascist "Democratic" Party (PDK) of KLA thug Hashim Thaci was truly sweeping: the LDK won in 21 out of 27 municipalities. This means that in all likelihood LDK leader Ibrahim Rugova – considered the George Washington of his country in spite of being vilified by the Kosovo Liberation Army, who accuse him of being a "traitor" – will represent his country in the delicate negotiations that will define Kosovo's status in the post-Milosevic era. The triumph of Vojislav Kostunica in the Serbian elections opens up the possibility of a comprehensive settlement of the Kosovo Question without further resort to violence. But there are forces in the region – and in the capitals of Europe – who are less than delighted with such a prospect. President Kostunica's inaugural speech, in which he denounced nameless European countries for thoughtlessly surrendering their sovereignty for a mess of Euro-federalist pottage no doubt struck the Germans as an open challenge, which it was. As the primary patrons of the KLA, the Germans are no doubt exercising their considerable influence over Thaci and the gang to keep cool and accept the election results, at least for now. In the war-torn rural town of Malisevo, long considered a KLA stronghold, the LDK won with over 50% of the vote. "We thought that the people would vote for those who sacrificed the most, those that fought": so spoke Deli Thaci, chairman of the local PDK group: Agence France Presse reports that

"Thaci stuck to the line given by his namesake and party leader Hashim Thaci, that the poll was marked by fraud and that PDK votes were stolen, but that the party will accept the result 'so as not to destabilize Kosovo.'"


Kostunica has already made overtures to Rugova: the two men, both intellectuals, both committed to a democratic and nonviolent form of nationalism, seem to have a lot in common. But the ever-present threat of the KLA, which was never really disbanded, places considerable restraints on what Rugova can achieve in this regard. For the ex-KLA/PDK is armed to the teeth, and what's more they act as a German fifth column inside the country: they can easily provoke an incident, one designed to escalate into a three-way battle between Albanians, Serbs, and NATO troops – with US soldiers caught in the crossfire.


I was struck, this morning, while researching this article, by something that was posted on the popular Free Republic news-and-comment board, in a "thread" (scroll down to post #14) discussing Dubya's comments on Kosovo during the second debate:

"This post is of personal interest to me being one of the 6500 US soldiers deployed to the lovely Kosovo for a six month vacation with all the comforts of home. I have also spent another four months in the other Balkans paradise, Bosnia. And in all my travels throughout the country, I can find no compelling interest for our presence here. When in Bosnia both sides informed me that they could not wait until we (NATO) was gone, so they could get back to unfinished business. (Killing each other for all you liberals out there.) And here, while Kostunica seems to be more willing to talk to the west making the west perhaps more willing to let him rule over his sovereign, this will just cause the KLA to begin targeting the NATO forces if we are seen to be in cooperation with Serbia. So what is the solution. Now that we are here, unfortunately we are stuck. The only way out for such a large mass of troops having such an impact on the economy is a slow methodical one. Bush, I believe has given veiled reference to this in his 'careful review' of contingency missions, as well as a not so veiled reference proclaiming the need for an exit strategy. That is why you will find a vast majority of absentee ballots from Kosovo in the Bush category on Nov. 7, though I am not sure if I trust the Post Office to accurately or timely deliver those ballots. But I would hope that if anything our administration has learned the consequences of election fraud from the events in the past 24 hours here in the FRY. That is this soldier's opinion, FWIW."

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“Behind the Headlines” appears Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, with special editions as events warrant.


Past Columns

Doubletalkin' Dubya: Bush Backtracks on Kosovo

The Nader Moment

The Smearing of Ralph Nader

Nader Sells Out

America's Fifth Column

Bush, the Balkans, and the Bipartisan "Division of Labor"

Hilary, the War Goddess

Vidal's Valediction: The Golden Age

Norman's Narcissim: Podhoretz in Love

The Middle East: War Without End

Classic Raimondo: Isolationism for Beginners

Notes on the Serbian Revolution and Other Matters

Revolt of the Little Guys

The Clinton-
Gore-Milosevic Connection

Szamuely's Folly: Sympathy for the Devil

Slobo's Gambit: Will It Work?

Adventures in Cyber-Politics, Revisted

Curtains for Milosevic

Dubya's Kosovo Deception

The Return of Pat Buchanan


The Vindication of Wen Ho Lee

Against the EU: Danes Resist Assimilation

UN Millennium Summit: Globalist Dream is Your Worst Nightmare

Iraq and the US – Our Fantasy Island Foreign Policy

Classic Raimondo: Allied Vultures Pick at Iraq's Bones

Colombia – The Deja Vu War

Passage to Cargagena: An Inauspicious Visit

Invasion of the Party-Snatchers

Blowback: Read This Book!

Bush on Kosovo – Turning on a Dime

The Kosovo Fraud: Will They Ever Admit It?

The Outing of Ralph Nader, and Other Atrocities

Why Kosovo? Follow the Money!

Additional Justin Raimondo Archives

Justin Raimondo is the editorial director of 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 is an Adjunct Scholar with the Ludwig von Mises Institute, in Auburn, Alabama, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Libertarian Studies, and 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).

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I want to speak directly to this soldier, and to all the soldiers out there casting their ballots in the presidential election: don't believe Bush for a minute. He has already sold you out. Listen to Lord Robertson, and the "spinning" of the Republican spinmeisters. And, no, we – you – aren't "stuck" in the Balkans. It isn't too late to pull out – and, by the way, the effect of the military occupation on the local economy is not beneficial. Instead it distorts the economic structure of Kosovo, which might just have a few less brothels without the presence of foreign troops. But even if the occupation did have a beneficial effect, however transitory or illusory, that would still not justify putting US troops in the crossfire of a war that is none of our business. If the vast majority of absentee ballots sent in by your fellow soldiers are marked for Bush, as you say, then those who cast them were suffering from a serious delusion. Bush as President will clearly not be bringing our troops home from Kosovo. So I hope you haven't already sealed the envelope and mailed in your ballot, because you may want to change your mind – just as Dubya apparently has. If his alleged desire to get us out of the Balkans is your primary reason for supporting the Republican candidate, then your vote is a wasted one.


Listen, soldier, there's only one candidate this presidential election season who would take us out of Kosovo and the entire Balkans within weeks of his election, and his name is Patrick J. Buchanan. When the shooting starts, and the people we supposedly "liberated" turn against us in spades, you'll rue the day you ever heard of George W. Bush – I guarantee it.

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