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Syndicate: (Fwd) Nebojsa Vilic: Washington Post article

From: "Nebojsa Vilic" <>
Date: Sun, 28 Mar 1999 09:26:04 +0000
Subject: Washington Post article

To:     ,,
Subject:          look - forward?
Date sent:        Sat, 27 Mar 1999 11:24:14 EST

Confused on Kosovo

By Charles Krauthammer

Friday, March 26, 1999; Page A33 

Just hours before President Clinton sent bombers to attack Serbia, he gave a
speech to explain why. Unlike the televised address he delivered the next
night, this speech, delivered to a union group on Tuesday, appeared to be
unscripted. It was Clinton being Clinton. It has to be read to be believed.
For incoherence and simple-mindedness, for disorganization and sheer
intellectual laziness, it is unmatched in recent American history.

It is forgivable to make a difficult, if mistaken, decision in a situation
with no very good options. It is not forgivable to send American men and women
into battle in the name of a cause one can barely elucidate.

Clinton's first stab at telling us "what Kosovo is about" is this: "Look all
over the world. People are still killing each other out of primitive urges
because they think what is different about them is more important than what
they have in common."

But if that is what Kosovo is about -- an inability to "just get along," to
quote Rodney King -- why are we going to war? Cruise missiles are an odd
instrument of social work.

In fact, Clinton is wrong. The reason for the killing in Kosovo is not
mindless ethnic hatred but quite rational power politics. There is a guerrilla
army of Kosovar Albanians who want independence and are willing to kill to
achieve it. And there is a Serb army that wants to keep Kosovo in Yugoslavia
and preserve the sovereignty of the state. And they are willing to kill for

By the president's logic, the American Revolution was Minutemen and Redcoats
killing each other out of primitive urges because they thought what was
different about them was more important than what they had in common.
Contrary to Clinton's sentimental view, civil war -- in Kosovo as elsewhere
-- is not mere mindless bigotry. It reflects the desire of one group to
another, and the other to resist that domination. It is about politics, not
about psychology.

Later in the speech, Clinton seems dimly to acknowledge this point. He said
"it was an insult" to claim that the Balkan peoples are congenitally given to
ethnic warfare, "that somehow they were intrinsically made to murder one
another." So, he concludes, contradicting his view of just five minutes
earlier, Kosovo is indeed about more than people just fighting over ethnic
differences out of primitive urges.

What then? Clinton makes a halfhearted attempt to show that it's about our
economy, stupid. "If we're going to have a strong economic relationship that
includes our ability to sell around the world, Europe has got to be a key."
Our economy demands a "Europe that is safe, secure, free, united, a good
partner with us for trading."

Okay. But what's that got to do with Yugoslavia? How is it that during the
Bosnian war, a far more savage conflict involving three European countries,
the United States enjoyed its greatest peacetime expansion in history, a boast
Clinton never tires of making?

Perhaps realizing that he is on soft ground here, Clinton immediately switches
rationales. "And so I want to talk to you about Kosovo today but just remember
this -- it's about our values. What if someone had listened to Winston
Churchill and stood up to Adolf Hitler earlier?"

But if Serbia's Milosevic is Hitler, how come this Hitler has been our peace
partner in the Dayton Accords these past three years now?

Never mind. When in doubt play the Hitler card. No matter how ridiculous the
analogy. After all, Serbia has no ambition to rule a continent, nor the power
to do so.

It was always wrong and unwise to call Saddam "Hitler" (as both the previous
and current administrations have done), but at least Saddam in control of the
vast oil wealth of the Persian Gulf would have become the dominant power in
the region and a nuclear-armed threat to world peace. But Serbia? In Kosovo it
is not even attempting to take over any foreign territory. Its objective is
merely to retain sovereignty over a province that has been Yugoslavia's since
Yugoslavia was created in 1918.

Clinton then veers into an attempt at domino-theory geopolitics, saying that
it is really about Greece and Turkey. He says that twice, never explains why,
and then drops the subject completely. Was he reading talking points?

It was a disgraceful performance. People join the military knowing they might
one day be asked to risk their lives. They thus cannot complain when that day
comes. But they also join the military with the expectation that when they are
sent to risk their lives, they serve a commander in chief who can, unscripted,
justify their coming sacrifice in a manner that at least simulates
deliberation, strategic thinking and coherence. On that score, they have
already been seriously let down. 

c Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

Nebojsa Vilic, Ph.D.
Faculty of Drama Arts
University 'SS. Cyril and Methodius'
Ruger Boskovic b.b. / P.O.Box 134
MK-91000 Skopje, Macedonia
tel. 389 91 37 05 96


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