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Jewish World Review May 17, 2000 /12 Iyar, 5760

Don Feder

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Will Congress end a misbegotten intervention? -- LAST WEEK, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee made a modest move toward curbing the New Clinton Order.

The committee voted, 23-to-3, to cut off funding of the American military presence in Kosovo by July 2001, unless this exercise in international social work is authorized by a congressional vote. By then, 6,000 U.S. forces will have been stationed in the province for more than two years without so much as a hall pass from Congress.

A Senate vote on the legislation, and a House consideration of a related measure, could come as early as this week.

Legislators may be reacting to a comment by Brigadier General Ricardo Sanchez, top U.S. commander in Kosovo, who recently observed that peacekeepers will be in the Balkans "for at least a generation."

Funny, Bill Clinton, who's usually known for his candor, didn't tell us that a year ago. Then, after we'd bombed the hell out of Yugoslavia, we were to do a quick fixer-upper -- Speedy Nation-building. Murderous rivalries that have simmered for centuries would be resolved overnight.

The Kosovo Liberation Army (which bears a closer resemblance to the Mafia than the Minutemen) were to be our allies in creating a multicultural Kosovo -- with liberty and brotherhood for all.

That was rhetoric; this is reality. For starters, triumphant Albanians ethnically cleansed 230,000 Serbs and gypsies from Kosovo.

In March, the city of Mitrovica looked like Belfast in the '80s, as Albanians battled NATO forces in an effort to sanitize one of the province's remaining Serb strongholds.

Like hyenas fighting over a carcass, former KLA commanders have begun to squabble over spoils and eliminate political rivals.

On May 8, an ex-KLA leader known as Commander Drini was shot to death. His murder brings to 23 the number of former KLA officers slain since June.

Sometimes the killings involve disputes over property looted from Serbs.

More often, they're positioning for power.

NATO can't keep Albanians from murdering Serbs, killing each other or spreading their war beyond Kosovo's borders. As many as 500 erstwhile KLA fighters (renamed the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac) have infiltrated an adjacent area of southern Serbia that contains an Albanian minority.

There, they are following the formula that served them well in Kosovo -- murder Serbian police and moderate Albanian leaders in hopes of provoking a savage response from the Milosevic regime, which will in turn lead to another NATO intervention and an additional land grant.

Almost a year after the end of the war, Kosovo is a festering wound that worsens by the day and spreads its toxins abroad.

We are in the process of destabilizing the entire region. Besides southern Serbia, there are Albanians in northern Greece, and parts of Macedonia and Montenegro. All have been shown the way to realize their national aspirations.

America has been sucked right into the middle of an insoluble conflict that could not be further removed from our security concerns.

Camp Bondsteel, the largest American base in Kosovo, confirms Sanchez's prognosis. The 354-acre facility is a self-contained city with barracks, two mess halls, a barber shop, PX and movie theater. If Congress fails to act, your grandchildren may yet get a chance to serve there.

Besides the price tag on the 78-day air war, our occupation has cost American taxpayers $2 billion to $3 billion to date. Troops that are stationed in Kosovo and Bosnia lose their combat readiness and have to be retrained when they return to the states, at additional expense.

As far as this administration is concerned, we have no enemies outside of Belgrade and Baghdad. The Peoples Liberation Army is our "strategic partner," in case you haven't heard.

If billions for peacekeeping (that doesn't) is siphoned off a military budget that continues to shrink as a percentage of GNP, so what? Now that AIDS has been declared a national security threat, we'll have an excuse to squander even more defense resources on the liberal agenda.

Moves in Congress to end a misbegotten intervention are moderately reassuring. It would have been far better if the legislative branch had not abrogated its responsibility in the first place.

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