Clinton Betrayed Kosova
by Bob Dole
Last week, the Clinton administration announced that it had reached a deal with
Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic that represented a 'breakthrough' and a 'major achievement' in the efforts to stop the war in Kosovo. In fact, this has not
been a war, but a slaughter of ethnic Albanian civilians by the Serbian regime
that rules over them, and what the Clinton administration accomplished is not an
'achievement,' but a blow to US prestige and a tragedy for the millions of Koso-
vars who had depended on our promises.
For years, I had urged the Bush and then the Clinton administrations to press to
end Serbia's severe repression of the ethnic Albanian majority in its province
of Kosovo. And since March, I have urged the Clinton administration to act deci-
sively to end Belgrade's brutal offensive against Kosovo's civilians. I reminded
US officials of the 'Christmas warning' pledge made by both Presidents Bush and
Clinton to use force if Slobodan Milosevic attacked the Kosovo Albanians.
I was relieved and optimistic when President Clinton finally stated his inten-
tion to ensure that all Serb forces be withdrawn from Kosovo, and that Albanians
be provided with 'autonomy plus' - that is, more autonomy than the Albanians had
exercised prior to 1989, when Milosevic imposed martial law upon Kosovo and
brought it under direct Serbian control. Moreover, the administration said it
would back these goals with the threat of NATO military action and an ultimatum.
President Clinton asked for support of this policy. I, for one, have gladly ac-
cepted and promised to be publicly supportive. But now, having read numerous
news reports, I am deeply concerned and troubled by the vast discrepancy between
Mr Clinton's earlier statements and this new deal.
First, there will not be a complete withdrawal of Serb forces. There will not
even be a withdrawal of the majority of Serb forces. News reports indicate that
no more than 9,000 troops will be pulled out and 19,000 will remain, the level
that prevailed in February. In other words, the police state apparatus that
pre-dated Serbia's brutal March offensive in Kosovo will remain intact.
Second, the US did not compel Slobodan Milosevic to accept 'autonomy plus'. In
fact, there will be little if any autonomy offered to the ethnic Albanians - and
Third, the so-called NATO ultimatum was nothing of the sort. An ultimatum is de-
fined in Webster's dictionary as: 'a final proposition, condition or demand; one
whose rejection will end negotiations and cause a resort to force or other di-
rect action.' What NATO offered Milosevic can be summed up as: meet interna-
tional demands or we will change them to accommodate you.
So who benefits from this accord?
Certainly Milosevic does. He has secured international approval for the police--
state he has run in Kosovo for nearly a decade. He has secured monitors to pre-
serve the new status quo and a de facto 'human shield' against NATO air power.
Indeed, he is already acting to consolidate this victory by closing down inde-
pendent media outlets throughout Serbia.
For Kosovo's two million Albanians, however, the deal represents a bitter
betrayal by the West. For the foreseeable future, the Albanians will be sub-
jected to second-class citizenship at best, and apartheid rule at worst. The
fact that the accord calls for larger Albanian representation in the Serb-run
police and elections for a Kosovar parliament will not change the fact that
there is no rule of law or genuine democracy in either Kosovo or Serbia.
The deal also strikes a direct blow to US interests. After months of indecision,
the US exercised leadership on a critical foreign-policy issue. But now it has
abandoned its own solid and well-conceived policy goals in the face of a stub-
born two-bit tyrant with a fourth-class military. This turn of events no doubt
delighted Saddam Hussein and others committed to a violent anti-American agenda.
Finally, NATO's inability to take a firm position and stick to it is among the
deal's more devastating consequences. Its public hand-wringing and indecisive-
ness made it look more like a junior United Nations, not the world's most power-
ful alliance of democracies. And inviting the Russians - who have been open
advocates of Milosevic's regime - into the decision-making process has provided
them with a de facto veto over NATO policy. This virtually guarantees that NATO
will be unable to act even if Milosevic blatantly violates this limited and
Let's talk plainly. This deal will bring neither peace nor stability nor democ-
racy to Kosovo. And, since it does not resolve Kosovo's situation and does not
weaken Milosevic's grip on power, the US will be forced to revisit this matter
sooner or later. To those who might think otherwise, I would only remind them of
the 250,000 dead in Bosnia, the 1.3 million Bosnian refugees, and the more than
300,000 persecuted Albanians who have fled their homes in Kosovo.
In dealing with Milosevic, we are dealing with a war criminal. He should be in-
dicted by the international war crimes tribunal - not treated as a reliable
partner by the US and its allies.
This article appeared in the Wall Street Journal on 23 October 1998. Mr. Dole
was the Republican Party's presidential candidate in 1996.