Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

January 26, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

KOSOVO....James Joyner comments on the latest from the Balkans:

Fifteen years ago, when then-Yugoslavia was falling apart in a series of ethic civil wars, those of us who opposed American military intervention argued that no significant threat was posed to U.S. vital interests. The caveat was always that, if things got out of hand in Kosovo, we'd have little choice but to jump in to prevent it becoming a regional crisis.

When that did indeed come to pass, the idea that Kosovo's independence would eventually follow would have seemed incredible. Now it's buried on A10 of the Post.

It's more "independence-lite" than actual independence at the moment, and it's not yet a completely done deal: Serbia (obviously) is opposed, Russia is holding out for concessions, and even Spain is nervous about the whole thing. Still, it looks increasingly likely that Kosovo is on track to become an independent country in the near future. More background here.

Kevin Drum 12:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (62)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Pelosi?

Posted by: LhB on January 26, 2007 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

So it's almost like building a democracy takes time, and we shouldn't just cut and run because everything isn't perfect after a few years.

Huh. It's almost like there's some sort of lesson to be learned here...

Posted by: American Hawk on January 26, 2007 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

What does Kosovo have to do with democracy?

But since you somehow managed to make the link has anything like this happened to US troops in Serbia?

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070126/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_sneak_attack

Posted by: klyde on January 26, 2007 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK
So it's almost like building a democracy takes time, and we shouldn't just cut and run because everything isn't perfect after a few years.

Remind me, again, what the total US combat casualties in Kosovo have been since dislodging the Serbian military and establishing an international force overseeing security and the transition in Kosovo.

Huh. It's almost like there's some sort of lesson to be learned here...

Uh, yeah, over here (waves at Kosovo) war with a humanitarian basis, sold honestly, where the US gathered a broad and substantial international coalition including substantial participation as more than chearleaders by regional powers, and despite strong differences on policy worked out ways to deal with nations that opposed the war but were influential in the region to play a substantive role in the post war stabilization. Largely a success, even though transition is drawn out.

Over there (waves at Iraq), war in which all those things are not true, drags on into an extended, bloody failure with no good end in sight.

Certainly could be a lesson there.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 26, 2007 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

When that did indeed come to pass, the idea that Kosovo's independence would eventually follow would have seemed incredible.

Really? I thought that plenty of people foretold that with Yugoslavia defeated the Kosovars would claim and get independence.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 26, 2007 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Serbia is about to lose the only vestige of its days of glory: Kosovo.

What? Has Belgrade disappeared? I know parts were heavily bombed, but did Serbia lose it somehow?

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on January 26, 2007 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not surprised that Spain is nervous. If we establish the precedent that a region with a distinct culture and language can achieve independence, then the Basque separatist cause gains new legitimacy, and ETA can say that they are just as legitimate as the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army).

Posted by: Joe Buck on January 26, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK
If we establish the precedent that a region with a distinct culture and language can achieve independence

That's a fairly well established precedent, actually.

then the Basque separatist cause gains new legitimacy, and ETA can say that they are just as legitimate as the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army).

Even supporters of Kosovo's independence in the international community probably don't have a lot of warm fuzzy feelings about the KLA; it was Serbia's brutal retaliation against the Kosovar population, not the perceived legitimacy of the KLA, that drove international intervention.

That's not to say that ETA wouldn't try to capitalize on this, or that Spain is wrong to be nervous about that.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 26, 2007 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds like nation building. And we're against that.

Posted by: Kenji on January 26, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, cmdicey, it's not a well-established precedent. Particularly in Eastern Europe, the borders between ethnic groups are not in the same places as the borders between countries. There are lots of Hungarian speakers in Romania and Serbia, and lots of Russian speakers in the Baltic states. If every distinct ethnic group thinks it's going to get independence or a change of the borders, Europe is going to have a very messy time.

Posted by: Joe Buck on January 26, 2007 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Wes Clark, who was the commandor of Nato during the bombing of Serbia, based his book, How to Wage a Modern War, on his experience. Basically how to gain consensus among member states over bombing targets and so on. During a business event I covered some years ago in Bucharest he recalled how Rumsfeld walked into his office and said: "Wes, I read your book. And the one thing I came away with is that we will bomb who we want, when we want and where we want" How did that work out?

Posted by: Botecelli on January 26, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK
Actually, cmdicey, it's not a well-established precedent.

Its a well established precedent that such groups can get their own states (indeed, the coincidence of nationality and statehood is the fundamental idea of the nation-state system.)

That's a long way from every distinct ethnic and linguistic group actually getting their own state, something that Kosovar independence would not establish as precedent, either.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 26, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

It's like devolution in Britain. Within the context of the European Union regions are evolving into their smallest self-coherent polities.

Posted by: cld on January 26, 2007 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, do you realize that you blogged four times today, and it was nearly nothing but quoted material? You asked a token question or two, but that was it. Please try to present some original material. Thank you.

Posted by: Petty on January 26, 2007 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, yeah, over here (waves at Kosovo) war with a humanitarian basis, sold honestly, where the US gathered a broad and substantial international coalition including substantial participation as more than chearleaders by regional powers, and despite strong differences on policy worked out ways to deal with nations that opposed the war but were influential in the region to play a substantive role in the post war stabilization. Largely a success, even though transition is drawn out.

Wow. Doesn't Clinton have enough people kissing his rump? "Sold honestly" has been a matter of some contention, as has "largely a success."

I notice U.N. approval of the Kosovo operation was left out of your list. How come?

Posted by: monkeybone on January 26, 2007 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

No monkeybone, Nato did not seek UN approval as Russia and China would have vetoed the action. Yet after hostilities ceased the UN shouldered much of the load. And by the way, can you point out the failures?

Posted by: Botecelli on January 26, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

So, will those troops that have been there for fifteen years to "stablize" the area be permanently based in the new country, or what?

Foreign troops in a country don't seem to bother anyone if nobody is getting killed.

Posted by: randolph on January 26, 2007 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

Burying this story is so obviously a plot by the liberal media to downplay the successes of the Clinton administration.

Posted by: J on January 26, 2007 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK
"Sold honestly" has been a matter of some contention, as has "largely a success."

Whether the earth is round or flat has been a matter of some contention, too, nevertheless, I will continue to characterize it as round and let those who believe it is flat argue against that position if they are able.

I notice U.N. approval of the Kosovo operation was left out of your list. How come?

Because the operation wasn't approved by the UN; where the legal basis for intervention was mentioned (which is distinct from its motivation), it wasn't UN approval, but actual and repeated cross-border attacks into Albania by forces involved in the fighting in Kosovo.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 26, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Foreign troops in a country don't seem to bother anyone if nobody is getting killed.

On a purely selfish note: I have had a really rich, interesting and illuminating life because we have those bases scattered about, and I would not trade those experiences for anything.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka Global Citizen) on January 26, 2007 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

Global Citizen, this is why I always find myself defending the UN - selfish reasons. My father worked for the body in the late 70s and because of it I got to see a lot of world I would not have seen otherwise: Vienna, Rome, communist Hungary and Romania and so on.

Posted by: Botecelli on January 26, 2007 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

So Wes Clark was integral in ending genocide and helping to foster the development of an independent Kosovo?

Posted by: gq on January 26, 2007 at 3:04 PM | PERMALINK

monkeybone wrote: "I notice U.N. approval of the Kosovo operation was left out of your list. How come?"

Because Russia made no secret of their plan to veto any and all such UN activity. But then you knew that and were just idiotically trolling.

Posted by: PaulB on January 26, 2007 at 3:05 PM | PERMALINK

Serbia is about to lose the only vestige of its days of glory: Kosovo.

I think this refers to the Serbian Empire from about 600 years ago. When the Byzantine Empire was falling apart, the Serbs took over a lot of territory in Greece, Bulgaria, and Albania. Their capital at the time was in Kosovo. When the Ottomans came in and conquered it 100 years later, the critical battle was in Kosovo, so they'd be losing their "Alamo" too.

Posted by: ArkPanda on January 26, 2007 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Sounds like nation building. And we're against that.
Posted by: Kenji on January 26, 2007 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Against Nation Building.
Against Failed States.

Anyone else see the contradiction inherent in the Neocon stance?

Its a well established precedent that such groups can get their own states (indeed, the coincidence of nationality and statehood is the fundamental idea of the nation-state system.)
That's a long way from every distinct ethnic and linguistic group actually getting their own state, something that Kosovar independence would not establish as precedent, either.
Posted by: cmdicely on January 26, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

It's like devolution in Britain. Within the context of the European Union regions are evolving into their smallest self-coherent polities.
Posted by: cld on January 26, 2007 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah - they don't believe ethnic groups should get their own states, that they should mix within existing borders.

Yet, when ethnic groups come into the USA, they don't like the mixing.

Anyone else see the contradiction inherent in the Neocon stance?

Kevin, do you realize that you blogged four times today, and it was nearly nothing but quoted material? You asked a token question or two, but that was it. Please try to present some original material. Thank you.
Posted by: Petty on January 26, 2007 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

It's Friday, cut the poor guy some slack! For crying out loud. He took pictures of his cat. What more do you want?

Posted by: Extradite Rumsfeld on January 26, 2007 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

gq,

So Wes Clark was integral in ending genocide and helping to foster the development of an independent Kosovo?

Yes. Next question?

Posted by: Edo on January 26, 2007 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

1) Even I saw this coming, but it was not politically wise to talk about it - so I suspect a lot of people saw it coming, but ignored it;
2) The lesson is that when an area is 90% one ethnic group, has a military-style resistance made up of that ethnic group, and is under assault from another ethnic group predominantly located elsewhere, intervention can stop the high-level violence and eject the army. Particularly if the majority population is fleeing, begging for intervention, and regularly holding up signs saying "US please help".

Posted by: MDtoMN on January 26, 2007 at 3:46 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely,

Conservatives like American Hawk learn only those historical lessons they believe will support their pre-conceived notions about how the world should work, regardless of whether those lessons have any bearing on the actual events that took place.

At some point conservatives have to come to terms with how poorly their interpretations describe reality. They ignore so much history, culture and science their views are often irrelevent.

Posted by: pj in jesusland on January 26, 2007 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, yeah, over here (waves at Kosovo) war with a humanitarian basis, sold honestly, where the US gathered a broad and substantial international coalition...

Boy, do I second those comments. I was able to follow Clinton’s logic and his argument. I think the honest selling has stood up well over time.

As for Russia, I have always strongly suspected that the Russian government simply wanted to “cover” itself so as not to alienate those who identified with the Serbs. The United States, and the UN for that matter, appeared to be willing to play that game by not putting them on the spot at the UN. Russia played its part by acting tough (remember the supposed threat to the airport?), but in the end did not do anything.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 26, 2007 at 5:46 PM | PERMALINK

I love the responses I got on the issue of the Kosovo action not having U.N. approval. With Iraq, this was considered by all the same people to be absolutely essential for this kind of military action. With Clinton and Kosovo, apparently not so much.

Best response:

Because Russia made no secret of their plan to veto any and all such UN activity. But then you knew that and were just idiotically trolling.

So, if a president knows up front that his best efforts at approval are going to be vetoed in the U.N. no matter what he proposes (by France for example), then it's okay to bypass the U.N.? Care to write that down and think about it for a while?

Posted by: monkeybone on January 26, 2007 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

monkeybone, you are not exactly the first to notice this conundrum. It was much discussed at the time.

It's still not the same as setting up the UN to disapprove of your unilateral action and then appointing John Bolton as a thumb in its eye. And chances are nothing in our history will be as horrifyingly self-destructive the whole sad adventure of Bush II. If we're lucky.

Posted by: Kenji on January 26, 2007 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, I think both Clinton and Bush were fully justified in bypassing the U.N., considering the deliberate obstructionism, and the motivations of those doing the obstructing. What stinks is that Clinton is a saint for doing it, and Bush a bastard.

At what point is one "setting up" the U.N. to disapprove? Could one say Clinton was deliberately proposing things he knew that Russia would veto? Or has the problem been the U.N. all along?

Posted by: monkeybone on January 26, 2007 at 6:44 PM | PERMALINK
I love the responses I got on the issue of the Kosovo action not having U.N. approval. With Iraq, this was considered by all the same people to be absolutely essential for this kind of military action.

Um, no, wrong.

Above all else, the "type" of military action in Iraq and Kosovo was not the same.

Kosovo was motivated principally by internal repression in violation of accepted international norms, not principally by a threat to international peace and security, per se; while this is fairly accepted, conceptually, as a legitimate motivation for the use of force, it is one which the absence of a suitable international legal framework to deal with immediate threats is widely recognized, and where therefore the moral force of international legal restrictions on the use of force is at it lowest ebb. Nevertheless, the Kosovo action was also legally justified by actual and repeated unprovoked cross-border attacks by belligerents into Albania, which made military action in collective self-defense to thwart the attacks and prevent their repetition legal under international law as reflected in the UN Charter.

Iraq, on the other hand, was motivated (publicly) principally based on (1) the need to uphold international law and the decisions of the UN Security Council on Iraq, and (2) a supposed threat to the United States specifically and international peace and security more broadly resulting from Iraq's defiance of those decisions; inasmuch as any international legal justication at all was claimed, it was based on the same bases. This was clearly a case where adherence to the formal restrictions on the use of force in international law was of the greatest moral imperative, since not only was the kind of supposed provocation one well-established and settled in international law, but the decisions of the formal procedures and authorities of the UN system were itself the cited justifications. And yet, Iraq neither committed an actual attack, nor was in the process of one such that would amount to an "imminent" attack as that term is used in international legal parlance, either of which would justify individual or collective self-defense without UN authorization to deal with the threat, nor was their UN authority for the action, indeed, the dispute was one which had already been submitted to the UN, and was already the subject of binding resolutions which all member-states were bound, in addition to the general provisions calling for restraint from force other than in self-defense or with UN authority, to specifically observe which the US, UK, et al., violated with the attack on Iraq.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 26, 2007 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK
Actually, I think both Clinton and Bush were fully justified in bypassing the U.N., considering the deliberate obstructionism, and the motivations of those doing the obstructing. What stinks is that Clinton is a saint for doing it, and Bush a bastard.

I don't think Clinton is a "saint"; I think that it would have been better if, given the manifest deadlock between Security Council veto powers and the clear need for action, he had invoked Uniting for Peace and gone to the General Assembly.

OTOH, the context of the wars was different, the motivations were different, the legal justifications were different, and how well those justifications comported with the facts were different. And the results a rational observer should have expected from each were different, and considering the morality of going to war can never be separated from what can be expected to come of the action.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 26, 2007 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

Well, the Mighty Wurlitzer has done its work well, and nobody here seems to be aware that the Albanian Kosovans drove out 90% of the Serbian inhabitants of Kosovo before the Serbian Army tried to protect those who remained.

But, hey!, goes around, comes around, and before too long the coastal Albanians will be thinking about cleaning out the upland Albanian mafiosi, nd we'll be restocking our base in Macedonia so we can once again "bring peace" to the region.

Business at the same old stand.

Posted by: serial catowner on January 26, 2007 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

Very well written. It doesn't stand up that well (it amounts to it was okay to bomb Kosovo because it WASN'T an international threat), but it's well written.

To invoke some cross-border raids into Albania (did these even make the news) as a justification for starting a war is particularly lame. Saddam's regime started two full-scale military invasions of two different neighboring countries, was developing long-range missiles at the time of the invasion, and had a long record of seeking WMD.

Why not just cut to the chase and admit that initiating one war was good because it was Democratic, and the other one was bad because it was Republican?

Posted by: monkeybone on January 26, 2007 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

did these even make the news

Guess you wouldn't know. Wait, how do you know? Must not be in the habit of citing sources for little know "information".

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on January 26, 2007 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK
Very well written. It doesn't stand up that well (it amounts to it was okay to bomb Kosovo because it WASN'T an international threat), but it's well written.

Well, no, it doesn't amount to that at all, and if you think it does, then it wasn't as well written as either you say or I thought when I wrote it, or you aren't very good at reading.

To invoke some cross-border raids into Albania (did these even make the news) as a justification for starting a war is particularly lame.

Yes, they made the news at the time, and were cited in the few NATO discussions, at the time, of legal justification of the war (most discussions, though, focussed on moral justifications).

Whether its "lame" or not is irrelevant; response to ongoing actual attacks is a well-established legal justification for war without any additional outside sanction in customary international law and codified in the UN Charter.

Saddam's regime started two full-scale military invasions of two different neighboring countries

Both of which invasions initiated earlier wars, and neither of which occurred within the decade prior to the 2003 war, and the latter of which was a matter submitted to resolution by the UNSC and therefore in which members of the UN were bound by the UNSC's determinations and orders once they were made, including the post-war ceasefire resolution flagrantly violated by the US in the military action which they claimed was justified in part to enforce the terms of that UN resolution.


was developing long-range missiles at the time of the invasion, and had a long record of seeking WMD.

Even to the extent this is true, its irrelevant. It constitutes a speculative, nonimminent external threat, which by the express terms of the UN Charter, the determination of and any military response to is within the sole jurisdiction of the UN Security Council.

Why not just cut to the chase and admit that initiating one war was good because it was Democratic, and the other one was bad because it was Republican?

Because that's not the critical difference, legally, morally, or otherwise; look, I've criticized, in the past, the domestic legality of Kosovo, suggested that it would have been a better basis for an impeachment than the charges the Republicans actually brought against Clinton, defended the legality of the Panama invasion by the first Bush.

This isn't a "Republicans bad, Democrats good" issue. The Kosovo War and the Iraq War are simply not the same thing, and even the former I wouldn't characterize as unqualifiedly "good". OTOH, while there are certainly issues to be made about it, they are not the same as the legal, moral, and practical issues with the Iraq war.

Posted by: cmdicely on January 26, 2007 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

Not all liberals supported Clinton's intervention in Kosovo -- and I am among those who didn't.

And how can we still, today, claim that the war in for Kosovo was sold "honestly"? The main public support for that intervention came after William Cohen claimed that up to 100,000 Kosovars had been massacred. Later investigations, by journalists and forensic teams, found that no more that 2,000 had been killed, perhaps only a few hundred, and there was no way to know which side did the killing.

Serbia did not one day decide to start killing Kosovars. Rather, the KLA (which had been considered a terrorist organization by the US and the UK, had links with Bin Laden, and made huge amounts of money from trafficking heroin) started killing Serbs. The Serbs acted in self-defense in this case -- though they did so too late.

Holbrooke and Albright, who drove this policy, are trigger-happy neocons too -- only slightly different from the Wolfowitz variety. They had decided that Yugoslavia was too large and powerful, and its wings had to be clipped. Holbrooke personally went to Kosovo and gave the green light for the insurrection to begin.

Nothing honorable about the Kosovo intervention IMO. And it is absolutley correct that bombing a country without UN approval trashes international law, regardless of whether you are Clinton or Bush.

Posted by: JS on January 26, 2007 at 10:11 PM | PERMALINK

Why not just cut to the chase and admit that initiating one war was good because it was Democratic, and the other one was bad because it was Republican?

Why did my country, Canada, take part in one and not the other? Because they were different moral creatures. The first was stepping in to stop someone kicking the shit out of someone else. The second was bopping someone cause you claimed they would maybe bop you sometime in the future.

And you have the typical loony American nativist confusion about the UN and UN obstructionism. Stop thinking in terms of the UN which is after all just a forum of nations. The first case was Russia using the UN so it could be seen as obstructing action (but not take any effective steps) for internal political reasons (historical and emotional ties to the Serbs). The second case was pretty much everyone using the UN to try and stop the Cheney and company from a patently stoopid action. The UN is not much of a distinct actor. It is a forum within which individual nations act. Get that fact straight and it might improve your analysis somewhat.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 26, 2007 at 10:25 PM | PERMALINK

"Serbia did not one day decide to start killing Kosovars. Rather, the KLA (which had been considered a terrorist organization by the US and the UK, had links with Bin Laden, and made huge amounts of money from trafficking heroin) started killing Serbs. The Serbs acted in self-defense in this case -- though they did so too late."

The Rwandan military thought they were acting in self-defense too when they started the Rwandan genocide. Genocides are rarely thought of in the perpretrators mind as offensive, but instead as defensive. Milosevic and co. were following the same pattern the Serbian Bosnian army did in Bosnia: invade a town, separate the men from the women, put the women on trucks to send them away while raping them, meanwhile take the men to a field and shoot them.

It should also be noted Clinton at least got NATO approval. The last time I checked, NATO was an international body. Bush didn't get approval from a single international body. The UN called the Kosovo affair "illegal but justified," which just admitted Russia was a problem. NATO offered the biggest committment in its history when it invoked Article V after 9/11 for Afghanistan, but Bush rebuked them for the reasons cited by earlier posters about Rumsfeld (wanting to go everything alone as much as possible). Bush couldn't even get regional NATO members like Turkey to give the US basing rights. Bush didn't bother to listen to UN weapons inspectors or let them finish their job, but instead got them pulled out of Iraq early so that the war could start. These two are two different animals.

Posted by: Reality Man on January 26, 2007 at 11:18 PM | PERMALINK

"Why not just cut to the chase and admit that initiating one war was good because it was Democratic, and the other one was bad because it was Republican?"

You live in a hall of mirrors, monkeybrain. Stop projecting your narrow world-view on others. There's a huge difference between a well-assembled coalition, at pains to do the right thing and doing it imperfectly, and lying your way into a disaster for personal profit and failed glory.

Sometimes bad is bad. Johnson was wrong when he prosecuted the Vietnam debacle, and Bush is more than wrong now—he's criminal. Forget your friggin' tribe for a minute and start thinking about the good of the country.

Oh, sorry: forgot who I was talking to.

Posted by: Kenji on January 27, 2007 at 2:46 AM | PERMALINK

monkeybone writes:

Why not just cut to the chase and admit that initiating one war was good because it was Democratic, and the other one was bad because it was Republican?

Because they were two different situations. There was an urgency to Kosovo because ethnic cleansing was occuring in the former Yugoslavia, and it was starting to occur in Kosovo. A real humanitarian crisis was forming, and Clinton acted in an honest way by defending Kosovo from Serbia. There was no such urgency in Iraq, except that which was perpetrated by the Bush Administration. The fact is, bombing Serbia prevented a humanitarian crisis, and was the correct and moral thing to do. Attacking Iraq under false pretenses was not (it had nothing to do with WMDs - Bush said so himself).

Posted by: Andy on January 27, 2007 at 3:06 AM | PERMALINK

cmdicely wrote:

This isn't a "Republicans bad, Democrats good" issue. The Kosovo War and the Iraq War are simply not the same thing, and even the former I wouldn't characterize as unqualifiedly "good". OTOH, while there are certainly issues to be made about it, they are not the same as the legal, moral, and practical issues with the Iraq war.
________________

While the legal, moral, and practical issues were not the same, it could be claimed that almost all wars have some murkiness in their genesis. Frankly, for the vast majority of military participants (including myself) any haziness about the Kosovo campaign's legality was more than overcome by the Administration's finding that the cause was just and in our interest, UN approval or no. Had the mission required us to flatten Belgrade, we would have done it just as readily as we took Bagdad. Happily, Milosevic not being quite so stupid as Saddam Hussein, it did not come to that, else we might still be taking sniper fire in places such as Ruma and Novi Sad. The rightness of an action does not depend on its cost. Nor is it (yet) determined by the presence or absence of international approval.

Posted by: Trashhauler on January 27, 2007 at 3:29 AM | PERMALINK

JS writes:

Serbia did not one day decide to start killing Kosovars. Rather, the KLA (which had been considered a terrorist organization by the US and the UK, had links with Bin Laden, and made huge amounts of money from trafficking heroin) started killing Serbs. The Serbs acted in self-defense in this case -- though they did so too late.

They did so too late? Gimme a break. The KLA didn't one day decide to start attacking Serbian police (which is the majority of their attacks) either. Serbia installed a repressive regime and gutted the Kosovo government - this is where the KLA was born. Attacks on civilians were carried out by both sides, but the Serbian attacks tend to be indiscriminate, and was carried out with more force. Clinton did the right thing. Unless you're a Serbian nationalist, I can't see how you can make those statements objectively.

Posted by: Andy on January 27, 2007 at 3:32 AM | PERMALINK

The rightness of an action does not depend on its cost.

Perhaps. But whether action is taken or not sure as heck does. It's called cost-benefit analysis. Wise men choose their battles. Yes, sometimes we have no choice; most often we do.

Also, I'm perplexed as to how Saddam's stupiditly led to the rushed invasion - remember the Canadian proposal to give the UN another two weeks (which would have brought France and Germany on board). It was arrogantly dismissed out of hand.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 27, 2007 at 3:38 AM | PERMALINK

sorry re. the typos - a hand injury (which hopefully will get better).

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 27, 2007 at 3:39 AM | PERMALINK

Last lin at 3.38 was meant to be:

and not by Saddam.

Posted by: snicker-snack on January 27, 2007 at 3:42 AM | PERMALINK

snicker-snack wrote:

"Also, I'm perplexed as to how Saddam's stupiditly led to the rushed invasion - remember the Canadian proposal to give the UN another two weeks (which would have brought France and Germany on board). It was arrogantly dismissed out of hand."
________________________

ss, I was referring to Saddam's overall penchant for cementing differences into lasting enmity. Whilst Milosevic was a first class wanker, he was careful to never seek open conflict with powers outside of Yugoslavia. Saddam, on the other hand, seemed to relish the idea of standing up to the great powers. Even if we forgive him for invading Kuwait by saying we might have unknowingly encouraged him, he still had ten years to mend his ways after learning we meant it. Instead, he insisted on posturing as a continuing threat, engaged in open combat with our forces, suborned the international sanctions, and openly supported terrorism against our ally, Israel. That put him right in the crosshairs as part of the overall GWOT strategy - by eliminating him we could distance ourselves from Saudi Arabia, strike a blow for a regional democratic model, and eliminate an enemy who, even if he wasn't yet involved with Al Qaeda, was certainly ready to support other, equally dangerous enemies. Frankly, he simply made himself seem too dangerous to ignore and too untrustworthy to cut a deal with. Stupid.

Posted by: Trashhauler on January 27, 2007 at 4:38 AM | PERMALINK

As far as I have been able to determine, Kosovar moves toward independence came before the Serbs responded with force. KLA terrorism started first, and the KLA was considered a fringe terrorist group with links to Islamic fundamentalists. Once the Serbs went after the KLA, things started to deteriorate and there were atrocities committed by both sides.

This was not very different from the attempted uprising of the Kurds in Turkey -- only there we took the side of the Turkish government, which killed many more civilians than the Serbs ever did.

You can argue whether a geographic region within a country has the right to independence (and secession). The world would be a very unstable place if this was the rule. In most cases -- and in the case of Kosovo as well, until recently -- we have taken a position against secession. Our Civil War was based on this principle as well, though in this case ethnicity was not the main issue.

You have to ask yourself what the US response would be if an area of the country developed a local ethnic majority (let's say Cubans in Miami), demanded independence, formed an armed militia, and started killing policement and local authorities. On the basis of what happened in Waco and in Philadelphia, I would guess our response would be more forceful that Serbia's was to the KLA.

But of course the US (and Europe) apply different yardsticks to different situations on the basis of self-interest, not principle. So the Kurds in Turkey were terrorists for fighting for their independence, but the Kurds of Iraq doing the same thing were heroes. In the case of Kosovo, breaking up Yugoslavia was a goal of US policy and so the KLA went from bad to good.

Whatever one believes on all of this, however, it is hard to stick to the position that the Kosovo war was not sold to the US public with lies. The information on victims (Cohen's 100,000) came directly from the KLA PR office, and so was of the same exact nature as Chalabi's data about Iraq.

Posted by: JS on January 27, 2007 at 4:53 AM | PERMALINK

Lmao, Milosevic was at least as bad as Saddam. Pretending he wasn't is just a whitewash of history.
People like Js may want to pretend that people weren't killed by the hundreds, that whole villages weren't emptied of men and that tens of thousands of women weren't raped in an attempt to drive out the Albanians and breed out the ones that stayed. For all of Saddam's faults, he never tried to exterminae every ethnic group in the country but his own. And the turks? Well if I were treated like the albanians in Turkey, where they are regularly arrested, sodomized and tortured for hours, I'd be blowing every turk I could see into little tiny chunks. So would Js, he's just never had to suffer enough to know it. He sits in his comfy house, in his comfortable life and he judges those that have lived through that which would have killed him. That which would have worn away every last bit of his soul. He doesn't have the right.

Posted by: soullite on January 27, 2007 at 7:22 AM | PERMALINK
Even if we forgive him for invading Kuwait by saying we might have unknowingly encouraged him, he still had ten years to mend his ways after learning we meant it. Instead, he insisted on posturing as a continuing threat, engaged in open combat with our forces, suborned the international sanctions, and openly supported terrorism against our ally, Israel. That put him right in the crosshairs as part of the overall GWOT strategy - by eliminating him we could distance ourselves from Saudi Arabia, strike a blow for a regional democratic model, and eliminate an enemy who, even if he wasn't yet involved with Al Qaeda, was certainly ready to support other, equally dangerous enemies. Frankly, he simply made himself seem too dangerous to ignore and too untrustworthy to cut a deal with.

Trashauler,

Who are you calling stupid?

By your lights, posturing is legitmate grounds for aggression. Is that right?

Saddam "engaged in open combat with our forces"? Did you mean to say that he attempted to defend his territory from unsanctioned and illegal US attacks following the gulf war? Do you mean to argue that the US had not effectively de-fanged his military via no-fly-zone enforcement and aerial bombardment of his military facilities?

"Seeming too dangerous" is all the grounds you need for ripping a gigantic whole in the fabric of Arab society?

Bush went to war partly because he coveted Iraq's oil, partly because he's an insecure coward who wanted to prove he was a tough-guy, and partly because--like you--he is afraid of the shadows his imagination cooks up. The result, which you might have missed, is that religious extremists are poised to take power in Iraq where formerly Saddam had held them in check.

Stupid, eh?

Posted by: obscure on January 27, 2007 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

Trashauler,

Do us a favor and read this testimony from retired Lt Gen William Odom:

http://www.antiwar.com/orig/odom.php?articleid=10396

Posted by: obscure on January 27, 2007 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

Video entitled "Shia Iraqi Soldiers Beat Sunnis as U.S. Trainers Watch."

I saw this at youtube.com/profile?user=SharingRaw

Posted by: consider wisely always on January 27, 2007 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK


a h: So it's almost like building a democracy takes time, and we shouldn't just cut and run because everything isn't perfect after a few years.


"No goal, no objective, not until we have those things and a compelling case is made, then I say, back out of it, because innocent people are going to die for nothing."

- Sean Hannity 1999 talking about Kosovo

Posted by: mr. irony on January 27, 2007 at 11:05 AM | PERMALINK

monkeybone: Why not just cut to the chase and admit that initiating one war was good because it was Democratic, and the other one was bad because it was Republican?

"You think Vietnam was bad? Vietnam is nothing next to Kosovo." - Tony Snow March 24, 1999


"You can support the troops and not the president." - Tom DeLay (R-TX) 1999


i thought elephants were supposed to have good memory's..

Posted by: mr. irony on January 27, 2007 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

obscure wrote:

"Bush went to war partly because he coveted Iraq's oil, partly because he's an insecure coward who wanted to prove he was a tough-guy, and partly because--like you--he is afraid of the shadows his imagination cooks up. The result, which you might have missed, is that religious extremists are poised to take power in Iraq where formerly Saddam had held them in check."
_____________________

obscure, I suppose it's useless to point out that the question being addressed was how Saddam was more stupid than Milosevic, rather than whether the Administration's pre-war calculations were correct. As even General Odom notes, the removal of Saddam's regime had become a perceived American interest.

I suppose it's equally useless to point out that simply listing what I think were some of the reasons for invading Iraq doesn't mean I agreed with them. As it happens, I didn't think that invasion was the best course of action. But it was the one we took.

It seems a particular weakness of some posters here to assume that failure to heap insults on the President in every post is an indicator of lockstep defense of his every move. While that doesn't bother me much, it does have the unfortunate result of diverting the discussion into yet another round of totally meaningless personal insults.

Feel free to throw idiotic personal spitballs at me, if you wish. I won't return fire. It's just the internet equivalent of noise.

Posted by: Trashhauler on January 27, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with this, of course, is that it makes it much harder for the Bosniak government to hold off the demands for independence on the part of the Republica Srpska.

Posted by: aphrael on January 27, 2007 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

trash hauler: the removal of Saddam's regime had become a perceived American interest.

but at a cost of 3k troops and 400-billion and counting...

who thinks that's a fair deal?

correct answer?

dead enders..


and yet those same conservatives were all against clinton and kosovo when not an american was killed...

looks like conservatives got their wish...

in iraq..


Posted by: mr. irony on January 27, 2007 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

Trashauler,

I wasn't hurling spitballs. I plead guilty to misunderstanding your use of the word "stupid".

I think you should plead guilty to perceiving insults where none were proffered.

Posted by: obscure on January 27, 2007 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

mr. irony wrote:

but at a cost of 3k troops and 400-billion and counting...

who thinks that's a fair deal?
________________

Not me, mr. irony. The deal truly sucks. But when the politicians ask us to solve things for them, it does tend to get pricey.

Posted by: Trashhauler on January 27, 2007 at 11:11 PM | PERMALINK

obscure, no problem. If I misunderstood, then many apologies. I gotta watch these pain killers I'm on.

Posted by: Trashhauler on January 27, 2007 at 11:13 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly