Jewish World Review April 13, 1999 /27 Nissan 5759
The trouble with international decisions taken too late is that they tend not to be between a good option and a bad option but between a bad option and a worse option–what I would describe as the evil of two lessers. In Kosovo, President Clinton had to choose between doing nothing while watching terror used slowly and doing something while risking the acceleration of the awful progress of ethnic cleansing.
Clinton is not at ease with the big stick of U.S. power. As he said recently: "Now I think if the American people don't know anything else about me, they know that I don't like to use military force and I do everything I can to avoid it. But if we have to do it, then that's part of the job and I will do it." The fact is, a credible threat of military action is a crucial component of effective diplomacy. That's why Nixon fostered the notion that "the crazy Nixon" had to be appeased because no one knew what he might do.
The Clinton-NATO military effort has been altogether too tentative. We are "cheap hawks" using a low-risk, high-tech approach, with limited sorties and even more limited targets. Now the president is in the awkward position of trying to convince the American people that the air campaign, which he believed would be a quick solution, needs many weeks to work its way.
America's internationalism is the "show me" kind.
We may be coming to recognize that our freedom
ultimately depends on the survival and spread of
freedom and democracy elsewhere; that aggression
anywhere raises the danger of aggression
everywhere; that we are the only country with the
military and intelligence capacities to project power
all over the world; and that we are inspired by an
ideology of democratic capitalism that retains both
moral credibility and economic vitality. But if we are
to accept the high obligation to make the world safe
for law-abiding people, we will need leadership that
is both clear and courageous, canny as well as
enlightened, and certainly possessing more
foresight than the Clinton administration has shown