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Date: Thu, 10 Jun 1999 00:47:25 -0500
From: Stefan Wray <>

by Stefan Wray
June 9, 1999

Clinton's wet dream is over. Now we have "peace." The U.S. directed war on
Yugoslavia successfully drew media and public attention away from Clinton's
dick and Monica Lewinsky's mouth. Five months ago the press and Congress
were hot with talk of presidential impeachment. Now this talk is dead.
Nothing like a little war to create a distraction.

But are U.S. leaders so cunning they would orchestrate a war to divert
public attention from the ignoble acts of presidents? This is what some
people thought when the U.S. bombed Iraq at the end of December and this is
what some people thought at the onset of the NATO actions against Yugoslavia.

Now, we hear no more talk about Clinton's sexual adventures, nor do we hear
anymore conjectures about how his military adventures conveniently served
to dull the interest in his perjury before Congress. But whether by design
or not, the fact remains that Clinton, as the bombs stop falling on Serbia,
has few people noticeably concerned about his previous misdeeds.

Clinton may have to contend with the wrath of generals who all along
thought his military strategy was ridiculous and doomed to failure. He may
have to deal with continued disgruntlement from some Republicans in
Congress who all along thought the U.S. should have never been engaging in
this latest global police action.

But in the end, receiving criticism from generals and lawmakers over flawed
military strategy is a better position to be in, than being hounded by
House judiciary committee members over charges of lying to Congress and
having to apologize before a national television audience over his sexual
transgressions in the White House.

And again, whether by design or by accident, it does not matter. Five
months ago Clinton was in trouble. Now, he may not necessarily be out of
trouble, but the kind of trouble he may be in is much more becoming of a
president. Historians, of course, will not forget Monicagate, and once this
Yugoslav episode fades in the minds of most Americans - as it surely will
in the not too distant future - perhaps remnants or re-inventions of
Monicagate will resurface. Or not. Maybe the bombing campaign has wiped out
any interest in Clinton's domestic escapades.

So how much did this intended or unintended public relations job cost? And
who ultimately pays? There is probably not yet a definitive total. We have
the cost of the entire NATO military operation, for which the U.S. - i.e.
the U.S. taxpayers - have paid the lion's share. We have the cost of damage
inflicted upon Yugoslavia. CNN reports this evening that just replacing
door and window frames will cost $10 million dollars. Who pays for this is
unclear. Total costs must run in the billions of dollars.

What do we - the U.S. public - get out of this? We were able to observe
superficial news coverage on network and cable television programs that
glorified the campaign and offered little in the way of considered
criticism. We were able to watch so-called government leaders reiterate
over and over again the rationale for the bombing campaign. And from
time-to-time we saw some of the effects of the war with glimpses of
Yugoslav or international television.

But this war wasn't for the American people. Or rather, the American people
had little to lose or gain in this war. There was never any threat to
American lives. Parents of soldiers had little to fear. There were no
American casualties due to battle. At most there was mild paranoia on the
part of relatives of soldiers or pilots. No body bags came home. The worst
thing was the capture of three - a mere three - U.S. soldiers along the
Yugoslav border. Big deal.

Yet when was there a war or military action in which the American people
really had something to gain or lose? The Civil War? Normally the American
people do not start wars, carry out wars, or finish wars. And it's been
quite a long time since the U.S. was actually attacked. For Americans war
exists on television and in film.

Admittedly, despite the losses incurred from the military operations, there
must have been some economic gain. The U.S.-NATO war proves that the U.S.
is still willing to act as a global police force. This is important. War is
good for the economy. And the economy must be protected.

But who really gains? Who was this war for? Why did it occur? Was it by
design? Did it simply just happen? Clearly it had something to do with the
consolidation of power and the realignment of political blocs. Probably
NATO comes out ahead. But then on the other hand with Russia more willing
to talk with China and India, that's bad news for the alliance. But then
again, it seems NATO has now demonstrated a new face - one willing to take
military action. 

But getting back to the original point raised. Clinton, he comes out
relatively unscathed. Yes, he ran into some roadblocks and hurdles, but he
certainly comes out of this more elegantly than he did from the Monicagate

Returning to the question of whether the U.S. instigation of the NATO air
campaign on Yugoslavia was in some way a ploy to distract public attention
off Clinton's poor image, it is not inconceivable, as government's are apt
to do what they need to do in order to maintain themselves, but it is
probably impossible to prove. And it may not matter. But the fact remains,
that Clinton is in better shape in the public's eye and that the war in
Yugoslavia was certainly a distraction from domestic issues that plagued
him. So if there are any winners, Clinton is probably one.