Kosovo and our military intervention

What’s your take on our current military adventure in Kosovo? My initial feelings were based on a mix of:

  • Nasty stuff getting done to ethnic Albanians (“EA”) by general bad guy Slobodan
  • Disruption of life for surrounding sovereignities due to influx of EA refugees
    • Always tough to deal w/refugees
    • Tougher yet when they wind up in a neighborhood like Macedonia where ethnic tensions are high already
  • What if the western world had reacted a little more resolutely to the early provocations of Hitler? Would we have possibly avoided WWII & its holocaust?
  • Related to a comment I’ll make below; this exercise is historically a little different from what has been the norm post-WWII, but things change.
  • It had (ignoring the refugee question for the moment) remained a conflict w/in one sovereignity and thus, by previous post-Cold War standards, did not require the international community’s military action
  • The UN had been the historic (post WWII) meeting post & was avoided because near superpowers Russia & China could have taken the motion out of the emotion
  • No real tangible goal & plan to get there - the threat of bombing did not have its desired result in the diplomatic interchanges of the last year and was backed off on enough times that neither I nor Slobodan probably really believed it was forthcoming - but I was worried at that time about the threat to our credibility. It has been pointed out many times in the last week that no air campaign has won a war by itself (things do change).
  • Advertising in advance that we would not occupy any Serbian territory w/o Serb (“SB”) permission & that we would not use ground troops (“I’m coming to the fight, but don’t worry; I left my right hand at home.”) Sounds a lot like the worry over bombing Hanoi when we were at war w/them and the earlier constraints on UN fliers in Korea against pursuing Communist aircraft past the Yalu River ( We’re gonna be gentlemen in this game; we’re gonna pursue a policy of NEVER crossing their 50-yard line, and they’ll just look bad when they cross ours).
  • No good guys over there: EA are not likely candidates to take an ethnic minority SB to their hearts and protect them from another PC-deficient EA or a Bosnian or a Macedonian (Generally speaking, who hates each other the most in the world? The people who live next door to each other. This is a little bit like an outsider taking sides in a divorce.).
  • A little bit of a suspicion of the “Wag the Dog” factor; afterall, this President has nothing to mark his regime in any positive style - this is the last of my “against intervention” remarks because I would really like to highly discount the possibility of an effort toward acheiving some historical grandeur being WJC’s motivation for starting another war

So, now where are we:
This post is long enough already, so I’ll tell ya I was opposed to intervention at the outset of the campaign ~two weeks ago, but as soon as the first bomb dropped I realized this cannot be another unresolved situation, we must campaign and win. The only way to resolve a military confrontation is to destroy your enemy’s ability to fight & that probably involves the massive insertion of ground troops.
We have to win this war (that’s what it is)!
Should we opt for a disguised defeat like Vietnam NATO will have… what meaning? If you have a better idea, I would REALLY like to hear from you.

Actually, this is A LOT like taking sides in a divorce.

Dunno about you, but it seems the media has this back-asswards. They talk about Milosevich being “increasingly desperate”, when it’s perfectly obvious we are the desperate ones. We blundered into this, we still have no idea when it’s going to end, and by the time an occupying force gets there, Serbia will have successfully cleared out Kosovo. So far, our only offer for peace has been unconditional surrender (ie. Serbia gives up Kosovo and lets us have our way with it) This is the stupidest demand ever! It means that Serbia has nothing to lose by fighting us. If they fight and drag this out, they might well win because nobody really wants to risk any lives to end this.

Personally, I suspect Clinton wanted a nice feel-good war like the Persian Gulf, where we simply overwhelmed Iraq. This didn’t happen in Yugoslavia; so far they’ve managed to outsmart us. We have to decide if we are willing to engage the Sebians in bloody, close-quarters mountain fighting. If the answer is no, let’s get out of there.

“I had a feeling that in Hell there would be mushrooms.” -The Secret of Monkey Island

I would be inclined to support the Kosovo War on humanitarian terms if the action would do any good. Even the Nazi hordes couldn’t tame the Balkans. There is too much dissension for the locals to coalesce around any body of political power. Tito succeeded because he oppressed all groups equally.

Every thing I have heard makes me believe that the Serb government, not Serbs as individuals, is pretty brutal. I mean, they are killing Croats and Muslims for nothing but pure ethnic reasons, and, they have been doing it for years now. I doubt they will stop anytime soon. But, that isn’t to say that the Croats and Muslims have been the good guys all along: historically speaking, each of these groups has behaved brutally toward the other. It is just that the Serbs have the power right now.

Still, I could conceivably support an effort to subdue the Serbs if it were based on the WWII model. By that I mean that the Allies seek to bring down an evil regime by force of arms, they execute their moral obligations through a serious effort (translation: troops on the ground, a real invasion with objective goals), and, they occupy the territory until a suitable democratic government can be formed.

My support of such a humanitarian action is tempered by the knowledge of how overwhelmingly difficult that task would be. As I said, the Nazis couldn’t do it. To some extent, modern technology can offset the ability of partisans hiding in the hills to continue to wreak havoc, but, I’m no military guy. It seems like recently the Soviet Union could not succeed in a military action in Afghanistan. I think that truly subduing the land would be a long and bloody ordeal.

That leads me to believe that the bombing effort is nothing but a show. Putting lives at risk for no apparent benefit. Sticking our noses in a Millennium old conflict might be morally correct, but only if by taking arms and killing thousands of people we have a reasonable expectation of preventing further death and hardship. I don’t believe it is reasonable to so expect in this situation.

All of my reservations are compounded by the obvious incompetence and bumbling of the adminstration to date. Again, Clinton, the man who “loaths” the military, is proving it by demonstrating he is willing to send them into harm’s way for no identifiable reason (unless you count distracting us from his Chinagate Treason). Call it Lebanon III (Somalia being Lebanon II). The first two were Republican initiatives and had nothing to do with Communist containment. This is just more feel good crap.

But what else can be expected from the man who “didn’t inhale that woman, Gennifer Flowers”.

The Trustworthy Troglodyte

I wish people would quit stating that the Germans were incapable of conquering Yugoslavia. They did; and they did it in 11 days! (April 6-17, 1941) Of course, there was a strong underground resistance, but the same was true of France. The French didn’t liberate themselves, the Western Allies did. Likewise the Yugoslavs didn’t liberate themselves either, the Russians did.

Quit dragging out the old “They’re unconquerable” boogieman. The only historical precident for failure in the Balkins is Russian intervension, and they’re too dependent on nurishment from the Western tit of capitalism, to do more than complain.

If we truely want to stablize the region, then lets stop pussyfooting around with airstrikes and go in there and remove the destablizing elements (the Milosovich regime). This means ground troops and POWs and KIAs and, yes, it might actually take more than a of couple weeks.

We are at war. Lets do it right or not do it at all.

Aon Dia.
Aon Tir.
Aon Ite.

Amen, PapaBear. But don’t count Russia out. They say Yeltsin will probably be impeached by the hard-liners who control the Russian Parliment. And don’t forget that historically, the best way to pull your country out of an economic slump is to go to war. I just heard that Russia, Serbia, and Bellarus are considering a “Pan-Slavic Pact”. This could get a lot worse. :frowning:

“I had a feeling that in Hell there would be mushrooms.” -The Secret of Monkey Island

You might want to reserve judgement until you see the news from an alternate source:


Sample headline:

Slobodan Milosevic’s peace initiative creates an anti-war hysteria throughout the world – fake refugees exposed while the Head of the USA and his war machinery are at pains trying to get new ideas MORE

It certainly makes for interesting reading. It’s clearly propaganda, and should be disbelieved, but it makes one think about the veracity of one’s own news sources…

“I’m not an actor, but I play one on TV.”

Long rant warning…

I’m having a hard time understanding what the difference is between Albanians in Kosovo, Chechnyans in Southern Russia, Kurds in Turkey, Kurds in Iraq, Sikhs in India, and other ethnic groups who wish independence from the ruling ethnic group, yet must work toward their goals without US intervention. If I were a cynical person, I might believe it had something to do with the Albanians being Europeans…

Has US, oops NATO, bombing prevented atrocities in the name of ethnic cleansing, or decreased the misery in Kosovo? I don’t think so.

As far the ability to win a battle or war in this region, yes, it can be done. But like the board game Risk, some territories are easier to take than to hold. The Balkans are such an area. At one time, I naively believed the warring factions were still fighting the Crusades. I now realize that war in this region dates back to the “who’s got the bigger rock pile” era. Unless we (US & NATO) are ready & willing to commit to 100 years of “benign” occupation & pouring $$$$ into the region to develop infrastructure & create prosperity there, I fail to see what a few months of bombing is likely to gain other than the deserved animosity of the Serbs and a subdued “uh gee thanks” from the Kosovar Albanians.

We risk losing a good friend in Boris Yeltsin over this. For those who think there may just be a little bit of “Wag the Dog” in this operation, Yeltsin faces a much worse threat to his leadership with the Russian economy and the abandonment of Slavic brothers than Clinton ever faced over Monica. The pressure on him to unite the nation in war to defend fellow Slavs is mounting; his Presidency may well crumble over this issue.

Remember in late '95 when the Dayton accord was signed & the US committed 20,000 ground troops in Bosnia for 1 year? The year was conveniently up just past the '96 election. US ground troops are still there (though no where near 20,000); some for their 3rd, 4th, or 5th tour.

End of rant. Soapbox disassembled.

Sue from El Paso

Seems like nobody thinks this venture is a great idea. Diceman put it well, “We blundered into this, we still have no idea when it’s going to end…” and, more importantly, “We have to decide if we are willing to engage the Sebians in bloody, close-quarters mountain fighting. If the answer is no, let’s get out of there.” Seems to me that decision should have been made before the first bomb.
But it wasn’t.
So, while I wouldn’t necessarily say I see a consensus, the general drift of replies is to the effect that we now have to fish or cut bait. PapaBear: “We are at war. Lets do it right or not do it at all.”
I suspect it too late to cut bait.

Well, I agree with you PapaBear. Forgive my hyperbole. The Soviet Union won in Afghanistan too. That is my point- do what you want, you won’t change the hearts of people. And it is the partisans in the hills that the Nazis couldn’t subdue that will continue to forment trouble unless a huge amount of resources are committed to eliminating them too.

I think the Serbs can definitely be defeated. I just don’t think Americans have a realistic view of exactly what the cost would be.

The Trustworthy Troglodyte

make no mistakes.
NATO is not bombing to stop Serbs from killing Kosovars.
Nato is bombing serbs to stop them from pushing refugees into Macedonia and Albania.
Destabilization is the biggest “threat”
feared by the western governments.
We don’t care who you suppress, but if your actions threaten to cause problems for a whole region.

the theory goes like this

*Albania-Macedonia destabilized
*Greece moves into Macedonia to prevent having a Lebanon on it’s northern border
*Albanian troops take the hunk of Macedonia they’ve been claiming all along.
*Albania and Greece rumble
*Turkey has training and joint maneuver alliances with Albania
*Greece and Turkey rumble
*everybody takes sides
*everybody rumbles
*Lenny Bruce is not Afraid

<insert witty sig here>

I agree smegmum V, and I think there is much more risk here than what anybody wants to admit. I think what we have going is the most effective propaganda machine since Goebbels.

The Trustworthy Troglodyte

As to Kosovo, I think the primary problem is that we keep saying (the US, NATO, and the UN) that we are not the police of the world, then turn around and do just that. Except in Africa.

IF we are going to enforce some police action against genocide and/or massive dislocation, then we should say so and lay out the objectives and ground rules. I think we should, but should also stop kidding ourselves and state the objectives.

Going back further, the problem ultimately was created by European (and American) colonizers who created artificial “countries,” unifying cultural and ethnic entities that had never been recognized or received among those peoples as entities at all. So we should be the ones to pay for those mistaken ideas.

First, admit that we are acting as the world police and why. Second, offer any country the protection of the UN/NATO who will demilitarize. Third, pledge to attack any force that undertakes ethnic cleansing/massive relocation (define?). Fourth, seek the means to attain consensus on redefining borders and countries and preventing/addressing abuses of power.

We are in a position of addressing old ill-defined impositions of “nationhood.” Tito kept Yugoslavia together with an iron fist and an even approach, insisting on “nationalism.” There are few Titos. The entire position needs to be reexamined.


So what are the real consequences if Congress votes no on a declaration of war and we basically say “Whoops! We shouldn’t be here!” and pull out? Near term of course, Slobo is apparently the Lotto winner of the year and NATO has major egg on its face (perhaps terminal).

Will these consequences be worse than if we belatedly mobilize, reinstitute the draft, go fight a ground war and stay there for a decade or two? Oh yeah, and revitalize Eastern Europe as a foe of the West.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been (tentatively) subscribing to the thought, as I think most of the people I’ve talked to have, that collosal error that it may have been to initiate our military involvement, now that we’ve commited don’t pussyfoot around. But that word error haunts me. Are we compounding the error by gradually building toward a full scale war effort?

BTW, kiss the peace dividend, balanced budget and budget surplus goodbye!

Just a little quote from today’s (London) Electronic Telegraph that does little to ease the foreboding feelings about Kosovo:

“There will be no escalation without the agreement of France.” Mr Chirac’s position was said to be that France “prefers fighting with her hands tied behind her back to having both hands free while walking a tightrope above the abyss”.

Beatle, I’m surprised France hasn’t surrendered yet.

Ranger Jeff
The Idol of American Youth

Always drink* upstream * from the herd.

I must confess I found the Serb propaganda at www.serbia-info.com at least as convincing as our own. There was none of the demonization of the ethnic Albanians that I would have expected from a government engaging in systematic genocide; compare the articles about ethnic Albanians and Serbs living together in peace to the distorted German view of the Jews in the 30’s.


I think one reason why the US is easing off of military intervention in the Americas, and getting into countries of the former Soviet Union, is because those countries are more ripe for economic exploitation. The former soviet union is full of white, well-educated workers who will be happy with wages we would consider at the poverty level.

There is enough ethnic conflict to have our forces stay there indefinately, protecting any American investments

Booga, you make sense. At first I was wondering why Clinton (OOPS, I mean NATO :wink: yeah, right) would defend Europeans (how un-PC!), as opposed to stopping the massacre in Rwanda or trying to stabalize the gov’t of Indonesia, which is having problems with East Timor. Your post answers my questions.

Also, what do the Teeming Millions think about NATO spokesman Jamie Shea? To me, he seems like such a blatant propaganda agent.

“I had a feeling that in Hell there would be mushrooms.” -The Secret of Monkey Island

The problem with Kosovo seems to be that NATO assumes that since they have jus ad bellum, the automatically have jus in bello also, no matter what they do. Both of those are necessary for a war to be just. Jus ad bellum is a just cause for a war; jus in bello is prosecution of a war in a just manner. NATO seems to me to have a just cause, but is not prosecuting the war justly, or even in a sensible fashion.

Also, I might point out… Canada and the United States are bombing Serbia for carrying out forced unemployment, depopulation, and ethnic cleansing of ethnic Albanians. So… when does Serbia get to bomb Canada and the United States for carrying out forced unemployment, depopulation, and ethnic cleansing of First Nations?

Blessed Be,
Matt McLauchlin
Montreal, Quebec

It’s sort of like getting the police to go in on a domestic dispute.usually the spouse has a harder time going back after the incident.
A friend in South Africa reports this has become second page news there.
you can’t win anymore, settle this as well as we can.