1999 - Who's leading the anti-war movement? Congressional Republicans. By William Saletan

Yankee Go Home
Who's leading the anti-war movement? Congressional Republicans.
By William Saletan
Posted Friday, May 7, 1999, at 12:30 AM ET

Every time the United States goes into battle, anti-war activists blame the causes and casualties of the conflict on the U.S. government. They excuse the enemy regime's aggression and insist that it can be trusted to negotiate and honor a fair resolution. While doing everything they can to hamstring the American administration's ability to wage the war, they argue that the war can never be won, that the administration's claims to the contrary are lies, and that the United States should trim its absurd demands and bug out with whatever face-saving deal it can get. In past wars, Republicans accused these domestic opponents of sabotaging American morale and aiding the enemy. But in this war, Republicans aren't bashing the anti-war movement. They're leading it.

Last weekend, three of the top five Republicans in Congress--Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi, Senate Majority Whip Don Nickles of Oklahoma, and House Majority Whip Tom DeLay of Texas--went on television to discuss the war. Here's what they said.

1. The atrocities are America's fault.
On Fox News Sunday, DeLay blamed the ethnic cleansing on U.S. intervention. "Clinton's bombing campaign has caused all of these problems to explode," DeLay charged in a House floor speech replayed on Late Edition.

2. The failure of diplomacy to avert the war is America's fault.
Lott offered on Late Edition. "I didn't think we had done enough in the diplomatic area."

3. Congress should not support the war.
When asked whether they would authorize Clinton "to use all necessary force to win this war, including ground troops," Lott and Nickles said they wouldn't.

4. We can't win.
"I don't know that Milosevic will ever raise a white flag," warned Nickles. DeLay agreed: "He's stronger in Kosovo now than he was before the bombing. ... Clinton "has no plan for the end" and "recognizes that Milosevic will still be in power," added DeLay

5. Don't believe U.S. propaganda.
Nickles .. "This war is not going well," he declared. "I heard Secretary Cohen say, 'Well, Milosevic miscalculated ...' But frankly ... we grossly miscalculated what Milosevic's response would be." Later, Nickles volunteered.. The number of killings prior to the bombing, I think, has been exaggerated." .. DeLay cautioned, "It is not helpful for the president's spin machine to be out there right now saying that Milosevic is weakening." The truth, said DeLay, is that "nothing has changed."

6. Give peace a chance.
Cohen said it was "highly unlikely" that Clinton would meet with Milosevic i.. DeLay called this refusal "really disappointing" and a failure of "leadership. ... The president ought to open up negotiations and come to some sort of diplomatic end." Lott implored Clinton to "give peace a chance" ..resolve the Kosovo conflict with "words, not weapons."

7. We have no choice but to compromise.
Unless Clinton finds "a way to get the bombing stopped" and to "get Milosevic to pull back his troops" voluntarily, NATO faces "a quagmire ... a long, protracted, bloody war," warned Lott. Clinton "only has two choices," said DeLay--to "occupy Yugoslavia and take Milosevic out" or "to negotiate some sort of diplomatic end..

8. We're eager to compromise.
NATO has insisted all along that Milosevic must allow a well-armed international force in Kosovo to protect the ethnic Albanians.. Nickles advocated "a compromise," and Lott expressed interest in Yugoslavia's proposal for a "lightly armed" U.N. peacekeeping force in Kosovo rather than a fully equipped NATO force. "Surely there's wiggle room," said Lott..

9. We'll back off first.
Nickles discounted the administration's demand that Yugoslavia halt its ethnic cleansing .. Tim, I strongly believe we need a simultaneous withdrawal of the Serbian aggressive forces, have a stopping of the bombing, and an insertion of international police-keeping force." Lott's formulation put NATO's withdrawal first: "Let's see if we can't find a way to get the bombing stopped, get Milosevic to pull back his troops.. And DeLay suggested that the United States should pull out unilaterally: "When Ronald Reagan saw that he had made a mistake putting our soldiers in Lebanon ...

Some Democrats call Republicans who make these arguments unpatriotic. Republicans reply that they're serving their country by debunking and thwarting a bad policy administered by a bad president. You can be sure of only two things: Each party is arguing exactly the opposite of what it argued the last time a Republican president led the nation into war, and exactly the opposite of what it will argue next time.

Yankee Go Home - Who's leading the anti-war movement? Congressional Republicans. By William Saletan


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home