\ Michael Kelly
Clicking on banner ads keeps JWR alive
Jewish World Review May 13, 1999 /27 Iyar, 5759

Michael Kelly

Michael Kelly
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Tony Snow
Dr. Laura
Bob Greene
Michael Kelly
Paul Greenberg
David Corn
Sam Schulman
Philip Weiss
Mort Zuckerman
Richard Chesnoff
Larry Elder
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Don Feder
Linda Chavez
Mona Charen
Thomas Sowell
Walter Williams
Ben Wattenberg


Short-Order Strategists

(JWR) ---- (http://www.jewishworldreview.com)
IN THE GRIM LIGHT of Kosovo, it is time to ask the obvious question: Should President Clinton's national security team be replaced by a ham and cheese sandwich?

At first blush the answer would appear to be no. We are at a delicate point in the war to protect the Albanian Kosovars from Serb persecution, what with the Serbs having completed that persecution while we were busy bombing Chinese diplomats. At such a juncture, it would seem a poor idea to replace Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Secretary of Defense William Cohen, national security adviser Samuel Berger and Gen. Wesley Clark with two pieces of rye bread, several slices of baked ham and Swiss cheese and a smear of mustard.

A ham and cheese sandwich could not plot strategy and tactics, could not negotiate with Beijing or Moscow, could not order up new bombing raids, could not conduct daily press briefings. Not to be rude about it, but a ham and cheese sandwich is not sentient; it is not capable of ratiocination; it could not, in fact, run the war. Surely, for this reason if no other, it would be better to stick with the team in place.

And yet, if one holds the view that the first role of government is to do no harm, there is much to be said for the sandwich. Would ham and cheese have decided to begin a war without a plan to wage it? Would ham and cheese have convinced itself that Slobodan Milosevic would acquiesce to NATO's tough demands at the first bomb's fall? Would ham and cheese have assured the enemy that the attack would be limited to an air campaign, thus freeing the enemy to commit his resources to the speedy destruction of the people that ham and cheese had gone to war to protect? In short, would ham and cheese have made such a colossal botch of it all?

No. Ham and cheese would have just sat there, on a plate, getting stale and attracting the passing attention of flies, harming not a soul. A lack of sentience can be a wonderful thing.

As of yesterday, after 48 days of leadership by the non-sandwich team, here is where things stand in the war: Milosevic has won. The day before, Belgrade had announced that it was beginning to pull its 40,000 troops out of Kosovo, because the troops had finished their work. It is questionable whether Yugoslavia is retreating in any meaningful way. But the second half of Belgrade's statement is undeniably true. Milosevic's army has completed the task that the Clinton administration and NATO went to war to prevent: the destruction of all that is Albanian in Kosovo.

On the day that Belgrade declared its partial withdrawal, the State Department issued its report on the war to date, a 30-page catalogue of horrors titled "Erasing History: Ethnic Cleansing in Kosovo." The report forthrightly declares that after -- after -- the war to protect Kosovo's 1.7 million ethnic Albanians began in March, "Serbian forces dramatically increased the scope and pace of their [ethnic cleansing] efforts, moving . . . toward a sustained and systematic effort to ethnically cleanse the entire province of Kosovo."

As a result of this campaign, "More than 90 percent of all ethnic Albanians . . . an estimated 1.5 million . . . have been expelled from their homes in Kosovo." Approximately 700,000 destitute refugees have been driven into neighboring countries. Another "600,000 internally displaced persons are now struggling to survive in Kosovo . . . often taking shelter in isolated forests and mountain valleys."

More: "Anecdotal refugee accounts suggest that Serbian forces have executed at least 4,000 Kosovars. . . . Some 500 residential areas have been at least partially burned since late March. . . . Refugees have provided accounts of summary executions in at least 70 towns and villages. . . . Ethnic Albanian women are reportedly being raped in increasing numbers."

By NATO's estimates, seven weeks of bombing have destroyed only 20 percent of Yugoslavia's armored vehicles in Kosovo. Yugoslav air defenses remain sufficiently strong that NATO bombers, held back by the fears of micromanaging politicians, rarely fly below 15,000 feet. This is why the bombers have accidentally struck a bus, a train, a marketplace, a hospital, two residential areas, a telephone exchange, an Albanian refugee convoy and an embassy, killing at least 192 civilians. On May 7, NATO quietly abandoned its plan to mount a naval blockade of Yugoslavia, after Russia promised to run the blockade. In April, 450,000 barrels of oil were shipped into Yugoslavia, and the flow continues.

And on May 10, President Clinton saw a light at the end of the tunnel. "I think we have to do better," he said, "but any little daylight, any little progress is better than it was the day before."

For God sakes, give me ham and cheese.

Michael Kelly is the editor of National Journal. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


05/06/99: Four Revolting Spectacles

©1999, Washington Post Co.