"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Thursday, August 03, 2006

How Soon We Forget, or: Never Heard About It in the First Place

It's all here.

The lies. The unsubstantiated justification for war. The bombing the bejesus out of civilians and infrastructure. Shooting old people. Creating more terrorist bastions.

Not Iraq or Lebanon---Kosovo. Clinton. A "good war." Amazing what you can get away with when (D) comes after your name. Another one down the memory hole.

I have a genuine affection for the far (far) left, in this case one John Pilger. Often clueless, always principled.


Tlaloc said...

Kosovo was another ugly bit of business. No argument there. It had most of the elements of Iraq but at a much smaller scale: civilain deaths, contractors who committed war crimes on the United States tab, convenient accidental bombings, and so on.

But your point is?

That since the dems had one atrocity nobody should mind the republican getting (another) one? Really we can go much further back than Kosovo and see appalling behavior by "both" parties. Vietnam kind of leaps to mind. Some real bipartisan ugliness that.

And you wonder why I'm an anarchist?

James Elliott said...

Wow. That's f***ed.

Evanston said...

Tom, thanks for the reminder on Kosovo. One or two of the ribbons on my uniform came from that little operation (I was working strategic logistics support from CONUS) and it always seemed like a wag the dog (don't impeach Clinton during a "time of war") operation to me. TLALOC's equating Kosovo to Iraq or Vietnam is simplistic, and incorrect. Actions in the former Yugoslavia never had strategic implications. As often stated, the Baltics are part of Europe's "back yard" but nothing more. Events in Vietnam (after the fall of China and Korea) and Iraq (after the Kuwait invasion and 9-11) both threatened American interests. I respect those who disagree with the courses of action taken in Vietnam and Iraq, but Kosovo was unnecessary from "day one" and the fact that it was based entirely on hype should surprise no one.

tbmbuzz said...

Milosevic bears most of the blame for the atrocities that occurred over more than a decade in Yugoslavia, and West Europe bears the rest of the blame for its inaction over these atrocities occurring in its own backyard. Kudos to Bill Clinton for taking the lead (albeit somewhat belatedly) in solving yet another European f*** up.

tbmbuzz said...

As often stated, the Baltics are part of Europe's "back yard" but nothing more.

Balkans, not Baltics.

Actions in the former Yugoslavia never had strategic implications.

Stability in Europe is ost definitely in America's interests.

the fact that it was based entirely on hype

Milosevic's actions in his attempts to maintain his Serbian empire were not hype.

James Elliott said...

Thanks for taking that up, Buzz. The Balkans were my selection for "Region of Specialty" for my I.R. degree in undergrad (Peace and Security being the "Area of Focus"). Now, I'm among the first to agree that Kosovo itself wasn't as bad as it was painted, and the aftermath was a severe cock-up, but to imply that there were no strategic reasons for going in... Hey, Evanston, I guess your bosses didn't tell you what's in them thar hills in Kosovo: Uranium. Guess what else is planned to go through the former Yugoslavia? Big oil pipeline. And then there's the little matter of having done precisely jack and squat to protect Bosnians and not wanting to make the same mistake again. There was plenty of value; I'll agree that the execution by the politicos was horrid. They should have let Holbrooke and Clark run with the ball.

Vietnam had no strategic value. I mean, let's not forget that we LOST and nothing bad happened. The Domino Theory rather fell down and went boom on that one.

Tlaloc said...

"Actions in the former Yugoslavia never had strategic implications. As often stated, the Baltics are part of Europe's "back yard" but nothing more. Events in Vietnam (after the fall of China and Korea) and Iraq (after the Kuwait invasion and 9-11) both threatened American interests."

What american interest was threatened by Vietnam again? I must have missed that.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I must admit I posted this one just for the perspective that's so sorely missing these days, with history starting every day with the morning paper. (I think Ms. Coulter gets credit for that line.)

For the record, idealist I seem to discover meself being, I was OK with squashing both Milosevic and Saddam, even though some of the proferred justifications didn't pan out. They were very bad guys who needed squashing, for a litany of reasons.

(The "world opinion" that many hang their hats on seems to have zero currency: the US got no capital atall for saving Muslims in Kosovo. The funny thing about "capital" is that it's totally spent and you're in the red as soon as you attempt to expend it.)

As for Vietnam, the Red Menace and Domino Theory were by no means established fictions at that point. Nor at this point. Before Vietnam, there was Korea (another one down the memory hole) and we see today with our own eyes the difference between freedom and tyranny there.

The case has also been offered that the Cambonian genocide and the miseries inflicted by the Pathet Lao may not have occurred if the US had remained in the neighborhood. (The Viet Cong re-education camps, forced relocations, and suffering of literally millions of "boat people" are of no concern here.)

In all three cases, and indeed four (Korea, Vietnam, Kosovo and Iraq) there was an immeasurable amount of incompetence on the part of the US, but an underlying idealism as well, despite the accusations of the clueless far left that such actions are undertaken only for oil, power, money and the like.

Since they are materialists philosophically, the far left can scarcely view things through any other prism. Through their self-defined keyhole, all human events appear economic and political.

Tlaloc said...

"In all three cases, and indeed four (Korea, Vietnam, Kosovo and Iraq) there was an immeasurable amount of incompetence on the part of the US, but an underlying idealism as well"

I find an idealism founded on killing those who believe differently a tad... suspect.

Come to think of it, maybe that's why I'm not particularly religious.

Evanston said...

Buzz, Tlaloc and JFE: please excuse me for not checking back for a while. Maybe you'll read this, maybe not.
First, Buzz: thanks for the correction on the Balkans (not "Baltics" -- that's what I get for typing in haste). As for thinking that problems in the Balkans threaten "stability" in Europe, you may wish to define what that means. You state that atrocities occurred "over more than a decade." Did "stability" collapse in Europe? No. Why not? As you know, we intervened for only a few months, after the Bosnia and Krajina campaigns had already played out. So we intervened after most of the damage had been done, in a campaign limited in both geographic focus and time. The facts undermine any contention that the Serbian agression threatened "stability" in Europe, no less on a strategic (that is, worldwide) level. Best I can gather from your comment, the true motive for the campaign was some sort of cosmic payback. That's fine, but don't kid yourself into thinking we were "solving" a "European F** up." Nothing has been solved there, it's still F**'d up and as soon as NATO leaves Kosovo the bloodletting will resume. All we've done is give the KLA an advantage.
JFE: Uranium was never emphasized in the past, and since you think it's such an important factor, why don't you tell me about what controls (NATO guards, UN inspections, what???) have been put in place on its production in Kosovo? I just Googled for it and found diddly. But somehow you claim that this is/was a big deal. And if you're claiming that a "big oil pipeline" was planned for the late 1990s, has it been constructed yet? And it may seem like quibbling, but normally we talk about shutting off an entire region (e.g. the Straits of Hormuz) when discussing strategic access to oil. NOT a new pipeline that we, at least today, seem to be able to live fine without.
Now finally to Vietnam. It is really silly for you to assert that the "domino theory" is discredited when Cambodia and Laos fell in the aftermath of the loss of Vietnam. Further, (as I already stated) Vietnam should be viewed in the context of the fall of the N. Korean domino, after China, Yes, the fall of Vietnam supports the domino thesis. Perhaps as an IR major you should brush up on your George F. Kennan containment doctrine. The fact that communism was stopped after some incursions into Thailand was due to the genocidal implosion in Cambodia. Communism was the mother of all strategic threats, I saw "red" spread over the globe throughout my grade school and high school years. Only folks who sympathize with its ideology and overlook its unparalleled atrocities can pretend that Vietnam didn't matter, because they weren't getting shot at by Soviet pilots and Soviet weapons in China, Korea and Vietnam. The fall of Vietnam, FYI, doomed many nations in Africa, Central and South America, and the Middle East to communist insurgencies throughout the 1970s and 1980s. And if you insist on limiting your field of vision to the dominos that fell in Asia, you now have N. Korea making nukes and exporting missile technology to Iran while "capitalist" China continues to threaten Taiwan. The fruits of letting communism fester. Frankly JFE, I am amazed at the contrast between Vietnam and Kosovo. You act like a mysterious mine in Kosovo has strategic importance and that the dominos that fell in Asia meant nothing to the world in the past or today. I expect foolishness of this sort ("what American interest was threatened by Vietnam?") from Tlaloc, who routinely focuses on little nits to pick and misses the big picture entirely. But JFE, just how many nations were to be lost to communism before it mattered? Exactly where/when were we to fight it? If you read this, please answer the question. Otherwise you're just another 20/20 hindsight bozo who says because something didn't happen (worldwide communist domination), it couldn't have happened. Much akin to T-man on Iraq. So what if Saddam used chemical weapons on the Iranians and Kurds? So what that we continue to find artillery shells with chemical warheads? Since the Iraqis didn't store them properly "Saddam didn't have WMD." Of course, T-man says he "must have missed" the strategic importance of Vietnam. Yes, Tlaloc, you did.