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Post In the Balkans, UN and NATO Did the Best They Could
Created by John Eipper on 01/08/19 3:58 AM

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In the Balkans, UN and NATO Did the Best They Could (Istvan Simon, USA, 01/08/19 3:58 am)

I am grateful to Brian Blodgett for his comprehensive contributions (January 2 and January 7) on the events in Yugoslavia. I am in complete agreement with Brian. I had made the same points, without his thoroughly researched details and deep insights.

I would like to add a few explanations to my post of January 5th:

First, Brian's January 2 post was so complete that I probably would not even have written mine had I read his, because Brian's post made it unnecessary. But I had not yet read Brian's when I wrote mine, which was in reaction to posts by Robert Gard and Cameron Sawyer I disagreed with. I wrote it entirely from memory, personal recollection of the events, gained mostly from newspaper accounts and through the Kosovo family I wrote about.

The second point I want to add is that I was not being critical of the UN peacekeepers when I mentioned that they were unable to keep the peace. They tried their best, and also provided much of the valuable, accurate and fair neutral information about the conflict in their reports. Their mission was not to fight either side in the conflict, but to separate and stop their fighting by their presence. They did not have the proper equipment for fighting either side, nor the proper rules of engagement. They had barely enough firepower to defend themselves when they came under attack in outrageous provocations by the Serbs.

It is intolerable that any party would have the audacity to attack UN peacekeeping troops, yet the Serbs did just that. I think that these provocations were additional strong reasons for NATO to belatedly intervene and put an end to it through overwhelming firepower and force.

No armed intervention is ever perfect, and NATO's was not either, as Gary Moore observed in his excellent comments of January 4. Nonetheless, to concentrate on the imperfections while ignoring the overall picture is a grave mistake. This is a point I tried to make and I think that this was also the main point made by Gary.

A final observation: I would like to oppose 20-20 hindsight in WAIS posts. This is not only unfair criticism but also a logical fallacy.

20-20 hindsight attributes responsibility for future events that could not have been foreseen when the historical decisions were actually made. It is the false argument that everything else that happened after a historical event, (most often criticizing decisions made by the United States), is a consequence of that decision, as if no other actors had any responsibility for what happens in the world.

JE comments:  Yes, coincidence does not prove causality.  This is the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.  In the Balkans and the Middle East, the United States did get involved, and problems ensued.  Does this prove anything?  The Balkans were the proverbial "powder keg" (and "Balkanized" to boot) long before the US was an actor on the world stage.

Iraq is a different story, and 20-20 hindsight suggests it would have been easier and more peaceful for nearly everyone if we had reached an understanding with Saddam Hussein, and turned him into "our bastard."

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  • Saddam Hussein as "Our Bastard" (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 01/09/19 3:50 AM)
    I may be wrong, but even our excellent-in-everything Moderator may have overlooked something.  To his credit we may say that it is something that any good American would forget. JE in fact, commenting on the post of Istvan Simon, 8 January, wrote, "It would have been easier and more peaceful for nearly everyone if we had reached an understanding with Saddam Hussein, and turned him into 'our bastard.'"

    Perfect, but Saddam was the "bastard" of the Empire until the lousy trick of April. Maybe he had to be punished because he was unsuccessful in destroying Iran, despite all the help received?

    Also, John's sentence "In the Balkans and in the Middle East, the United States did get involved" is correct, but who ordered the involvement? As far as I know the various US Presidents, very poor in geopolitics, did the ordering.

    Considering that in a certain way the Empire is also involved in Ukraine and considering that the Ukrainian government is bombing its own people, a retaliatory bombing of Kiev by NATO would be appropriate, just as it had been in Belgrade.

    It could be a good idea: in Kosovo the Empire was compensated with the huge military base of Bondsteel. It could ask the republics of Donetsk and Luhansk for another huge military base strategically placed at the same longitude as Moscow, only farther south.

    JE comments:  Eugenio, I presume you mean April Glaspie, the American diplomat who reportedly told Saddam that the US had "no opinion" on Iraq's claim to Kuwait.  Given the war(s) that followed, this sounds like a tragic April Fools joke, but the meeting occurred in July.

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