For Peace to Work, Milosevic Must Go

Bruce Herschensohn, who was deputy special assistant to President Nixon, teaches at Pepperdine University's School of Public Policy

Not once within the lifetime of any American now living has there been a successful negotiated settlement between the United States and a tyranny. The only true successes in our military conflicts have been those that ended in unconditional surrender with the departure of the one who caused our intervention. Negotiated settlements, leaving the guilty in place, have brought about a number of victory celebrations, but our nation has been left with an inheritance of the unfinished.

Forty-six years ago, we met the North Koreans at Panmunjom and negotiated a cease-fire between North and South Korea, and there was a celebration in the United States. Today, North Korea is a global threat rather than a regional threat.

Twenty-six years ago, we celebrated the Paris peace accords in which North Vietnam agreed to a cease-fire with “genuinely free and democratic elections under international supervision” and the “democratic liberties of the people: personal freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of meeting, freedom of organization, freedom of political activities, freedom of belief, freedom of movement, freedom of residence, freedom of work.” Saigon fell 2 1/4 years after the accords were signed, and the guarantees were ignored.


Eight years ago, we celebrated Saddam Hussein’s agreement of United Nations Resolution 687, which called for “the forming of a special commission, which shall carry out immediate on-site inspection of Iraq’s biological, chemical and missile capabilities, based on Iraq’s declarations and the designation of any additional locations by the special commission itself.” Today, there are no inspections allowed, and we are regularly bombing Iraq. At the time of the agreement, did any Americans realize that it would be possible that their 12-year-old children could be involved in the Persian Gulf War? Those who were 12-year-olds then are now of age to be flying F-16s or B-52s in the skies over Iraq.

Almost four years ago, the Dayton accords were signed by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic after we offered redrawn maps that proved irresistible to him. He simply moved his killing and other atrocities from Bosnia to Kosovo, leaving hundreds of thousands of Bosnians justifiably afraid to go home. The Dayton accords became another chapter in the “policy of postponement.”

Negotiated settlements that leave the leader in place only mean that, in time, we will become the slave of events we once had the opportunity to master. Kim Il Sung of North Korea, Ton Duc Thang of North Vietnam, Hussein and Milosevic were all allowed to retain their positions in settlements that postponed, rather than ended, the crises.

The G-8 (the world’s seven major industrialized nations and Russia) have now submitted to the United Nations a draft proposal for an end to the Kosovo crisis. The U.N. had nothing to do with the risks taken by the United States and other NATO nations in Kosovo. Those who take the risks of losing their lives should always be the ones to set the rules of the peace, and not bend to any entity, such as the U.N., that took no risks.

Moreover, the U.N.’s Security Council is subject to the veto power of Russia and China.

China President Jiang Zemin has a personal interest in ensuring that the U.S. does not have a true victory. He sees Taiwan as his Kosovo. If we succeed in “interfering in the internal affairs of Yugoslavia,” what would prevent us from attempting to do the same regarding “China’s renegade province of Taiwan?” Likewise, if we do not have the power and the will to succeed in Yugoslavia, that failure will be viewed as Jiang’s invitation to take further steps to bring Taiwan “into the embrace of the motherland.” As a member of the U.N.’s Security Council, China cannot be expected to vote in NATO’s favor. Neither can we count on Russia to abandon Milosevic.

Milosevic wants the U.N. in authority, and we should reject it. NATO, including most of all, the United States, can only be successful if our actions bring about the end of Milosevic’s rule, which the U.N. will not demand.


What would have been the outcome of World War II if we had negotiated settlements with Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo? Happily for the world, the U.N. Charter was not yet in force. In fact, our more recent conflicts in Grenada and Panama were successful because without the U.N. taking a role, other than denunciation of the United States, Grenada’s Gen. Hudson Austin and Panama’s Gen. Manuel Noriega were both captured and stripped of all power before the United States left. And President Clinton, himself, insisted on the exit of Gen. Raul Cedras before our troops came home from Haiti.

With Milosevic remaining as president of Yugoslavia, and Kosovo remaining as part of Yugoslavia, it is beyond imagination that most Kosovo Albanians would willingly go back to their homes. They remember the so-called U.N. guaranteed “safe zones” of Bosnia that turned into killing fields. The United States embarked on a worthy, moral and courageous goal of ending the unthinkable human rights violations of Milosevic. Finish it.

Postponement is a selfish foreign policy that allows us to uncork bottles and drink bad champagne. Sometimes the aftertaste is not immediate. More often, its ultimate bitterness is left to be dealt with by Americans yet unborn.