Forget principle...if you're irregular, suffering from gas, or just not getting enough calcium

By Mark Vorzimmer
web posted May 1999

Many people have a problem with Clinton and Kosovo, but damn it, they're suffering from "irregularity," and after all, who has time for world politics when you're beset by more parochial interests -- like "thin and crispy," or "deep -- dish, whole wheat?" The really scary thing is, no one is paying attention. Our President is dangerous and illegitimate. Not in terms of his birth -- though it's certain that causes it own set of issues -- but because he himself has no basis upon which to commit our military forces in Kosovo.

Feeling Ethnic Pain

Bill Clinton has advanced a nation where things are valued in terms of the extent to which they affect each one of us on purely personal terms. If you're black, who appears to be advancing your "condition," based on your skin color? If you're gay, who's doing something for the gay community? If you're aged, what's the AARP got to say about things? If you are this, if you are that, if you are anything but an American concerned with what's best for the country, Bill's concerned about what you're concerned about (as long your passions emanate from the left, of course.) Which is why Bill Clinton's policy over Kosovo is so troubling. It stands in stark contrast to everything else everyone else cares about, and by that fact, what Bill Clinton cares about. Unless Bill Clinton is especially fond of the emotive value of the phrase "ethnic cleansing," why would he be concerned about Kosovars, Serbians, Croats or Muslims? All his concerns have been largely domestic (no pun intended), where Bill could share in the pain.

Problems in Kosovo are urgent and complex. When they're not complex, they're when you are an Albanian who has to return fire just to shower standing up. It is surprising Bill Clinton is not more troubled over the thought of our involvement in this region. You may recall his "torment" over Vietnam, and Vietnam offered a much less complex set of issues. Russia's involvement in Vietnam presented the picture of a clearly definable enemy. A very real, very threatening enemy with a stockpile of nuclear weapons even peace people could see over the stack of our own. Indeed it was Russia's support of North Vietnam that was the direct source of the actual Vietnamese conflict. The South Vietnamese population was being slaughtered before, during, and one might argue, never more vigorously than after the Vietnam War. But Bill Clinton knew U.S. involvement in this Conflict was wrong -- he vehemently and publicly protested our war effort. He dodged the draft -- as he (finally) admitted -- in protest of America. Why then does he then suffer no similar torment over Kosovo?

Feeling Intellectual Pain

The greatest confusion most intellectuals suffer over the current crisis in Yugoslavia, whether they admit it or not, stems from Bill Clinton himself. Although there have always been differing views over the U.S. role in world politics, few argue the moral issues when things like ethnic cleansing are taking place. However, how do you articulate a principled position on an issue such as Kosovo, when it is a religious -- based civil conflict where the KLA have been as vicious as the Serbians in the past? How do you articulate a principled position on Kosovo when you are Bill Clinton -- an impeached U.S. President with no real respect or mandate from the American people or their elected representatives in Congress?

How the U.S. would respond if Slobodan Milosevic attacked Canada requires no thought, however, divining U.S. strategy in a civil conflict, even with ethnic cleansing, is a much more complex issue -- particularly when there are no national interests at stake (despite what President Clinton has contended publicly). None of this appears to bother our President, though, which is exactly what is so confusing. Americans don't seem to be bothered by the fundamental issues behind our involvement in this region either. In fact, it is impossible to make sense out of U.S. involvement in this civil war when there have been similar situations in other countries -- both historically and at present -- and the U.S. and NATO sat on their hands.

Feeling Ethically Clean

So why are we bombing Yugoslavia? Because this time Bill Clinton is feeling pain you are not. One need only study Bill Clinton's confused and careless psyche to understand the reasons we are involved in Kosovo. As hard a thought as this is to propose, it is even more disturbing to consider in the greater context of things: Bill Clinton has engaged our forces because he is feeling progressively more neutered and defamed by the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The same reason he dropped bombs in Sudan and Afghanistan, only now he's even more dangerous than ever because he's being watched more closely than ever. Monica was probably right: Bill may have had other beside her. He probably had them before, during and even after her, but it's almost a certainty...he doesn't have any now. It's hard to know if he's been 'ethically cleansed', or if he is just 'ethic -- free'. Either way, to be sure, it's a dangerous situation when it is Bill Clinton who is feeling like an administrative eunuch.

Whoever pointed out that the question was not, "What would happen if Clinton got impeached?" but, "What would happen if he was not?" got it right. Once Clinton saw that he could get the Democrats to jump through flaming hoops in front of everybody, and it was only the Republicans and the American people with which he was having trouble, he contrived the one issue he thought would unite everyone: war. And so far, it appears he may have been right. Almost every republican who went on record either supported the effort or our troops. There is one leader that may be more dangerous than Slobodan Milosevic, though, at this point, and that is the one with his finger on the nuclear trigger. The politicians in this country -- both Democrat and Republican -- know this, and that's part of the reason why they have pretty much fallen in behind the President. To not do so would be tantamount to participating in the total discrediting of the United States.

There may be moral reasons to bomb Serbia -- a question that warranted public debate against the backdrop of our greater foreign policy objectives -- but there is no ethical reason as long as Bill Clinton is President. Unethical, that is to say, when viewed in terms of Bill Clinton himself -- an entirely discredited leader in almost every conceivable sense. This would be the most forgiving explanation for Bill Clinton's involving us in this conflict. The KLA is a Marxist -- Leninist group with dubious financial support, believed by intelligence sources to be from their activity as a central source for the European drug trade. It is doubtful Bill Clinton sent the military into strike points in Yugoslavia as a nostalgic hat tip to his old passions, but with this President...well...if that bothers your head just "...put some ice on that."

Whether Americans will consider these issues anytime soon is an open question. Perhaps if there are casualties amongst U.S. troops, sentiments will begin to change. Several billion dollars and a stealth bomber have had less impact on Americans than "whitening formula" in their toothpaste.

Mark Vorzimmer can be reached at

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