"SPEAK SOFTLY AND CARRY A BIG STICK." - President Theodore Roosevelt.
While we are still waiting for the ink to dry on the so-called Kosovo peace agreement, two questions come to mind:
To what degree has NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia back to the Stone Age really served the long-range prospects for peace in the Balkans?
How many more such operations can the United States find itself engaged in before it is stretched so thin that it is no longer able to effectively respond to some real threats to its - or its allies' - security.
It is our belief that the peace settlement is a badly flawed pact-with-the-devil that will ultimately lead to renewed violence in the region - if, indeed, it ever subsides - while diminishing this nation's ability to respond to real threats elsewhere in the world.
The administration has been busy spinning as a victory of no less magnitude than the Allies' triumph over Nazi Germany, but it is far from that. NATO's 10-week bombing campaign did, in a limited sense, bring Yugoslavian President Slobodan Milosevic back to the bargaining table. However, in the end NATO managed to wrangle few concessions out of Mr. Milosevic than those demanded in the Rambouilet Accords. It was Yugoslavia's rejection of those accords which led to the air offensive in the first place.
The most glaring capitulation concerns the very status of Kosovo itself. Rambouilet called for a referendum to settle the question of Kosovo's eventual independence from Belgrade. However, under the peace agreement Kosovo is - and shall ever be - an integral part of Yugoslavia with only a limited autonomy.
At the same time, some Serbian paramilitary forces will remain in Kosovo even as NATO forces "demilitarize" the Kosovo Liberation Army. Stripping the KLA of its heavy weaponry means NATO (read: the United States) must now assume the indefinite protection of the Kosovars from future Serb aggression.
And there are the Russians. The agreement calls for a core NATO presence in the peacekeeping force, but also provides for thousands of Serbian-friendly Russian troops in Kosovo. Any thought that the Russians would be docile in obedience of NATO leadership died a quick death last week when the Russians seized the airport at Pristina, the province's capital, and refused access to NATO troops.
It should have been obvious to everyone that committing two forces with opposite loyalties would only add to the general volatility of the region.
This military action left thousands of people killed, much of Yugoslavia in ruins, cost this country billions of dollars, and settled none of the ancient ethnic and religious hatreds which lay in death-like shadows behind the "why" of the war. Our victory is a Pyrrihic one destined to fail in bringing either a lasting peace or stability to the Balkans.
Thus, the great lesson of Kosovo is that to be an effective world policeman, the United states must be a judicious one.
And that brings us back to President Roosevelt's brand of foreign policy which was re-enforced by what is commonly known today as "Powell Doctrine" after retired Joint Chief of Staff Chairman Gen. Colin Powell.
The Powell Doctrine consists of two basic tenets:
1. Set a clear goals.
2. Use overwhelming force to achieve victory.
Gen. Powell, in a recent address to the National Press Club, gave an extremely clear definition of what the doctrine is: "Once you have...clear political objectives, then let your military people come forward and give you a plan that will achieve those objectives in a quick and decisive way as possible."
However, it is glaringly apparent that the adventure in Yugoslavia was a Roosevelt and Powell free zone. NATO, led by the United States, spoke very loudly and carried a very small stick while bombing a nation and a people from 15,000 feet because it was terrified of losing even one pilot. And it all ended up one of the most confused muddles of counterproductive foreign policy in a century full of them.
Here is a prime example of just what we mean: At an April 26 briefing, Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon declared that "NATO remains highly committed...to making it clear that there is no sanctuary for murderers and their forces in Yugoslavia." Yet, the so-called peace agreement not only leaves the Yugoslavian Army intact, but Mr. Milosevic in power.
Kosovo was, according to Richard Hass, a top National Security Council official in the Bush administration, "a textbook lesson" in how not to use military force. The alliance set up an unrealistic goals of protecting the people of Kosovo but were unwilling at first to commit a force adequate to the task.
Indeed, many foreign analysts say that it was such early-on bellicose rhetoric promising a larger-scale war that cost the U.S. and NATO any chance of real cooperation from the Russians and the Chinese.
Thus, while the air attacks worked well enough to gain what in the long run is nothing more than a bayonet-enforced armistice, we are left with the with the very real problem of mending our relations with both China and Russia.
Therefore, it would be wise if the U.S. and NATO leaders acknowledged the very real mistakes that emerged during this adventure in militarism and noted well the Powell Doctrine before the dogs of war are loosed once again
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