According to German Defense Minister Peter Struck,
won't be leaving Kosovo by 2006, as had been planned: "…we'll have to stay
much longer….we'd planned to withdraw bit by bit, but that's not going to happen
now." Struck said this following last week's pogrom against Serbs, carried out
by Albanians bent on creating an independent, ethnically-pure state.
Yet wasn't Kosovo supposed to be the prime example of a "successful"
intervention? After all, all the original
perpetrators of this crime said so – from Jamie Shea to Madeleine
Albright, from Wesley Clark to Javier
Solana, and, naturally, Bubba
Now, with the situation rapidly deteriorating, the Serbian
army is more than ready to defend its people – and Russia supports this.
The Albanians' great fear is that, even in its dilapidated state, the Serbian
Army "…could probably be in Tirana in 48 hours," as one former soldier put it.
It's highly unlikely that NATO would allow a Serb return, of course, as this
more than anything would cause immediate retaliation from the Albanians.
The Bitter Aftertaste of "Success"
Contrary to the lies
of the Clinton Administration and the mass media, there was no ethnic
cleansing, and no attempt at it, by Serbs against Albanians sufficient to necessitate
military action in 1999. Extremists were kept under control, admittedly sometimes
more violently than was necessary. Yet critics forget that the Albanian KLA
was waging a guerrilla war, sometimes using human shields. The KLA had, in fact,
been classified a terrorist
organization by Washington until Clinton needed to enlist it for his own
The NATO intervention has had regional fallout. Before it, Macedonia's
borders had been protected by the Yugoslav Army's attentive policing. But after
the troops were
forced to leave in 1999, Albanian extremists were able to cross the
Macedonian border with impunity. And Kosovo itself has become a killing field in
which the Albanians "cleansed" the province of minority Serbs, Roma, Macedonian
Muslims, and Turks.
In addition, there has also been a major increase in Albanian-Albanian vendetta
killings, the mafia's new
law of rule, and a new role for Kosovo as staging-post for
foreign Islamic terrorists. UN officials in the province began to hear, not only
from Serbs but also from Albanians, that "things were safer in the old days." So
much for the West's plans for the "rule of law" in a multi-ethnic Kosovo.
After moving into Kosovo in 1999, NATO looked on helplessly as civilians were
murdered, over a hundred churches destroyed, and other atrocities enacted. Yet
UNMIK and KFOR did next to nothing. Why? Pure, outright fear of provoking
retaliation from the Albanian thugs they'd empowered in the first place. And so,
having no emotional or cultural stake in what happened, they fulfilled their
jobs as bureaucrats and policemen.
However, they knew the score. Knowing the Albanian skill at causing strategic
provocations to foment wider revolt, they did not arrest criminals even when
they knew their identities, and let others
literally escape. They did not extradite wanted war criminals such as Agim
Ceku despite numerous chances to do so, and did not press too hard to solve
the myriad murders by "unknown perpetrators." The occupiers' strategy throughout
has been to keep a lid on things at all costs, knowing full well that any
attempt to really uphold the "rule of law" would result in massive violence of
the sort that would drive NATO out of the province with its tail between its
Yet now that the lid has been decisively blown off, NATO's final moment of
truth may be well be at
hand. As an experienced UN official in Kosovo told me yesterday, "…things
are soon going to get much, much worse. What we saw last week- this is just the
The Failure of the West
of Kosovo's Serbs and Serbian culture heritage
is taking place, and it's not hard to see where the blame ultimately falls,
says Antiwar.com's Nebosja Malic:
"…The [NATO] Alliance, so full of bluster when it bombed Serbia from afar,
now seems both unwilling and unable to stop what is effectively genocide, or at
the very least a humanitarian catastrophe. Both reasons, people may remember,
cited in justification of the original intervention in 1999. What is happening
in Kosovo right now is a direct consequence of that intervention. When KFOR and
UNMIK ousted Serbian law enforcement and military – indeed, the Serbian state
and society – from Kosovo in June 1999, they assumed responsibility for the
protection of all in the province. From the first exodus of over 250,000
non-Albanians in 1999, to the present pogrom, they have consistently failed in
that responsibility. They should start living up to it right now, this very
minute – or admit failure, leave forever, and pay damages to the victims of
their criminal stupidity. And leave the resolution of the conflict to people who
are both willing and able to see it through. In the meantime, any blood spilled
in the province over the past four days, and likely to be spilled yet, is on
On to Iraq – Forever?
The question, then, is the following: if the 1999
war of "liberation" in Kosovo has resulted in blowback against the liberators,
and occupation will be necessary for well over 7 years, then what can be said
about Iraq? After all, in Kosovo, the revenge of the liberated took three or
four years to fully manifest. In Iraq, it was present from Day 1.
Indeed, almost no one dares to call the Iraq occupation "successful."
Confronted by this reality, Washington's leading lights are at a loss to
figure out how the Department of Defense will fund an occupation that has
dragged on far
longer than it had planned:
"'…three weeks was about enough to fight the kind of war we were trained and
optimized to fight,' judges West Point-trained military analyst Andrew
Krepinevich of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. 'We had a
military that was designed for sprints.'
"But in Iraq today, he said, 'The problem is that it's not a sprint anymore,
it's a marathon.'"
This "design flaw" simply beggars belief. The U.S. military has traditionally
maintained the ability to fight a war on two fronts simultaneously. What did
they expect – that they'd last one and a half weeks each?
Indeed, after the experience of the Kosovo campaign – which lasted 78 days, and
was fought with the help of over a dozen allied states – the government surely
should have known better.
The Army's Gloomy Future
The failure to look realistically at Iraq realities
last year is having deleterious effects now not only in regards to funding,
on the morale of army
personnel, many of whom have decided
to retire after their tour finishes (if it ever does). Pentagon
officials fear that the large-scale departure of experienced soldiers will
mean the loss of qualified personnel necessary for training the next generation
How long a "marathon" Iraq will be is anyone's guess. Estimates range
10 to 25 years. Yet the government can't
make its plans in a vacuum. The world in 10 or 25 years is going to be a far
different place. Pakistan seethes, with popular
unrest against Musharraf's pro-Americanism. And NATO's continued and
unnecessary expansion, conducted merely for the ultimately political purpose
of enriching U.S. defense contractors, is already
increasing Russia's fears, and, consequently, a
military buildup of her own. Most significantly, as the U.S. continues to
bankrupt itself on unnecessary wars in distant lands, China
will continue its untroubled
rise to power.
This was once a concern to U.S. military planners. Now only the
all-but-forgotten CIA seems to be
pointing it out. The irony is that, in scrapping its Cold War infrastructure
designed for major conventional-style combat in favor of lighter weaponry useful
for guerrilla and urban warfare, the U.S. ignores the much longer-term threats
from countries such as China, which represent something much more akin to the
old Soviet menace. If history is cyclical, then the U.S. is in danger of ending
up behind the curve.
Bush Bails Out on the Troops
Yet with no Plan B, and an election looming, George
W. Bush, the patriotic President, has quietly decided
against replenishing army funds when they run out in October:
"…Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker told the Senate Armed Services
Committee the $38 billion he has for 2004 war operations will last only until
the end of September, as he spends $3.7 billion a month in Iraq and about $900
million a month in Afghanistan."
Bush last year incurred public worries over a soaring budget deficit as he
sated the never-ending requests for military funds – $63 billion here, $87 billion
there – and so his advisors have now decided that it's better to let the occupying
forces go broke, running out of essential supplies, so that Bush isn't perceived
as plundering the taxpayer yet again. According
to Editor & Publisher, a planned press conference on war costs
was shelved last week, to shield leaders from embarrassment. Oh, he does plan to
inject more cash, but not until months after the November elections. How
the soldiers in Iraq will cope from September until then is apparently not the
The report also mentions the Pentagon's efforts to hush up a rising suicide
rate among soldiers in and returned from Iraq. Yet George W. Bush – clearly just the sort of
heroic Commander-in-Chief who would personally lead his men across the
Delaware – is content to smile
and pose for the cameras beside wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital.
Allies already wavering in their commitment to
do Bush's dirty work will desert altogether in the coming months. Spain
is considering withdrawing its troops. Similar
rumblings are being felt in the Ukraine and beyond. While Poland, a key
sycophant of the Bush Administration, has vowed
to stay, but a change in government, as in Spain, could alter that stance
quite easily. There is a new independent mood on the continent. In the wake
of the Madrid attacks,
the EU is formalizing a
specific anti-terrorism policy, one both independent and opposed to that
espoused by the Bush Administration.
Britain, Bush's ever-loyal poodle, can no longer be counted on to yap
happily as King Tony's War bankrupts the country:
"…a war chest of £3.8bn for military operations in Iraq is set to run out
within three months, official figures released last week indicate. Defence
economists estimate that keeping British troops in the country is costing
taxpayers up to £125m a month. However, figures released at the same time as the
Budget show the special contingency reserve for Iraq has just £300m left to pay
for operations in the coming financial year."
This is not to mention that the UK is sending an additional 750 troops to
Kosovo, to mop up yet another self-created mess. According to Mark Stoker, an
economist at the International Institute of Strategic Studies, the cost to
British taxpayers for "peacekeeping" could top £1.5bn for 2004 alone. "…National
Audit Office figures on peacekeeping in Kosovo suggest that maintaining a
15,000-strong force in Iraq could be costing between £100m and £125m a month,"
he stated. This means that "little if any" funds will be left for the rest of
the "war on terror" – not very clever considering that Britain
is likely to experience a Madrid-style terror attack in the not-too distant
Like the U.S., Britain's ostensible goal in intervening around the world is
self-defense. Yet, despite all the shows of military might projected over
great distances, both homelands sit plump and fat, delectable
and defenseless targets for terrorists. Both governments fully realize the
utter impossibility of protecting their people: America is a vast and populous
nation, and Britain though much smaller has a huge population of Islamic
immigrants, and direct connection to the vulnerable European continent.
Realizing this, both governments seek to transform people's fear into trust by
staging grand, showpiece displays of military might.
But it's not very persuasive, and it doesn't come cheap. Occupying Kosovo out
of dubious humanitarian reasoning, and conquering Iraq out of equally sketchy
security concerns, has only drained Western coffers of government while causing
destruction and loss of life on a massive scale.
America must relearn the lessons of its own history, and return to the values
founders, who disdained empires and sought to preserve the Republic against
the rise of an imperial regime. In he short term, American foreign policy as it
is currently configured means a long series of wars that erupt and re-erupt on
the fringes of the Empire. In the long-term, however, our prospects are much
worse. A policy of global interventionism can only mean economic eclipse,
political and social turmoil, and the fall of the world's last superpower –
perhaps even more rapidly and dramatically than it rose.