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Jewish World Review May 26, 1999 /11 Sivan, 5759

Paul Greenberg

Paul Greenberg
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Betrayal in the making: let's not make a deal

(JWR) ---- (
LET'S MAKE A DEAL, says Serbia's foreign minister.

No, let's not, at least not under his terms, which include preserving the "territorial integrity'' of his country, including Kosovo. That would mean recognizing Serbia's sovereignty over the land it has just plundered, and a people it has just ravaged.

Territorial integrity is about the only kind Slobodan Milosevic's regime has left at this point. Even now, reports filter back of Serbian soldiers ordering villagers to dig up mass graves and bury the bodies separately -- in order to hide the evidence of mass murder.

Instead of making a deal, what about settling for victory? If this war ends with Serbia exercising the slightest control over Kosovo and its people, or without all those hundreds of thousands of Albanians returning to their land and what is left of their homes, fully protected by their own troops or NATO's, Slobodan Milosevic will have won.

If this war ends with a single Serbian thug -- in uniform or out -- in a position to commit another murder, rape or even the slightest incivility in Kosovo, and without war crimes trials all around ... then what will it have accomplished? It will be as though we'd called off the Gulf War with Saddam Hussein's sovereignty over Kuwait still intact.

If this little Hitler's flag still flies over Kosovo when all this is done, he will have paid no price he can understand for crimes unmatched since the Second World War. And genocide will have had its license renewed in Europe for the first time since 1945.

Not just a great crime will have been committed and justice left undone, but a precedent and example will have been set for the bloody future. And the way ahead for Europe in the next century will look much like the bloody path it has followed this century. That bridge to the 21st century our president likes to talk about will have been paved with corpses.

As for that vaunted genocide treaty so many nations have signed preparatory to ignoring it, and the successive U.N. resolutions against what is now politely called ethnic cleansing -- well, all of that will be worth about as much as, well, a U.N. resolution. Or the Geneva Convention that bars just the kind of forced deportations that have taken place in Kosovo. Any scholars still interested in the rule of law in international affairs will be left free to debate it with the grieving Albanians. Or maybe they can search for it in one of those unmarked graves.

Bill Clinton, having ruled out ground troops when they might have done the most good, says he hasn't ruled out any options in Kosovo. But there is no sign of the great expeditionary force that even now should have crossed Slovenia and be poised on the Hungarian border for a dash across the wide-open plain to Belgrade. And where are the divisions that should be massing in Albania and Macedonia for the invasion of Kosovo, and the troops waiting offshore to secure Montenegro?

Slobodan Milosevic should have been left to guess the axis of the allies' main attack. After all, the most effective outfit in the Gulf War may have been the Marine division that waited out the war offshore. (Saddam Hussein tied down a whole army preparing to meet a landing that never came.)

But by now, the West's waffler-in-chief has telegraphed every move in this (non)war and every move NATO's (ital)not(unital) about to make, like sending in the ground troops. It's as if our commander-in-chief has never learned the first rule of warfare, a k a MacArthur's Law: In war there is no substitute for victory. Not for the first time, some of us wish Bill Clinton had gone ahead and taken that ROTC course he once signed up for.

And what is there left to say about the other architects of this epic misadventure, this ramshackle monument to mismanagement, this wavering course that every day looks less like a policy and more like a ruin in the making? Remember the forgettable Warren Christopher? His passivity as secretary of state never evoked much admiration or even notice, but at least he didn't leave the credibility of the Western alliance in complete tatters. We may not be able to say the same of Madeleine Albright.

As for the nominal Leader of the Free World, a headline the other day summed up how well William Jefferson Clinton has performed in that role: "Lacking U.S. leadership, NATO members promote a variety of strategies.'' And none of them seem very cogent. Not only is this a halfway war, it's an example of war by committee, which works about as well as writing by committee. What's more, to quote a veteran diplomat, the "committee lacks a chairman.''

It all ought to be familiar by now. This is the same way Bosnia was allowed to burn for two years while Washington "consulted'' with our allies, instead of leading them. Warren Christopher led the dithering then; Madeleine Albright is leading it now. Only the personnel have changed, not the (non)policy.

From the moment this conflict over Kosovo began, when our president and nominal commander-in-chief asked the country to stay the course, a small voice has kept whispering in my ear:He won't, you know. He'll fold . It was the voice of experience, and it's getting louder.


05/20/99: Israel's big switch: new era or just a mood swing?
05/18/99: Free our kids: revive the land of opportunity
05/13/99: This war will end --- or spread
05/11/99: South Sider comes through
05/07/99: There is no substitute for victory
05/05/99: A Tale of two colonels
05/03/99: It's the culture, stupid
04/30/99: Bumpers' 'B.S.'
04/27/99: An American tragedy: the fall of Kenneth Starr
04/23/99: Presidents and the press
04/14/99: A revealing moment
04/14/99: War Day by day
04/12/99: Just a few questions
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