From: COMER <>
Date: Thu, 06 May 1999 12:43:38 -0400

ER9905-#2 A Cluster Bomb of Further Kosovos in the Offing?

Where are the statues to the sage who remarked that the only thing we learn
from history is that we learn nothing from history? You would imagine that 
after the humbling experience of Vietnam American politicians would have 
engraved in their memories the ease with which a great power too conscious 
of its might can strut its way into a quagmire that it has mistaken for a 
parade ground.

In Kosovo that fateful process is already at work. Senator McCain is unable
to get enough support in the Senate for presenting a bill to put an American
ground force into Kosovo. But cannier politicians know that there are other 
ways of skinning that cat. The Wall Street Journal (5/5) reports that the 
groundwork has already been laid for a land invasion of Yugoslavia. Even 
the language for the policy slip-in has already been devised. And from here
it is as simple as marketing soap or Bill Gates' latest Windows software.

The NATO plan would put 60,000 ground combat troops by the middle of summer,
roughly one third of them Americans. It would not be a "combat invasion" 
of Kosovo -- perish the thought -- but a "semi-permissive" entry of the NATO
forces. Up to now we have been treated to the demonisation of Milosevic, but
now that man's semi-permission to bring in NATO troops is taken seriously. 
Obviously that would not hamper guerrilla action in mountainous terrain. "
The Alliance planners don't know how long it will take to break the Serbs' 
will." Nonetheless, the plan "sets a deadline of late July for NATO troops 
to start moving into Kosovo, so that they can mop up the region in six 
weeks before winter sets in. You have to be tone-deaf not to detect an echo
of Napoleon and Hitler deciding that they too could beat Jack Frost and get 
back to their firesides in good time.

Meanwhile France retreats back to its traditional role of fly in the soup 
where NATO is concerned. But they are having as much success as when on the
basis of their own experience in Vietnam, they advised the Americans to keep
out of that mess.

So the war planners, secure in their feeling that the world is theirs to 
dispose of, are pressing on with their task. "Moving by helicopter would 
permit the entry force to bypass mined bridges and other bottlenecks, and 
instead swarm into Kosovo from several different directions. ...The 
politically fragile Macedonian government has said that it doesn't want to 
be used as a base for offensive operations against Yugoslavia, but US 
officials believe it ultimately will agree." As ever Big Brother knows 

"The plan suggests that NATO military leaders consider placing a separate 
NATO force on Hungary's border with Serbia to threaten an invasion from 
that direction. ...It also suggests that Bulgaria might be used for a 
similar feint, or even for an actual but unpublicised entry into Kosovo. 
Gen. Clark visited Bulgaria this week."

There is a point at which a mighty superpower's innocent ignorance not only
of its own history but of that of world hot spots that it is determined to 
set aright becomes unforgivable. The Vojvodina, the entry corridor from 
Hungary to Serbia was part of Hungary under the Hapsburgs and still has a 
numerous Hungarian population. It has been Yugoslavia's bread-basket since 
it acquired it after WWI and has a rich tradition of ethnic cleansing. The 
Hungarian occupation troops during WWII executed a reported 5,500 Jews and 
Serbs. The Hungarians claim that Tito's partisans, once triumphant, 
executed 20-30,000 Hungarians. (Svein Monnesland, Land ohne Wiederkehr, 
Ex-Jugoslawien: Die Wurzeln des Krieges, 1997 Wieser Verlag, Klagenfurt, p.

Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and indeed almost every part of Yugoslavia is
an artefact distilled from a mythological past kept alive over the centuries
by illiterate bards and lettered poets. From the continuum of Slavic 
dialects that passes almost seamlessly from Slovenian through 
Serbo-Croatian to Macedonian to Bulgarian, scholarly poets have chosen the 
best suited to their political purposes. Religion and even alphabets were 
pressed into service to that end. For centuries the Croats clung to the 
Glagolic letters of the early missionaries as a means to resist the 
assimilation pressures of church Latin from neighbouring Italy. But the 
final decision in boundary matters have always been made by the great 
powers. The frontiers of Montenegro and Albania were drawn to make sure 
that Russia, protector of landlocked Serbia, would not obtain the 
warm-water port on the Adriatic that it craved since Peter the Great.

Given this background, ethnic cleansing, rather than patented by Milosevic,
is an ancient tradition. It can flare up anew whenever violence breaks loose
-- even the most sanitized cyberwarfare of the US. For centuries the Turks 
were the most tolerant of religion and cultural differences, and there were
times when Serb refugees flocked to the Turkish-held domains from the 
religious and ethnic cleansing of fellow Slavs.

NATO in short is playing with high explosive. And the peril is heightened 
by the detail that the lure of a ground war fits the needs of the New York 
stock market like a glove. The cyberspace stocks have lost their fizz, and 
it is falling to metals and other commodities to keep the market buoyant. 
Excess capacity is the concern in the financial press, and the costly 
hardware that is being dropped on the Serbs has already been a factor in 
the expectation of improved markets. Even the shortcoming revealed in the 
software and the hardware of the American arsenal holds the promise of mass
investment to improve means of mass destruction. And the eventual rebuilding
of the devastated areas will provide a broader base for keeping the stocks 
in magic ascension. The pentagon wading into a situation like that can 
guarantee a cluster bomb of further Kosovos, big and small.

William Krehm
Chairman, COMER
Editor-Publisher, Economic Reform
wkrehm at ibm dot net

Copyright (C) 1999 COMER. May be reproduced with proper acknowledgement.

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