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
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,
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
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.