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To die in Sarajevo: US interests in Yugoslavia.

What interests does the United States have in the conflict in what was once Yugoslavia? And how should the United States intervene in this conflict, if at all, to protect these interests? Policy Review asked these questions of several leading conservative foreign-policy specialists at the beginning of September.

MARK BLITZ, vice president for programs at the Hudson Institute:

Four guidelines should be kept in mind whenever the United States considers intervening in a foreign conflict. First, we need to adopt the standpoint of responsible public officials. Advice that is stimulated by partisan advantage, egalitarian or isolationist political passion, or ethnic self-interest is untrustworthy.

Second, our "national interest" is to protect and enhance our way of life, a way that requires the prospect of economic plenty, but is shaped by love of liberty and equal rights--by principles as well as things. Our policies serve a country that combines moral and material into a common good.

Third, if something needs to be done, it should be done quickly, at a cost that is proportional to the benefit, and that will retain popular consent.

Fourth, we cannot direct other people's institutions for them and at the same time expect them to become tolerant democrats. The most we can do is to clear away special difficulties, and to help them on their way.

If the costs are acceptable, as I think they would be, we should intervene in Yugoslavia to stop the killing. Ethnic wars are possible in the future; why not now make clear that pursuing one will not succeed, and will be costly to the perpetrator? War in the Balkans threatens to drag in the Greeks and the Turks; war between Christians and Muslims could spread well beyond the Balkans. We could not stand by, were this to occur, and expect our moral pride or material ease to remain unblemished. Why wait for the problem to become more difficult if we can make clear today that we and our allies will intervene constructively?

Could the costs of intervention be acceptable? They could be if we limit our goals and are supported by our friends. Our goal is not to end ethnic hatred miraculously or to provide security forever, but to stop massive killing today, limit Serbian gains and Croatian opportunism, and eliminate as best we can significant military capabilities. If we work with others, achieving these goals should not be too costly.

FRANK J. GAFFNEY JR., director of the Center for Security Policy:

Europe remains an area of vital strategic interest to the United States. A major international conflict there would inevitably jeopardize American interests and involve our forces. The bloodletting in Bosnia-Hercegovina and Croatia wrought by Serbian aggression has the potential to become just such a major international conflict.

A devastating precedent has been established in Croatia and Bosnia that has been grossly underestimated. Western inaction in the face of extreme atrocities and human-rights abuses--most vividly demonstrated by the revelation of death camps--has already communicated an unmistakable green light to would-be aggressors elsewhere.

As a practical matter, there is no alternative to American leadership and initiative. In its absence, there will be no effective assumption of responsibility or intervention by others. All of the collective-security arrangements that have interests in the area--including the United Nations and the European Community--have shown their impotence in this crisis.

I strongly support the use of U.S. military power and politico-diplomatic leadership to disrupt Slobodan Milosevic's efforts to carve out a greater Serbia at the expense of Bosnia and Croatia. Military force could be used to sever the direct military, intelligence, logistical, and other support Belgrade is providing to local Serbian forces in Bosnia and Croatia; enable the victims of Serbian assaults and atrocities to defend themselves and to liberate territory from which they have been "ethnically cleansed"; and encourage and facilitate humanitarian relief, emergency housing, and reconstruction assistance for those who have been displaced.

JEANE J. KIRKPATRICK, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the Leavey Chair at Georgetown University:

What are U.S. interests in the Yugoslav war? World War I and the continuous U.S. involvement in Europe from 1941 forward are proof enough that Americans feel their identity and interests to be deeply involved with Europe.

The presence of another violent, expansionist, racist dictator in the heart of Europe is dangerous not only to his victims, but to the peace and freedom of many others. Slobodan Milosevic has already created two million refugees who put heavy pressure on the resources and generosity of their neighbors. Bosnia-Hercegovina is not the end of his ambitions. Should "ethnic cleansing" and conquest of Bosnia be permitted, not only will Kosovo, Macedonia, and Albania be endangered, but other historic antagonisms in the region (such as those between Greece and Turkey) will be exacerbated. The success of Milosevic would be a dangerous invitation to other political predators in the region.

The incapacity and impotence of Western European countries, the European Community, the United Nations, and the United States to deal with his aggression would mock our efforts to build and preserve effective frameworks for collective security.

What might we do? Margaret Thatcher pointed the way. We could do what we should long since have done: give Slobodan Milosevic an ultimatum: Serbia must cease military action and the flow of weapons to Serbian forces in Bosnia. Those forces must turn over their heavy weapons to some international body. Bosnia's Muslims and Croats must be permitted to return to their devastated homes under international protection. Or else.

Refusal to concur with this ultimatum should result in the destruction by air of Serbian military assets, and the encouragement by all lawful means of Serbia's opposition groups. Serbia is not a world power.

MICHAEL LIND, executive editor of the National Interest:

The bloodletting in the Balkans is a human tragedy of the first order. That does not make stopping it an American interest of the first order--or the second, or even the third.

None of the reasons given for U.S. armed intervention in the Balkans is convincing. The United States does not send troops to protect humanitarian aid shipments in civil wars elsewhere; why here? One need not be politically correct to suspect that the argument that (Muslim) Bosnians should be of special concern because they are "European" is thinly disguised racism.

There is little danger at present that the Balkan violence will draw European great powers (Germany, Russia, Turkey) into a general war. Nor is it likely that the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia will inspire a chain reaction of secessions elsewhere in Europe (Corsica? Scotland?). If anything, the sobering example of the Yugoslav mayhem might encourage peacefulness in other national divorces, like that of the Czechs and Slovaks.

Refugees are a serious problem--a serious European problem. When the United States cannot control its own Mexican border, it has little business going to war to end the flow of immigrants to the European Community.

The argument that this is a test of the new world order assumes that such a thing exists. Equally unconvincing is the idea that intervention is necessary to exercise the muscles of established or new multilateral alliances--NATO, the United Nations, the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe--the preservation of which is an end in itself. Americans sometimes have to die in alliances; they should never die for them.

The United States can engage in a variety of measures short of war to help relieve the Balkan suffering and strengthen the anti- Serbian republics. As things stand, however--to paraphrase Bismarck--Bosnia-Hercegovina is not worth the bones of a single Mississippi private.

AMY MORITZ, president of the National Center for Public Policy Research in Washington, D.C.:

The wise policy in Yugoslavia is to nudge Europe into solving European problems. This is not to say that the United States should turn a blind eye to all the world's conflicts. But Europe is rich, Europe is powerful, and Europe doesn't need America in this situation. It would be a dangerous precedent for the United States, in the first post-Cold War conflict, to absolve Europe of its own security and moral responsibilities.

We can and should do better at deterring preventable crises. Since the breakup of multi-ethnic federated states is a complicated challenge, the next secretary of state should initiate a "Team B" approach in which the opinions of outside experts are culled and contrasted with official recommendations. It is likely that most secretaries will resist such a suggestion--as only the most competent will not find in it a threat to their authority--but the United States can do far more to prevent crises like Yugoslavia than we can ever do to repair them.

CHARLES A. MOSER, scholar of Slavic literature and history at The George Washington University:

Conservatives understand the importance of law and order. They also realize that the preservation of lawful order in a far-from- perfect world requires a policing authority clearly willing to use force. And they know that this applies to both the national arena and (with some modifications) to the international sphere.

Lawful international order stands in need of a policing authority that only the United States is presently in a position to provide on a credible scale. This idea is central to the notion of a United Nations peacekeeping force, but for various reasons the United States will have to be the backbone of any such force. President Eisenhower's insertion of Marines into Lebanon in 1958 was a textbook example of the timely application of a policing authority; the tragedy is that his example has found few imitators. The insertion of U.S. troops into Liberia in recent times, for example, could have avoided much suffering and bloodshed.

The United States has an interest in seeing to it that the transition to democratic systems in formerly Communist countries takes place as peaceably as possible. It should apply its air and sea power promptly to appropriate Serbian pressure points to bring the present armed conflict to a halt. Much time has been lost, and many lives. The United States should long since have acted decisively to bring the warring parties in Bosnia-Hercegovina to genuine negotiations.

DANIEL PIPES, director of the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia:

Other countries have interests, the United States has both interests and moral imperatives. American politicians who recognize interests alone (e.g., Henry Kissinger) or humanitarianism alone (Jimmy Carter) invariably end up misjudging the mood of the electorate. That mood is highly variable, depending on the state of our self-confidence and economy, the extent and nature of our media coverage, and our attitudes toward those in trouble abroad. In other words, Americans are highly inconsistent in their approach to foreign crises.

In the former Yugoslavia, our interests are modest, especially compared with those of Western Europe. Economic ties don't amount to much, we're not threatened militarily, and few refugees will land in on our doorstep.

Yet Yugoslavia has absorbed our humanitarian attention. The victims' European culture has something to do with it, as does the antiquity and beauty of their cities; but Serbian war behavior--"ethnic cleansing," shooting at busloads of orphans, concentration camps--is the key. Serbian behavior increasingly brings Nazis to mind, and that rightly brings out our humanitarian passions. In short, our stake is moral, not practical. It is no less real for being abstract. Accordingly, we should get involved.

But how? Two considerations--the awful complexity of fighting in the former Yugoslavia and the inward-looking mood prevailing in the United States--lead me to propose a limited use of force against Serbia. This might include the enforcement of sanctions, helping anti-Serb forces, and air strikes against key targets.

RICHARD PIPES, Baird professor of history at Harvard University:

Next to the collapse of Communist regimes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the most encouraging development in recent history has been the international cooperation in repulsing Iraqi aggression against Kuwait. The decisive diplomatic and military measures taken by the United Nations at American initiative gave hope that mankind may have entered a new era, one in which aggression would finally be thwarted by the combined efforts of the world community.

Alas, this hope was quickly disappointed. Serbian aggression against Croatia and Bosnia has produced hand-wringing and ineffective sanctions, but no military response. It now appears that the decision to fight in the Gulf had been inspired not by the desire to enforce international law, but to protect oil resources. Washington's disinterest in the Balkans has induced paralysis among the Allies.

The United States should quickly assert its role as guarantor of peace, because the maintenance of international order is no less important to America's security than the protection of foreign economic assets. As it did two years ago, Washington should galvanize world opinion and initiate, under United Nations auspices, resolute military action to stop the Serbian carnage of civilians that bears all the earmarks of Nazi Lebensraum racism.

DOUGLAS SEAY, deputy director of Foreign Policy and Defense Studies for The Heritage Foundation:

U.S. interests in Bosnia are a function of American objectives in Europe as a whole. Our fundamental interest is preventing domination of the continent by a hegemon. Secondary and tertiary interests include reducing instability, spreading democracy, and maintaining alliances.

The collapse of the Soviet Union has not altered America's interests in Europe, but it has significantly changed the manner in which they should be pursued. During the Cold War, the United States of necessity shouldered a disproportionate share of the burden for ensuring stability and security.

Now, the U.S. goal must be to settle Europe securely into a sustainable equilibrium, one maintained by the Europeans themselves. That can only come by reacquainting the Europeans with their own responsibilities.

Decades of American protection have atrophied the desire of the European states to undertake the costs and risks of ensuring Europe's security. To the extent that the United States continues to shoulder that burden, the Europeans will not.

Thus, the U.S. role in Yugoslavia must be to encourage, insist upon, even force the Europeans to undertake intervention themselves and reserve for America a supporting role. Only by so doing can the United States prepare Europe to protect its long-term interests during the new era now unfolding.

GEORGE WEIGEL, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center:

The United States has strategic and political interests in the Yugoslav war similar to those that led us into Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Establishing minimal rules of order in the post-Cold War world is an urgent task in the 1990s. That means, in this case, forestalling a further metastasis of violent ethnic irredentism throughout Central and Eastern Europe. Chaos and mayhem in the heart of Europe are in no one's interest, including those of the United States. With the leaders of Western Europe, we should make plain that we will not abide a contemporary re-enactment of the post-Reformation European wars of religion.

Even more fundamentally, the United States has a moral interest, indeed a moral responsibility, in this crisis: to defend civilized standards of international behavior on the continent where those standards were first defined, and to render humanitarian assistance to the victims of brutal aggression. Meeting our responsibilities today would likely have been easier (and less costly) had the administration defined America's hopes for post-Communist Yugoslavia as peaceful, nonviolent, democratic change, rather than the "order and stability" celebrated in Secretary of State Baker's disastrous July 1991 speech in Belgrade. But now a strong medicine is going to have to be applied.

A rigorous interdiction of military resupply to Serbia, the tightest possible economic sanctions against Belgrade, support for the Serbian democratic opposition, and military assistance to Bosnia are minimal steps. These measures will almost certainly have to be supplemented by an American air cap over Bosnia, coupled with European ground troops to secure and hold humanitarian enclaves (e.g., the area around Sarajevo). If that does not stop the indiscriminate terror shelling of cities, air strikes should be employed to remove that threat.

If the aggression still continues, selective targeting of the source of Mr. Milosevic's power, Serbian military assets in Serbia proper, might finally make the calculus unbearable for the Serb leader.

DOV S. ZAKHEIM, CEO of SPC International, adjunct scholar at The Heritage Foundation, and a senior associate of the Center for Strategic & International Studies:

There is no direct American economic interest in the outcome of the Yugoslav civil war as there was in the liberation of Kuwait. But the political interest is at least as great, if not greater. For 45 years, the United States has demonstrated to Europe and the world that it will not relapse into isolationism--that stability and freedom in Europe remain vital American interests. These interests are no less vital today after Communism's fall than they were during the Cold War.

The United States must demonstrate to Slobodan Milosevic and his coterie that Europe's boundaries cannot be changed by force, nor its regions "ethnically cleansed." America must do so without alienating the entire Serb population, or placing itself in a weak military position. With terrain favoring the Serbs, a land war would become a quagmire for the United States.

Nevertheless, the United States must act militarily, in concert with the United Nations if possible, with even a very few allies if necessary. To that end, it must draw upon its technological superiority by employing precision-guided munitions (Tomahawks, or bombs launched by stealthy F-117s) to "surgically" destroy key Serbian military facilities, especially command-and- control headquarters and airfields. It should make clear to the Belgrade government that, if necessary, even the presidential palace, unlike civilian homes and facilities, will not be off limits.

Thousands of Serbs are already revolted by their government's policies. A military strike will surely humble that government in the eyes of its people, and no doubt will encourage the Serbian people to over-throw a regime that is a blot on their reputation and their history.
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Author:Blitz, Mark; Gaffney, Frank Jr., J.; Kirkpatrick, Jeane J.; Lind, Michael; Moritz, Amy; Moser, Charl
Publication:Policy Review
Article Type:Interview
Date:Sep 22, 1992
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