Making the World Safe for -- What?
By Victor Milan
Exclusive to The Libertarian Enterprise
Something that's wonderful to behold about Bill and Bob's Excellent Bosnian Adventure is the CYA in effect. Everybody from Slick Willie on down is stumbling over his or her own tongue to assure us that whatever the sacrifices [of American flesh and blood, of which not one of these paragons will contribute a milligram] they will be justified. Which is to say, even the politicians aren't too dim to realize they may be setting up a bloodbath.
Our Chief Executive even announced that whether we achieved our goals or not, the blood spillage would be worth it. Now that's sanguine [as indeed our Bosnian involvement is likely to be]. Especially since, as we did in Vietnam, we are thrusting into Bosnia without a comprehensible strategic goal. "Achieving peace" among neighbors who despise one another is, like "stemming the spread of communism," not a military objective; it's a pious hope.
A "strategic goal" is concrete, as in capture-the-flag. A military objective is: kick Saddam Hussein's fat ass out of Kuwait so our Japanese and German competitors can have cheap oil and some medieval towelhead tyrant can get his own butt back on his gold-plated throne and party like it's 1399. Agree with it or not, it is achievable, and was achieved. Much good it did us.
Now, since so many political leaders are saying it, that must create a presumption that it's wrong, that in fact the "pacification" of Bosnia will go swimmingly and, at least for Americans, bloodlessly. After all, the pundits, including press and military, predicted heavy Allied casualties in the Second Gulf War [the one we were in], and were wildly wrong.
Sorry. Not this time. I think they're way on the low side. And the repercussions are liable to be far more severe and immediate on us Americans than the results of our dabbling in Haiti, Somalia, and Iraq.
The former Yugoslavians are not desperately impoverished tribesfolk with a medieval technological base, as are the Somalis, or an island people subjected to chronic starvation by unbroken centuries of misrule, like the Haitians. They are reasonably well-nourished groups with access to modern weapons -- and several years' worth of hands-on experience at using them.
And they have history: the Yugoslavian resistance was one of the very few to inflict substantial hurt on an Axis occupier in World War II, all while rival resistance movements were engaged in an utterly ruthless war to determine who should rule the country after the Nazis left. Tito, the eventual winner, although a communist simply defied the will of history's greatest mass murderer, Stalin. And Stalin, a man accustomed to murdering anyone he thought might conceivably think of defying him, and fresh from his lead role in beating up the second runner-up for history's greatest genocide -- took it.
These are the people we're trifling with.
Nor is the situation the simple good guy/bad guy melodrama the government has been trying to sell us through the toady media. In recent weeks, for example, the UN has had the bad taste to start talking about atrocities, including "ethnic cleansing," carried out by the white-hat Bosnians and Croats. And in a particularly bizarre twist, the "threat" to American troops we've been hearing the most of in the last few weeks has been mujahideen Muslim "mercenaries" -- not a slanted word choice or anything, that -- who have been fighting on the side of the Bosnians. The Bosnians, for those who have been having trouble keeping score, are the ones whose side we're specifically intervening on -- the ones we've been illicitly supplying with armaments despite the embargo, according to the UN. So the people we're being told to fear most, at this point in time -- to use a phrase beloved of this administration's spiritual forebears -- are our own allies.
Worse, though, is that it's not anywhere near clear-cut what the sides are. The Croats have been fighting their own Muslim minority. The Bosnian Muslims are even now picking on their Christian Croats. The two countries have no love for each other. Such complications suggest that "forcing the peace" is going to be far more difficult than the administration and its happy-time news apologists believe.
Then there's the potential for expanding mischief. Left to its own devices, the former Yugoslavia poses no plausible threat to us no matter how medieval its inhabitants get with one another. If we stick our members in, though, the equation changes. For example, when has it ever been a good idea to take a lot of armed Europeans of different nationalities and shake them up in a big bag? The last two times that's been tried on the European continent were World Wars I & II.
The Bosnian conflict has already marked the first German military missions in Europe since WWII. That has to be encouraging. Now consider that Germany recently absorbed a nation of truculent welfare recipients who incidentally possessed the most efficacious army in the now-deceased Warsaw Pact. For 200 points, what's the traditional German solution to having too many underemployed young toughs hanging around on street corners? Tomorrow belongs to me.
Then there's the biggest joker of all, the Russian Federation, which is surely more sinister -- than even Jack Nicholson in white-face. Smiling Bob Yeltsin may or may not be a vegetable by now from wet-brain, but even before his recent hospitalization for a "heart attack" -- cough, cough -- he was beginning to yield to pressure from nationalist elements in parliament and the military and take a stance more heavily favoring the Russians' traditional allies, the Orthodox Serbs, against Catholic Croats and Muslim Bosnians. The Russians have committed to send troops as part of the peacekeeping force, although whether that's still in effect now that the mission is a NATO show I'm unclear on.
But consider: the Russian Federation is still by far the largest nation on earth, and still one of the more populous ones. Also consider that it's spent its whole brief resurrection madly refurbishing its military at our expense. It still has hundreds of ICBMs in silos, presumably targeted at us, and its guided missile subs, now upgraded, still cruise American coasts. And before his hospitalization, Yeltsin was actually threatening war if NATO tried to incorporate the nations of the former Warsaw Pact. If they decide the Serbs are being treated unfairly -- and given that the US is intervening on behalf of the Bosnians, that's a sucker bet -- the potential outcome could be a real blast.
Just to get it on record, I believe the US will become embroiled in a land war in the Balkans, and there incur authentic military defeat. I believe that this defeat will bring about, as a catalyst if not directly, the end of the United States of America as a polity.
Prometheus Award-winner Victor Milan is the author of over 70 novels, including the just-released CLD from AvoNova and War in Tethyr from TSR.
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