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Jewish World ReviewJune 18, 1999 /4 Tamuz, 5759

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell
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A famous victory --
NOW THAT SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC has made yet another agreement with NATO, the Clinton administration has declared victory and its media allies have joined the chorus of congratulation. Yet the question must be asked: What is there to celebrate? Who is better off now -- and for how long? It is not nearly as difficult to get Milosevic to sign agreements as it is to get him to live up to them. Now the Russians have become a wild card in the game, creating new problems from day one.

We have NATO and Russian troops facing each other on opposite sides of a conflict in the same country. When this happened in Berlin in 1961, such an armed confrontation was seen as a cause for grave concern, not congratulation.

This is a typical Clinton quick fix, with little or no regard for the long-run consequences for the United States. How long will NATO and Russian troops remain in Kosovo together, generating frictions that can turn explosive? Years? Decades? And what if Boris Yeltsin's successors see this as an opportunity to score points politically at home by hassling NATO in the Balkans?

Even if we are fortunate enough to thread our way through this minefield, what have we accomplished with our "victory"? Supposedly we were in the Balkans to prevent ethnic cleansing. But there has been more ethnic cleansing in Kosovo since our intervention than there was before.

Presumably the test of our success will be whether the Kosovar refugees return home. After the unspeakable horrors and humiliations that many of these refugees have suffered, how many will even want to return to scenes that have left scars on their souls? How many Jewish refugees returned to Germany after World War II?

There is of course the possibility that NATO -- meaning principally the Clinton administration -- will make it hard for these refugees to do anything other than return to Kosovo. That would make this whole operation look like a winner, at least statistically. And appearances are largely what politics is all about.

Forcing the Kosovars back would be a cynically brutal way to treat people who have been through so much anguish already. But it would not be out of character for a man who has killed innocent people while bombing a pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan on the eve of his impeachment. The great problem with short-run quick fixes is that they have long-run consequences. Future years of military involvement in the Balkans -- a region with a long history of being one of the most explosive tinderboxes in the world -- is a painfully scary prospect.

Long after the Clinton administration is a memory, we may still be entangled in a mess that no one would have gotten into if we understood the full implications at the outset. But, even if we take the optimistic view that we can somehow muddle through it all, without having to either get into a shootout with Russian troops on the scene or having to pull out with our tail between our legs, the damage may still be lasting.

Nothing is more certain than lasting damage to the American taxpayers. Some of those missiles that made such dramatic explosions on TV cost a million dollars apiece. Then there is the cost of maintaining troops thousands of miles from home and the cost of rebuilding devastated Kosovo.

Our military itself has sustained long-run damage by a little-noticed edict freezing in the service people who had served out their time. Breeches of faith are not small things, especially when you are already having trouble attracting enlistments into the armed services.

Again, this is a quick fix to another Clinton administration problem. Their neglect of the military has made a military career less attractive -- first by discharging people who wanted to stay and now by forcing people to stay who want to leave. This too is a quick fix whose price will be paid long after the Clintons have left the White House. Perhaps the most dangerous of all legacies left to the United States, to NATO and to the world is the notion that our role is to launch military interventions whenever television puts horrible pictures on the screen at dinner time.

There is a staggering amount of evil in this world but a finite number of Americans.


06/14/99: A victory in Chicago
06/10/99: Mass shootings and mass hysteria
06/08/99: The other side of affirmative action
06/03/99: Childish labor laws
06/01/99: Demonizing for dollars
05/27/99: The real public service
05/24/99: Income, taxes and demagoguery
05/18/99: Random thoughts
05/14/99: Aborted knowledge
05/10/99: The new "fairness"
05/04/99: Holding parents responsible
05/03/99: Exit strategies
04/28/99: Tragedy and farce
04/26/99: Guilt and cop-outs
04/21/99: Choosing a college
04/16/99: When success fails
04/13/99: A photo-op foreign policy
04/09/99: Russia and the Serbs
04/06/99: Random thoughts
03/31/99: Irresponsible "experts"
03/29/99: Another Doleful prospect?
03/23/99: Random thoughts
03/22/99: Loving enemies
03/19/99: Naming names
03/15/99: Undermining the military
03/10/99: Joe DiMaggio -- icon of an era
03/02/99: Facts versus dogma on guns
03/01/99: Losing the cultural wars
02/22/99: "Saving" social security
02/18/99: Too many Ph.Ds?
02/8/99: A national disaster
02/8/99: Economic fallacies in the media: Part II
02/5/99: Why economists visit dentists so often
02/2/99: Warning: Good news
01/29/99: What is at stake?
01/26/99:Moral bankruptcy in the schools
01/22/99: Who is going to convict Santa Claus?
01/19/99: Seeing through the spin
01/13/99: A trial is a trial is a trial
01/11/99:Trials and tribulations
01/08/99: Rays of hope
01/04/99: Random thoughts
12/31/98: The President versus the presidency
12/29/98: The time is now!
12/23/98: World-class hypocrisy
12/21/98: The spreading corruption
12/17/98: Politically "contrite"
12/16/98: Polls and partisanship
12/14/98: The "non-profit" halo
12/11/98: Corruption and confusion
12/03/98: The health care "crisis"
11/30/98: Knowing what you are talking about
11/23/98: The impeachment legacy
11/23/98: Random thoughts
11/19/98: Tales out of bureaucracies
11/16/98: Scholarships based on scholarship
11/12/98: Forward march
11/09/98: Moral outrage
11/05/98: Will the Republicans ever learn?
11/02/98: A voter's duty
10/30/98: The poverty pimp's poem
10/29/98: Random thoughts on the election
10/27/98: "Partisan" and "unfair"
10/23/98: Ed-u-kai-tchun
10/21/98: McGwire, Maris and the Babe
10/16/98: Lightweight Boxer
10/14/98: A strange word
10/09/98: Impeachment standards
10/08/98: Alternatives to seriousness
10/07/98: Heredity, environment and talk
10/02/98: A much-needed guide
10/01/98: Starr's real crime
9/24/98: Costs and power
9/18/98: Are we sheep?
9/16/98: Judicial review
9/15/98: Hillary Rodham Crook?
9/14/98: Taking stock
9/11/98: Moment of truth
9/04/98: Random thoughts
8/31/98: The twilight of special prosecutors?
8/26/98: "Doing a good job"
8/24/98: America on trial?
8/19/98: Played for fools
8/17/98: A childish letter
8/11/98: Hiding behind a woman
8/07/98: A flying walrus in Washington?
8/03/98: "Affordability" strikes again
7/31/98: Random thoughts
7/27/98: Faith and mountains
7/24/98: Clinton in Wonderland
7/20/98: Where is black 'leadership' leading?
7/16/98: Do 'minorities' really have it that bad?
7/14/98: Race dialogue: same old stuff
7/10/98: Honest history
7/09/98: Dumb is dangerous
7/02/98: Gun-safety starts with
parental responsibility
6/30/98: When more is less
6/29/98: Are educators above the law?
6/26/98: Random Thoughts
6/24/98: An angry letter
6/22/98: Sixties sentimentalism
6/19/98:Dumbing down anti-trust
6/15/98: A changing of the guard?
6/11/98: Presidential privileges
6/8/98: Fast computers and slow antitrust
6/3/98: Can stalling backfire?
5/29/98: The insulation of the Left
5/25/98: Missing the point in the media
5/22/98: The lessons of Indonesia
5/20/98: Smart but silent
5/18/98: Israel, Clinton and character
5/14/98: Monica Lewinsky's choices
5/11/98: Random thoughts
5/7/98: Media obstruction of justice
5/4/98: Dangerous "safety"
5/1/98: Abolish Adolescence!
4/30/98: The naked truth
4/22/98: Playing fair and square
4/19/98: Bad teachers"
4/15/98: "Clinton in Africa "
4/13/98: "Bundling and unbundling "
4/9/98: "Rising or falling Starr "
4/6/98: "Was Clinton ‘vindicated'? "
3/26/98: "Diasters -- natural and political"
3/24/98: "A pattern of behavior"
3/22/98: Innocent explanations
3/19/98: Kathleen Willey and Anita Hill
3/17/98: Search and destroy
3/12/98: Media Circus versus Justice
3/6/98: Vindication
3/3/98: Cheap Shot Time
2/26/98: The Wrong Filter
2/24/98: Trial by Media
2/20/98: Dancing Around the Realities
2/19/98: A "Do Something" War?
2/12/98: Julian Simon, combatant in a 200-year war
2/6/98: A rush to rhetoric

©1999, Creators Syndicate