Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Shameful Display of Irresolution

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Shameful Display of Irresolution

Article excerpt

Truman! thou should'st be living at this hour.

(With apologies to Wordsworth)

For 50 years American power, purpose and resolve have kept the peace in Europe. They faced down the severest challenges, and prevented a third great war. That age is over now. So we have to conclude from the humiliation in Bosnia. There the United States and NATO, the most powerful military alliance in the world, have allowed themselves to be intimidated by a minor force of ultranationalist Serbs under demagogic leadership.

The reason for this seismic change in the balance of effective power in the world is plain. The United States has in office an administration that does not believe in the commitment of American power, purpose and resolve to keep the peace.

Eleven months ago a high Clinton administration official, Undersecretary of State Peter Tarnoff, as good as said so. He explained at a background briefing that the United States could no longer afford to lead the world and that we would therefore play a more modest role.

Secretary of State Warren Christopher and others disavowed the Tarnoff Doctrine. There was no intention, they said, of walking away from the responsibilities of leadership.

But we can see now that the Tarnoff Doctrine is in operation. It is in fact the Clinton Doctrine.

Bosnia is a dramatic demonstration of the loss of purpose and resolve abroad. President Bill Clinton has repeatedly seemed to take on the mantle of leadership there, then wavered. As a show of irresolution it might have been plotted by a playwright.

Clinton came to office demanding sterner measures to stop Serbian aggression: lifting the arms embargo on the Bosnian victims and using NATO air strikes against the aggressors. But when the European allies demurred, he gave up those ideas without a fight.

A year of wavering seemed to end in February, when Clinton led NATO to issue an ultimatum to the Serbs to stop shelling Sarajevo. The Serbs drew back. But again the United States wavered, failing to press for a broader Serbian pullback and doing nothing as the Serbs launched an attack on the safe haven of Gorazde.

Last week there was another show of strength that seemed to promise resolve: the air strikes on Serbian guns at Gorazde. …

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