Each violent crisis on the planet, when it erupts, begets an increasing volatility and proneness to violence in other latent crisis spots. Our responsibility as humans is to stop that violence when and where we can. This human responsibility goes beyond national or strategic one. Of course, ideally we should approach the problem holistically instead of symptomatically - intervening in each particular case is an unnecessary strain on resources, that should be put to better use in addressing the underlying problems of global economic injustice and accompanying authoritarian regimes that are supported to keep that injustice in place, as they were in Serbia, Peru and Israel.
Anthony Lewis of New York Times in his 'outrageous' display of partisanship, clearly shows why George Bush Jr. would be a bad choice for American president in the world like this. He and his entourage of cold war realpolitikers, would gladly let the patient die, forgetting that they (and we all) are now a part of that patient, as well. Clintonites, however, while trying to do something, would not do much better in the long run - a doctor can give you only that many Naprosenes and cortisone shots (I guess those would be the equivalent of the tomahawk diplomacy), i.e. if you don't change your lifestyle, you'd still hurt. I am disappointed, therefore, that such a writer like Lewis, didn't even mention Ralph Nader and the real third way of treating the world's self-devouring tendencies.
NYT, September 30, 2000
ABROAD AT HOME
When Slobodan Milosevic's forces ravaged Croatia
in 1991, and then began their campaign of
genocide in Bosnia, President Bush decided that
the United States would do nothing meaningful to
stop him. It was one of the most shameful
episodes in the history of American foreign
If George W. Bush is elected president, the indications are that he would follow his father's example. That appears from his own words and the views of those who would advise him.
"We should not send our troops to stop ethnic cleansing and genocide in nations outside our strategic interest," Governor Bush said earlier this year.
Condoleezza Rice, Mr. Bush's campaign adviser on foreign policy, won applause at the Republican Convention when she said: "America's armed forces are not a global police force. They are not the world's 911."
But the key figure is Gen. Colin Powell, the almost certain Bush choice for secretary of state. I am a great admirer of General Powell — but not of what has come to be called the Powell Doctrine. It is that American soldiers should not be used abroad except in overwhelming force when fundamental U.S. strategic interests are threatened.
As chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the first years of the Clinton administration, General Powell strongly opposed the use of U.S. forces to stop the Serbian rape, torture and murder in Bosnia. He not only worked inside the government but wrote a newspaper article opposing involvement. His opposition was crucial in President Clinton's decision to abandon a campaign pledge and stay out of the Bosnian tragedy.
The consequences of U.S. inaction through the Bush and early Clinton years were terrible. Hundreds of thousands of Bosnians were killed or forced to flee. In the end, shamed by the mass murder of Bosnians in Srebrenica, the U.S. negotiated the Dayton accords and sent forces to help police them — under much less favorable conditions than would have existed years before. Mr. Milosevic, moreover, concluding that the United States was a paper tiger, went on to his campaign of terror in Kosovo. That led to still deeper U.S. military involvement.
The premise of President Bush's decision to ignore the Milosevic aggression when it began in 1991 was that it was a European problem and should be handled by our European allies. But the Europeans will not act without American leadership, as events proved.
The same thinking is evident now in the Bush campaign. Dick Cheney, the vice-presidential nominee, said last month that it was time to consider recalling our ground troops from Bosnia and Kosovo, leaving the job to the Europeans. If we followed that course, the situation in both territories would quickly unravel.
That the United States cannot be "the world's policeman" is an easily accepted slogan. But realistically, there is no substitute for American leadership and involvement if the worst of human horrors are to be stopped. Genocide in Bosnia does not engage our strategic interests as would, say, a threat to our supply of oil. When those two oil men, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, talk about the vital interests that alone would justify the use of American forces abroad, they may well be thinking precisely of oil.
The odd thing is that Governor Bush and his campaign colleagues talk with great emphasis about the need to build up our armed forces. To do what?
The most frequent threats to peace and stability in the post-cold-war era are arising from internal ethnic, religious and other conflicts. East Timor, Bosnia and Kosovo are all remote from traditional U.S. strategic interests. But if ignored, those conflicts could have destabilized large areas important to us: Indonesia, Southeastern Europe. To turn our heads away is not the course of realism. And there is another consideration that makes the inclinations of George W. Bush unrealistic. Americans do not like to see mass cruelties ignored by the one country that can stop them. Perhaps that is why President Bush, when he and Brent Scowcroft published a book on his foreign- policy record, did not even mention Bosnia. If Americans know that horrors are happening, they are not going to be content with a president who says, "I am not my brother's keeper."