The most revealing glimpse of the Clinton administration's thinking, such
as it is, about Kosovo occurred earlier this month in a private meeting
between the Italian prime minister and the president. As reported by The Post,
Massimo D'Alema asked Bill Clinton a simple question about the contemplated
NATO bombing of Serbia: What would the United States do if Slobodan Milosevic
did not back down under bombing, and instead increased his assaults on the
The president was stumped by the question. He did not answer, but turned
inquiringly to his national security adviser, Samuel R. Berger. Berger
hesitated, and then replied: "We will continue the bombing."
The Post does not report whether the Italian prime minister at this point
ran shrieking from the room, but it would have been understandable if he had.
It must have been disconcerting to discover that the leader of the world's
sole superpower was about to launch a war without a plan that extended beyond
next Sunday's talk shows, or without a thought to one of bombing's most likely
The NATO air campaign against Serbia [and Montenegro] began on March 24.
By March 29, the
resultant [NATO horror] campaign against the Kosovar Albanians
[and KLA pressure]
had forced at least 130,000 of them to take refuge in Albania,
[less intensely bombed] Montenegro and Macedonia...
This is not the result that Bill Clinton and his merry band of deep
thinkers expected. In his March 24 speech to the nation explaining his
decision to bomb, the president said: "We act to protect thousands of innocent
people in Kosovo from a mounting military offensive." Whoops-a-daisy.
Administration officials now are doing what comes naturally to them in
these moments of embarrassment. They are dissembling. Asked on Monday about
news reports [blunt lies - as Western journalists were NOT on the ground -
the propaganda ilk was expelled from Serbia before NATO attack started]
of a wave of executions of Albanian Kosovars, White House press
secretary Joe Lockhart said: "We knew he was going to do this." We knew he was
going to do this? We knew that, if we bombed Serbia, Milosevic would respond
with a massive killing and "cleansing campaign"
against the very population we were going to war to protect?
If so, then the president and his advisers are guilty of criminal
irresponsibility. For the United States made no serious efforts to prepare for
what Lockhart says we knew was coming, a wave of killing and "cleansing"
U.S. officials now compare to "genocide."
The president ordered up the bombing
without any strategy to protect the Albanian Kosovars from resultant attack,
without sufficient ground strength in the region to even think about
countering the Serb ground offensive, without even an adequate refugee-aid
plan in place.
But of course Lockhart is, in the proud tradition of Clinton mouthpieces,
merely uttering what sounds good in the moment. Others are too. Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright, who has spent too much time in the company of her
boss, went on the Sunday talks to suggest that the Serbian army offensive
against the Kosovar Albanians had been underway before the NATO bombing
campaign and would have intensified as it did whether or not NATO had bombed.
"I think that it is just simply an upside-down argument to think that NATO or
we have made this get worse," Albright said. "To say that this has now
backfired is just dead wrong."
To hear a secretary of state mouth such patent nonsense is embarrassing,
and frightening. Do these people have any idea what they are doing beyond
bombing their way through another day? Did they really start a war without a
strategy for coping with the most obvious consequences?...