August 05, 2005

Lessons from Mt Igman Road

I disagree with the author that strong American leadership couldn't have gotten the Euros on board for 'lift and strike' (Warren Christopher sure had an 'exchange of views' with the Europeans on the topic, recall this quip: "It was an exchange all right: Warren Christopher went to Europe with an American policy and he came back with a European one"). But the writer merits real street cred because he's worked in the NSC, knows Washington well, and has, yep, started a blog! Go check it out.

Posted by Gregory at August 5, 2005 04:25 AM | TrackBack (1)

Thanks for the link, I've bookmarked it for the future.

I think a lot of your criticisms of the dreaded neocons were also directed at Clinton and co. during the Bosnian situation. No willingness to put boots on the ground, war by polls and focus groups rather than military input, 2500 civilian deaths from high altitude bombing rather than risking a few dozen American casualties, etc.

Posted by: wayne at August 5, 2005 05:40 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Thanks for the plug. I am not a fan of Mr. Christopher's work as SecState. That said, your quote is from Marshall Freeman Harris, a lift and strike supporter and strident Christopher/Clinton Bosnia policy critic. That's not exactly a neutral party. Next time just quote Izetbegovic.

I will grant you that if Clinton and his team made lift and strike their full diplomatic priority, they MAY have been able to get the allies on board eventually. This is a dubious concession by the way -- many others would argue the Europeans would never have done so. But I have profound faith in the power of US coalition building when taken seriously (yes, that is a dig at the Iraq diplomatic failure).

But even if you do believe it possible, my larger point in the essay was that Clinton team viewed Bosnia through the lens of broader national security interests in Europe -- that is bringing CEE into the Western fold and establishing the transatlantic alliance as the core of an enlarging Democratic sphere (something even neocons liked). Those equities with the Europeans were paramount. So getting into a full on pissing match with Europe of L/S and expending broad political capital to do so would have been strategically inept because it would have risked derailing us on the range of other issues (NATO enlargement, PFP, NATO-Russia, NATO strategic concept). If you take that strategic view, then lift and strike was a total loser.

Wayne, the Clinton critiques you mention are not from Neocons, but vary depending on the issue (unless they were just Clinton critics across the board). Boots on the ground/2500 feet critique is from serious military strategists -- and I generally agree. But you should know the reluctance to put boots on the ground in the Balkans started and mostly ended with the Joint Chiefs -- not the Clinton political folks. Madeleine Albright was more than ready to put boots on the ground. Clinton's weakness was generally giving the Generals too much sway.

Neocons are not new nor just Republican. There were prominent neocons in the Clinton Administration too. The Bush 41 Administration just made them infamous.

Posted by: POTUS B at August 5, 2005 07:12 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

POTUS, the quote is Richard Perle's! Marshall just quoting him! Let me guess, you don't view him as a neutral party either? :)

Posted by: greg at August 6, 2005 12:36 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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