- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2001

Former President Clinton's "humanitarian" foreign policy is coming apart at the seams.

In Bosnia and Kosovo, two former states of Yugoslavia, the Clinton administration efforts to build up viable political institutions and structures where they were totally absent, nation-build in Bosnia- Herzegovina and create a peaceful Kosovo, have all been torn asunder.

Nation-building policies can only succeed in conditions where the nation-builder is involved politically, militarily and economically in the formation of artificial entities. The Clinton administration never committed itself to more than a Dayton Agreement, which created a three- part Bosnia, dominated by Muslims, Serbs and Croats. The agreement and the creation of new boundaries required total involvement of the U.S. and NATO, which was out of the question for both. The settlement of frontiers and political institutions were left to the warring parties. From its creation, the new artificial entity did not have a chance of political survival.

The situation in Kosovo is even more serious. In an effort to save the Albanian revolutionaries from Slobodan Milosevic's domination, the United States and NATO turned to the revolutionary Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) as the foundation for a stable Kosovo. Simultaneously, the United States and NATO recognized Kosovo's sovereignty within Yugoslavia. The United States and NATO relied on an authoritarian, violent, revolutionary group composed of former fascists and communists for the stabilization of Kosovo. What a foundation for a democratic state.

U.S.-NATO military support of the Albanians in their war against Mr. Milosevic has emboldened the KLA, which is now disrupting Macedonia, a relatively stable independent state (formerly part of Yugoslavia) that borders Kosovo. Albanian insurgents, seeking a greater Albania, are trying to claim part of Macedonia, which is overwhelmingly Albanian. They are creating a schism between Slav and Albanian Macedonians who have lived in relative peace up until now.

With the rise of a democratic Yugoslavia, the U.S.-NATO policy of support of the Albanians could no longer be tolerated by the Yugoslav government, which considers Kosovo part of Yugoslavia.

In the Jan. 16 New York Times, Steve Erlanger wrote: "The fall of Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade has pleased and relieved the West, but has only increased Kosovar Albanian anxieties. They see their goal of independence deferred as many of the same nations that went to war for them less then two years ago rush to Belgrade to embrace the Serbs, who have never given up their claim to Kosovo." On March 12, Mr. Erlanger wrote, "NATO is floundering in the Balkans, reaping the consequences of a refusal to deal seriously with the problems and aspirations of the Albanians it went to war to protect."

The ouster of Mr. Milosevic has created serious problems for the U.S. and NATO. U.S.-NATO must support the return of Yugoslav troops to the zone that borders Kosovo, from which they were removed during the time of Mr. Milosevic. Beginning March 13, NATO allowed the Yugoslav army and special police to return to the zone in order to protect southern Serbia from Albanian Kosovar aggression.

Albanian violence in Macedonia guarantees a new Balkan war, and Albanian support of Montenegro's aspirations for independence from Yugoslavia will help to create another unstable state in the Balkans. The Yugoslav democratic government will not tolerate Montenegrin or Kosovar independence under any conditions. Therefore, the role that the Yugoslav army will play in protecting its Montenegrin territory, as well as southern Serbia, from the Albanians guarantees further violence and instability in the region. Albanian insurgency is threatening Balkan stability and is challenging Yugoslav sovereignty and domination over its member states.

The re-emergence of warfare in the Balkans is alarming. Both the United States and NATO now are paying the price for their support of Kosovar radicals. For the last five years, the United States has deployed forces in Macedonia to protect it against Mr. Milosevic. Now that there is a democratic Yugoslavia, is the United States ready to go to war against Kosovar insurgents to protect Macedonia's independence and stability? Are the United States and NATO ready to intervene on behalf of the Macedonians against the Albanians? What if the democratic Yugoslav forces try an offensive strike against the Kosovo Albanians? The international community recognizes Kosovo as part of Yugoslavia, and the Yugoslav army offensive would be an act of self-defense. The Presevo Valley, running between Kosovo, southern Serbia and Macedonia, may become the next war zone in the Balkans.

The allies and NATO are calling for the United States to assert itself in Kosovo before the current violence escalates into full-blown war. President Bush has called for a decreasing American role in the Balkans, while congressional Republicans are pressuring him to remove all American troops from the Balkans and offer only humanitarian aid. The United States is already in the process of downsizing its presence in KFOR, the NATO force in Kosovo. This could create a rift between the United States and its NATO allies just as the easily combustible situation in Macedonia requires a greater American military presence.

The "humanitarian" policy of the Clinton administration has failed to bring peace and stability to the region. So far, President Bush has not offered a viable solution.

Amos Perlmutter is a professor of political science and sociology at American University and editor of the Journal of Strategic Studies.


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