Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton Has Painted Doves and Hawks into a Corner

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Clinton Has Painted Doves and Hawks into a Corner

Article excerpt

For years, those of us who believed the world had an obligation to stop Serbian aggression in Bosnia favored "lift and strike": First, lift the U.N. arms embargo that blocked the Bosnians from matching the far superior Serbian firepower; then, strike hard from the air to stop the aggressors while a balance of power was being achieved.

The idea was to get ineffective U.N. troops out and make possible a peace between military equals. This road was not taken.

Instead, after the hand-wringing by President Bill Clinton and our NATO partners led to intolerable bloodletting, the decision was taken to "strike and peacemake." Air power was at last used to scare the Serbs to the peace table, and the promise of NATO troops, including 20,000 Americans, was made to persuade the Muslims to give up half their country and accept on-site protection.

So here we are. The Clinton administration - acceding to our allies' nail-nibbling demand for American leadership in Europe - has brokered a peace requiring another American expeditionary force.

By so doing, Clinton has painted all of us, hawks and doves, into a corner. He made an ill-considered promise in May 1993 - with no public debate or thorough internal review or consultation with Congress - to send U.S. ground troops to carry out what was called the Vance-Owen plan, concocted in a previous era.

Now he tells us that unless his "commitment" of troops is honored and supported here, the Balkan carnage will begin again, NATO will become a dead letter and the word of the American president will be revealed as worthless.

Unfortunately, that's true. Like it or not, our choice is to go along with him or repudiate and humiliate him. That's Hobson's choice, which is no choice at all.

We'll go along. Why? Because he may be mistaken in his method, but his belated Bosnia activism is not foolhardy, U.N.-subordinated, mean-spirited or immoral. With luck, it could even work.

Rather than grump about the rejection of "lift and strike," air-power interventionists should recognize that Clinton's policy is better than another year of his demeaning vacillation. …

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