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CENTRAL VIEW for Monday, June 28, 1999

by William Hamilton, Ph.D.

The Balkan Peninsula: our new responsibility

During the Spanish-American War, the United States annexed Cuba, the Philippines and Guam by force. By dollar diplomacy, we acquired the Panama Canal Zone in 1903 and the Virgin Islands in 1917. We let Cuba go in 1902 and gave the Philippines independence in 1945. This December, we give back the Panama Canal Zone.

For a nation that dominated world events during most of the 20th Century and will begin the 21st Century as the world’s only superpower, the United States has, until recently, shown an admirable resistance to the imperialist impulse.

But, like it or not, it appears the United States has, in effect, annexed three states by force since World War II: South Korea, Bosnia and Kosovo.

We didn’t mean to make a ward-state out of South Korea. Poor World War II diplomacy left the Korean Peninsula divided between a communist North Korea and a pro-U.S. South Korea. When the North Koreans and the Red Chinese tried to reunite Korea by force we, quite rightly, resisted.

Although General Douglas MacArthur had the strategic vision and the means to reunite Korea by force as a United Nations protectorate, his vision was rejected and he was fired. As a result, the United States assumed responsibility for a divided Korean Peninsula and we have kept about 50,000 American troops there ever since.

And, like it or not, the United States and NATO have just assumed responsibility for a divided Balkan Peninsula. This open-ended obligation is the fruit of the so-called "victory" over the Serbs.

This responsibility began over three years ago when U.S. troops began a "peace-keeping" mission in Bosnia. So far, the U.S. taxpayer has spent over $6 billion dollars in Bosnia and no end in sight.

Now, we are embarked on a similar mission in Kosovo and we just spent over $5 billion dollars for the honor. That sum, of course, does not count the cost of war reparations to Yugoslavia for all those bridges, power plants and other civilian infrastructure destroyed by U.S. bombs and missiles. Eventually, you’ll get the bill.

Moreover, don’t be shocked to learn the recently-concluded secret diplomacy between Russia and the U.S. includes a huge pay-off to Russia in return for Russia’s lack-luster support of Slobodan Milosevic and the Serbs. We will be into the George W. Bush or Al Gore presidencies before those bills start to surface. You read it here first.

Soon you will read how some of our pilots are having psychological problems. Being ordered to bomb at night from above 30,000 feet while flying over a largely innocent population base and, inevitably, killing innocent civilians is not the basis for dreamless sleep. You read it here first.

The Clinton Administration will pressure the military to award an inordinately high number of medals for the Balkan War. Medal ceremonies always take on the aura of victory and so awards and decorations will be prostituted in the name of making a less-than-decisive military operation appear to have been highly successful. You read it here first.

But the Balkan War is actually just beginning. As they rode, high-fiving, out of Kosovo the Serbian forces looked just as good as the entering NATO forces. Their uniforms looked good, their vehicles ran well and they left with all their weapons and ammo. They were not defeated.

Meanwhile, Kosovo is a witches-brew of blood-angry Serbian civilians, devastated Kosovar-Albanians and the seething Kosovar Liberation Army (KLA), which is only pretending to disarm. Thrust into the middle of all this are U.S. and NATO troops who, as in Vietnam, will find it virtually impossible to tell the good guys from the bad.

Milosovic got what he wanted and remains in power. We got the booby prize: two new ward-states and responsibility for a divided Balkan Peninsula.

William Hamilton, a nationally syndicated columnist, served six years with NATO forces.

©1999-2017. American Press Syndicate.

Dr. Hamilton can be contacted at:
P.O. Box 2001
Granby, CO 80446

Email: william@central-view.com

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