Foreign policy debate needed

by Don Feder (2-23-00)
Boston Herald, Opinion

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There is no real foreign policy debate in this presidential campaign. More is the pity. The major candidates are united in their support for Bill Clinton's inane interventions.

As we approach the first anniversary of the United States air war on Yugoslavia, it's instructive to survey the resulting great strides forward for peace, brotherhood and international order.

On Monday, NATO forces clashed with ethnic Albanians in the industrial city of Mitrovica, scene of 11 deaths in the past week.

A mob of 25,000 Albanians was determined to "liberate'' (ethnically cleanse) the Serbian stronghold in the city's northern section. French troops had to use tear gas to disperse them.

Reflecting the air of unreality that permeates the West's Balkans policy, Gen. Klaus Reinhardt, NATO's commander in Kosovo, said the protesters were "demonstrating for a better future.'' What they were demonstrating for was Serb blood.

In happy, multicultural Kosovo, the party never ends. Since NATO's occupation began, 230,000 Serbs and Gypsies have been purged. Roughly 100,000 Serbs remain, besieged among 1.2 million Albanians.

As of early February, 793 people had been killed in Kosovo since Yugoslav forces withdrew; 705 of them Serbs. Each week brings news of fresh atrocities - grenades fired into a Serb market; a group of Serb farmers found dead in a field, their bodies mutilated; a Serb convoy stoned, one dead.

In December, Dragoslav Basic was driving through the regional capital of Pristina with his wife and mother-in-law when a group of Albanians spotted them. They were dragged from their car and savagely beaten. Basic, a 62-year-old professor and former Fulbright scholar, was shot dead.

In a March 26, 1999, broadcast to Yugoslavia, President Clinton pledged that once the Serbs came to their senses and rolled over, NATO would "preserve Kosovo within Serbia while guaranteeing the rights of its people.''

It was another Clinton promise you could take to the bank - that is, the Madison Guarantee Savings and Loan.

The West no more meant to protect Kosovo's Serbs than it intended for the province to remain part of Yugoslavia, even in name.

From start to finish, it was all a lie, including the rationale for our 78-day bombing campaign. Remember those mass graves NATO flak Jamie Shea spoke of with such confidence during the war? There were 100,000 Albanian men missing, he told us. Satellite photos showed 100 suspicious sites, each thought to contain as many as 1,000 bodies.

More than 70 sites have been excavated. On average, 20 bodies were found in each, Serbs and Albanians. Causes of death included disease, NATO bombing and in the case of KLA fighters, combat. This is less than annual homicide toll of America's three largest cities, not genocide.

There are 6,000 U.S. troops in Kosovo. Eventually, when the Albanians run out of Serbs to kill, they will become targets.

By bestowing de facto independence on fractious minorities, we are promoting ethnic conflict in unstable regions and making more "peace-keeping'' work for ourselves. Chechnya exploded just weeks after we wrested Kosovo from Yugoslavia.

The Heritage Foundation comments that Clinton "has committed U.S. forces . . . in a haphazard fashion to deal with a variety of international crises that have little or no connection to the nation's security interests.''

Instead of a debate on our most crucial foreign-policy question, humanitarian interventions vs. national security, we have a chorus of murmuring assents.

Gov. George W. Bush thinks it's a swell idea. Sen. John McCain longed to see U.S. soldiers slugging it out with Yugoslav forces on the ground. Vice President Al Gore and former Sen. Bill Bradley are New World warriors in waiting.

Only Pat Buchanan, seeking the Reform Party nomination, dissents. Even he is too busy fulminating against the World Trade Organization to pay much attention to the glorious fruits of our latest intervention.

Don Feder is a syndicated columnist based at the Boston Herald.

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