Skip to comments.Protecting Kosovo at the Expense of New York
Posted on 09/26/2006 6:00:14 PM PDT by Doctor13
President Bill Clinton lost control of not only his temper during his interview with FOX News Chris Wallace, but also some facts about American national security.
The former President was right to criticize the Bush Administration for paying considerable attention to Iraq at the expense of Afghanistan and the war against al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other terrorist groups. Yet, Mr. Clinton was wrong to claim that he gave the struggle against al Qaeda and the Taliban sufficient priority during his own tenure.
One of Mr. Clintons most striking claims was only indirectly related to the war on terror, in his comment contrasting his years in the White House with his current role. Discussing the differences, he argued that as the president he could simultaneously be trying to stop a genocide in Kosovo and, you know, make peace in the Middle East, pass a budget. As far as the Middle East is concerned, Mr. Clinton indeed made a valiant, if unsuccessful, effort to reach a major Israeli-Palestinian accord. But that was about diplomacy, of course, not waging a war. And in dealing with the Taliban and al Qaeda, it is now clear that Kosovo proved to be a serious and perhaps a fatal detraction.
But first, Mr. Clinton should not try to rewrite history. There was no genocide in Kosovo at the time that his administration orchestrated the NATO attack against Yugoslavia. There was a rebellion by Kosovar Albanians, who were clearly inspired by NATOs intervention in Bosnia against the Serbs. On the ground, the Kosovo Liberation Army regularly attacked Yugoslav police units and civilian officials. Unsurprisingly, the Milosevic regime responded with particular ruthlessness, often not hesitating in launching indiscriminate attacks on villages where KLA elements were hiding and had considerable support.
There was much to criticize in Milosevics answer to the Albanian uprising in Kosovo. But if it was genocide, then the Israelis in Lebanonand, conceivably, U.S. troops in Iraqcould be vulnerable to similar charges. Yugoslav forces began their ethnic cleansing only after NATO decided to attack Yugoslavia. Thus, Mr. Clinton notwithstanding, there was no moral imperative for the United States to go to war when even some masterminds of the operation, including Richard Holbrooke, later acknowledged that it was a technical violation of international law. Kosovo was clearly a war of choice, and even more so than Iraq because Yugoslavia was not an enemy of the United States, had not been accused of harboring international terrorists, and was not suspected of developing weapons of mass destruction.
Yet, just like the Bush Administrations preoccupation with Iraq, the Clinton Administration decision to focus on Yugoslavia had a heavy price for U.S. national security.
In his interview with Chris Wallace, Mr. Clinton excused his administrations inability to mount major operations against al Qaeda and the Taliban by saying that the United States needed basing rights in Uzbekistan, which we got after 9/11. This implies that it would not have been possible to obtain access to bases before the September 11 attacks rallied global sympathy for the U.S. and opened new doors. But America had a real chance to get bases in Uzbekistan, or at least a military presence, much earlier.
As I have written in The National Interest, then Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin proposed U.S.-Russian cooperation against the Taliban and al Qaeda in 1999. Frustrated with Moscows opposition to the NATO attack on Yugoslavia earlier that yearand, more generally, increasingly concerned by Russias newly assertive foreign policythe Clinton Administration dismissed Mr. Putins overtures out of fear that cooperation with the Kremlin would legitimize Russias own presence in Central Asia. So, even after the al Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998, the Clinton teams focus was on containing Russia, not on working with Moscow against al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Even the 2000 al Qaeda bombing of the U.S.S. Cole did not persuade Mr. Clinton or his advisors that working with Russia in defeating the common threat was more important than curbing Russian influence in Central Asia. By that time, Russia was explicitly suggesting using its links to the Northern Alliance in order to defeat the Taliban. Later, President Putin acknowledged in an interview with Barbara Walters that he did not know whether it would have been possible to prevent these strikes on the United States by the terrorists, but added that at that time, we certainly were counting on more active cooperation in combating international terrorism. Both U.S. and Russian sources confirm that Russian approaches to the United States on joint counter-terrorism action in Afghanistan were largely ignored by the Clinton Administration.
Cooperation with China was also a casualty of the U.S.-led attack against Yugoslavia. Milosevic led the last self-proclaimed socialist regime in Europe and the Chinese leadership could not be expected to approve an attack on Yugoslavia any more than the United States would have been expected to endorse a Chinese attack on some democratic state, even one that had committed human rights violations in the course of a civil war. The accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade did not help either, since Beijing took the view that even if it was accidental, it occurred during a bombing campaign that was both bad policy and, because it had not been approved by the United Nations Security Council, in violation of international law. China was another key player in central and south Asia and had considerable influence over Afghanistans neighbor Pakistan.
If Russia and China were in Americas corner in 1999 and 2000, the U.S. could have taken action against the Taliban and either driven them from power or at least severed their links to al Qaeda. This would have made the September 11 attacks much more difficult to organize.
Clinton's misadventures in the Balkans cost American civilian lives.
Protecting Kosovo for whom, and from whom? The facts the KLA had at minimum friendly relations with al Qaeda, was serving the interests of Muslim Albanians, most of whom were illegal immigrants from Albania to Yugoslavia, and until Clinton decided to feed Serbia to the Islamist crocodile in hope of being eaten last, had been on the State Dept.'s list of terrorist organizations, make all the more poigniant the misdirection of priorities and resources, the alienation of Russia, the Balkan Muslim links to later terror plots, to drug-running and to sex slavery, and all the other downsides of this misbegotten policy.
If NATO needs more troops for Afghanistan, it has a ready source. Just stop protecting the Balkan arm of Islamic fascism and let the Serbs deal with them while we deal with the Taliban.
Hoppy, marky-mark, and that other loser are going to go ballistic when they see this one. They hate the truth!
Yes, yes and yes, except that it is too bad that people still believe that Iraq isn't/wasn't full of terrorists. WRONG!
This is an interesting perspective. In fact, I thought I recall reading a couple articles--including one from Michael Savage, about how Kosovo/Serbia and the Balkans in general was more about oil than Iraq ever was. From Holbrooke's personal interest's in the region to Clinton administration commerce trips, to Soviet interests in oil and pipelines from this region, is it possible that this was the real blood-for-oil war? Anyone have any details on this?
It is highly unlikely that the attack was "accidental".
The writer posits that there is an eqivalence between Kosovo and Iraq. Correct me if I am wrong: didn't Clinton tell us we would find mass graves of 300,000 people in Kosovo, where no such graves were found? And did we not find 300,000 bodies in mass graves in Iraq? What was the threat to the US?
If memory serves me correctly, this decision, like so many public-opinion driven decisions in this country in the last 20 years, was made on the basis of a picture of a Romeo and Juliet couple pinned down in crossfire in a village square. A picture is worth a lot more than a thousand words. We committed to defend Kuwait when we saw video of people describing the Iraqi occupuation, and stopped short when we saw pictures of the Highway of Death where so much of Saddam's men and machines were incinerated. We committed to Somalia on the basis of pictures of starvation--the issue had been there for some time, but became an irrestistible force overnight. We turned tail and ran from there at the sight of our mutilated Marine heroes. (Shame on us). The left raised a furor over the Abu Grab-ass issue, not because the issue had been concealed (it had been described for some time in public and private briefings and raised nary an eyebrow), but because the administration hadn't informed its opponents that there were PICTURES that they could put on the front page of the New York Times for 100 days. Of course, the PICTURES of genuine torture in the same prison carried out by Saddam were only viewed by 3 reporters, at least one of whom had to leave the room to vomit, and were far too violent to be put on the front page of the New York Times for any days at all.
Some days I fear we are just as shallow as the Islamofascists think we are.
But I am a Red Sox fan, familiar with disapointment, but knowing that sometimes you actually do win, when it looks pretty damn bad.
from another poster to me......
"An acquantance of mine with a background in energy business explained to me that:
-Caspian crude is of different type than Persian gulf crude or North Sea crude. It requres different refining technlogy, like one used in former USSR.
-there is much less oil in Caspian basin then generally thought.
-The name of the game is not Caspian oil, but Caspian natural gas. When sold to Pakistan and India, it can be sold at higher prices than on world market. It can also keep them in check.
-China is desperate to get hold of this natural gas via Afgan pipeline. That is what Afgan war prevented.
I found it curious that Milosevic death was for several days the top rated news worldwide, as if nothing more important was going on at that time. Experience tells me it was a merely a filler, to detract attention from the real top story, one related to Iran I guess."
Thanks for the info and links.
If you see anything that stands out I would be interested your perspective.