Jewish World Review June 9, 1999 /25 Sivan 5759
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Even while negotiations seem to be faltering, why shouldn't Milosevic and his Russian enablers now declare they are ready to accept NATO's "peace plan''? Milosevic's stated goal of ethnically cleansing Kosovo is virtually complete, abetted by NATO bombers. It is unlikely that substantial numbers of Kosovars will return to their original homes, if they are still standing, to live amid the mass graves of relatives and friends.
Milosevic remains in power, even though he is an indicted war criminal. He may feel empowered to conduct more ethnic cleansing against other groups of people he doesn't like. The Serbs have been resisting those they view as interlopers for 600 years and aren't about to stop now because an impeached president of the United States (who was also declared in contempt of court) says they should.
Anyone with a sense of history longer than the instant replay must surely know the folly of President Clinton's goals to battle evil and hatred between peoples who don't like each other. He might as well declare war on original sin from which all curses flow. In 1941 Adolf Hitler committed more than 30 divisions to the region, including the armored vehicles and the elite Waffen SS. After four years, the Nazis were forced to withdraw, suffering more than half a million casualties. Only President Clinton and a historically challenged American public would accept the fiction that we have "won'' the "war'' against such a battle-hardened people.
Serb nationalists regard Kosovo as land that once, and still, belongs to them. They point to American support of Israel and ask why the United States thinks it is acceptable for Jews to return to a homeland after nearly 2,000 years, yet we oppose the right of Serbs to return to Kosovo and the driving out of people they see as occupiers. It is not necessary to agree with this thinking, but it does deserve a response.
In these modern times, feelings eclipse facts. The administration and NATO will congratulate themselves, even as many conservative commentators are in full-throated praise. Someone will nominate Bill Clinton for the Nobel Peace Prize to ensure his "legacy.'' Al Gore won't have this foreign policy albatross restricting the reinvention of himself. And the aging hippies can gather around a summer bonfire and sing, "All we were saying was give peace a chance.''
We have not defeated evil or hatred in the Balkans. It will come back, as it always has. President Clinton can't be trusted on this, and he has no credibility on anything else. That's because if the man didn't have bad character he would have no character at all. As the late and liberal Washington Post editorial page editor Meg Greenfield wrote just before the House impeachment: "On the big test, the test of presidential credibility, he's lost.'' Character influences all human action. If one has good character, even mistakes can be reconciled to good motives. But if one's character is bad, every action is reduced to doubts and second-guessing because one can never be sure if that person's motives are good or if there is a hidden agenda.
When the president's approval ratings started to fall, the "peace with honor'' option kicked
in. The bombing mission may be ending, but NATO and the United States aren't the victors.
06/07/99: Too good for prime time