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Jewish World Review June 9, 1999 /25 Sivan 5759

Cal Thomas

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Victory? What victory?

(JWR) ---- (
ONLY A U.S. PRESIDENT who knows more about making love than war would declare the puny and ineffective one-sided assault on the former Yugoslavia to be a victory. By any objective standard, the goals of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic, not of NATO and the United States, have been achieved.

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.

When nations involve themselves in madness, the condition can become contagious. Vietnam was madness. So is our affair in the Balkans. The Turks tried to subdue the region for 500 years and were finally expelled. The Austro-Hungarians lost their empire when they tried to replace the Turks. The Nazis crawled out on a trail of blood. What makes us think that a little war-on-the-cheap with no ground troops and no casualties on our side, other than a few accidental deaths, is going to succeed when much more committed nations failed?

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. Slobodan Milosevic is.


06/07/99: Too good for prime time
06/03/99:The Creator and Commencement
05/28/99: The Cox Committee Report
05/26/99: 'A turning point for our country'
05/24/99: Barak is not Israel's savior
05/19/99: It takes a leader
05/17/99: Questions for Gov. Bush and the others
05/12/99: OAF-ish behavior explains U.S. mistakes
05/07/99: Israel's high-stakes election
05/04/99: Jeb Bush chooses to save kids, not institutions
04/26/99: Surrendering our civilization
04/26/99: War abroad, war at home
04/22/99: Those wild and crazy (Democrat) tax-cutters
04/16/99: Bubba’s contemptible behavior
04/14/99:Elizabeth Dole's choice
04/09/99: The taxman cometh
03/30/99: Human-rights terror in China
03/25/99: Yasser Arafat:
bad cop, worse cop
03/23/99: Bubba’s multiplied lies
03/18/99: Reinventing AlGore
03/16/99:Americans get bull while China shops
03/12/99: Bill Lan Lee: Flouting the law
03/09/99: Don't worry about your child, be happy
03/08/99:The ‘lady' is a tramp
03/04/99: Proving myself to President Clinton
02/24/99: New slaves to a new slavery
02/22/99: Character-plus
02/19/99: GOP losers tell winner how to win
02/17/99: The Clinton legacy
02/10/99: More a man, less a president

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