Clintonís Balkan Legacy
At the outset of the U.S./NATO air attacks against the
Christian Serbs, this observer warned such action would
increase tensions between Greece and Turkey and weaken the
eastern flank of NATO. Thatís what is exactly what is
Greece, a Christian nation -- orthodox -- you might say,
is upset because the U.S. forced NATO into supporting the
Muslim Kosovar Albanians and the Kosovar Liberation Army
(KLA) while attacking the Christian Serbs. Turkey, of
course, favored the Muslims.
While Greece and Turkey were among the original members of
NATO united against the Soviet Evil Empire, they were
always NATOís odd couple. To join NATO they had to
overlook centuries of bitter warfare. Some years ago, I
almost saw this bitterness in action as we prepared for a
NATO-sponsored exercise involving both Greek and Turkish
I noted at the senior officer level, the Greeks and Turks
appear to get along. But as one slides down the slope of
education and training to Joe-Ouzo level, one finds they
hate each otherís guts.
Both Greek and Turkish politicians must cater to the
hatreds held by their common people and they do so by
passing laws designed to placate their less-educated
constituents. A Turkish law says anyone born in Turkey,
even of Greek parents, can be conscripted into the Turkish
One day we were flying in a Falcon Jet from Athens,
Greece, to Izmir, Turkey, to coordinate an up-coming NATO
exercise involving American, Greek, and Turkish airpower
plus U.S. paratroopers and Turkish infantry.
As I was chatting with a U.S. Air Force major with a Greek
name, he mentioned that he had been born in Turkey. One of
my tasks as the Armyís ground liaison officer on that
mission was to know something about local ground forces,
to include their customs and traditions. I had read about
the Turkish conscription law, but I wasnít sure it would
apply to a serving U.S. Air Force officer.
I made my way up to the cockpit to confer with our mission
commander, Colonel Arthur F. George, a wonderful Air Force
Colonel, who was wise in the ways of Greece, Turkey and
Iran. When I told Colonel George the situation, he
immediately issued orders that our Greek-American officer
could not disembark when we reached Turkey and for the
pilot to request an immediate clearance back to Greece.
We watched with relief as our Falcon Jet departed.
Granted, we were short one staff officer for our meetings
with the Turkish Air Staff. But that was better than
running the risk that the Turkish authorities would
discover his place of birth and throw him in the Turkish
Army. The Turks would have had no choice. That was the
Back to Clintonís Wag-the-Chinagate War on Sloboban
Milosevic. The Greeks, in a rebuke to the U.S. and NATO,
just announced they are going to sign a military alliance
with Iran and Armenia. This is designed to bring the
Christian Armenians to the west of Turkey and the non-Arab
Iranians to the east of Turkey into closer military
cooperation with Greece. The alliance sandwiches Turkey
between Iran and Armenia and Greece.
Turkey and Greece only joined NATO because each felt
threatened by the Evil Empire. With the USSR split-asunder
and Russia now living off U.S. tax-payer pay-offs for
being semi-good boys about Kosovo, most any pretext will
send Greece and Turkey spinning out of the NATO orbit.
Mr. Clintonís Balkan War has given NATO a new mission alright: trying to restore NATOís eastern flank. Meanwhile,
the details of how the Serbs have been and are being
mistreated are beginning to surface. We backed the wrong
side in a needless war and set off the worst kind of
balance-of-power politics in the region. Some legacy, Mr.
William Hamilton, a nationally syndicated columnist, served six years with NATO Forces.