F.R. Duplantier reporting Behind The Headlines

Week of:
April 30, 2000
It's Time to Come Home From Kosovo

F.R. Duplantier

by: F.R. Duplantier

How many global conflicts must we become embroiled in before we learn to mind our own business?

"The months following the war in Kosovo have been marred by brewing hostilities between factions in the province and a proliferation of problems for America and the NATO peacekeeping force," reports John Hulsman of the Heritage Foundation. "The problems that underlie the conflicts in the Balkans are deep and intractable," Hulsman maintains. "Gross burden-sharing inequities among the NATO participants of Operation Allied Force, as well as America's commitment to the peacekeeping efforts in Kosovo and Bosnia, have significant implications for U.S. national security," he emphasizes. "The drain on the U.S. armed forces is severely harming military readiness."

In response to NATO Supreme Commander General Wesley Clark's call for additional troops, Hulsman argues that "the intervention has not dissipated the sectarian hatreds that provoke the continuing instability in Kosovo, and increasing the size of KFOR is not likely to change that reality. The way out of this morass," he contends, "is to give America's European allies greater responsibility for the military operations in the Balkans."

Hulsman warns that "the ongoing U.S. peacekeeping operations in Kosovo and Bosnia directly threaten national security. The Balkans operations have tied down 10,000 U.S. troops who will not be available for other contingencies should they develop," he worries. "The troops involved in the peacekeeping operations incur significant combat readiness deficiencies, including losing their fighting edge, by being required to perform civilian duties. . . . The deterioration of machines has proceeded apace with the stagnation of the troops," Hulsman adds. "A spare parts shortage in the armed forces, accompanied by a lack of funding for technology maintenance and development, threatens current capabilities."

Hulsman reiterates that "the allied victory in the air campaign did not stop the killing" and that "the region remains the seething sectarian cauldron it was before the intervention in Kosovo began. Keeping the United States military bogged down indefinitely in this quagmire, in a peacekeeping operation with no end in sight, is wrong," Hulsman concludes. He warns that "staying in Kosovo to maintain international credibility and continue the Administration's current policy could well lead to a significant military and geopolitical disaster for America."

Isolationism has gotten a bum rap. Maybe now would be a good time to reconsider and revive it -- beginning with an honest examination of what it is, and is not. Isolationism has never meant American withdrawal from the world, though dishonest internationalists on both the left and the right have continued to make this irresponsible charge for more than a century now. Despite the ongoing misrepresentations, isolationists have never suggested that American citizens should refrain from cultural and commercial intercourse with foreign peoples. Unrestricted trade and travel are two of our most cherished rights. Isolationism involves nothing more than the application of the wise counsel proffered by our first, and greatest, President in his Farewell Address: that our federal government should avoid foreign entanglements. Put plainly, no meddling in the affairs of other nations. Let our people mingle with whom they please; make our government mind its own business. It's a good idea, for all times.