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Jewish World Review Sept. 27, 1999 /17 Tishrei, 5760

Don Feder

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The Clinton doctrine looks like dili -- THREE THINGS HAPPENED last week that demonstrate the fatuity of the Clinton doctrine. The first of 8,000 U.N. peacekeepers arrived in East Timor. NATO reached an agreement on weapons with the Kosovo Liberation Army. And, in Moscow they were still clearing away the rubble of the recent bombing.

Flushed with his victory over Yugoslavia (a nation that would be hard-pressed in a war with Cost Rica) in June the president fearlessly proclaimed, "If someone comes after innocent civilians and tries to kill them en masse because of their race, their ethnic background or their religion, and it is within our power to stop it, we will stop it."

Here is a promise written on the wind, as East Timor illustrates. Last week, 1,000 Aussies were guarding what was left of Dili, the province's capital.

Following an Aug. 30 plebiscite in which the predominately Catholic population overwhelming opted for independence from Jakarta, pro-Indonesia militias and Indonesian army units went on a carefully planned rampage.

In the words of one foreign observer, "Anyone who's moving they kill; everything that's standing they burn." More than 10,000 were murdered. As many as a third of East Timor's 850,000 fled or were expelled to West Timor.

And Clinton's anti-genocide squad?

National Security Advisor Sandy Berger compared America intervening to stop the slaughter to trying to clean up his daughter's messy dorm room. Defense Secretary William Cohen suddenly discovered that we are not the "world's policeman."

Nobody wanted to get tough with the world's fourth-most populous nation. Indonesia's economy is so crucial to Asia's financial health that international donors have pledged $47 billion in aid since 1997.

Why risk Indonesia's stability to save Christians from Moslems? For form's sake, Clinton canceled a few military sales to Jakarta and the U.N. sent a token force to patrol among the 26,000 Indonesian troops responsible for the carnage.

In light of East Timor, the Clinton Doctrine is in need of serious revision.

We will stop massacres and forced population transfers if the country responsible isn't big and powerful, if it isn't important to the global economy, if it isn't an American ally like Turkey (which has killed 38,000 Kurds since 1990) and providing it doesn't have nuclear weapons like China (which is cuddled by Clinton as it sanitizes Tibet).

But Clintonites can still congratulate themselves on their humanitarian triumph in Kosovo. Or can they? On Sept. 20, NATO finally reached a disarmament agreement of sorts with the narco-terrorists of the KLA.

Rebel leader Hashim Thaci drove a hard bargain. The KLA will regroup as the Kosovo Protection Corps and retain 2,000 of its weapons, to be stored on bases. Hundreds of arms may be carried openly by those designated bodyguards.

It's all symbolic. The KLA will one day constitute the army of an independent Kosovo.

While NATO watched, the province was cleansed of Serbs. Of the 230,000 who were there at the end of the war, roughly 36,000 remain. Triumphant ethnic Albanians murdered 2,000 Serbs and danced in the ashes of 51 Orthodox churches burned to the ground.

By encouraging Moslem separatism in the Balkans and Caucasia, Clinton's war on Yugoslavia has bought us a world of trouble.

It's no coincidence that the Sept. 4 explosion that flattened a Moscow apartment building, killing 90 people, and the fighting in the Russian republic of Dagestan should come on the heels of our Balkans adventure. The fuse was lit in Kosovo.

The week of the bombing, 500 holy warriors crossed into Dagestan from neighboring Chechnya (independent of Russia in all but name), determined to merge both provinces in a fundamentalist Islamic state.

One of the jihad's commanders is a shadowy figure called Khattab, who reportedly has ties to terrorist financier Osama bin Laden -- also believed to be a benefactor of the KLA.

Moscow's sympathy for Belgrade during the Kosovo war had less to do with a shared Orthodox faith, or historic ties, than Russia's understanding of the signal a KLA victory would send to Moslem rebels in its homeland.

Clinton's humanitarian foreign policy is a farce. His interventions in the name of stability have the opposite effect. His obsession with international order is replicating the world of August 1914, when fractious minorities clashed with multinational states and Europe teetered on the brink.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder can be reached by clicking here.

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©1999, Creators Syndicate