David H. Hackworth
May 11, 1999


Finally, thousands of Yugoslavian lives and billions of U.S. dollars later -- and despite NATO's bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade -- the doves are airborne. Peace watchers are saying a negotiated settlement is blowing in the wind.

Barrels of blood, tons of rubble and inestimable suffering inflicted on the people of Yugoslavia could have been avoided if the NATO war makers had been less into bombs and more into settling a 600 year old civil war by diplomacy rather than death and destruction.

The final peace treaty won't be much different than what could have been hammered out by diplomats over this terrible spring without one bomb falling and without the mass exodus of a million human beings.

The smart way to triumph in a conflict - - a war, a divorce, an argument -- is to break the opponent's resistance without fighting.

But when Washington got caught with its bluff down, the war moved grimly from miscalculation to misadventure to a near "Apocalypse Now."

As the crisis in the Balkans shuts down, here are the losers:

* The people of Yugoslavia and the Balkans states.

* The United States. The sole surviving superpower comes out looking like a muscle-bound idiot outwitted at every turn of the war wheel by a two-bit dictator from a state the size of Ohio.

* NATO. It failed every military objective including its latest, an oil embargo with less teeth then a bag of marshmallows. For the first time in a century, Europeans have lost total confidence in Yankee savvy and leadership, and it won't be long before NATO drops the NA -- North American -- and morphs into a total European defense treaty organization.

* The U.S taxpayer, who will again be ripped off for a dumb war's surcharge, and our warriors, who were sent on one more futile mission that's got nothing to do with America's national security.

* The Gang of Four Fumblers -- Madeleine Albright, Bill Cohen, Sandy Berger and General Wes Clark - who, while they won't be dragged to the guillotine could well be sacked by Clinton, a master at passing the buck. For sure, all will be skewered and roasted by the historians already booting up their laptops.

* Congress, which lost face for its pathetic total lack of leadership and failure to stop Maddy's mad attempt to bomb the Serbian people to the peace table

* America's reputation. This latest Clinton catastrophe has given new worldwide meaning to the phrase "Ugly American." The people of almost every other country see us as an arrogant, reckless, feckless Robo Globo Cop who is all too ready to punch holes in anyone who has a different point of view.

And the winners:

* Russia will come out the star of the game. Not only will Boris Yeltsin have brought off the peace deal and regained international prestige, he'll make sure Mother Russia's purse is stuffed with IMF billions. (read U.S. dough for pulling Clinton's feet from the hot Balkan coals.)

* The U.S. weapon merchants, who cleaned up big time, and all the other American porkers, who out-greeded Ike's wildest prophecies and worst nightmares regarding the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Complex.

* Former Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney's Brown and Root and other megaconstruction outfits that will be cashing in for years rebuilding what NATO bombs and Serbian ethnic cleansing blew down.

Oh, sure, expect Clinton to do as Nixon did with the tragic defeat in Vietnam: turn up the propaganda machine and spin another "Peace with Honor" which will repeat over and over again that Clinton stood tall, didn't blink and in the end got his way. Milosevic will play the same tapes on what's left of his TV network while the good people of Serbia continue on with their plans for his demise.

Hopefully this will be Clinton's last military misadventure and the American people will finally wake up and examine what Wild Billy hath wrought with his military solutions -- how he's bumbled and stumbled in Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia and Iraq, the Sudan and its August of 1998 disappeared vitamin factory and now Yugoslavia. Maybe now we'll pull the keys from Billy the Kid's war machine and ground him until he slips off into the Hollywood Hills to do what he does best.