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Jewish World Review Feb. 24, 2000 /18 Adar I, 5760

Don Feder

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No debate on Clinton's inane interventions -- THERE IS NO REAL FOREIGN-POLICY debate in this presidential campaign.

More's the pity. The major candidates are united in their support for Bill Clinton's inane interventions.

As we approach the first anniversary of our air war on Yugoslavia, it's instructive to survey the resulting great strides forward for peace, brotherhood and international order.

On Monday, NATO forces clashed with ethnic Albanians in the industrial city of Mitrovica, scene of 11 deaths in the past week.

A mob of 25,000 Albanians marched on Mitrovica, which has one of the few sizable Serb populations left in the province, determined to "liberate" (ethnically cleanse) the Serbian stronghold in the city's northern section. For several hours, French peacekeepers struggled with demonstrators, finally using tear gas to disperse them.

Reflecting the air of unreality that permeates the West's Balkans policy, Gen. Klaus Reinhardt, Kosovo's NATO commander, said the protesters "have shown the way they want to live and are demonstrating for a better future." They were demonstrating for Serb blood.

In multicultural Kosovo, the party never stops. Since NATO's occupation began, 230,000 Serbs and Gypsies have been purged from the province. (As CNN doesn't call it "ethnic cleansing," it must be something else.) Roughly 100,000 Serbs remain, isolated and besieged among 1.2 million Albanians.

As of early February, 793 people had been killed in Kosovo since Yugoslav forces withdrew; 705 of them Serbs. Each week brings news of fresh atrocities -- grenades fired into a Serb market; a group of Serb farmers found dead in a field, their bodies mutilated; a Serb convoy stoned, resulting in one death.

In December, Dragoslav Basic was driving through the provincial capital of Pristina with his wife and mother-in-law when a group of Albanians spotted them. They were dragged from their car and savagely beaten. Basic, a 62-year-old professor and former Fulbright scholar, was shot dead.

In a March 26, 1999, broadcast to Yugoslavia, Clinton pledged that once the Serbs came to their senses and rolled over, NATO would "preserve Kosovo within Serbia while guaranteeing the rights of its people." It was another Clinton promise you could take to the bank -- that is, the Madison Guarantee Savings and Loan.

The West never meant to protect Kosovo's Serbs, any more than it intended for the province to remain part of Yugoslavia, even in name.

From start to finish, it was a lie, including the rationale for our 78-day bombing campaign. Remember those mass graves NATO flack Jamie Shea spoke of with such confidence? There were 100,000 Albanian men missing, he told us.

Satellite photos showed the location of 100 suspicious sites, each thought to contain as many as 1,000 bodies.

To date, over 70 of the sites have been excavated by forensic teams. On average, 20 bodies were found in each, Serbs and Albanians. Causes of death included disease, NATO bombing and combat, in the case of KLA fighters. This is less than the annual homicide toll of America's three largest cities, not genocide.

There are 6,000 U.S. troops in Kosovo. Eventually, when the Albanians run out of Serbs to kill, they will become targets.

By bestowing de facto independence on fractious minorities, we are promoting ethnic conflict in unstable regions and, in the process, making more work for ourselves. Chechnya exploded just weeks after we wrested Kosovo from Yugoslavia.

The Heritage Foundation comments that the Clinton administration "has committed U.S. forces ... in a haphazard fashion to deal with a variety of international crises that have little or no connection to the nation's security interests."

Instead of a debate on the most crucial foreign-policy question confronting us (humanitarian intervention vs. national interest), we have a chorus of assents.

Gov. Bush, whose father practically coined the phrase New World Order, thinks it's a swell idea. John McCain longed to see U.S. soldiers slugging it out with Yugoslav forces on the ground. Gore and Bradley are New World warriors in waiting.

Only Pat Buchanan, seeking the Reform Party nomination, dissents. Even he is too busy fulminating against the World Trade Organization to pay much attention to the glorious fruits of our latest intervention.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest book is Who's Afraid of the Religious Right. Comment on his column by clicking here.

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© 2000, Creators Syndicate