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The ethnic cleansing continues in Kosovo as tens of thousands of
Serbian civilians are fleeing across the border. They know that the
killing and persecution of Serbs will resume as 15,000 soldiers in the
Kosovo Liberation Army flood back into the province. The KLA makes no
pretense about their intention: They will drive all Serbs out of Kosovo.
Reassurances of protection by NATO forces do not carry much weight.
From the perspective of the Serbs, NATO and the KLA are allies. During
the last few weeks of the war, NATO worked with KLA ground troops to
flush out Serbian troops and expose them to dreaded cluster bombs.
War makes strange bedfellows. In a recent dispatch from Europe, San
Francisco Chronicle correspondent Frank Viviano wrote a scathing
indictment of the KLA. In his report, Viviano says that law enforcement
authorities in the United States and Western Europe know that officers
of the KLA and many of their backers are at the core of the largest
illegal drug operation in Europe. The international police agency known
as Interpol released a statement in 1997 that said, “Kosovo Albanians
hold the largest share of the heroin market in Switzerland, in Austria,
in Belgium, in Germany, in Hungary, in the Czech Republic, in Norway and
Viviano reminds us, “In 1944, the invading U.S. Army handed the reins
of power in Sicily to local ‘anti-fascists’ who were, in fact, Mafia
We have not learned much from past mistakes. We are on the cusp of
committing the same blunder in Kosovo. One might say that our new “moral
imperialism” has gotten us in bed with some of the worst scum in Europe.
However, as bad as the regional aftermath of this misbegotten war
actually is, there is a larger perspective that cries out for attention.
As we have focused our diminished military resources upon Yugoslavia,
we have increased our risk and vulnerability elsewhere to nations we
have alienated and threatened. We may thank providence that our enemies
have not yet acted in concert while we are otherwise committed. What a
fortuitous time for North Korea to do what it has been hankering to do
for years, that is, use its 1 million-man army to overrun 35,000
American troops and overwhelm South Korea, for Saddam Hussein to
re-enter Kuwait and this time move on into Saudi Arabia, and for China
to make its military move to retake Taiwan.
Our major international relationships have suffered serious injury.
China is a militant and resentful adversary, not a strategic partner.
Our allies in Asia, including Japan, are terrified of a major shift of
power in their area of the world. And by humiliating Russia, we have
strengthened that nation’s resurgent old-guard, anti-American forces.
If, in the next election, they do not regain control of the Russian
government, it will be because we are lucky, not because we are smart.
If we are not lucky, our actions in the Balkans and our redefinition
of NATO as an aggressor power may well precipitate Cold War II. If we
are not lucky, some small nation we have pushed around will find a way
to make us pay dearly for some real or imagined offense
In his Memorial Day speech, Bill Clinton boasted, “What we are doing
today will … give our children a better, safer world to live in.”
It is folly to claim we are “safer” now than we were a mere few
months ago. Clearly, the national security of the United States has not
been strengthened by our intervention in the tragic problems of Kosovo,
but rather, put at significant risk.
Having said all that, I am convinced that the greatest danger to
America is not that we stirred up trouble all over the globe, but that
we inflicted terrible damage on our Constitution.
At our peril, we pretend that wars are not wars to circumvent the law
and the Constitution. With our subterfuges, clever lawyering, judicial
trickery and outright dishonesty, we are becoming a nation of men, not
laws. Our Constitution has effectively lost its objective reality in the
process of becoming a malleable tool for ratifying the prejudices,
persuasions and agendas of whomever happens at a particular point in
time to be president, on the Supreme Court or in Congress.
Our Constitution is mocked when presidents use legal sophistry, good
intentions and other pretexts to take us to war without a declaration of
war by the Congress. Our Constitution is invalidated when justices
fantasize what’s in it and our elected representatives refuse to honor
their sworn duty to protect and defend it.
We are too great a nation to allow our leaders to play word games
with our Constitution, particularly the provision that protects us from
the dangerous misuse of awesome military power by a rogue commander in