I just saw footage on MSNBC of hooligans tearing the American flag off of the U.S. embassy in Belgrade and trashing the chancery, and I have two points, one emotional, one analytical.
1) I don’t care who it is or what the grievance is, don’t trash a U.S. embassy or deface an American flag. Viscerally, this is an action that absolutely disgusts me.
2) The 2008 presidential field features two candidates who were very hawkish during the 1999 Kosovo War — John McCain and Hillary Clinton. McCain came out strongly in favor of the effort to protect Kosovo’s Muslim’s from facing the fate of their Bosnian cohorts. I remember attending a function for a Jewish group that took place weeks after the war had erupted. Hillary Clinton spoke and forcefully made a moral case for keeping the military pressure on Serbia until Slobodan Milosevic gave in to NATO demands. Here’s Barack Obama’s measured statement on the recent declaration of independence.
Interestingly, the one Republican candidate who took a very hands off approach to American military action in Serbia was George W. Bush who gave me the following statement nine years ago: “Whenever the United States of America and our NATO allies threaten to sue force to try to end a tragedy like the one in Kosovo, we must follow through. American credibility is the most important weapon in preventing future tragedies.” He also warned,
“We must have a clear mission, an achievable goal and a credible exit strategy. The ultimate question is, Will this military action
lead to the goal of ending the conflict and bringing peace and stability to the action?”
Can anyone imagine Bush being the first one to use the words “exit strategy” and the use of American force?