Monday, May 24, 1999

Week of 05/24/1999

Clinton’s War
Clinton’s Quest For Immortality Could Become His Vietnam

- by David Matthews 2

When President Bill Clinton was re-elected in 1996, there was a word that popped up that many Americans would soon regret hearing:


When Ronald Reagan was re-elected in 1984, nobody heard the word "legacy" uttered about his administration. Reagan’s second administration was supposedly to finish the work he couldn’t do in his first term. Neither was that word uttered when Richard Nixon was re-elected in 1972, even though by that time - like Clinton - he was embroiled in scandal. But Clinton, the darling of the liberal media and the master of spin control, was re-elected and suddenly his supporters were petitioning to put his face on Mount Rushmore.

Case in point is Clinton’s latest campaign - the air war over Kosovo.

Now before you start blabbing on about ethnic cleansing and tanks and Slobodan Milosovic and why don’t I "care" about what’s going on, let’s look at the rest of the world for a second.. I am always being reminded that the Internet is a global medium, so let’s look at world events. The ethnic cleansing going on in Kosovo is neither new nor exclusive. There have been similar incidents with the Kurds in Turkey, the Kashmir separatists in India, and the Tamil separatists in Sri Lanka. Each of these happened with minimal mention in the American media and few - if any - words from the Clinton Administration, never mind one AWAC plane.

Now ask yourself, if the press paid even half as much attention to these incidents of ethnic and racial cleansing as they did in Kosovo, do you think we would get involved in them?

Next, ask yourself just when did the bulk of the reported atrocities against Albanians start? I’m not talking about the scattered gunfire, but rather the full-blown mass killing, rapes, forced exiles, and landmines. Did we hear about these things before we got involved militarily? No, we only heard about them AFTER we started sending planes and missiles.. and oddly enough AFTER the Serbs exiled most of the international journalists and took over the rest of the country’s media. It is almost as if our involvement gave Slobodan Milosevic the green light to commit horrible atrocities.

Don’t get me wrong.. what is going on right now against the Albanians in Kosovo is atrocious. I know someone who has family that was forced out of their home by the Serbs, and I’m sure they are thankful that at least some action against Milosevic is happening. But how much of those atrocities happened because of our military intervention?

Then there is how we got involved in the first place. How did we get involved? One minute we were talking about getting the Serbs to agree to a treaty with the Albanians, the next minute we were threatening to bomb the Serbs. What happened to change all the talk about peace?

Perhaps the key reason for the US to go from being peacemakers to warmongers has nothing to do with the Serbs or Milosevic, but instead from a more local crisis.

Not too long ago, the American public was hearing about a breach of security, and how nuclear secrets may or may not have been given to China. Congress was demanding a complete investigation. Lawmakers were actually using the words "impeachment" and "treason" in regards to possible responses. Given the fact that President Clinton was impeached last year by the House and had to go through an impeachment hearing in January, it would be no stretch of the imagination to know that Clinton would be willing to do whatever it takes to divert public attention away from a second impeachment hearing on some very serious charges.

And it would also not be a stretch of the imagination to believe that Clinton would use military action to divert attention from a potentially disastrous political scandal. After all, what else would explain Clinton’s December air strike over Iraq around the time of the House impeachment debate? "Wag The Dog" may have been a movie, but only Bill Clinton could have made it a real political tactic.

Then there is the debunking of fifty years of beliefs concerning the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the military force being used to attack the former Yugoslavia. NATO was supposedly a defensive organization created to defend western Europe against Communist aggression. Fifty years of being told that NATO was NOT the military extension of the United States. President Clinton has destroyed all of those arguments by using NATO as an aggressive, offensive action in what is essentially a civil conflict.

Let’s get brutally honest here.. this is Bill Clinton’s war. This is not America’s war, even though it is American lives that are being put in danger. It is not NATO’s war, even though it is being waged under their banner. It is not the United Nation’s war, because they were shut out of any kind of involvement. This isn’t even Kosovo’s war anymore, even though it is being done in their name. This is Bill Clinton’s war; a war for his legacy. A war for his ego.

And what is the endgame for this military action? Bomb the Serbs into peace? I got news for you, it’s been done... miserably. You may have even heard about it.. its called Vietnam. You remember Vietnam, right Mister President? The civil conflict that we got involved in thirty years ago? If history served, Bill Clinton had his own reservations about getting involved in that kind of conflict. How so much can change in thirty years, especially when the man who once avoided military service doesn’t have to put his own life on the front lines.

However, for the sake of argument, let’s suppose Clinton’s air war does succeed in getting the Serbs out of Kosovo. What then? Well, then we’d have to have ground troops in the region to make sure the Serbs stay out. Even before we started bombing, this was to be a non-negotiated condition for peace. But now, after we showed our aggression against the Serbs, it would have to be an extended presence to make sure the Serbs don’t come back. And that smacks of the kind of hostile environment of yet another foreign policy embarrassment. Anyone remember Lebanon?

Come to think of it, we still have "peacekeeping" troops in Bosnia. Weren’t they supposed to come home a few years ago?

If anything, there are three ways this war will end: First, Mr. Milosevic sees the light and agrees to pull his people out of Kosovo and agree to a peace treaty. Not likely, especially since Milosevic suffers from the same narcissistic egomania as Clinton. Second, we declare "victory" and pull out. We did this in Vietnam, and quite recently in Iraq, and in the world arena that earned us the name "paper tiger." As a world power, we were an embarassment.

The third option, and the only real option now, is to go through with the air assault, followed by a strong ground presence that will continue well into the next presidential administration, if not longer.

Ironically, the loudest voices against continuing our attack in Kosovo are the Republicans.. the party once deemed "warmongers" for their belief of a strong military. Even better, some Republicans in Congress have threatened to invoke the War Powers Act to stop the conflict.. a law that the GOP despised in both the Nixon and Reagan Administrations. My, how the tables have turned!

Listen folks, I may question the real motives behind us getting involved in Kosovo, but the fact of the matter is we’re in it, and in it up to our eyes. Unlike the sentiments of some people, we cannot turn back without embarrassing ourselves politically. Bill Clinton has placed us in a no-win scenario in that regard. Either we follow through, or we embarrass ourselves. It won’t harm Clinton one bit.

And that is the real problem. President Clinton is so obsessed with this whole idea of "legacy" that he will do anything and everything to build it.

Folks, a real, legitimate, positive legacy is forged after the deeds are done, not while they are being done. And forging a legacy is certainly not an excuse for the deeds. Great men are not great simply because they say so, nor simply because they have a group of followers who say so. That isn’t greatness. That’s a cult. There is a difference.

In all likelihood, this war in Kosovo will become Clinton’s own Vietnam, a conflict that will cost many lives no matter how it turns out. The only good that will come out of this kind of action will hopefully be a resolve to no longer trust men who speak of legacies and destiny.

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