The Coastal Post - May 1999

The Arrogance of Power

By Edward W. Miller

"Government is not reason. It is not eloquence. It is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearsome master." - George Washington

"They made a wasteland and called it 'peace'." - Tacitus (Roman historian)

As noted in the March Coastal Post, ("Beating A Dead Horse"), the U.S Senate, following furious lobbying by the U.S. armaments industry, voted on April 30, 1998, to extend NATO membership to Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, thereby demonstrating the power of political money to override common sense. To continue this dangerous charade, the U.S. Senate on March 23, 1999, following no significant debate, voted 58/41 to authorize President Clinton to conduct military air operations and missile strikes in cooperation with NATO against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. California Senators Boxer and Feinstein voted with the yeas. Thus, in a cowardly move and in direct contradiction to the powers expressly given to Congress, we are at war with a sovereign nation without the express declaration of war. As a direct result of this knee-jerk response by both Clinton and Congress, there is unfolding in the Balkans one of the worst human rights tragedies in recent history, a quagmire of human misery, destruction and death, accentuated almost hourly by the repeated explosive destruction of what was a viable economic State.

Today (April 19th), Clinton, in an address to Congress, asked for an immediate outlay of $6 billion to be attached to our already-onerous military budget. Surreptitious suggestions that "ground troops" may be needed in the near future are feeling their way along the corridors of political waters in their districts. On CNN today Congressman Rod Blagojevich (with family roots in the Balkans), returned from that area to champion a political division of Kosovo, leaving the Serbs a small northern segment. Mentioned in the CNN discussion was Milosevic's responsibility for the forced emigration of over 300,000 Serbs from Bosnia in the 1992 fighting, plus the fact that Balkan "peacekeeping" has already cost the U.S. taxpayers some $30 billion.

The history of this multi-ethnic region has been the subject of innumerable studies and countless Ph.D. theses. Briefly, as the Ottoman Empire began to fracture in the early 19th Century, the Serbs, heavily-taxed, but denied property ownership and political power by their Muslim rulers, revolted. By the century's end, the idea of a "Greater Serbia" surfaced as the Croatians began to resist the authoritarian Austrian-Hapsburgs, while the Bosnia-Herzegovians joined with those Albanians who had converted to the Muslim religion to enjoy privileges under the Ottoman Turks. Though the Serbs were Greek Orthodox and the Croats, Roman Catholic, they shared a common language.

In 1911, with the Archduke's assassination as an excuse, Austria-Hungary declared war to crush growing Serbian power. The Hapsburgs lost and by 1929 the Serbia and Croatia kingdoms joined to form Yugoslavia.

Internal conflicts during WWII led to the German invasion of Belgrade, the creation of a fascist state, Croatia (including Bosnia-Herzegovina), with the attachment of the Serbian Province of Kosovo to Mussolini's puppet state, Albania. After WWII, Yugoslavia, which had survived the invasion of over 20 Nazi divisions, resurfaced as a Communist state, with Marshall Tito in charge. Mihailovik was executed, and under Tito's tight control, this country, which broke with Moscow in 1948, managed its socialized economy and repeatedly revised constitution until Tito's death in 1980, after which increasingly-violent internal disputes resulted in multi-party elections in 1990.

These elections were complicated by increasing political pressures from Germany, Austria and the Vatican. Political leaders in Slovenia and Croatia, who had been actively campaigning abroad for support, then declared secession. Two foreign entities, the U.S. and Germany, immediately recognized the new states and a program to demonize the Serbs was begun in the German press. The resulting ethnic conflicts underway in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1991 and 1992 eventually led to active intervention and the ongoing occupation by western forces.

In her in-depth article (Covert Actin Quarterly, Fall 1998, pp 9-19), European author and press editor, Diana Johnstone, makes the case that "the simplistic interpretation of the Yugoslav crisis as Serbian 'aggression' against peaceful multi-cultural Europe...made it possible for the Croatian, Slovenian and Albanian secessionists and their supporters in Germany and the United portray the Yugoslav conflict as the struggle of 'oppressed little nations' to free themselves from aggressive Serbian nationalism." Johnstone adds, "such 'little nations' were by no means oppressed," but "the breakup of Yugoslavia has served to further weaken the United Nations while providing a new role for an expanding NATO...and shifted the balance of power toward the dominant nation-states, the U.S. and Germany." A power shift which Russia fears.

Had our congress seriously debated the pros and cons of continuing the support of NATO, and then courageously challenged Clinton's knee-jerk military response to the internal struggles of a small sovereign European state, world today might be safer and considerably less expensive for both Americans and our European friends.

Even as the deadly NATO raids on Kosovo and Belgrade flash across the CNN screen, those now-invisible military jets are still killing in Iraq, while in the UN, Britain and the U.S. still embargo Saddam Hussein's machinery and chemicals to clean his water and treat his sewage. The climbing death rate in our genocide in that country today nears two million, far outnumbering our killings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Starving Iraqis to save them from Saddam while killing Kosovans to rescue them from Milosevic, akin to our bombing Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians to rescue them from Communism is a mindless endgame.

Active participation by informed citizenry is the only way out of this morass. Representative Tom Campbell (R), has two Resolutions now before committee. The first (H.J. Res 44) will force Congress, under both the Constitution (Article I, Section 8) plus Section 5(b) of the War Powers Act, to declare a state of war exists. The second (H. Con. Res 82), pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, directs the president to "remove the United States Armed Forces from their positions in connection with the present operations against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia within 30 days of the passage of this Resolution or within such a longer period as may be necessary to effectuate their safe withdrawal." Now is the time to contact your Representatives.

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