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PSYART  April 1999, Week 4

PSYART April 1999, Week 4

Subject:

Kosovo Options (fwd)

From:

Norman Holland <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Institute for Psychological Study of the Arts <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 25 Apr 1999 16:42:53 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (948 lines)

From:
         Renee Morel <[log in to unmask]>

Sat 5:41 PM

Dear Norm,

This was sent to me by Bill Carpenter, my colleague at CCSF (Poli Sci
Dept.). I thought it might interest you or other PsyArters.

Renee Morel

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 23 Apr 1999 23:26:33 -0700 (PDT)
From: Bill Carpenter <[log in to unmask]>
To: Renee Morel <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Kosovo Options (fwd)

Thanks, Renee, for forwarding all that good stuff! I'm a little behind,
but I'm pretty certain you haven't seen this. And check out my www page
http://fog.ccsf.cc.ca.us/~wcarpent
for some letters from Belgrade (click on the picture of Belgrade
burning).
Bill

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 23 Apr 1999 11:23:57 -0600
From: Progressive Response <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Kosovo Options


----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Progressive Response   23 April 1999   Vol. 3, No. 15
Editor: Tom Barry
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Progressive Response is a publication of Foreign Policy In Focus, a
joint project of the
Interhemispheric Resource Center and the Institute for Policy Studies.
The project produces
Foreign Policy In Focus (FPIF) briefs on various areas of current
foreign policy debate.
Electronic mail versions are available free of charge for subscribers.
The Progressive Response is
designed to keep the writers, contributors, and readers of the FPIF
series informed about new
issues and debates concerning U.S. foreign policy issues.

The purpose of the "Comments" section of PR is to serve as a forum to
discuss issues of
controversy within the progressive community--not to express the
institutional position of either
the IRC or IPS. We encourage comments to the FPIF briefs and to opinions
expressed in PR. We're
working to make the Progressive Response informative and useful, so let
us know how we're doing,
via email to [log in to unmask] (that's irc, then the number one NOT the
letter L.) Please put
"Progressive Response" in the subject line.

Please feel free to cross-post The Progressive Response elsewhere.

We apologize for any duplicate copies of The Progressive Response you
may receive.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Table of Contents

I. Updates and Out-Takes

*** KOSOVO OPTIONS ***
By Julianne Smith, Michael Ratner, Phyllis Bennis, Adm. Eugene Carroll,
Jim Hooper,

II. Comments

*** KOSOVO FARCE AND THE NEW WORLD ORDER ***
By Ruizhuang Zhang
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I. Updates and Out-Takes

*** KOSOVO OPTIONS ***

(Ed. Note: Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) together with the Progressive
Challenge and Foreign
Policy In Focus sponsored on April 21 a congressional briefing entitled
"Kosovo: What are the
Other Options?" The opinions expressed by five of these panelists are
excerpted below. Other
speakers were Karen AbuZayd, Regional Representative, UN High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
and Paul Rowland, Field Representative for Serbia, National Democratic
Institute (NDI). Rep.
Kucinich's opinion about the Kosovo bombing is found in an op-ed he
authored that is posted on the
FPIF's Kosovo Crisis Page at
http://www.foreignpolicy-infocus.org/media/opeds/kosovo04.html.
Looking beyond the legality, morality, and strategy of the current
crisis, Kai Bird in an article
in The Nation, April 26, points out that the UN needs to be reformed if
it is to function as a
credible, effective institution. "We need a standing UN army available
to smother ethnic violence
and serve as neutral, truly internatio!
nal peacekeepers. We need to empower the UN, reform it, democratize it
and recognize that, like
democracy at home, a democratic UN will be a messy beast, but it will
belong to us all.")

*** Julianne Smith, Senior Analyst, BASIC ***
 (Excerpted from a longer essay available on FPIF's Kosovo Crisis Page
at
http://www.foreignpolicy-infocus.org/media/opeds/kosovo06.html)

While public opinion regarding Kosovo changes as rapidly as the spring
weather in Washington, one
fact remains constant:  the current crisis has most of the population in
the Western world
scratching their heads and asking themselves, "Just how did we get into
this mess anyway?"  Is
NATO that short-sighted? Was Clinton's domestic battle with impeachment
so distracting? Is the
post-Cold War security environment so boring that we can no longer hire
decent intelligence
gatherers? If one simply connects the dots, the answer becomes apparent.
Almost a decade after the
end of the Cold War, the West has yet to invest in the preventive tools
it needs for standard
maintenance of a security system plagued by leaks. This capability gap
has, in turn, left NATO
with the current flood of disaster, which is now threatening the entire
region with long-term
damage.

At present, NATO has two options:  it can use the summit to announce a
quick fix for Kosovo
(unrelenting military might either through ground troops or the
continuation of the air strikes)
and hope that it'll be able to paint over the leaks that such a quick
fix would inevitably
produce. Alternatively, NATO can use the summit to take an inventory of
its current toolbox, admit
that such tools have not yet been effective in Kosovo (and probably
won't be effective for future
Kosovos), and work to outline a long-term regional approach to security
in the Balkans. Such an
approach would:

* establish formal relations between NATO and other security
organizations such as the OSCE and
the EU, thereby enhancing the civilian-military component of security;

* assign one of those bodies the task of coordinating the civilian
implementation of a
post-conflict reconstruction strategy (i.e., policing, judicial and
parliamentary reform);

* outline a strategy for indicting Milosevic and others as war criminals
with specifics on who is
responsible for carrying out such a strategy;

* call for increased funding for the OSCE to facilitate the creation of
a civilian intervention
unit to be used in future ethnic conflicts (one should simply move the
decimal point of their $112
million budget to the right);

* outline an economic assistance program that would demonstrate the
rewards of democratic reform
to the Serb population;

* enhance US financial support for SECI (the Southeastern Cooperative
Initiative) and EU financial
support for the Royaumont Process, two programs that provide much needed
technical support in the
region.

NATO may very well come up with a watered down version of one or more of
the above listed options
under the heading of a "Doctrine on Southeastern Europe." Remembering
NATO's last reference to the
crisis in Yugoslavia in its 1991 Strategic Concept, though, one should
be cautioned against
believing that this summit's rhetoric on the Balkans will be any
different. Kosovo will indeed be
mentioned at some point. Whether or not reference to the crisis will
produce a constructive policy
for the region as a whole remains to be seen. With NATO's pride on the
line, Clinton and NATO will
do their best to convince themselves and the public that their approach
to Kosovo was the right
one.

And eventually, even with a short-sighted, quick fix from NATO, the
smoke will clear, CNN will
halt its 24 hour coverage of Kosovo, and we'll all stop scratching our
heads and asking what went
wrong. NATO will return to Brussels still blinded by the glint of its
high-tech tools, and Clinton
will start scripting the closing chapter of his term in office.
Organizations working towards
enhancing conflict prevention and crisis management will begin again
their calls for more funding
and support. Without the glitzy marketing appeal of shiny jets, a
looming crisis to bring their
cause to light, or admission by NATO that such softer security tools are
needed, however, those
calls will likely fall on deaf ears. And we'll stop connecting the
dots...until the next crisis.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

*** Michael Ratner, Attorney, Center for Constitutional Rights ***
(author of "The Pinochet Precedent," FPIF, Vol. 4, No. 6, available at
http://www.foreignpolicy-infocus.org/briefs/vol4/v4n06pin.html)

This historical background should make us very skeptical regarding
current U.S. and NATO claims
that the war against Serbia is to stop "ethnic cleansing" or even
"genocide." President Clinton
says the bombings were  necessary to prevent a "humanitarian
catastrophe," to end "instability in
the Balkans," and to prevent a wider war.

But the evidence is otherwise. The NATO countries, as the historical
record predicts, appear to be
acting primarily in their own self-interests. To date the bombings have
created the very evils
President Clinton claims he is trying to prevent: over 500,000 refugees
have fled Kosovo.
Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania, and even Bosnia are being destabilized;
and Russia is threatening
a wider war.

The administration claims that Serbia was planning this ethnic cleansing
and it would have
occurred even without the NATO attacks. But even if this were the case,
it was the NATO attacks
that gave Serbia the opportunity to carry out its alleged plans,
particularly in a circumstance
when all of the unarmed monitors from the Organization for Security and
Cooperation in Europe
(OSCE) were withdrawn. Nor should it be overlooked that the bombing
itself probably caused many of
the refugee to flee their homes. NATO had to have realized that its
massive bombing campaign had
the potential to create a serious humanitarian crisis, yet incredibly it
had made no preparations
for housing, feeding or caring for the refugees. Had humanitarian
concerns been at the forefront
of NATO policy, or even a serious concern, such plans would have been a
priority.

If the U.S. and NATO really believed that Serbia was planning "ethnic
cleansing," then the bombing
was the absolute worst strategy; it was almost guaranteed to bring about
that result. If the goal
was to really prevent expulsions of people from Kosovo, there were other
peaceful alternatives
that should have been undertaken. A sticking point in the negotiations
with Yugoslavia was the
deployment of 28,000 NATO troops in Kosovo; a compromise could have been
worked out by making that
force an international force of the United Nations or one that at least
included Russian troops.
In fact, just before the bombing the Serbian parliament supported the
idea of a United Nations
force to monitor a political settlement. Had this and other peaceful
means been employed, there is
a fair chance that the human tragedy unfolding in the Balkans could have
been avoided.

Once again it appears that the claim of humanitarian intervention is a
pretext for countries
acting in their own self-interest and for their own geo-political
reasons. Western countries are
insuring that it is they, not Serbia and Russia, who will be the
dominant force in the Balkans;
NATO is pushing Europe's borders into the edge of Asia. A NATO military
base in the region cannot
be far behind. Also at play here is the broader underlying interest of
the United States to mold
the world to its will through a policy of coercive diplomacy. Under this
doctrine, when the United
States tells another country to do something, it must buckle under or
suffer the consequences.
That is what the U.S. told Yugoslavia: sign the Rambouillet agreement or
get bombed. It is not a
way to negotiate and certainly not a way to create a safer world. That
is why after World War II,
the nations of the world through the Charter of the United Nations
mandated that only the Security
Council could authoriz!
e the non-defensive use of force: unlike the current U.S./NATO bombing,
force was to be used in
the interest of the international community and not individual states.

(Taken from Jules Lobel and Michael Ratner, "Humanitarian Intervention
in Kosovo: A Highly Suspect
Pretext for War," Center for Constitutional Rights, April 1999.)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

*** Phyllis Bennis, Fellow, Institute for Policy Studies ***
(author of several FPIF policy briefs, including U.S.-Iraq Conflict,
Vol. 2, No. 51)

I think there may well have been (and still is) a moral imperative to
intervene--but NOT for NATO!
The U.S. sidelining of the UN in international

 affairs--replacing UN primacy either with unapologetic unilateralism as
we saw during the last
several years in Iraq, or with NATO as the bestower of international
legitimacy as we are seeing
in Kosovo--represents a major catastrophe for U.S. foreign policy.

So while there may be a moral imperative, that doesn't make this
U.S./NATO mission a moral
response. Certainly one must be skeptical about morality having anything
to do with U.S. policy.
The continuing humanitarian crisis in Iraq--where far more people are
still dying, today, as a
direct result of U.S. policy, than are dying even now in Kosovo--should
provide enough evidence to
anyone for whom the delayed and disastrously handled attention to
Somalia, the deliberate decision
to allow genocide in Rwanda to go forward, the disasters of Bosnia,
Sierra Leone, etc., still
leave questions.

But we cannot challenge Washington's double standards by claming that
because they refused to move
in the past, they should not move now. While we must continue to
identify and condemn past
failures to prevent or halt genocide, we must continue to demand
appropriate action to prevent or
stop such humanitarian crises now.

The question for us should be whether there were other options beside
this use of force by this
agency--and the answer to that I think is yes. The UN Charter is
unequivocal that the use of force
is justified only in the context of two scenarios: either a Security
Council authorization
(despite, all of the problems inherent in that because of U.S.
domination of the Council), or
immediate self-defense response to armed aggression, and then only until
the first opportunity for
the Council to meet. What took place here was neither--it was a clear
refusal by the U.S. (with
the Brits trotting along behind) to allow the Council to debate the
issue, as France had proposed.
Even under the terms of the Genocide Convention, the obligation to act
to prevent genocide does
not supercede the primacy of the UN in responding to an international
crisis. And whether or not
one accepts the applicability of that term (based on the part of the
definition of genocide that
speaks of creating conditio!
ns that render the group's survival impossible--something that may well
be approaching if the
ethnic cleansing efforts result in a near-complete expulsion and forced
dispersion of Albanian
Kosovars from Kosovo) it is significant that the U.S. has NOT claimed it
as a justification of its
actions. And of course, U.S. awareness of the possibility (not
probability, given Russia's
continued dependence on Western aid) of a Russian veto does not provide
a legal "out" for avoiding
a Council decision.

What might the Council have decided on, even if a full-scale UN Blue
Helmet deployment was not a
likely outcome? One very reasonable possibility as early as months ago
could have involved UN
authorization for an OSCE force--certainly not NATO-protection force,
not the limited unarmed OSCE
monitoring force that were pulled out at the moment they were most
vitally needed. The UN Charter
speaks of looking first to regional solutions to regional problems, but
certainly OSCE, including
eastern Europe and Russia as well as the western European powers, is a
far better example of
regional diplomatic actors than a U.S.-dominated NATO military alliance.

What could the UN look towards now? One possibility would be to rely
(however ironically) on the
precedent set by the Korean War-era Uniting for Peace resolution. Under
its terms, the General
Assembly can, when the Council is judged to be deadlocked or otherwise
unable to work, meet in
special session to make decisions regarding war and peace, issues
generally left to the providence
of the Council. The Russians have recently proposed such an Assembly
meeting. Its first task would
be to call a halt to NATO's bombing and Serb expulsions, release of all
detainees, and massive
refugee assistance. While bringing NATO to heel, let alone the
Milosevic-led military, would by no
means be guaranteed by such a UN resolution, a specific Assembly demand
for an end to the bombing
would go far towards delegitimizing NATO's role, challenging the U.S.
and reasserting the
centrality of the UN in dealing with the ethnic cleansing, thus
providing a much better chance of
a policy that would, in th!
e Hippocratic sense, "first do no harm."

Further, the Assembly should not only call for a resumption of serious
diplomacy, but delegate
representatives to act in the name of the most democratic part of the
UN, the General Assembly, to
carry out such diplomacy on behalf of the international community. Such
a diplomatic effort, I
would propose, might best be carried out by Nelson Mandela and Kofi
Annan--two African statesmen
without personal vested interests in the region or conflict, but most
importantly combining the
international legitimacy of the UN with the internationally recognized
personal credibility of the
South African leader.

(Statement taken from "Kosovo Roundtable: NATO Intervention, Ethnic
Cleansing, and the US,"
Sponsored by Mother Jones Magazine.)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

*** Adm. Eugene Carroll, USN (Ret), Deputy Director, Center for Defense
Information (CDI) ***
(author of FPIF essay, "Peace and Security," in Global Focus: A New
Foreign Policy Agenda 1997-98)

Can the crisis in Kosovo be solved by military action? Definitely not.
In fact, there is no
solution by any means within the foreseeable future.

In a land where the battle of Kosovo fought between Serbs and Muslims
610 years ago is still
considered a current event, there is no simple, certain solution or it
would have been achieved
decades or even centuries ago.

Does that mean nothing can be done today to improve the tragic situation
and reduce the suffering
of innocent victims in Kosovo? Of course not. Conditions can be
improved, but not if both sides
continue to seek a permanent and complete solution. The best that can be
hoped for initially is to
reduce the violence and make the political-military confrontation
manageable.

The first misbegotten idea to abandon is that either side can hope to
impose a military solution
that will be equitable and just, two essential criteria to establish
stable, enduring and peaceful
conditions in Kosovo. There is no military solution.

When military power is used exclusively in the form of air attacks, the
problem is exacerbated.
For all of its destructive capacity, air power alone cannot
fundamentally change the military and
political situation on the ground. Thus, the NATO decision to limit its
actions to air attacks in
order to protect Kosovar Albanians was doomed to failure. Far from
protecting them, the attacks
accelerated their victimization, and NATO will soon be presented with an
ethnically-cleansed
Kosovo by Slobodan Milosevic, who will then be pleased to propose a
cease-fire.

This is the time for NATO, led by the United States, to carefully
examine its ultimate objective
and how best to achieve it. The temptation to insert ground troops must
be resisted because it
would be an even more disastrous effort to "solve" the Kosovo problem by
escalating military
action.

What, then, should the objective be? It should be a negotiated
settlement that contains adequate
incentives for both sides to end the violence, as well as sanctions to
redress significant
violations in the future. It should provide for removal of all Serbian
military and police forces
from Kosovo in return for an end to NATO air attacks. Finally, it should
establish international
supervision within Kosovo of the peaceful repatriation and resettlement
of returning Serbs and
Kosovars.

Implementation would be funded through the United Nations with major
contributions from developed
nations, principally NATO members. For a fraction of the billions of
dollars that are being wasted
in warfare now, the devastated Kosovo area could be restored to livable
conditions and economic
and medical aid provide through international agencies.

At the same time, all sanctions against Yugoslavia should be lifted and
normal relations resumed
to assist in the rebuilding of a nation ravaged by airstrikes.
Obviously, significant violations
of the peace agreement by either side would result in the withdrawal of
external assistance and
the imposition of stringent sanctions against the offending party.

This all seems reasonable and logical, but bringing it about would
require powerful and effective
mediation between NATO and the Serbian government.

The obvious party to serve as the intermediary is Russia, acting at the
request of the UN Security
Council. The premature and futile effort more than a week ago by Russian
Prime Minister Yevgeny
Primakov could not succeed for two reasons.

First, Mr. Milosevic knew full well that Russia could not unilaterally
gain acceptance of any
proposal to NATO. Second, the level of destruction had not yet begun to
threaten the economic
viability of Serbia but was only solidifying popular support there for
Mr. Milosevic's defiance.

Empowered by the UN Security Council and with the concurrence of NATO,
the Russians could mount
urgent and forceful pressure on Mr. Milosevic. It could provide a
face-saving way for him to agree
to a neutral body administering conditions in Kosovo as the price for an
end to the air war and
assistance in bringing about an economic recovery in Serbia. It is even
more certain that the
Kosovars would cooperate in order to end the violence and resume
peaceful lives in their homeland.

This approach would not "solve" the Kosovo problem It would restore a
degree of stability and
order in which all concerned parties could cooperate to manage the
situation and employ nonviolent
means to settle inevitable differences. This whole approach lacks the
finality of military victory
and unconditional surrender, but it has one great virtue--it is feasible
and would save lives
while continued pursuit of the impossible goal of a military solution
will only perpetuate another
Balkan tragedy.

(Statement taken from "Can We Solve the Kosovo Problem?" Dallas Morning
News, April 11, 1999.)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

*** Jim Hooper, Executive Director, Balkan Action Center ***

The war over Kosovo is about more than the fare of the people in the
Balkans. What is at stake is
the belief in American power, purpose and resolve in determining the
values that post-Cold War
Europe will abide by. If Serbia achieves its war objectives, the ethnic
cleansers will set new
ground rules for Europe.

We can resolve the Kosovo conflict, but it is illusory to think that we
can do it by diplomacy.
The Serbs regard Kosovo as the birthplace of their culture and the
touchstone of their national
identity. The Serbian national myth commemorates the defeat of the
Serbian army by the Ottoman
Turks at the battle of Kosovo in 1389, which ushered in centuries of
Ottoman rule over Serbia.
Defeat is far preferable--and more honorable--to Serbian dictator
Slobodan Milosevic and his
people than dishonorable surrender or compromise. The only agreement
over Kosovo that Mr.
Milosevic might sign is a thinly disguised NATO capitulation.

While the Serbs cherish the myth of Kosovo's importance, they refuse to
reside there. More than 90
percent of the province's 2 million people are ethnic Albanians. Even a
system of harsh repression
instituted my Mr. Milosevic when he illegally ended Kosovo's autonomy in
1989 has failed to
inspire sufficient confidence among Serbs to persuade them to move to
Kosovo. Thus the political
calculus behind ethnically cleansing the province: Kill or deport the
Albanians as the prelude to
repopulating Kosovo with Serbs.

Mr. Milosevic has deliberately chosen the battlefield, rather than the
negotiating table, as his
arena of choice for resolving the Kosovo problem. If NATO is to
prevail--and now that it is
engaged, NATO can and must win--that is where the work must be done. The
United States and its
allies must be prepared to use whatever means are necessary to defeat
the Serbs, including ground
troops. NATO airstrikes alone can inflict significant damage. Only a
combined air/ground campaign,
however, can drive all Serbian forces from Kosovo and provide the
security that will enable all
Kosovar refugees to return to their homes and begin rebuilding their
lives.

But turning the tide of battle is going to require presidential
leadership. All eyes are on the
White House, waiting to see when President Clinton will begin to
capitalize on growing national
support for using ground troops to defeat Serbian forces.

Much of Washington's political establishment, including a growing number
of senators who are
concerned about the implications of a NATO defeat, has rallied behind
the ground-troop option.
Recent opinion polls show that more than 50 percent of the American
people back the deployment of
ground troops to end the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe caused by
Serbian ethnic cleansing and
genocide. This support would increase with the president's help.

It would take about 100,000 troops, including perhaps two U.S divisions,
to drive Serbian forces
from Kosovo. During a buildup phase lasting several weeks, these troops
would assemble in
neighboring states, especially Macedonia and perhaps Albania. NATO might
also sound out
Montenegro, which is federated with Serbia but under threat of Serbian
attack, about stationing
troops there.

Such a deployment of troops would ease local concerns about Serbian
threats. It would also
stabilize the refugee situation, giving these fragile societies the
confidence to provide
temporary shelter to refugees who would soon be returning home.

Cooperation from Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro in providing bases
for troops should be
supplemented with a program to begin training and equipping the
Kosovars. Kosovo Liberation Army
insurgents armed with little more than Kalashnikov rifles have fought
bravely against Serbian
armor and artillery. Properly armed and trained outside Kosovo, they
could play a useful
battlefield role as NATO auxiliaries. While the ground-force buildup was
underway, NATO air power
would continue to pound Serbian targets.

Following the removal of all Serbian forces from Kosovo and the return
of the refugees, NATO's
political objective should be the establishment of self-government in
Kosovo for a transition
period of three years, with the option of seeking independence if
democracy and stability take
hold. NATO should avoid the pitfalls of attacking and occupying Serbia
proper, where the
population, unlike in Kosovo, would not welcome NATO troops.
Establishing a de facto alliance with
Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro and Kosovo itself would give the United
States and NATO the
foundation for a strategy against Mr. Milosevic that would isolate
Serbia until the fires of
ultranationalism burn low.

The Balkans have become the new front line for NATO in post-Cold War
Europe. NATO troops will be
stationed in Kosovo and elsewhere in a containment belt around Serbia
for years, but most of the
combat troops needed to defeat the Serbs in Kosovo could depart once the
conflict ends. NATO will
have new burdens and responsibilities, post-Cold War American leadership
will have passed a
crucial credibility test, and the Serbian threat in the region will be
over.

(Statement taken from "Can We Solve the Kosovo Problem?" Dallas Morning
News, April 11, 1999.)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

II. Comments

*** KOSOVO FARCE AND THE NEW WORLD ORDER ***
By Ruizhuang Zhang

(Ed. Note: The comments below are excerpted from an essay submitted to
FPIF and posted on our
Kosovo Crisis Page at
http://www.foreignpolicy-infocus.org/media/opeds/kosovo05.html)

Several weeks into the U.S.-NATO all-out air strike against the small
and weak Yugoslavia, many
Americans are still wondering what the mess is all about. Is U.S.-NATO
at war with Yugoslavia? In
the first several days the NATO spokesman kept saying daily and
categorically that "We are not at
war with Yugoslavia" until one day three American soldiers were captured
by the Yugoslav military,
when all of a sudden NATO termed them as prisoners of war and never
mentioned that line. This is
only one example of Western governments' manipulation of words--and
facts. As long as it serves
their interest, terrorists become freedom fighters, spying becomes a
normal part of journalism,
and barbaric bombing of civilian targets becomes humanitarian mission,
and so on. During the
famous Prague Spring three decades ago a prominent Czechoslovak
intellectual pointed out, when
condemning the Communist propaganda, that the murder of words came only
one step ahead of
murdering the people. Those dissi!
dents fought so hard for the right to know the truth for so many years
and eventually brought down
the Communist rule only to find  their country is now part of this
colossal war machine that is no
less Orwellian in mass mind manipulation. How ironic.

In the good old days of the Cold War, there were two superpowers whose
formidable powers offset
each other, which somewhat spared other nations from feeling their
menacing heat one way or
another and the world as a whole from tyranny. With the mere presence of
the Soviet Union, no
matter how evil an empire it might be otherwise, the United States had
to act prudently and
refrained from letting its foreign policy be carried away by crusading
zeal. Gone are the days of
bipolarity and the balance of power. What we are left in is a unipolar
world where the United
States enjoys a "universal dominion" (C. Krauthammer) and a free hand to
fulfil its "neo-Manifest
Destiny" (B. Watternberg). Isn't it nice? Most if not all Americans tend
to rejoice. As long as
the uni-pole, or the dominion center, is U.S., everything is supposed to
be fine since "we are the
good guys"--a given to almost all Americans. Yet it may not be that
simple even from an American
standpoint. A most precious America!
n contribution to the political wisdom of human government is the theory
and practice of "checks
and balances" of power based on the presumption that humans are no
angels and that absolute power
corrupts absolutely. The wisdom of such assumptions is as robust in
international settings as in
domestic ones. Unchecked or unbalanced American power not only subjects
the rest of the world to
arbitrary American  intervention but also subjects America to the
temptation of imperial
overextension, driven not by the traditional greed for land and
treasure, but by its self-styled
worldwide mission.

While the overwhelming if not absolute power the U.S. possesses
vis-a-vis other nations gives
American foreign policy makers an unprecedented freedom of action, it
also poses  for them a
serious challenge with grave responsibility. Now is one of the rare
moments of history where the
international system is undergoing a fundamental change in structure and
humankind faces a brand
new era of international relations whose features are yet to be defined.
Are we going to have a
world of "hegemonic stability," something like the "Western World"
during the Cold War, led by a
benign hegemony whose leadership is based on consensus rather than
coercion, on legitimacy rather
than strongarming? Or are we going to have a chaotic anarchy where
unqualified law of the jungle
reigns, dominated by a Big Brother who bullies other nations into
obedience, making force the
everyday currency of international politics? To a significant extent it
is up to the United
States, the sole superpower of the w!
orld, to determine what kind of world order we are going to live under
in the coming decades, by
choosing what kind of role it is to play in world affairs, a prudent
stabilizer or a reckless
crusader, a responsible leader or a bullying hegemony.

Legitimacy is the key that sets a responsible leader apart from a
bullying hegemony. A responsible
leader does not abuse its power but only uses it for legitimate
purposes. It is legitimate to use
force for self-defense or collective security, as sanctioned by the
United Nations Charter and as
epitomized in the Gulf War which repelled the Iraqi aggression; it is
not legitimate, however, for
the strong to use force to impose its will on the weak and to interfere
with other nations'
internal affairs in the name of ideological causes, be it democracy,
human rights,
self-determination or whatever, as in the case of Kosovo, unless there
is a clear-cut case of
genocide and an international consensus to act against it. A responsible
leader respects and
upholds international law and order--the crux of which is the
inviolability of national
sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations, rather than
violates it by its own example
and for its own convenience. The violation of this!
 principle not only is illegitimate, but also sets a dangerous precedent
for other perpetrators.
The major justification for the Gulf War was that Iraq violated Kuwait's
sovereignty and
territorial integrity, yet only 8 months prior to the Iraqi invasion,
the U.S. committed the same
offense with its invasion of Panama.

The legitimacy of responsible leadership is based on the consent of its
followers out of respect
and acceptance, whereas a bully can only extract obedience by sheer
intimidation and blunt force.
To earn such respect and acceptance, a responsible leader must be
truthful to and consistent with
the moral principles it advocates, and shun double standards or
expediency, as hypocrisy only
makes "the natural resentments against our power on the part of the
weaker nations ... be
compounded with resentments against our pretensions of superior virtue"
(R. Niebuhr); it must be
sensitive and inclusive to the values of other nations and cultures, and
not be self-centered and
self-righteous; it must treat other nations, small and weak as they may
be, with due respect and
not boss them around with the arrogance of power; it must resort to
persuasion, compromise, and
coalition-building, no matter how painstaking these may be, rather than
arm-twisting and dictation
in order to lead the nation!
s; and finally it must be willing and prepared to "pay any price, bear
any burden, meet any
hardship" as a leader is obliged to, and as the U.S. once did for the
Western World during the
Cold War by providing all the public goods necessary to sustain the
regime and to hold the
community together.

The United States is unlikely to earn from the rest of the world the
respect and acceptance
necessary for a legitimate leader if this country  remains what it has
been for years now: the
stingiest of the developed countries in terms of providing development
aid to the Third World, the
biggest debtor owing billions in overdue membership to the United
Nations, the increasingly
tightened market now demanding an "equal footing" in trade competition
with those supposed to
benefit from its leadership, and a country so apt to use force against
other nations yet
disallowing the loss of American life as a taboo that must be avoided at
any price--even at the
expense of the lives of innocent civilians in other countries, such as
those lost in the
indiscriminant air strike so favored by the U.S. just because its
soldiers can hide under the
skirt of American high-tech weaponry. While the world does not want a
fanatic crusader or a
reckless cowboy, it does need a leader that has the courage!
 to take whatever it takes to fulfil its duty, including the casualty of
its own people.

The U.S.-NATO aggression against Yugoslavia has alerted  many lesser
powers who are not American
satellite to the possibility that any one of them may fall victim to the
next Operation American
Justice, and may push some, most notably Russia and China, closer to
each other toward a sort of
counterbalancing alliance. Yet such a prospect is greatly obscured by
the instability and
uncertainties in the domestic politics of both countries, not to mention
the lingering mutual
suspicion rooted in the long history of hostility between the two
nations. Without an outside
balancing power (of one state or an alliance of states) in sight, any
possible checks to America's
monopolistic power can only come from within, that is, from the
self-restraint exercised by an
enlightened public.

Unfortunately, American public sentiment on foreign affairs is by no
means moderate. Elated and
emboldened by its triumph over the Soviet Union and relieved from the
necessity of the Cold War,
economic nationalism, political unilateralism and self-righteousness are
taking hold while
internationalism, multilateralism and discretion are out of fashion.
Jingoism flies high when the
U.S. goes abroad for confrontation, with or without legitimate cause.
Most alarming, however, is
the disappearance of the independent media, as can be seen most clearly
during the Kosovo crisis.
Unbalanced, unobjective, heavily tinted with ideological and national
bias, the war coverage by
American mainstream news media has been so consensual and orchestrated
that it amounts to nothing
but  propaganda. Perhaps it is not because all American journalists have
become ideologues but
because of the bottom line of the infotainment industry: Patriotism if
not Chauvinism sells. As
such, the checks and balances!
 from  within are something one may pray for but not count on, at least
in the near future.
Americans may need another Vietnam to refresh the lessons they learned
from that war and to bring
them back to senses. But until then, the world may just have to live in
the shadow of the Big
Brother, or rather the Big Uncle, Uncle Sam.

(Ruizhuang Zhang <[log in to unmask]> is a senior associate
fellow at the Modern
Management Center in Shanghai, China)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

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December 1998, Week 5
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December 1997, Week 5
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