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Earlier this week, German Defense Minister Rudolph Scharping said
that NATO had “effectively halted” its bombing campaign against
Yugoslavia in response to an apparent peace agreement. But NATO
spokesman Jamie Shea contradicted Scharping on Wednesday. “Air
operations continue,” said Shea. “Nobody has taken any decision to
suspend them or end them.”

Confirming Shea’s statement, White House spokesman Joe Lockhart also
contradicted the German defense minister: “All the maneuvering that
Milosevic can come up with is not going to bring this campaign to a
conclusion until he makes the fundamental decision that it’s time to
leave.”

According to diplomatic sources, the Yugoslav government is pushing
for substantial changes in the agreement. In fact, while Russian
diplomats blocked completion of a draft resolution on Monday, the
Yugoslav military launched a surprise offensive against KLA positions in
Kosovo. NATO air units responded with over 400 air sorties, hitting
Yugoslav armor and artillery. Airstrikes were also launched against
Serbian oil refineries near Belgrade.

At the same time, Yugoslav military officers walked out of Monday’s
talks, leaving Western leaders gasping. NATO was about to declare
victory, but the Yugoslavs balked. British Defense Minister George
Robertson called the Yugoslav action “bad faith and procedural
trickery.”

Can the Yugoslavs be trusted to abide by an agreement which has been
imposed on them by brute force? The Serbs do not like the agreement. Of
course, the Yugoslav generals went back to the negotiating table on
Wednesday and signed on the dotted line, and Russia’s diplomats finally
agreed to a draft resolution for the U.N. Security Council, but nobody
is saying they’re happy about it.

Here is the vicious circle the negotiators have labored to resolve:
Russia and China want the bombing to stop prior to any vote in the U.N.
Security Council; NATO insists on continued bombing until Yugoslav
forces are withdrawn from Kosovo; the Yugoslav generals want the U.N.
Security Council to vote before they pull out; Russia and China want the
bombing to stop prior to any vote. …

One might imagine a political cartoon, with a humorous diagram of
this “vicious circle.” Dr. Strangelove would be sitting in front of the
diagram with a pointer stick. In the next and final frame of the cartoon
he points to an equals sign in front of a mushroom cloud while offering
a
stiff-armed salute. Below the caption would read: “The Final Solution to
the ethnic cleansing problem.”

Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the negotiations has been the
involvement of China. Never before has China attempted such a direct
interference in European affairs, submitting major amendments to the
U.N. Security Council resolution on Wednesday — a resolution which
addresses a purely European military crisis. Western diplomats say they
will reject the
Chinese amendments, but China has its veto in the Security Council. This
means that peace in Europe depends on Beijing’s cooperation.

Chinese moves, aside from blatant diplomatic interference, also
extend to the military sphere. A high-level delegation from the People’s
Liberation Army, led by 71-year-old General Zhang Wannian, arrived in
Moscow this week. General Zhang said that the Chinese-Russian strategic
partnership is “in accordance with the fundamental interests of both
countries.” His delegation includes senior military intelligence
generals, leaders of China’s military industry, along with top navy and
air force officers. U.S. analysts say the seniority of the delegates is
unusual. But when we consider that these generals have come to Moscow to
discuss bilateral military cooperation
with the Russian Federation, the seniority of the Chinese delegates
needs no explanation.

The significance of the Russian-Chinese alliance has now shown
itself. China’s diplomatic interference in the Kosovo matter is a form
of support rendered to Russia and Yugoslavia. The appearance of
high-ranking Chinese generals in Moscow underscores China’s military
support for a renewed Eastern bloc. These people are not fooling around.
They are taking practical steps to exploit the crisis in Kosovo and
build a military alliance.

The Clinton Administration apparently does not realize that even if
its objectives in Kosovo are attained, NATO’s bombing campaign against
the Serbs will have succeeded — first and foremost — in fueling a
Russian and Chinese strategy of mobilizing a new anti-Western bloc of
countries. The larger strategic significance of this outcome more than
cancels whatever was gained on behalf of ethnic Albanians who want to
live in Serbia.

Of course, the ethnic persecution of the Albanians was wrong. But,
the intervention of NATO, however well intentioned, has only made
matters worse. Thousands of Serbians have been killed or wounded.
American troops are now pinned down in yet another trouble spot. Was it
any of our business? Not really. Yet the greatest casualty of this
campaign has been the good will of the Russian people. This is what we
have lost.

It is important for us to remember that there is a difference between
the Russian people and the Russian government. Decade after decade the
Kremlin has sacrificed the wellbeing of the Russian people in exchange
for better missiles, deeper bunkers, and quieter submarines. The Russian
people have long battled Moscow’s tyranny with “passive resistance.” But
Clinton’s
bombing of Serbia has altered the equation. It is now the Kremlin plus
the Russian people versus the West.

Put this together with the new Eastern bloc which is beginning to
form, and we have the makings of real trouble.

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