One Clinton foreign policy initiative that was claimed to be 'successful' by the former President and his supporters was the Nato mission to stop the Serbs' attempted ethnic cleansing of Kosovo. The Nato bombing mission in 1999 forced the Serbs to succumb, and allowed several hundred thousand Muslim Albanians back into Kosovo from temporary refugee camps in surrounding countries.
Little mentioned at the time was that when the Albanians came back, they took their revenge on the few remaining Serbs in Kosovo, driving more than half of them from the province. Now, with discussions about permanent partition lines between Serbia and Kosovo in the offing, the Albanians are attempting to put some facts on the ground, and have begun a campaign of violence to force out the few remaining Serbs, and enable Kosovo to be free of them. In the past few days, 31 have been killed (most of them Serbs) and over a hundred wounded in the attacks by the Kosovar Albanians.
This attempt at ethnic cleansing, like the previous one by Serbia, has brought Nato into the picture, though this time without any bombing campaign. Nato forces will attempt to restrain the Albanians and prevent them from succeeding in making Kosovo Serb—free. Just a few years back, Nato forces were also called in to prevent Albanian Muslims from destroying the new nation of Macedonia with a terror campaign aimed at splitting that nation into two separate states.
The Kosovo fighting followed shortly after the collapse of the Aristide government in Haiti, another supposed Clinton foreign policy triumph. The duration of Clinton's 'success' in getting North Korea to 'stop' its nuclear arms programs was another multi—billion dollar boondoggle, subsidizing a tyrant who happily took our taxpayers' money, while never intending to live up to his promises. Clinton and his Secretary of State Madeleine Albright apparently never heard of Ronald Reagan's famous dictum, 'Trust, but verify.'
Of course the biggest 'success' that fell to ruins was the Middle East peace process, begun in Oslo in 1993, and capped by the White House lawn signing ceremony later that year. This collapse occurred on Clinton's watch, as the second intifada was created by Yassar Arafat in September 2000, after the Camp David peace talks ended without an agreement in July 2000. Today, the former President picks up $150,000 an hour speaking fees at synagogues, bemoaning Arafat's intransigence and how it stained his foreign policy record.
The Kosovo experience, the Israeli—Palestinian conflict, and the still separated ethnic communities in Bosnia almost a decade after that war ended, put the lie to those who call for multi—ethnic single states as the solution to ethnic conflicts (e.g. Tony Judt and his call for a single state of Israel—Palestine). In democratic states —— Israel, India, and of course, the US —— minority rights are real and respected, and minority Muslim communities (as an example) are neither cleansed nor purged. A far uglier picture emerges with respect to minority rights within a Muslim—dominated society, pitifully few of which are democratic of course.
The Kosovo story will not get much ink in the elite press. It suggests that the Clinton administration's foreign policy 'achievements' have had a consistently short shelf life, even forgetting for the moment the neglect of al Qaeda, which allowed that organization to assume this country had lost the will to fight, and would never risk casualties to our soldiers in a land war. Clinton tried a one day cruise missile strike against al Qaeda after the embassy bombings in Africa, not a war to remove the terrorists or the Taliban from Afghanistan. When Bin Laden himself was identified by satellite, he was not taken out for fear of civilian casualties on the ground.
The Bush administration's greatest foreign policy achievement may be that there is no longer any doubt that this country can take a blow and fight back, or that we will be willing to risk and absorb casualties to our fighting forces if we think carrying the fight forward is necessary. After Israel's unilateral withdrawal from southern Lebanon, Arafat and the Palestinians wrongly assumed that Israel had lost the will to fight. Arafat believed that after some stepped up terror strikes Israel would come begging for peace with new and deeper concessions, which would only further endanger the security of the state and its citizens in the future.
There are few doubters today of either Israel or America (at least under Bush), in terms of either country's willingness to fight. The sharp decline in the poll ratings of John Kerry this week, may say something about how many Americans view abject surrender to terrorism (the Spanish solution), and a candidate who has identified himself as in sync with European objectors to the Iraq war, such as the new Spanish Prime Minister. We have learned that you do not sue for nor make peace with Al Qaeda, as Spain's new Prime Minister seems to want to do, and Senator Kerry may rue the day that this same Spanish Prime Minister all but endorsed him.