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Jewish World Review April 12, 1999 /26 Nissan 5759

Paul Greenberg

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Just a few questions

(JWR) ---- (
JUST A FEW RANDOM QUESTIONS about the current unpleasantness, general debacle, ongoing folly or whatever this is in the Balkans:

  • Why is this administration still assuring the enemy that he need not worry about a ground war? An air war can certainly influence an adversary, but even after the most prolonged or effective bombardment, somebody has to occupy the land. Even after 40 days and 40 nights of uninterrupted aerial assault, it took a 100-hour land war to divest Saddam Hussein of his ill-gotten Kuwait. Even after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, an occupation force was necessary.

  • Why are troops from the United States and the rest of the alliance not assembling even now in Macedonia, Albania, Hungary, encircling Serbia with overwhelming force? The more evident such force, the less likely it would have to be used.

  • Why was the most foreseeable result of any war -- refugees -- not foreseen? And if it was, why wasn't NATO prepared for Slobodan Milosevic's war-by-refugee?

  • Why are the Joint Chiefs of Staff leaking stories about how they warned this would happen, rather than avoiding political statements?

    Whatever happened to being good soldiers with no political axes to grind? The generals and admirals and their talkative staffs need to save this kind of thing for their memoirs.

  • Why weren't attack helicopters (not to mention adequate food, supplies, armaments and troops) sent to the Balkans before the air war was launched? It's called preparation.

  • Why weren't the military, political and diplomatic foundations laid before this war was launched? Why are we only now discussing what our war aims should be?

  • Why isn't every Albanian boy being taught how to shoot? Why isn't every Albanian girl being taught how to shoot? Why aren't we giving every able-bodied Albanian who has managed to flee Kosovo a weapon, training and a place in the newly formed ranks of a well-organized, highly disciplined and all-encompassing Kosovan army of liberation?

Why hasn't Washington recognized Kosovo's independence? Why isn't it helping organize a Kosovan government in exile?

  • The U.S. Army still has Civil Affairs battalions; I remember being assigned to one of them for a time. Any plans to use them?

  • Why are we cooperating with Slobodan Milosevic's ethnic-cleansing campaign? Which is just what we're doing by scattering these refugees throughout the world and creating a dispirited Albanian diaspora. Why not organize, train and mobilize them in Macedonia, in Albania and wherever they are now? In numbers there is strength.

  • Why isn't a nation-in-exile being constructed -- in preparation for these Kosovars' imminent return to their homes accompanied by overwhelming force, including their own army?

  • What will NATO do when Slobodan Milosevic makes war against Montenegro, too? Stand idly by, file a formal protest, drop more bombs or just not think about it?

  • Why are we still toying with this little killer in Belgrade? Ken Bacon, the Pentagon's PR man, now says Slobodan Milosevic need not sign the Rambouillet accords in order to end the war, but just accept their general principles. Soon, one suspects, he won't even have to do that to reopen negotiations. And what is a spokesman for the Pentagon doing making American foreign policy? Doesn't he trust the State Department to make a big enough mess of it?

  • Why haven't we pronounced the Rambouillet accords null and void, dead and gone, as meaningless as any evidence of Slobodan Milosevic's good will? Why doesn't Washington explain that it would be unthinkable -- unconscionable -- to return these refugees to any trace of the regime that made them refugees -- those it didn't rob, kill, maim or rape?

  • Why hasn't Slobodan Milosevic been indicted as the war criminal he is? Why aren't dossiers being compiled even now on every identifiable one of the murderers, rapists and thugs in and out of uniform responsible for this gravest war crime on European soil since Hitler's holocaust?

  • Why aren't the lights out in Belgrade?

  • Why is Serbian television still on the air?

  • Why is Slobodan Milosevic's presidential palace still standing? Or do we care more about saving buildings than people?

    Why should only the Albanians have no place to lay their heads while Slobodan Milosevic struts and preens in his ornate offices?

  • What happened to all that brave talk about recognizing no privileged sanctuary in this war?

  • Why is this prominent command-and-control center exempt from attack? Hitler's Reichschancellery was an impressive structure, too, but I don't remember any tears being shed over its demolition. Sic semper tyrannis. Which is Latin for Don't Tread on Me.

  • Why are we still approving loans and grants to Russia's regime, despite its support for this sordid little war against Kosovo's Albanians?

  • Where is the rest of the world? Where are the doctors, the nurses, the medical supplies, the sanitation needed to keep disease at bay in these sprawling refugee camps?

  • Who is in charge here -- NATO's commanding general, its secretary general, the president of the United States, anybody? How fight a war without organizing Principle No. 1 of any army -- unity of command? Or do we propose to wage war by committee? If so, why not surrender now?

  • Why did NATO's commander have to wait so long for the attack helicopters that should have been in place and standing by, like so much else, weeks and months ago? Why weren't NATO troops ready to move in force even before the Rambouillet agreement collapsed? Or are the most elemental precautions beyond this administration?

  • What masterminds planned this operation? Sandy Berger, the president's national insecurity adviser? Madeleine Albright, our secretary of state and vacillation? And why haven't they submitted their resignations? Would resigning be unspeakably responsible? Or is that only a British thing? (The most useful and honorable thing Lord Carrington ever did was resign when he failed to foresee Argentina's attack on the Falklands.)

  • Why are we having to strip away aircraft used to monitor the no-fly zone in Iraq in order to supply our forces in the Balkans? Whatever happened to the goal of a military capable of fighting a two-front war?

  • Why has this administration steadily under-funded military budgets while over-committing military forces around the world? Why is the Air Force running short of cruise missiles?

  • Is this going to be another Somalia -- all the way from brave, well-intentioned beginning to panicky cut-and-run after the first casualties? Our troops there didn't get the weapons they needed, either, at least not in time. Let it be said for Les Aspin, then secretary of defense, that he had the decency to resign after that debacle.

  • Why does all this bring back Korea and Vietnam? Have we gone back to the good old, tried-and-failed doctrine of limited war? Have we forgotten MacArthur's Law? ("In war there is no substitute for victory.'')

  • Are we waging war or playing some kind of elaborate game with no clear purpose and immense risks?

  • If we do not intend to achieve a clear victory, why are we fighting? Or do we intend to withdraw only after years of pointless sacrifice?

And why didn't Bill Clinton ever take that ROTC course!


04/06/99: The problem with the Left
04/05/99: The problem with the Right
03/30/99: But can he convince himself?
03/26/99: Short bursts
03/24/99: Once more into the quagmire
03/17/99: Big time in Little Rock
03/15/99: Our own Roger Taney
03/09/99: A different ‘Waterfront’
03/05/99: Law and disorder
2/26/99: King Richard's revenge
2/25/99: Open season on the fetus, and a good word for the pagans
2/23/99: It never ends: Here comes the judge
2/19/99: After the storm: Going through the debris
2/17/99: Where's the closure?
2/12/99: Hussein the Hashemite: The wiliest player on the board
2/09/99: The social security game
2/04/99: Our own Inspector Clouseau
2/01/99: Night scene, night thoughts
1/28/99: The decay of the art of lying
1/26/99: Impeachment: Short subjects
1/22/99: Bounce, glitz and tedium: The State of the Disunion
1/20/99: Destructive engagement: How to encourage tyranny
1/18/99: Martin Luther King: The radical as conservative?
1/11/99: Why America is apathetic about Bill's date with destiny
1/06/99:The year of Moronica
1/04/99: Clinton’s janitorial crew of two
12/29/98:The Senate will be on trial, too
12/29/98:A look down the avenue
12/22/98: The surreal impeachment
12/17/98: Another moment of truth approaches
12/15/98: The President's defenders: witnesses for the prosecution
12/10/98:The latest miracle cure: CensurePlus
12/03/98: Sentences at an airport Sentences at an airport
12/03/98: Games lawyers play
12/01/98: Ms. Magoo strikes again, or: Janet Reno and the law
11/26/98: The most American holiday
11/23/98: Same game, another round
11/18/98: Guide to the perplexed
11/09/98: A vote for apathy
11/03/98: Global village goes Clintonesque
11/02/98: Farewell to all that
10/30/98: New budget, same swollen government
10/26/98: Of life on the old plantation -- and death in the Middle East
10/22/98: Starr Wars (CONT'D)
10/19/98:Another retreat: weakness invites aggression
10/16/98: Profile in courage
10/14/98: A new voice out of Arkansas
10/09/98: Gerald Ford, Mr. Fix-It?
10/07/98: Impeachment Journal: Dept. of Doublespeak
10/01/98: The new tradition
9/25/98: Mr. President, PLEASE don't resign
9/23/98: The demolition of meaning
9/18/98: So help us G-d; The nature of the crisis
9/17/98: First impressions: on reading the Starr Report
9/15/98: George Wallace: All the South in one man
9/10/98: Here comes the judge
9/07/98: Toward impeachment
9/03/98: The politics of impeachment
9/01/98: The eagle can still soar
8/28/98: Boris Yeltsin's mind: a riddle pickled in an enigma
8/26/98: Clinton agonistes, or: Twisting in the wind
8/25/98: The rise of the English murder
8/24/98: Confess and attack: Slick comes semi-clean
8/19/98: Little Rock perspectives
8/14/98: Department of deja vu
8/12/98: The French would understand
8/10/98: A fable: The Rat in the Corner
8/07/98: Welcome to the roaring 90s
8/06/98: No surprises dept. -- promotion denied
8/03/98: Quotes of and for the week: take your pick
7/29/98: A subpoena for the president:
so what else is new?
7/27/98: Forget about Bubba, it's time to investigate Reno
7/23/98: Ghosts on the roof, 1998
7/21/98: The new elegance
7/16/98: In defense of manners
7/13/98: Another day, another delay: what's missing from the scandal news
7/9/98:The language-wars continue
7/7/98:The new Detente
7/2/98: Bubba in Beijing: history does occur twice
6/30/98: Hurry back, Mr. President -- to freedom
6/24/98: When Clinton follows Quayle's lead
6/22/98: Independence Day, 2002
6/18/98: Adventures in poli-speke

©1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate