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Why NATO will fail
Posted By John N. Doggett On 04/02/1999 @ 1:00 am In Commentary | Comments Disabled
The following is an e-mail about Kosovo from Lee Modesitt, a United
States Naval Academy grad. In 1951, General Omar Bradley said, “This
strategy would involve us in the wrong war, at the wrong place, at the
wrong time, and with the wrong enemy.” Lee’s e-mail shows that we
haven’t learned a darn thing in forty-eight years. Here is Lee’s answer
to the question, “What is going on in Kosovo?”
A Good question. It’s obvious to me that Clinton and his advisors
don’t really understand what we’re doing there. Here’s my synopsis:
The land has changed hands many times. Both groups feel they have a
claim on the land in Kosovo. Both groups have done unspeakable things
when they had the upper hand. Both groups have long memories. Right now,
the Serbs have the upper hand, and are using it to kill off or drive off
as many Muslims and Albanians as they can. They see this as their best
chance, and aren’t really willing to entertain other options.
But neither (as Albright found out) are the Albanians willing to
entertain other options. Neither side is willing to let the other side
have even the slightest claim on the land. Neither group trusts the
other group enough to want to live near them.
I think there is substantial doubt as to whether we could resolve
this conflict by placing a permanent peacekeeping force in the region.
The Ottomans did it. The Austrians did it. The Nazis did it. Tito did
it. They all did it through the ruthless use of military might and what
might euphemistically be called “limits” on domestic freedom. And every
time a power vacuum occurred, the Muslims and the Serbs picked up right
where they left off and started killing each other again.
Even if it were theoretically possible to pacify the region, it is
absolute lunacy to think we can accomplish anything by air power alone.
There is no doubt in my mind at all, however, that anything short of a
full invasion and occupation of the region will fail.
The Serbs have had plans for Kosovo for years. They had already
started a program to “cleanse” the area for their own. They couldn’t be
too overt about it, because the West was making noise about the
situation. But now that we’ve attacked, the Serbs have quite naturally
decided that since they are being bombed anyway, they have nothing to
lose by pushing ahead with a full-scale attack on the Albanian minority
in Kosovo. Repulsive, but very understandable from their point of view.
Incredible that Clinton and his advisors didn’t see this as the likely
It seems to me that bombing isn’t the answer. The approach of “let’s
bomb these people to the peace table” has been tried before in other
places where the warring populations actually had something in common
with each other. It didn’t work then, so why do we expect it to work in
a place where the two groups have different cultures and have hated each
other for centuries?
So, now that the Serbs have embarked on an unabashed campaign of
violence against the Albanian minority, NATO faces a VERY ugly set of
The Serbs are very likely assuming that NATO won’t have the stomach
to invade. Sure, the Serbs might lose a few planes, lose electricity,
lose industry, etc. But they won’t lose the land due to an air campaign.
And nothing tends to unify a people like being attacked by the local
I see little or no chance that this bombing will destabilize the
regime. So what we are doing is basically making a lot of people more
miserable than they were, putting our own people at risk, and doing
nothing that will resolve the issue. (Unless, there is some secret plan
to actually invade the country — but this I doubt.)
No matter what we end up doing, I think the s— work is a job for
the Europeans, not the U.S. They’ve been blasé about the Balkans for
most of the century, and were content to leave Tito in power so as not
to have to face the issue. This is Europe for C—-sake! Let the
Europeans reap the bloody harvest they’ve sown with their parochial
attitudes. It’s their own f—— backyard, anyway. (They p— me off –
they whine about low-flying U.S. jets, then expect us to take the lead
when the kaka hits the rotating blades.)
Likewise, my guess is that Americans in general wouldn’t support a
messy engagement in the Balkans, regardless of who did what to whom. The
U.S. military should be used for crap in the middle of nowhere, where no
one else can project the power necessary. (Only trouble is, it isn’t. We
stood by and wrung our hands about how awful it was that there was a
bloodbath in Africa four years ago.)
Talk Europe, though, and suddenly we’re willing to expend lives and
god only knows how much ordinance trying to pacify the European
equivalent of the Hatfields and McCoys. And we (Americans) wonder why
the world sees us as hypocrites.
Ok, that’s my $.02 (and change).
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